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Secret Stages is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Birmingham this year. The music discovery festival spotlights the Magic City’s thriving arts scene. Keep reading to learn more about the unique event’s legacy and future. Tickets are on sale now.
What is Secret Stages?
Secret Stages is an annual music discovery festival held in the Avondale entertainment district. It highlights promising artists with at least 20% of its yearly lineup showcasing local talent.
The event is particularly popular amongst dedicated Magic City music fans.
“The quintessential essence of what we want to provide is something that only music lovers love. It’s to walk into a small, intimate venue, see a band they’ve never heard before, just have their ears pinned back and become a lifelong fan of a new band.”Jon Poor, Co-Founder, Secret Stages
Music discovery is at the heart of Secret Stages’ magic. Buy your tickets here.
The festival’s founding
Secret Stages was founded by a group of dedicated Alabama music fans. The influential festival came from humble roots.
“It was kind of that cliche story of people at a bar talking about music and saying ‘You know what? We should do a festival.’”Jon Poor
The founders of the festival had an idealistic mission. In 2010, they realized it was almost impossible to discover up-and-coming artists on commercial TV and radio stations. So, they set out to provide an alternative.
The first Secret Stages festival
Secret Stages held its first festival in 2011 between Morris and 2nd Avenue in downtown Birmingham. They’ve since moved to 41st Street in Avondale. That first event was a sprawling event with 13 stages at 13 venues. Though the original festival was disorganized at times, it showcased the potential of a music discovery festival in Birmingham.
“The first year was very much by the seat of our pants. We were figuring it out as we went along. We were lucky that there was a lot of goodwill in our community to make a new festival happen.”Sam George, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Secret Stages
Secret Stages’ ten-year legacy
During the festival’s second year, St. Paul and the Broken Bones played their first ever show on Second Avenue. Since then, they’ve become an iconic Birmingham band that has toured internationally.
Over time, Secret Stages gained a dedicated following. Word spread about the standout festival, which served as a stepping stone for artists like Shovels and Rope, Earthgang and Snail Mail. The event’s fanbase also grew more diverse through its 10 years.
“I try to book artists from as wide a range of genres as possible, and artists from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible. Ultimately, I want people from every part of our community to come to our festival and feel represented.”Rashid Qandil, Booker, Secret Stages
Secret Stages makes sure at least 20% of its lineup is local artists. This rule has made the festival a major way for local bands to gain visibility.
“What we want is for bands to look at us and say, that’s the benchmark for my growth and development here in Birmingham. We hope we’ve given local bands something they can claim as their own.”Jon Poor
Who will you discover at Secret Stages this year? Buy your tickets now and earn lifelong bragging rights.
This year’s festival
The lineup for Secret Stages this year is killer. Top-notch artists from diverse genres will be performing in Birmingham, August 6-7.
The festival looks a bit different this year but continues to keep its core mission of music discovery. The event’s hitting the streets this year with two outdoor stages to promote social distancing. Eat in the Streets is partnering with Secret Stages, too, to feature Avondale favorites like Post Office Pies and Saw’s Soul Kitchen.
The future of music discovery
The founders of Secret Stages are optimistic about its future.
“As far as growth is concerned, I would love to see Secret Stages go all the way down 41st Street to the park. You know, really increase our footprint and our presence, bringing in more regional travel to the city for the festival.”Sam George
I’m sure this year’s Secret Stages will continue its decade-long legacy of music discovery in The Magic City. I can’t wait to witness the festival’s growth and positive impact on Birmingham. Can you?