living local // secret stages

Last year, a few weeks after Max and I moved to downtown, some friends of ours invited us to attend a local music festival called Secret Stages. New to the area, we were eager to check out some local venues and artists. We soon realized, that secret stages is more than just a music festival, it's a platform for up-and-coming artists, from punk rock to honky tonk, that supports local neighborhood restaurants and bars in the heart of Birmingham's historic district. Lucky for us, our loft is right in the middle of that 2 block radius, so it's the perfect event for us to get out, support local venues, and discover the next big thing! I've been seeing stickers and posters about Secret Stages peppered around our neighborhood and we can't wait to check it out again this year! I recently got in touch with Travis Morgan, co-founder of Secret Stages, to find out more about his story, how Secret Stages came to be, and an insiders advice on what to do to get the most out of the Secret Stages experience. 

Oh, and to giveaway a FREE pass for one lucky winner who answers the question below!

1.  How did the idea for "Secret Stages" come about?
Secret Stages came about in the wake of City Stages when a group of us, some of whom were working at Birmingham Weekly at the time, decided to come up with a different vision of what a music festival in Birmingham could be. Something that embraced new and emerging music and that remained affordable both to produce and attend.

2. Why is it called "Secret Stages"?
The name Secret Stages originally comes from a show that was put on at BHAM.FM (RIP) to protest the lack of quality local bands on the lineup in the final year of City Stages. Since the bar they booked shows at regularly (Speakeasy) was inside the City Stages footprint, they considered it a "secret" stage at the final year of City Stages, and called it Secret Stages. When we were coming up with the name for the fest, the BHAM.FM folks allowed us to appropriate the name.

3. How is secret stages making a name for Birmingham and contributing to the rebirth of downtown?
Secret Stages is the first music pub crawl in Birmingham.  With 7 venues, all within easy walking distance of each other, we are presenting a blueprint for what the city could look like if there was more nightlife and people walking around at night on Morris Ave, and 1st and 2nd Aves North. We are bringing revenue to local restaurants, vendors, venues and bars surrounding the area. We are bringing folks into the hotels in Bham and helping keep that positive vibe about Birmingham among visitors. We've brought over 300 bands, from all around the southeast and the country, to Birmingham over the past 5 years, providing a platform for amazing "on the cusp" bands to display their music. We are getting regional and national attention and have become a trusted band for people's listening habits.

Additionally, a big focus of ours is to strengthen the local music industry and to support music education.  We are giving a platform to a number of strong local talent and providing them with an audience they might not have access to. We have also been directly tied to Scrollworks Youth Music School since year one. We donate 20% of our profits to them.  We are also partnering with Girls Rock Bham this year as well.

4.  If you could map out your ideal secret stages weekend, what would it be?
I definitely recommend buying tickets and becoming familiar with the bands BEFORE the festival gets here.  And start now! Go to our website at and check out our audio player.  We'll have over 60 tracks, one track from each of our performing acts to listen to. 

If you don't have time to plan out which bands to see, it's still a great festival to wander around at and experience randomly. Step outside your comfort zone. You never know what you might discover! 

5.  Which band or bands do you think will be the next big thing?
Now, if I just had my magic eight ball with me! I could never had predicted St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Shovels and Rope would blow up when I first discovered them, so you may not get a good answer, but if I had to choose, I would choose Raindeer, Landlady, Muuy Biien, Sleepwalkers, Gold-Bears, Sweet Crude and White Reaper. Young Bham bands that have great potential are Dead Balloons, Eleven Year Old, Velouria and The Burning Peppermints. I also am really excited about Timber's new material.

Want to check out Secret Stages for FREE? 
Answer the following question for a chance to win a FREE Pass!

Which Secret Stages alum just played Bonnaroo a few weekends ago? 
Name 1 or 2 of the 3 Secret Stage alum bands that performed in the comments below to win!

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  1. Replies
    1. Yes! You are correct Laura! Is still your correct email? I will email you with details on how to get your TWO free passes!



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