My friend and I are planning an 17 day road trip starting on 5 Sept in Nashville (2 days), probably heading to Memphis then down to New Orleans (where we'll spend 4-5 days) and then a few days in other parts of Louisiana (because we hear its great!) before we fly out of Houston on 22 Sept (no particular plan to spend time there though).
We love music so tracking down great local venues and musical delights will be a priority. We feel confident about discovering stuff in Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans but what we are really keen for is suggestions on great places to pass through or stop at between the major cities, we want to get a feel for the culture of the South - meet locals, see some beautiful spots, catch a bit of the history, etc.- so we're trying to work out a route that will maximise the experience for us.
Also (and this is probably a total novice question!), is it easy enough just to find motels and cheap-ish accommodation along the way or should be be trying to book ahead?