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Media Memo: UW-Eau Claire alum Justin Vernon creates media buzz with support for hometown project

October 24, 2012

TO: News Editors and Directors

FROM: Julie Poquette, News Bureau director

DATE: Oct. 24, 2012

SUBJECT: UW-Eau Claire alum Justin Vernon creates media buzz with support for hometown project

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon's support for a project in his hometown has created a buzz this week in the national arts and entertainment media.

Vernon and an Eau Claire guitar maker created a unique guitar that is being auctioned off with proceeds going to a proposed community arts center in Eau Claire.

The guitar, named "The 1608," is made from whiskey barrels. One of just four handcrafted by Eau Claire luthier Gordy Bischoff, it is currently up for auction on eBay, where bidding had reached $8,100 as of the time of this writing.

Stories about the guitar have appeared on such prominent music news websites as Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and NME, in addition to the website of Bon Iver's record label, Jagjaguwar.

Vernon, a 2004 religious studies graduate of UW-Eau Claire, proposed the idea for the guitar to Bischoff, who has crafted other guitars for Vernon. Vernon has a marketing contract with Bushmills Irish Whiskey, the company that provided the whiskey barrels for the project.

Proceeds from the auction of the handcrafted guitar will go to support a community arts center that is part of The Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire. The Confluence Project is a public-private partnership seeking to redevelop a blighted area in the heart of Eau Claire, at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers. The centerpiece of the project is the construction of a community arts center, public plaza and mixed-used project that includes housing for UW-Eau Claire performing and fine arts students as well as commercial/retail space and parking. The community arts center of approximately 150,000 square feet would serve the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, community performing and fine arts organizations, and UW-Eau Claire.

The Confluence Project would be funded through a combination of private, public and philanthropic support.

For more information, contact:

Stuart Schaefer, president, Commonweal Development, 715-832-8707,

Kimera Way, president, UW-Eau Claire Foundation, 715-836-5180,

Ben Richgruber, executive director, Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, 715-832-2787,

Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities, UW-Eau Claire, 715-836-4741,

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