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Enjoy a little live music with your nature in October, when the Gigs in the Garden outdoor concert series returns to Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park in Springfield.
The performances — presented by the Hatch Foundation and Springfield Sister Cities Association — are every Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Peace Through People Pavilion, located within the Kay Cummins Finnie Memorial Dogwood Garden at the Springfield Botanical Gardens. Admission is free, with a $10 suggested donation to support garden accessibility projects.
Guests are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs or blankets, and beverages will be available for purchase. There’s also a playground nearby for children. In case of inclement weather, the concerts will move inside the adjacent Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center.
Here’s a look at who is performing at this season of Gigs in the Garden.
Ilace Mears and David Wilson
Ilace Mears and David Wilson kick off the series Oct. 1. Mears is an award-winning hammered dulcimer and violin player, taking first place at the 2016 National Hammered Dulcimer Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. She has played across the continent at dulcimer festivals, jams and other gatherings.
Wilson, meanwhile, is a multi-instrumentalist and record producer best known for playing with Radio Flyer and the Undergrass Boys. Radio Flyer was named Best New Bluegrass Band at the 1985 Kentucky Fried Chicken Bluegrass Festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
“At the intersection of fun and beautiful, Mears and Wilson provide genre-spanning, acoustic instrumentals with a unique blend of hammered dulcimer, fiddle and mandolin,” a press release said.
The Ozark Songbirds
A powerhouse group of local performers takes the stage Oct. 8. The Ozark Songbirds are a collective musical experience brought to you by Kunti Bentley, Betsey Mae, Melinda Mullins, Jessamyn Orchard and Melissa Rea. They’ll play originals and a few covers in a song circle format.
The group formed in 2019, playing its first show — a benefit concert for The Rebound Foundation at Lindberg’s — as the BadAss BigHearted Women in the Round. Since then, The Ozark Songbirds have played at breweries and music venues around Springfield and taken part in the HERmonious Music Festival and the Rock House Outdoor Music Festival.
Republic Community Band
The Republic Community Band is the featured act Oct. 15. This intergenerational organization of mostly amateur musicians was founded in 1982 for the purpose of giving community members a chance to continue playing their instruments while not in the performing arts profession.
Members range in age from high school students to senior citizens and its repertoire consists of traditional band music, including classical music, marches, Broadway musicals, Hollywood movie soundtracks and pop/rock medleys.
The Republic Community Band plays about eight shows a year, including appearances at Cider Days in Springfield and Republic Pumpkin Daze.
The series goes from a big band to a solo performer Oct. 22, as Buffalo singer-songwriter Lyal Strickland is the featured artist.
“With a raspy voice that is at times soothing and at other times raw with emotion, Strickland beautifully captures the soul of working-class America by telling stories that help you understand the greater human puzzle,” a press release said.
Strickland has deep ties to the Ozarks. His ancestors came to Dallas County from St. Clair County in 1877. Strickland started performing at age 13 and has recorded four studio albums. He co-owns Strickland Legacy Farms with his mother, Jacquelyn. The duo also organizes The Old Home Place Concert Series in Buffalo.
The series concludes Oct. 29 with its youngest performers. MJAW is a newly formed string quartet made up of teenage boys. They’ll be making their debut at the Springfield Botanical Gardens. Expect a variety of pieces from MJAW, including classical, pop and folk tunes.
“The string quartet is eager to delight their audience with music from a wide range of genres that is sure to entertain people of all ages and backgrounds,” a press release said.
For more information on Gigs in the Garden, call (417) 864-1191 or visit the Springfield Sister Cities Association’s website.
Gigs in the Garden schedule
Oct. 1: Ilace Mears and Dave Wilson
Oct. 8: The Ozark Songbirds
Oct. 15: Republic Community Band
Oct. 22: Lyal Strickland
Oct. 29: MJAW
All concerts start at 2 p.m.