Secret Stages is a regional music festival worth your $25

One of my favorite things about music festivals is the thrill of discovery.  It’s somewhere between unlikely and impossible that the average festival-goer is familiar with every single act on any given lineup, so encountering new music is almost inevitable.  Even if you plan your schedule around tried and true favorites, you’ll probably end up hearing something unfamiliar along the way.

Discovery seems to be one of the driving forces behind Birmingham, AL’s Secret Stages, a new walking festival that will feature emerging bands from all across the Southeast.  There are a handful of acts with considerable national recognition (Dawes, The Love Language, and G-Side, among others), but most of the lineup is made up of bands looking to make the move from local to regional to national.  The festival was booked with the intention of showcasing some of the most promising under-the-radar bands in the region.  “We literally went through every state in the Southeast and handpicked our favorites,” says festival organizer Travis Morgan.

The Atlanta bands making the trip this year definitely back up those claims.  We will be represented by Noot d’ Noot, Howlies, Oryx and Crake, The Booze, and The Biters, all of whom have received a strong reception in their respective local scenes and seem poised for more recognition outside of Atlanta.  The same can be said for Athens’ Futurebirds, Venice is Sinking, and Madeline.  For me, Secret Stages’ biggest draw is the chance to discover these bands’ counterparts from Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and beyond.  It’s a chance to hear some of the best stuff from other regional music scenes.  And it’s cheap – weekend passes are only $25.  VIP passes guaranteeing priority entry to venues are $55, and that also gets you access to a VIP area with complimentary food and booze.  That should pay for itself.

The two day festival will take place across six different venues and one outdoor stage in downtown Birmingham.  Morgan says the schedule is being put together “strategically,” with bands assigned to appropriately sized venues and not necessarily grouped by hometown or genre, a scenario that seems ideal for audience cross-polination.  Show up to support some hometown heroes, then stick around to see something new.

When asked about future plans for Secret Stages, Morgan stresses that the festival wants to maintain its regional focus.  The festival isn’t just trying to replicate the success of SXSW or CMJ: “I’ve definitely been to both events and they certainly have made an impact on me.  I know they both started out very small like Secret Stages, but our ambitions are not to necessarily grow to the size of those festivals.”  The focus will remain on putting together a quality festival with the best acts the region has to offer.  Those are modest ambitions, but that’s for the best.  If the festival got too big, it would be at the expense of what makes it unique.

Some of the other lineup highlights are Crooked Fingers, Thomas Function, Wooden Wand, Glossary, Jack Oblivian, William Tyler, Jacuzzi Boys, Pujol, and The Deloreans.  The full current lineup can be found after the jump (there are still more acts to be announced).  There will be comedians performing, too.  More information can be found on Secret Stages’ website, and tickets can be purchased here.

Bands:

13ghosts (Birmingham, AL)
Ahleuchatistas (Asheville, NC)
The Bandar-Log (Auburn, AL)
Barton Carroll (Seattle, WA)
The Bear (Muscle Shoals, AL)
Belle Adair (Muscle Shoals, AL)
The Biters (Atlanta, GA)
The Bohannons (Chattanooga, TN)
The Booze (Atlanta, GA)
Brass Bed (Lafayette, LA)
Canago (Bowling Green, KY)
The Chad Fisher Group (Birmingham, AL)
Church of My Love (Montgomery, AL)
Crooked Fingers (Asheville, NC)
Dangermuffin (Charleston, SC)
Dawes
(Los Angeles, CA)
Delicate Cutters
(Birmingham, AL)
The Deloreans
(Louisville, KY)
Dylan LeBlanc (Muscle Shoals, AL)
Empress Hotel
(New Orleans, LA)
The Fervor (Louisville, KY)
Fighting Meeces (Birmingham, AL)
Futurebirds
(Athens, GA)
G-Side
(Huntsville, AL)
Glossary (Murfreesboro, TN)
The Great Book of John (Birmingham, AL)
The Green Seed (Birmingham, AL)
The Grenadines (Birmingham, AL)
The Gum Creek Killers (Birmingham, AL)
Hammer No More The Fingers (Durham, NC)
Hibachi Stranglers (Mobile, AL)
Howlies (Atlanta, GA)
HROM (Birmingham, AL)
Jack Oblivian (Memphis, TN)
Jacuzzi Boys (Miami, FL)
Jasmin Kaset (Nashville, TN)
Johnny Bertram & the Golden Bicycles (Jackson, MS)
John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives (Memphis, TN)
Jon Poor Band (Birmingham, AL)
Kovacs and the Polar Bear (Asheville, NC)
The Love Language (Raleigh, NC)
Madeline (Athens, GA)
The Magic Math (Birmingham, AL)
Model Citizen (Birmingham, AL)
Moonlight Bride (Chattanooga, TN)
Night of the Wolf (Chattanooga, TN)
Nightmare Waterfall (Birmingham, AL)
The Non-Commissioned Officers (Nashville, TN)
Noot d’Noot (Atlanta, GA)
Only Thieves (Tallahassee, FL)
Oryx and Crake (Atlanta, GA)
Pujol (Nashville, TN)
Rubys (Birmingham, AL)
Sanders Bohlke (Oxford, MS)
The Seedy Seeds (Cincinnati, OH)
Seraphim (Tupelo, MS)
Sharrif Simmons (Birmingham, AL)
Skewby (Memphis, TN)
Sovereign (London, UK / Miami, FL)
The Sunshine Factory (Mobile, AL)
Taylor Hollingsworth (Birmingham, AL)
Thomas Function (Huntsville, AL)
Through the Sparks (Birmingham, AL)
URI (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Velvet Kente (Little Rock, AR)
Venice is Sinking (Athens, GA)
Vulture Whale (Birmingham, AL)
William Tyler (Nashville, TN)
Wooden Wand (Lexington, KY)
Yardwork (Charlotte, NC)

Comedians:

Andy Sandford (Atlanta, GA)
Chris Crofton (Nashville, TN)
Christopher Davis (Birmingham, AL)
Connor Barrett (Atlanta, GA)
Eunice Elliott (Birmingham, AL)
Gilbert Lawand (Atlanta, GA)
Hank Lazard (Birmingham, AL)
Joe Raines (Birmingham, AL)
Karen Hilton (Atlanta, GA)
Luke Fields (Athens, GA)
Russell Ehrett (Birmingham, AL)
SUPERKING (Birmingham, AL)
TJ Young (Athens, GA)

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