Steel Bridge Songfest

Steel Bridge Songfest

Steel Bridge Songfest ("Steel Bridge" for short) is an annual, three-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 an historic bridge. The festival features a week-long collaborative songwriting workshop (called The Construction Zone), in which members use the metaphor of a bridge to craft original music. The songs are recorded on-site at the [ Holiday Music Motel] and released as compilation albums, the proceeds of which go directly to fund maintenance and rehabilitation of the bridge.


The Michigan Street 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. Originally called "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.

Participating musicians

A sampling of musicians who have lent their talents to Steel Bridge:

* Jackson Browne (Santa Monica, CA)
* Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's (Los Angeles, CA)
* Freedy Johnston (Nashville, TN)
* Victor DeLorenzo of the Violent Femmes (Milwaukee, WI)
* Clyde Stubblefield (Madison, WI)
* Jonathan Spottiswoode (New York, NY/London, UK)
* Eric McFadden (San Francisco, CA)
* James Hall (Atlanta, GA)
* Kim Manning of P-Funk (Los Angeles, CA)
* pat mAcdonald (Sturgeon Bay, WI)
* Todd Carey (Chicago, IL)
* Sigmund Snopek III of the Violent Femmes (Milwaukee, WI)
* Chris Aaron Band (Denver, CO)
* Dorothy Scott (New York, NY)
* The Dark Horse Project (Milwaukee, WI)
* Kacy Crowley (Austin, TX)
* Geri X. (St. Petersburg, FL)
* Craig Greenberg (New York, NY)
* Johnny Lowebow (Memphis, TN)
* melaniejane (Milwaukee, WI)
* Ellie Maybe (Chicago, IL)( [ Full list of participants] )


* [ Steel Bridge History & FAQ]
* [ A long backstory: how I came to stand behind an unaware Jackson Browne] , joshd. []
* 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.

External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Steel Bridge] on [ MySpace]
* [ Steel Bridge Songs, Vol. 1] on iTunes

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