Previous year of Gigs in the Garden. (Photo: Springfield Sister Cities Association)

Pack your lawn chairs or blankets and head to Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park for a series of free concerts in May.

The live shows, called Gigs in the Garden, run the first four Sundays in May at 2 p.m. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $10. The event is managed by the Springfield Sister Cities Association.

Gigs in the Garden take place at the Peace Through People Pavilion, located within the Kay Cummins Finnie Memorial Dogwood Garden at the Springfield Botanical Gardens. The four musical acts, all local, provide a variety of musical styles.

Mark Barger kicks off the series May 1. He’s a solo acoustic guitarist in the genre of folk, funk, reggae and soul.

“Barger’s soul-drenched vocals intrigue audiences along with his storytelling and personal narrative,” a press release said.

Next up is MOJO Lite, a septet made up of members of the Missouri Jazz Orchestra. They play May 8.

“MOJO Lite is a jazz combo in the tradition of mainstream small jazz groups like Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley and Woody Shaw,” the release said.

Previous year at Gigs in the Garden. (Photo: Springfield Sister Cities Association)

May 15’s Gigs in the Garden features Auntie Em and the Tornadoes, with special guest David Wilson. They’ll play Emily Higgins’ original music, with Wilson featuring on the fiddle and mandolin.

The series wraps up May 22 with a special event, starting at 11:30 a.m. The Springfield Sister Cities Annual Celebration features cultural performances, Mexican and Japanese food trucks and drinks. The Shandies will play the 2 p.m. concert. Shannon Stine and Natalie Wlodarczyk are an acoustic folk-pop songwriting duo. They traveled to Springfield’s sister city of Isesaki, Japan in August 2019 to represent Springfield and perform at Isesaki’s city festival.

Beverages are available for purchase from Shakers Mobile Bartending Service at every Gigs in the Garden concert. In the case of inclement weather, the performances will be moved inside the adjacent Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center.

For more information, please visit peacethroughpeople.org/gigs or call 417-864-1191. 

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger