Thursday, September 26, 2013

Secret Stages presents Colossal Gospel

Secret Stages presents Colossal Gospel 

Alabama Music goes to Pale Eddies in downtown Birmingham, Alabama to attend a performance by Colossal Gospel for Secret Stages. In both of its first two years (2011, 2012), Secret Stages brought thousands of people to downtown Birmingham. For two nights a diverse group of music enthusiasts were treated to over 80 bands and a dozen comedians performing on eleven different stages. These acts were drawn from the nation, the region, and our own back yard. The spirit of Secret Stages celebrates that which is coming next in the world of music. Secret Stages 2013, that spirit was very much alive.

You've heard mention of the "Heart of the South" aplenty. It's something of a regional reference point, the geographic central organ of whatever context in which it's breathed. It can simultaneously be the Georgia Piedmont and the Mississippi Delta. Maybe it's where those hillbillies dwell up near the Great Smokies in the Appalachian Plateau. Just depends. On what you're reading. Or seeing. Or listening to. On where that story happens to live. The Heart of the South can be anyplace, which basically means it's every place. And if it's every place, then maybe it ain't a place at all. Maybe it's a secret or an idea or some other intangible thing, cloistered away in the innermost chamber of the indigenous spirit. May very well be a birthright, that. Protected, localized, impossibly extracted or replicated by outsiders. We see it and hear it and feel it because those who can access it choose or feel compelled to tell it, in whatever version is theirs.

We don't know what compelled Stephen Weibelt and Chris Johnson to build a makeshift studio in a makeshift shed in Leeds, Alabama -- a state, as it were, that bills itself as the Heart of Dixie -- and make music. But they did. As Colossal Gospel, the duo quietly and nearly anonymously recorded the songs that would become "Circles," their debut LP. If psych-folk is LSD around a bonfire, "Circles" is a low dose of mushrooms on the front porch; a folkloric nu-gospel trip that pulses with the humid breath of a trueborn southern narrative.

In Colossal Gospel's telling, the story is a sort of grounded fairytale, magic realism, maybe that meta-world that lives just beyond the margins, which prayers or thoughts seek to find. Its twilight more than dark, a touch (or three) merrier than the sweaty Southern Gothic macabre of its forebears. But it does pass under their looming, languid branches from time to time.

No comments:

Post a Comment