Monday, July 29, 2013

Craft Beer, Craft Music! The Secret to Secret Stages!

By Lee Waites

The festival began as a concept. 

Let the people of Birmingham discover new and diverse music in a live setting: good venues, good food, good bands. May 2011 and 2012 saw just that, hosting over 80 bands on 11 different stages.

With a slight pairing down in 2013, reducing to just over 40 bands on 5 stages, the festival has moved to this coming weekend, August 2nd and 3rd, highlighting the Loft District in downtown Birmingham.
(Click here for lineup)

When Secret Stages first emerged on the scene, Birmingham had recently lost City Stages, our long time music festival. The people of Birmingham later learned there were reports of mismanagement and poor earnings. The company who took over City Stages in 2007 lost over  a million dollars, even leaving some artists to complain they were never paid. 

It was speculated the producers of City Stages, who also produced Bonnaroo, purposefully inhibited the success of City Stages. Birmingham's music festival was held the same weekend as the more hyped, more successful Bonnaroo. 

Bottom line, 2009, after 20 years, Birmingham lost its downtown music festival, leaving a hole in Birmingham's music loving culture. 

It was to great hope, then, that Secret Stages announced plans to present a festival in 2011. Never built to compete with or replace City Stages, as is evident in the name, Secret Stages is a smaller scale, completely different kind of event. Given the changing landscape of the music industry today, Secret Stages is a more befitting representation of modern music. People no longer set out to follow one or two well known acts, produced and promoted by the big record companies. Instead, people are learning to seek out music in a multitude of formats, from a widening array of sources. The public's taste in music is becoming more refined, more eclectic, in the same way more and more people are seeking out quality craft beer, local produce and a local baker. 

Promotional video: 

Secret Stages represents the smaller scale, quality production which is making ever increasing inroads into the modern marketplace. The Birmingham market is maturing, accepting newer, quality goods involving local production and distribution. The music scene is no exception.

Including many local acts, and smaller, newer, discovered acts, Secret Stages is in line with the cutting edge of today's music scene. So far, it has offered the ability to keep up with change, keep up with the creativity and diversity people have begun to expect, offering multiple genres and styles in one event. 

Along with the changing radio-scape, the exposure of the Internet, such as social media and online music outlets, the emergence of mp3s and convenient music downloads, small scale, self promoting local music producers and bands, Secret Stages fills a niche. And like the craft beers you'll drink at the venues involved, it's part of a vibrant, evolving downtown Birmingham.


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