Steel Bridge Songfest
Steel Bridge Songfest ("Steel Bridge" for short) is an annual, four-day music festival held in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Founded in 2005 by musician Pat MacDonald and his sister, social activist Christie Weber, the event began as part of a grass-roots campaign to restore a historic bridge. The festival features a week-long collaborative songwriting workshop (called the Construction Zone) where participants write songs inspired by the bridge. The songs are recorded on-site at the Holiday Music Motel and released as compilation albums. Steel Bridge Songs Vol.10 was released during Steel Bridge Songfest 10th Anniversary (2016)
The Michigan Street Bridge a.k.a. Sturgeon Bay Bridge (originally called "Memorial Bridge") is a multi-span Warren/Parker truss bridge built in 1929 and dedicated the following year. It connects Wisconsin State Highway 57 to the Third Avenue business district, carrying motor and foot traffic over the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal. The structure is a Door County landmark, and appears in the official logo of the city of Sturgeon Bay. Its rolling bascule lift spans are unique in the country, and in 2008 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1995, continuous remote monitoring by Northwestern University's Infrastructure Technology Institute detected new cracks in the track casting, later confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). Though the cracks were repaired, a 1997 Programmatic Agreement amongst the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) determined that the bridge did not warrant preservation. In 1999, the FHWA began considering plans to demolish and replace the bridge.
It is during this time that Citizens For Our Bridge, a non-profit 501(c)(3), was founded as "S.O.B."s ("Save Our Bridge"). The group was formed by citizens opposed to the suggested destruction. Working together with ACHP and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, CFOB proposed a plan to rehabilitate the structure. As it became apparent that more money might be needed than WisDOT was willing to spend, CFOB founder Christie Weber and her brother, musician pat mAcdonald, organized a small music festival to raise the funds. mAcdonald asked the help of his longtime friend, singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, and Steel Bridge Songfest was born.
A sampling of musicians who have lent their talents to Steel Bridge:
- Chris Aaron Band (Madison, WI)
- Jackson Browne (Santa Monica, CA)
- Todd Carey (Chicago, IL)
- Charlie Cheney (Sturgeon Bay, WI)
- Kacy Crowley (Austin, TX)
- The Dark Horse Project (Milwaukee, WI)
- Victor DeLorenzo of the Violent Femmes (Milwaukee, WI)
- Louise Goffin (Los Angeles, CA)
- Dana Erlandson (Green Bay, WI)
- Craig Greenberg (New York, NY)
- James Hall (Atlanta, GA)
- Freedy Johnston (Nashville, TN)
- Jon Kanis (San Diego, CA)
- Tarl Knight (Sturgeon Bay, WI)
- Johnny Lowebow (Memphis, TN)
- Pat MacDonald (Sturgeon Bay, WI)
- Kim Manning of P-Funk (Los Angeles, CA)
- Ellie Maybe (Madison, WI)
- Eric McFadden (San Francisco, CA)
- melaniejane (Milwaukee, WI)
- Alex Mitchard (Madison, WI)
- Liv Mueller (Austin, TX)
- Kory Murphy (Green Bay, WI)
- Bruce Reaves (South Bend, IN)
- Dorothy Scott (New York, NY)
- Brandon Seyferth (Chicago, IL)
- Sigmund Snopek III of the Violent Femmes (Milwaukee, WI)
- Jonathan Spottiswoode (New York, NY/London, UK)
- Clyde Stubblefield (Madison, WI)
- Victoria Vox (Baltimore, MD)
- Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's (Los Angeles, CA)
- Geri X (St. Petersburg, FL)
- "HISTORY". steelbridgesongfest.org. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
- Steel Bridge History & FAQ
- A long backstory: how I came to stand behind an unaware Jackson Browne, joshd. Superstarcastic.com
- Ed Huycke, 2007. 'Answering a friend's call', Door County Magazine Online
- SBSF4 from Door County Scene
- Karen Klement, 2007. 'Sturgeon Bay: The Songwriting Capital of the World', Door County Daily News
- WisDOT 2005. 'Michigan Street Bridge study'
- ACHP 2006. 'Completed Case: Sturgeon Bay Bridge Rehabilitation'. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Case Digest, pp. 9–10.
- Northwestern University Infrastructure Technology Institute, 2004. 'Continuous Remote Monitoring' (Somat Conference)
- Stephanie Joy Smith, 2008. 'Who's News'. Preservation Magazine, National Trust for Historic Preservation.
- Jon Kanis, 2013. 'Check Your Ego At The Door: Transformation And Rejuvenation At The Steel Bridge Songfest'. The San Diego Troubadour.