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Holiday Music Motel's WRiTERS' NiGHT a Haven of Creativity in Sturgeon Bay
By Steve Allen - Sponsored by Lakeshore Motorsports LLC
Jan 4, 2012 - 9:00:00 AM
When it comes to finding a fun and supportive place for impromptu performances of the latest song, poem, or comedy sketch you've either just written or had laying in a drawer for thirty years, all roads lead to Sturgeon Bay. And we're not talking just locals. WRiTERS' NiGHT at the Holiday Music Motel in downtown Sturgeon Bay is an open mic opportunity for songwriters, poets, playwrights, storytellers, authors, comedians, and
so forth. Visitors from all over the country and even the world have stopped in to participate or just hang out.
The gathering happens almost every Thursday evening of the year from 7:00 - 9:00 pm in the cozy lobby of this musician-owned lodging establishment, a charming retro motel reminiscent of the 1950s; in fact, it was a landmark place to stay in the area back in that day, and has been totally restored to that look and feel as a friendly "Mom & Pop" type place. Amateur and professional writers of song and letters come together as a family to share inspiration in the smiling shadow of the historic Michigan Street bridge, built in 1929 and known nationally for its rare rolling bascule lift spans that open gently for passing nautical craft of all sizes and shapes.
When a larger crowd shows up, the proceedings are often moved upstairs to a larger room, which also serves as a professional music studio, used for rehearsal, recording, and live performances. Wisconsin singer/songwriter Miss Meaghan Owens, recently at WRiTERS' NiGHT with Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Kim Manning, quite aptly calls the Holiday "The House of Song".
What might one hear at this venue? For musical styles, it might be folk, blues, jazz, classical, rock, country, southern rock, you name it. As for instruments, it could be guitar, drums, harmonica, keyboards, cello, violin, banjo, mandolin, tambourines, triangles, bells, etc. The age range of participants has varied from 7 (a little girl on the violin) to folks in their senior years. Music, poetry, and really all the arts know no age boundaries.
Although the emphasis of these evenings is on writing and playing one's own work, there is an occasional cover. After all, it might be a new arrangement or interpretation of someone else's work. Recently, a local singer and guitarist presented a stunning rendition of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", which would rival that of its composer Gordon Lightfoot.
"It's very much an atmosphere of encouragement and appreciation", explained current WRiTERS' NiGHT host Kory Murphy. "People can share anything they'd like, and it's often a work-in-progress". If an artist needs to stop and start over, no big deal. Fellow writers understand this, and those that come to listen, watch, and enjoy come to feel they're actually part of the creative process. Feedback from folks who care is very helpful to a writer, whether he or she is new at it or a seasoned veteran.
Here's an event that's free, open to all, where you can come and go at will, and no two evenings are alike. Local singer/songwriter/instrumentalist melaniejane, of the band Purgatory Hill, loves the diversity of talent. "You never know what's going to happen or when there will be a brilliant moment", she observes. "I love it". Indeed, one evening melaniejane quietly opened a very small case, pulled out a few long and thin pieces, assembled them, and voila ... an amazing electric cello appeared. The sounds from this instrument were truly gorgeous, nearly identical to a traditional cello. pAt mAcdonald, creative director for the Holiday Music Motel, and one of its musician owners, founded the event a couple of years ago after a Jackson Browne concert one wintry night. "WRiTERS' NiGHT is really an outgrowth of the Steel Bridge Songfest, which we started in 2005. It helps fulfill the need to have a local place for supporting the creative process," he explained. Prior to this, there was a Songwriter Showcase held at the now-closed Cafe Launch, just a few blocks away. mAcdonald's musician friends Adam Mackintosh and Anna Sacks started that event and hosted it for quite a few months before moving from the area. pAt, the other half of Purgatory Hill, carries on the tradition he began by playing often when these special evenings take place.
There are no cover charges,
complimentary coffee and snacks (sometimes double-sided Oreos), plus beer and malt beverages for sale.
WRiTERS' NiGHT Host Kory Murphy is a young Wisconsin-based singer/songwriter who is spending time here in the area and is focusing on writing, recording, and touring. He has a gentle yet full and
powerful vocal gift with lots of heartfelt, sincere emotion and adds a
rich and mellow acoustic guitar sound to produce a refreshing and spirited style
of indie folk music. He'll usually open and close the evening with one of his original tunes, such as the ballad "When Morning Comes".
Below is a short video clip of what WRiTERS' NiGHT is all about!
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