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Songwriting retreats to take place in Curtis

Professional musicians to teach basic songwriting skills

Attendees and music professionals from Above the Bridge Songwriters Weekend, above, gather for a group shot at their last day during a previous retreat at Chamberlin’s Ole Forest Inn in Curtis. The two-weekend event will take place in June, if current executive orders are lifted. (Photo courtesy of Jamie-Sue Seal)

MARQUETTE — From Americana, blues, jazz, country, contemporary Christian to rock, music will bring people together for the annual two-weekend excursion songwriting extravaganza where beginners and experienced musicians will learn the logistics of writing a song from professional musicians.

Above the Bridge Songwriters Weekend consists of two retreats with the first weekend taking place June 11-14 and the second from June 18-21 at Chamberlin’s Ole Forest Inn and some events taking place at the Erickson Center for the Arts in Curtis, Michigan. Though the “stay at home” executive orders are in place, officials hope that status won’t be extended. However, if the event is canceled, officials will notify participants and issue a full refund.

About 25 to 30 musicians and singer/songwriters from 15 to 75 years old are involved in this event that originated back in 2008 when Rachel Lynn and SG Wood, who are a husband/wife music duo originally from the Detroit area, decided to create a weekend designated toward helping musicians grow, said marketing coordinator Jamie-Sue Seal of Above the Bridge Songwriters Weekend. Not only do these retreats bring like-minded musicians who have a passion for songwriting together, it’s the camaraderie that helps connect one another and gives them an ample opportunity to collaborate, Seal said.

“We are passionate about songwriting. When people come to the retreat and they’ve never written a song before and then are given the tools and inspiration, by the end of the retreat, they have started or finished their first song; it is very exciting,” Seal said. “We have attendees who started coming the first year never have written a song, and now are releasing their third and fourth CDs containing a collection of songs they’ve written themselves.”

Weekend coordinators Kelly Chamberlin and John Latini will welcome attendees and manage all the details to ensure that each singer/musician gets the most out of their experience. Latini, a three-time Detroit Blues Champion and Grand Prize Dallas Songwriting Winner, leads each retreat with “encouragement and humor,” Seal said. Other music professionals involved in the retreat include The Hummingbirds, Annie & Rod Capps and long-time songwriter Pat Bergeson, who was Chet Atkins’ guitarist and songwriting partner for several years and who also wrote songs for Alison Krauss. With years of experience of touring with country artists such as Lyle Lovett and Suzy Bogguss and the hundreds of records he’s played on as a studio musician in Nashville, Bergeson has the tips of ingredients to write a song and help other musicians grow, she added.

Over the years, the event has had some changes and experiments but it remains fairly close to what it was the first few years in operation, Seal continued. Attendees arrive Thursday evening for appetizers and cocktail hour and the first two nights are open mic, which is optional. Four to five staff members lead the workshops that cover multiple aspects of songwriting composition, the music business and song critiques. The retreat also consists of one-on-one sessions, free time and designated segments of the day where attendees can work on song projects. The grand finale concludes with a Saturday night staff concert and Sunday morning allows for attendees to showcase what they’ve been working on, she noted.

“Songwriting is an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. You might do it for fun or make a career out of it,” she said. “… We have a blast each and every year.”

To register, contact Chamberlin at 906-586-6000 or email her at chamberlininn@sbcglobal.net.

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