Project: Holiday Music Motel


June 2011

I consider my participation with the Holiday Music Motel to be an ongoing project, a point worthy of consideration because there is no single entity that has had more of an impact on my life and my writing. In 2011 I was invited to participate in Steel Bridge Songfest, a songwriting festival born of an effort to save an historic bridge in downtown Sturgeon Bay, WI. I was invited as a performer, but the driving force of the festival is the week-long songwriting intensive that precedes the event. Writers and engineers are invited from all over the world to the Holiday Music Motel, a funky 1950s roadside motel that is co-owned by former Timbuk3 frontman pat mAcdonald, acclaimed songwriter Jackson Browne, and others. Fascinated by the energy of the town during the festival, I returned as a writer in 2012, and in 2013 I also began to attend the smaller events Dark Songs (October) and Love On Holiday (February). 

The frenetic writing pace at the events-- with the aim to write and record at least one new song every 24 hours-- is transformative enough on its own, but the real magic is in learning how to collaborate. Writers are grouped in 3s, and incorporating the influences and skill sets of each group member to create a cohesive final product under that kind of deadline requires an extremely open mind. Growth is inevitable.

selected songs from the holiday

Over the last 13 events, I have co-written 54 songs. Below is a selection of songs that have been included on the festival compilation albums released by the Holiday Music Motel, all of which are available on their website.

  • One Thousand Years (Dark Songs 2015). Co-writers: Jamey Clark, Julia McConahay.
  • Crow Black Crow (Dark Songs 2013). Co-writers: Adam Mackintosh, Troy Therrien, Craig McClelland.
  • Surrender To The Fantasy (Love On Holiday 2015). Co-writers: Andrea Wittgens, Amanda Jo Langley.