Steel Bridge SongFest '08 Builds Bridges of Creativity
Posted March 12th, 2008 by Linda

March 12, 2008
Linda Akins
Eds.: The spelling of pat mAcdonald is correct.

Steel Bridge SongFest '08 Builds Bridges of Creativity
while Benefiting a Historic Drawbridge

The Steel Bridge SongFest enters its fourth season, June 12 to 14, of bringing together musicians, songwriters, historic preservationists and music fans. The annual benefit for the Sturgeon Bay Bridge has helped to raise almost $150,000 to save and maintain the bridge, and to build community awareness of the importance of preserving it.

This year’s festival will once again feature singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, musician/singer Jane Wiedlin of The Go’s-Go’s, and co-founder and musician pat mAcdonald. mAcdonald also will again host The Construction Zone, a week-long workshop for 25 invited songwriters who find their collaborative partners with a rousing game of Spin the Bottle. The songwriters will perform at various venues around town during the week and record their original songs for possible inclusion on a CD. In past years some 120 songs have been recorded as a result of The Construction Zone. One CD is complete and on the market and another will debut at the festival this year.

Christie Weber, the other co-founder of the festival and president of Citizens for our Bridge, has been a tireless crusader for the preservation and enhancement of the bridge. The two-lane structure spans the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal in the central business district of Sturgeon Bay. Built in 1930, it is only one of two bridges of its type in the United States—an upper rolling lift bascule bridge. The 1,420-foot bridge is comprised of a counter-balanced, movable span and 12 concrete and steel truss approach spans. The bridge, a familiar sight for Door County vacationers and locals, is listed on the Wisconsin Register of Historic Places and recently was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

With the bridge as its beneficiary, the songfest has developed into much more than a concert. It celebrates live music, activism, historic preservation and creativity. More than 100 bands from across the country donate their services to help raise money and awareness for the bridge. Components of the event include:

• Take It To The Bridge. An all-day, benefit concert headlined by Jackson Browne on Saturday, June 14, at the Great Lakes Yacht Services boatyard. Jane Wiedlin of Go-Go’s fame will also appear.

• Take It Inside. Three nights of live original music will be featured in multiple venues around town, including all-ages shows.

• The Construction Zone. This component brings original songwriting into the festival mix. Twenty-five songwriters are invited for five days of intensive collaborative songwriting. Writers are encouraged to write songs loosely based around the metaphor of a steel bridge. (The Construction Zone is for invited musical guests only.)

• The Steel Bridge Songfest CD. The best songs to come out of the songwriting workshops are captured on CD to be released the following year. Songwriters perform their original creations on the concert stages and at the venues around town and the live performances are recorded. Also, a custom-designed recording studio at the Holiday Motel is assembled for studio recordings. Steel Bridge Songs Vol. 1 is complete. Vol. 2 will have its release at this year’s festival.

mAcdonald’s and Weber’s efforts do not stop at fundraising. They are adamant about public education on the significance of the bridge and the efforts needed to keep it operating. Citizens for Our Bridge Inc. does ongoing work with federal highway officials and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to monitor bridge developments. The organization’s aim is to raise the money and awareness needed to preserve the bridge. The money raised is used in the educational effort and is collected in a special fund held by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and earmarked for expenses related to preserving and enhancing the historic bridge.
 © Citizens for Our Bridge, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.