Underdogs Above Ground: An Examination of Secret Stages – History, Mission, and Aspirations for the Future

What is it about going an impromptu road trip that excites each of us deep within the depths of our spirit? Maybe it’s the open road? Or maybe it’s the endless possibility and adventure that lies ahead? Much like a frenetic and exhilarating unplanned road-trip, Birmingham’s own Secret Stages music festival is that place of excitement that we often get within our spirit after seeing uncharted roads and attractions for the first time. Only Secret Stages is a purveyor of amazing music.

Secret Stages is a unique annual two-day walking music festival founded in 2011 that is hosted in downtown Birmingham, Alabama every first weekend of August over a two block area near local restaurants, bars, shops, and parks. Festival attendees embark a musical discovery journey that includes over 60 up-and-coming bands and artists from various genres of music gracing the stages of local Birmingham spots. In a two day span, your subject to hearing everything from acoustic, alternative country, alt rock, Americana, blues, folk, folk rock, funk, hip hop, indie, jazz, metal, pop, punk, rock, singer/songwriter, southern rock, and so much more.

Secret Stages is hands down one of the must-see events in the Southeastern region of the country that every music enthusiast should make plans to attend. This year’s line-up is comprised of artists from all across the nation from various genres of music! Past artists include the following: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Shovels & Rope, G-Side, Robert Ellis, Jacuzzi Boys, Banditos, Fly Golden Eagle, Lambchop, Hiss Golden Messenger, Futurebirds, Belle Adair, Barton Carroll, Pujol, Ponychase, Shonna Tucker and Ear Candy and many more.

Check out my Q & A Interview with Sam George, one of the creative forces behind Secret Stages below:

SS2015


Q & A interview with Sam George of Secret Stages


How did Secret Stages begin? What inspired the conception of it? Did any other festivals or creative events influence the founding of Secret Stages?

  • We formed Secret Stages in the wake of the collapse of City Stages. We felt that City Stages had become bloated and unrepresentative of the spirit of Birmingham in it’s waning years, and that a fest that focused more on up and coming artists, while showcasing many of the great venues that already exist here would be a better fit.

How do you personally define the mission of Secret Stages?

  • For me, Secret Stages is about spreading the particular joy of finding your new favorite band, and of getting to see that band in an intimate setting before they break out and start playing the larger venues in town to hundreds or thousands of people.

Do you feel like Secret Stages has done a great job of exposing people in the Greater Birmingham area and beyond to quality artists on the rise?

  • I certainly do! Every year there have been artists that we’ve booked that have gone on to acclaim. Dawes, Shovels and Rope, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Hiss Golden Messenger and more!

What has been the most challenging thing that the Secret Stages team has faced as a creative unit and has it grown as a result?

  • The most challenging thing has to been to get people to come out for an event featuring artists they don’t know. People are accustomed to paying for festivals where they already know and love the artists, but as we’ve built a reputation for bringing quality up-and-comers to Birmingham, people have begun to trust that he you come to Secret Stages, you’re going to see amazing stuff, even if you’ve never heard of it before.

Do you feel that people are very familiar with Secret Stages at this point – five years after its founding?

  • We definitely have a following, but because of the nature of our lineup, there’s always more work to be done spreading the word!

What audience do you generally appeal to and who’s been the number one supporter of Secret Stages since day one?

  • That’s one of the great things about our fest, it appeals to such a wide variety of music -lovers. We have so many genre’s, from metal to jazz, from electronic to hip-hop. If you like any kind music, there will be something awesome for you to discover at our fest.

What is Secret Stages ultimate aspiration for the future?

  • We’d like to grow slowly out from our center. Though our lineup is huge, we only bring a fraction of the amazing talent available to us. As interest in exploring new music increases, we’d like to continue to expand what we have on offer.

Who’s your favorite artist in the 2015 Secret Stages line-up and why?

  • Hehe, unfair! So many! I’m a big fan of Landlady from Brooklyn, catchy yet complex art-rock.

Where do you see Secret Stages in the next five years?

  • Still doing our thing. Happier, wiser, older.

How can people get involved, support, or sponsor the efforts of Secret Stages?


secretstages
Until the Next Post,
Janece
Note: All of the images used in this feature story belong to Secret Stages.

 

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