Exploring Offbeat Musical Places With Accidentally Wes Anderson
An opera house in the middle of the jungle? How about a music store where exotic animals are part of the gig? We’ve rounded up a cacophony of uniquely wonderful one-hit wonders that are sure to have you cheering for an encore. So grab your avocados, Adventurers, it’s time to guac and roll. (We’re sorry, we had to.)
Rockaway At The Beach
Photo by Paul Fuentes | @paulfuentes_photo
In the 1950s, where did up-and-coming rock and roll icons go to debut their soon-to-be hits? Not the clubs of New York, Memphis, Chicago or LA. They went to the beach! Wildwood, New Jersey, remains the unexpected home to skyrocketing some of the biggest songs on the charts, from Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” to Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.” Some even share the hot take that the rebellious genre of music was invented here … but we can dive into that discussion at a later date.
Rooted In Tunes
The Flute Shop, Torrey, Utah
Photo by Jeffrey Czum | @jeffreyczum
While it may look like it is in “the middle of nowhere,” this part trading post, part motel is actually rooted in Native American culture in the tiny town of Torrey, Utah. The Ute, Paiute and Navajo tribes called the region home for centuries and continue to keep their history alive in the form of music. After a good night’s rest, patrons can peruse the gift shop for authentic Native American jewelry, rugs, pottery and handmade wooden flutes. Trivial tchotchkes and bric-a-brac need not apply.
Amazon Theatre, Manaus, Brazil
Photo by Alfredo Nugent Setubal | @alfredo.n.setubal
Opera in the middle of the rainforest, anyone? This opera house has the rubber plant to thank for its peculiar location. Thanks to the elastic ficus, the city of Manaus, Brazil, saw an uptick in wealth and a mad rush to “keep up with the Joneses” ensued. Not a penny was spared on the design of Teatro Amazonas, with roofing tiles imported from France, steel walls from Scotland and Carrara marble for the stairs, statues and columns, from Italy. Although there was a “brief” 90-year intermission the melodies and theatrics once again grace the stage.
Brighton Dome, Brighton, UK
Photo by Sarina da Costa Gomez | @sarina___
For 153 years and counting, this venue has welcomed an all-star list of performers: Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, all the cool kids. But what (literally) lies beneath may overshadow these impressive performances. During a 2017 renovation, archaeologists found a total of 18 skeletons buried underneath the theater. Investigations ensued and the case was closed after authorities agreed the deceased had at least been enjoying some good music in the afterlife. *ba dum tiss*
She’s All Pipes
Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Photo by Randy Neil | @good_vibes_randy
From farmland to botanical garden, Longwood Gardens grew beyond wheat and corn into a budding establishment at the center of the world of arts and agriculture. Originally an arboretum owned by William Penn, the man-made forest was reconfigured in the early 1900s to become a place of arts and culture with the addition of open-air theaters, a stately conservatory, and the Longwood Organ. Constructed of 10,010 pipes divided into 146 ranks, it is the largest Aeolian organ ever constructed in a residential setting and is still played to this day.
Woody’s Music, Detroit, Michigan
Photo by Lydia Garcia | @aidyl211
Enter stage right Woody Black, founder of the aptly named Woody’s Music, a haven for all music lovers in Central Michigan. Aside from being a one-stop shop for aspiring musicians, the store also became the venue for Woody to display his personal collection of autographed photos, concert tickets, unique instruments and … exotic animals. That’s right, instruments aren’t the noisemakers in this shop, and patrons pop in just to check out the assortment of iguanas, spiders and reptiles. Forget being a guitar god, Woody would prefer to describe himself as an alligator wrangler.
Feathers For A Flute
British Natural History Museum, London, UK
Photo by Marjorie Becker | @marjoriebeckerphotography
Songbirds, warblers, fledglings and fowl of all flocks are far from safe when it comes to music—not because of their melodic sounds, but rather their plumage. That’s right, in 2009 a young flutist looking for additional cash snuck into the ornithological department at the British Natural History Museum and took off with feathers from 299 rare birds. What did he buy with his quill-filled plunder? Well, a golden flute of course.