The Da Capo Jazz And Blues Lover's Guide to the U.S.
Festivals (which would seem a major reason to visit a given city in the first place) get short shrift in the Da Capo Guide, though a more comprehensive list toward the end of the book makes up a bit for this shortcoming. It would be nice to see more festivals featured in this book, which really only scratches the surface. Again, you'll have to do your own research to root out the information; but with this guide in hand, at least you'll have some idea of the indoor venues involved.
Toward the end of each listing, the Da Capo Guide offers some suggestions about where to buy (and sell) music. Collectors and casual shoppers, as well as bargain-hunters and obscurity-seekers, will all benefit from visiting these outlets. Wisely, the authors recognize the importance of supporting local business, and they focus on mom-and-pop operations to the detriment of chains. My personal experience in two cities, St. Louis and Boston, confirms each of the choices offered here. However, the Boston section leaves out a couple of choice indie outlets: Twisted Village and (the admittedly brand-new) Other Music. In my four years in Boston, I spent more time (and money) at Twisted Village than all the rest combined.
As a sort of footnote, each listing concludes with a handful of local radio stations. This information appeals more to residents than visitors, but I suppose anyone can change the channel in order to make local driving more groovy.
The Da Capo Guide is a truly rare resource, a virtual bible for lovers of jazz and the blues. As a niche market, this music often dips below the horizon in other publications. But Christiane Bird does an outstanding job making the information here accessible and complete. Invest in this guide and you'll find it will become a mandatory travel companion.