The 50 Musicians You Need To Know From Each State In The U.S. (Part 1)

Joey Purp, Luke Bell, Mndsgn, Gallant, & Day Wave |© Facebook/Alima Jennings
Joey Purp, Luke Bell, Mndsgn, Gallant, & Day Wave |© Facebook/Alima Jennings
Photo of Ryan Kristobak
Music Editor20 October 2017

There are plenty of themed music lists out there: best tracks from a single artist, best new artists of a certain genre, the best albums of a certain year, etc. Here at The Culture Trip, we are all about unearthing the best of the best by location.

Beginning with a two-part installation focused on the United States, we have selected 50 male artists and groups (technically 52 — New York and California yield so many artists that we couldn’t just pick one) that originated and/or currently reside in each of the 50 states. Determined to present the next class of musicians on the rise, every selected artist has under 100,000 likes on Facebook, save one or two exceptions, and genres include hip hop, country, indie, soul, electronic, rock, jazz, dance-punk, R&B, and more.

Check out the second installation featuring our top 50 female musicians state-by-state across the United States here.

Alabama St. Paul and The Broken Bones

This six-piece outfit brings all of the Southern soul you could hope for, and their freshly-released sophomore LP, Sea of Noise, brings a little more head and little more heart to the party.

AlaskaEvan Phillips

He’s been referred to as “Alaska’s one-man music scene,” and whoever puts The Last Frontier on the musical map in the wake of band Portugal. The Man, you can bet Phillips will be involved.

Arizona Draa

With their monochromatic collared shirts, debut music video shot in a 1920s ice warehouse, and slick brand of shoegaze-influenced indie pop, Draa is keeping things pretty damn cool in the desert.

Arkansas Move Orchestra

Move Orchestra naturally draws comparisons to Radiohead’s Kid A days, but these three brothers have a vision of their own, guaranteed to be as stunning musically as it is cinematically.

California Day Wave

Jackson Phillips, aka Day Wave, quickly became one of the blog circuit’s current obsessions, and, really, his dreamy indie rock is kind of perfect. You might disagree, but you probably don’t have a Mark Hoppus-narrated music video that features a coyote, Burt Reynolds, a spaceship, and a drunk grizzly bear.


While his 2015 album, Seven Sundays, easily proves SiR’s R&B talent, collaborations with names like Anderson .Paak, Isaiah Rashad, and Knxwledge solidify him as the next most important piece in the L.A. hip-hop landscape.

Colorado 888

Performing together in bands since 2004, the Denver trio have a new sound and a new deal with Island Records that should bring them the attention only hard work earns.

Connecticut Mercies

Former members of The Dear Hunter, Josh Rheault and Sammy Dent deliver what can only be called, as they self-prescribed, ‘forest-pop’. It’s rustic and catchy, and while the whole LP keeps you swaying in its grooves, it isn’t afraid to wander into moments of contemplative isolation.

Delaware Sap

Sap might not be a name you’ve heard of yet, but you’ve probably heard his production, providing tracks for artists like Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, and Schoolboy Q, among others. Now, Sap is adding his own rhymes, and March’s Self Employed proves his lyrics are as impressive as his beats.

Florida Polyenso

This Florida trio’s mixture of pop, indie, hip hop and electronica is unlike anything else out there, and proves that there is plenty of room for creativity in radio-friendly music.

Georgia Big Jesus

Following in the footsteps of recent acts like Nothing, Big Jesus combine big, crunchy riffs with pop-driven hooks to create tracks that’ll have your body shifting between light shuffles and moshing.

Hawaii Jake Shimabukuro

The first instrument that comes to mind when thinking about Hawaiian music is the ukulele – and Jake Shimabukuro is the ukulele god.

Idaho Clarke and the Himselfs

Maybe Clarke and the Himselfs’ art-damaged rock ‘n’ roll isn’t your cup of tea; maybe it is, but you can’t deny his one-man approach is anything less than amazing.

Illinois Joey Purp

In a year where Chicago has proven it is the rising epicenter of hip hop, Joey Purp’s iiiDrops was the release we weren’t prepared for, striking a perfect balance between human stories and fun living.

Indiana HOOPS

Summer must come to an end at some point, but HOOPS’ self-titled EP, with its breezy riffs and hazy vocals, would argue that the season of radiance is a state of mind.

Iowa Max Jury

If you’re looking for some fresh piano-driven pop with a pocket full of soul, Des Moines’ Max Jury and his self-titled debut is a wonderful place to start.

Kansas Stik Figa

Ten years into the game, Stik Figa still has yet to get the break he deserves, but his straightforward, politically-charged method isn’t exactly an easy sell in a trap-driven economy. Then again, as Stik Figa points out on “The Incorrigible,” he doesn’t really care because “rap sucks.”

Kentucky Jack Harlow

Not many people can perfectly spit wildfire rhymes while gracefully resting on top of an ice cream truck and being lathered up with sunscreen by a beautiful woman, but that’s just the kind of guy Jack Harlow is. That new rapper you just read about on some blog, Harlow’s better.

Louisiana Christian Scott

In the era of To Pimp A Butterfly, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and his personal brand of jazz fusion which he calls “stretch,” is a name you need to know.

MaineJaw Gems

An electronic quartet drawn together through love of J Dilla, Jaw Gems channel their idol as well as Flying Lotus through their electro-jazz LP Heatweaver.

Maryland Gallant

In a year where everyone was waiting for Frank Ocean’s new album, Gallant has proven he is the future of R&B.

Massachusetts The Hotelier

In 2014, The Hotelier emerged as emo heroes with Home, Like Noplace Is There. With 2016’s Goodness, the trio is finding lighter spaces as a rock band with less labels, and they are just as fantastic as ever.

Michigan JMSN/Pearl

Whether he’s out front as JMSN or veiled behind the boards with Pearl, Christian Berishaj is one of the grooviest cats in the game, and he doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but his.

Minnesota Author

For over a decade and four studio albums, we, as a human race, have failed to give Mutemath the love and praise they deserve. Let’s not make the same mistake when Author’s time comes.

Mississippi Cedric Burnside Project

The son of the innovator of the Hills country blues style of drumming and grandson of the legendary R.L. Burnside, Cedric Burnside has played with artists ranging from Jimmy Buffett to Widespread Panic, collecting the Memphis Blues Music Award’s Best Drummer gong four times.

Missouri Smino

There are lots of names attached to the current hybrid of R&B and pop; St. Louis’ Smino is just better than most of them.

Montana Ovando

Nate Hegyi recently brought out the first in a trilogy of EPs – and its lo-fi quality is no mistake. Here, you’re listening to music made for campfire circles with close friends. However, Hegyi’s acoustic pickings and his plain voice sound even better when paired with the crisp crunch of fresh snow under heavy boots.

Nebraska Twinsmith

Signed to Omaha’s Saddle Creek, Twinsmith produces the catchy, off-kilter indie that one can expect from their hometown label.

Nevada Big Talk

Ronnie Vannucci Jr. is best known as the drummer of The Killers, but he’s also the frontman/everyman for the rock project Big Talk, and they can walk the walk.

New Hampshire Doug Tuttle

If you’re one of those people that believes you should have been born in the ’60s, Doug Tuttle’s psych-pop was made for you.

New Jersey Mndsgn

With a name like Ringgo Ancheta, there’s no doubt you are destined for great things. Signed to the legendary Stones Throw, Mndsgn’s upcoming album, Body Wash, is guaranteed to be filled with glorious ’80s funk and soul that will make you want to boogie in the strangest way.

New Mexico Lowercase Noises

Andy Othling is interested in playing the guitar “as slow as possible”, and his execution is nothing short of breathtaking.

New York BOOTS

It’s not quite apparent what “futurist brutalism” music encompasses, but BOOTS teamed up with NASA (as if co-signs from Beyoncé, Run The Jewels, Frank Ocean, and FKA Twigs weren’t enough) to write a song about space exploration – music that can only be described as stellar.

The Frightnrs

The Queens, NY quartet’s rocksteady debut is one marked by triumph and tragedy. Sounding like a lost lo-fi treasure from the ’60s, the album’s release followed the death of the group’s lead singer, Dan Klein, who was diagnosed with ALS last fall. It’s unclear what’s up next for The Frightnrs, but there’s no doubt that Nothing More To Say will forever remain a bittersweet masterpiece.

North Carolina King Mez

North Carolina’s hip-hop scene is on the rise, and leading the way with acts like Well$ is Raleigh’s King Mez. Oh, and Mez also has the most writing credits on Dr. Dre’s most recent album, Compton, besides Dre himself.

North Dakota Yishay

Yishay’s music will remind listeners of 30 Seconds to Mars with its unorthodox, bombastic rock-electronic mixtures and its massive, echoing vocals, but replace Jared Leto with Domhnall Gleeson.

Ohio Caamp

While their viral hit “Ohio” might give the impression that this duo is doing their best Mumford & Sons impression, be warned that not all banjo-and-acoustic-guitar folk acts are the same.

Oklahoma J.D. McPherson

Thanks to J.D. McPherson, ’50s rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly is alive again in the 21st century; Let The Good Times Roll is as fun as it sounds.

Oregon Mimicking Birds

Nate Lacy’s project garnered significant praise for the cyclical melodies and thorny acoustic pickings of its eponymous debut. For whatever reason, critics seemed to miss 2014’s Eons, the sophomore effort that elevated Lacy and company to a state far more sacred.

Pennsylvania Balance and Composure

Quickly approaching the release of their third LP, the evolution of Balance and Composure from an underground rock blog discovery to Pitchfork news regular always felt certain, and any group that can write consistently acute rock tunes while admitting they aren’t connecting to their own words every night on stage deserves our attention.

Rhode Island The Tower and the Fool

It’s been over four years since The Tower and The Fool released their debut LP, How Long, but the group is reportedly writing and recording their follow-up, and their unique blend of indie, folk, and country will provide a much needed update to their late-night drive/breakup catalogue.

South Carolina All Get Out

Nathan Hussey’s indie punk debut LP, The Season, bore its southern heart on its sleeve. While 2015’s Movement EP lacked the same spring in its step, new single “Home” has recaptured the charm that made Hussey’s music so infectious.

South Dakota Half&Half

We may never be talking about South Dakota as a hip-hop state, but Rapid City’s Half&Half’s new album Hot Sauce will have you talking about hip hop in South Dakota.

Tennessee Birdtalker

Birdtalker produce the high-level Americana music one can expect from Nashville with an indie-pop edge that is sure to propel them to nationwide radio play in no time.

Texas Khalid

After only releasing a few tracks, 18-year-old Khalid is racking up millions of streams with his soulful voice layered over top of minimal, bass-heavy electro-R&B production.

Utah Sego

Call Sego dance-punk, slacker punk, or whatever you want: Spencer Peterson and Thomas Carroll are two weird dudes making rad music that will make you want to dance like a freak.

Vermont Rough Francis

The literal sons (and nephews) of the fathers of punk music, Death, Rough Francis has clearly inherited their family’s rebellious right hook.

Virginia Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo was knighted the savior of indie rock with his new album, Teens of Denial, and with lyrics like “Last Friday, I took acid and mushrooms/I did not transcend, I felt like a walking piece of shit/in a stupid-looking jacket,” it’s hard to disagree.

Washington Raz Simone

While Macklemore might be the only name people recognize in the Seattle hip-hop scene, Raz Simone is undeniably the chosen hometown hero. His content and approach never predictable, he releases bodies of work at an outrageously fast pace to critical acclaim.

West Virginia Rozwell Kid

While the greatest musician to ever reside in West Virginia is undeniably this WVU band member who opted for eating a hot dog instead of playing his trumpet in celebration of a touchdown, indie rock band Rozwell Kid puts out some pretty darn solid jams.

Wisconsin IshDARR

Milwaukee is having a hip-hop moment, and you can bet IshDARR will be Brew City’s first big breakout.

Wyoming Luke Bell

Listening to Luke Bell’s deep tones and traditional country approach will immediately make you wish you were at the local honky-tonk.

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