Rock ‘n’ Roll in Bethlehem, PA [classic article]

Like the song says, Rock and Roll is here to stay. Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley is hosting from now through May a whole series of events and exhibits to support the Allentown Art Museum’s “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present”. Visitors to the area will see a kaleidoscope of music, art and fashion in several venues that make up the image and feeling of rock. Rock differs from other forms of music in that not just the songs, but the personalities of the performers and their appearance that they choose to present to the public are all part of the mystique. You can find the details for all of the events for Rock Through the Valley at

The Who Shot Rock and Roll exhibit is quite extensive, with rooms and rooms of over 175 iconic and rare photos of rock artists spanning the 1950’s through today. It’s a wonderfully curated show, dividing the pictures into themes such as before they were famous, live concerts, posed and collaborative work with famous photographers. Check out such photos as Ike Turner giving Tina the evil eye, Johnny Cash giving the camera the finger and Kiss wearing suits. Unrelated to Rock Through the Valley but a good fit is the art museum’s Gothic to Goth exhibit, on display until the end of April. It shows the clothes and art from the 19th century’s cult of mourning to today’s Goth movement.

Allentown’s Baum School of Art is the site of the Frock and Roll: Fashion That Rocks exhibit. At the show, you get a close up and personal view of sexy and wild fashion created for rock stars. Some of the designers are well known, some are hidden gems, both internationally and locally based. To add to the excitement, many of the items displayed are for sale!

Nazareth’s C.F. Martin & Co. has been producing fine acoustic guitars since 1833; their museum and factory tour is great to visit all year. During the Rock Through the Valley event, Martin will be featuring the guitars used by Elvis, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, The Beatles and others. You can check out their exhibit schedule here.

The Hotel Bethlehem has been the elegant signature hotel for celebrities including Bill Clinton and Johnny Cash, and their fans since 1922, though the site was in use as a hotel since 1794. Many rooms have fantastic views of the town, including the Star of Bethlehem lit up on South Mountain at night. The Hotel Bethlehem is pet-friendly. There’s a comfortable lobby bar, a fine dining restaurant, free WiFi and a famous Sunday brunch. So famous in fact, reservations well ahead of time are a necessity. Rooms start at $129 a night.

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