Secret Stages is an annual 2-day pub-crawl music festival that takes place in early August in Downtown Birmingham.
“Instead of the sprawl of City Stages, Secret Stages carefully curates acts on the rise throughout a variety of genres, united, more than anything else, by a prevailing sense of good taste.”
“Despite the lack of marquee headliners, that are used to draw large audiences and boost attendance, Secret Stages continues to be a breath of fresh air in its commitment to local artists and their promotion. This ethic has proven to be effective as more and more people each year choose to attend Secret Stages.”
— The Blue Indian (Macon)
“In this age of instant gratification, the concept of a music festival where the main goal is for patrons to discover new bands – rather than see bands they already know and love – is risky to say the least. Yet here we are, in the fifth year of Secret Stages, and it’s going as strong as ever.”
“It would have been anybody’s guess that Birmingham would host the best Indie Festival in the Southeast.”
— The Nashville Bridge
“…one of the most exciting new music festivals in the Southeast”
— The Audiovore
“Secret Stages is already a far, far better music festival than anyone dreamed it might be.”
— Black & White
“…turned out to be the indie rock party of the year in the Southeast with thousands of fans showing up through a simple blog and word of mouth.”
“…one of the biggest bangs for your buck you’re likely to find anywhere.”
— Chattanooga Pulse
Secret Stages aims to help facilitate and encourage both a working local music industry and a vibrant downtown Birmingham by:
Bringing unique and extraordinary music talent to Birmingham
For six years Secret Stages has presented some of the best talent that the Southeast and the nation have to offer. Whether it’s free jazz, folk, hip hop, country, or something new we have yet to discover, our only concern is that it be great. A few of our more notable alumni include:
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Played SS in May 2012. Secret Stages was the first show ever for the biggest band that Birmingham, AL has ever produced. This year they opened several dates for The Rolling Stones, one of the biggest bands in history.
Shovels and Rope
Played SS in May 2012. Broke out in 2013 playing major festivals including Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazz Fest and Newport Folk Festival. Signed to Dualtone Records (Lumineers) and High Road Touring (Aimee Mann, Pixies). Made their TV debut playing the song “Birmingham” on Late Show with David Letterman, January 30, 2013.
Played SS in May 2011. Shortly after Secret Stages, Dawes worked with Jackson Browne on the legendary artist’s album Standing in the Breach. Their extensive touring has included some of the biggest festivals in the world. They were signed to ATO Records (label of Alabama Shakes, My Morning Jacket).
Played SS in May 2012. In a span of a few years Lydia Loveless (only 25) has recorded 4 full length records. Her latest record, Real, is getting rave reviews from NPR, Rolling Stone, Stereogum, Spin, Fader, and The Onion’s AV Club. Richard Hell said: “Lydia is the only singer/songwriter the power of whose music and voice consistently makes me cry.”
Played SS in May 2012. Ellis is currently signed to New West (label of Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Buddy Miller). Went on to open for Willie Nelson on tour. Ellis has also toured with Alabama Shakes, Old Crow Medicine Show and the Old 97’s.
Hiss Golden Messenger
Played SS in May 2012. Went on to sign with one of the most respected indie labels in the world, Merge Records (label of Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Magnetic Fields). Played Bonnaroo in 2015, as well as Sasquatch, Newport Folk Festival, and Primavera Sound.
Played SS in August 2015. Shortly after being booked by Secret Stages, they signed with Fat Possum Records (R.L. Burnside, Black Keys, and Spiritualized) AND High Road Touring (Indigo Girls, Drive-By Truckers).
Lee Bains and the Glory Fires
Played SS in May 2012. Lee Bains and the Glory Fires signed to Sub Pop Records (Nirvana, Afghan Whigs, and Iron and Wine) after playing Secret Stages. They are booked by P.G.A. (Widespread Panic, R.E.M.).
Played SS in May 2011 and August 2014. Pujol went on to sign to Saddle Creek Records (label of Bright Eyes, Azure Ray) and did a 7″ record with Jack White’s Third Man Records. Opened tour dates for Jack White.
Played SS in May 2011. William Tyler went on to sign to Merge Records (Spoon, Superchunk). Tyler has toured with Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear) Yo La Tengo, Lambchop, Rhys Chatham, and Steve Gunn.
Played SS in August 2015. Shortly after being booked for Secret Stages 2015, they signed with High Road Touring (booking agency of Alabama Shakes, Wilco). These guys are primed for the big leagues.
Played SS in August 2014. Shortly after Adia Victoria was booked she signed with Billions (Bon Iver, Glen Hansard, St. Vincent) booking agency. Her first full length record will be released in 2016.
Increasing the opportunity for music education for area school children
Secret Stages understands that education is vital to growing strong and productive communities. An education in music can spark a rewarding and lifelong passion. We seek to help make that education available and affordable to as many of Birmingham’s youth as possible.
SCROLLWORKS YOUTH MUSIC SCHOOL — Since 2012, Secret Stages has partnered with Scrollworks Youth Music School. Scrollworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing music education to Birmingham area school kids of all ages. Secret Stages has aided Scrollworks by sponsoring instrument drives, hosting semester ending performances, and through cash donations. In 2015, we were able to donate more that $2,000 to this organization.
GIRLS ROCK BHAM — 2015 began a new relationship between Secret Stages and Girls Rock B’ham. Girls Rock Camp is a week-long program serving girls ages 9-16 in the Birmingham areas. During the week, campers learn an instrument, form a band and write an original song. In addition, the girls will participate in workshops centered around empowerment and creativity such as songwriting, DJing, image & identity, zine-Making, screen-printing, design and more, all designed to cultivate self-esteem & healthy expression. Secret Stages hosted the Girls Rock end of camp performance and aided with promotions.
Providing performance, educational, and networking opportunities for area musicians
By curating an event that is solely dedicated to quality music, Secret Stages hopes to provide a platform for a variety of local artists. Bands who are established in the local scene use Secret Stages as a way to reach a new audience, often times debuting new material or a new direction. New bands, whether they be just young or newly formed, can look to Secret Stages as an opportunity to launch their sound and gain that first modicum of legitimacy in the local scene.
For the last 4 years Secret Stages has provided, at no charge, a licensed entertainment lawyer to consult with any band who may have questions about the complicated and every-changing music industry.
Bringing regional and national industry focus and media attention to Birmingham’s vibrant music scene
Each year, Secret Stages actively recruits regional press, record label executives, and other industry players to come to Birmingham. Our hope is to give all bands some much needed and well deserved exposure to the types of industry professionals that can help them take the next step in their music careers. We take special pride in seeing local artists gain this type of respect. The industry in Birmingham is developing and we aim to be a part of a new attitude that says you can get there from here.
Focusing regional attention on the burgeoning downtown Birmingham business community
From its inception, one of Secret Stages’ central goals has been to be a partner in the ongoing revitalization of downtown Birmingham. We are proud to play a role in helping people discover or rediscover the excitement of a vibrant city center and we have been inspired by the growth and development of the area.
Every year we hear comments like, “I had no idea this place existed,” or, “I need to come down here more often. This is great.” We aim to keep that spirit of discovery alive as more and more people choose downtown Birmingham as the spot to launch their next big idea.