ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency is rolling out the fourth year of the Brown Bag Concert Series. Performances will be hosted from noon to 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday from June through August, except the week of July 4, at the Bank Court.
The shows are free, and guests are invited to bring a lunch and enjoy a summer day in downtown Rock Springs. Most downtown restaurants offer takeout as an option for lunch.
The 12-week series will feature a variety of music styles including country, rock, folk and Americana. Picnic tables at the Bank Court with umbrellas are available. However, guests may want to bring their own lawn chairs since seating is limited.
June 4 — Giulia Millanta: Singer-songwriter, Giulia (Julia) Millanta, is a native-born Italian from Florence who now lives in Austin, Texas. A creative and prolific artist, she released six albums, as well as tours regionally, nationally and internationally. An accomplished guitarist, Millanta also plays ukulele and sings in four languages.
“She has been called smart, pensive and cool and credited with psychedelic grooveability whilst ‘baring her clairvoyant soul’ to ‘deliver musical mojo,’” according to a press release.
June 11 – Whitherward: Upon its creation in 2014, Edward A. Williams and Ashley E. Norton set a goal to leave Nashville and play for people who love music.
They got the name Whitherward from the Dictionary.com app “and they knew it was theirs to set free,” the release states.
Now a full-time, national and international storyteller touring duo, Whitherward explores the subgenres of folk, and never settling in one place.
Williams and Norton hit a milestone in 2018 when they received their sponsorship from Subaru Europe. They traveled across England, Scotland, Wales, Germany and the Netherlands for just under two months, performing in over 20 cities and releasing an episode of “Songs From A Subaru” in each one.
Whitherward records Americana/indie-folk music with a full band, and though mainly tours as a duo, they can regularly be seen with violinist, mandolin player and vocalist Stephanie Groot. Compared to a modern-day Simon and Garfunkel, with influences of rock, folk, jazz, classical and singer/songwriter, they have a versatile bouquet of music videos that range from weird to wild.
“Come hear the stories behind the songs, the music, and experience the life on the road … but knowest thou Whitherward?” according to the release.
June 18 – Doug Rees has been playing and performing music since he was a young boy growing up in southern Missouri near the banks of the Mississippi River. He combined his love of family, friends and nature, and created songs that focus on these themes.
In his shows, Rees will tell stories and sing songs about his elementary school bus driver, misfits he befriended, critters, trains and nights spent under the stars by the campfire with just his guitar.
But don’t let his humble and laid back personality fool you — Doug is a talented songwriter who has lived and worked in Nashville, toured the country, and has hosted a successful weekly songwriters showcase in his hometown where Jackson, Missouri, claims him as their favorite son, according to the URA. Doug encourages his audiences young and old to move to music and to be active and explore the great outdoors.
June 25 – Steven Davis was born and raised in Green River, but always had his eyes on the horizon. Music became a very special and important part of his life at 13 years old when his mom could finally afford his first six-string. Only a year had gone by and already he was writing his own songs and making leaps and bounds with the guitar. After some small-town heartbreak, Davis was thirsty for adventure.
After some time in Europe, Steven returned to the states, continuing to ramble and travel until he found himself in the oil fields of North Dakota. He worked there for two years, spending his earnings seeing the world. Eventually he returned home to the Rock Springs and Green River area.
Every song Davis has written has a story, an original background and written through his life experience. He has been a traveler, roofer, rancher, oil field hand, a hobo, and much more.
July 9 – Rupert Wates was born in London and studied at the University of Oxford. In the late 1990s, he signed a publishing deal with Eaton Music and worked for several years as a house songwriter. He moved to Paris in 2001, formed his own quartet and performed regularly in the city’s clubs. He came to the United States in fall 2006, and since then has received more than 30 songwriting and performing awards.
Wates also recorded and released eight recordings; all have received outstanding reviews in the online press and have been played on radio stations in the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Israel and Australia.
In addition to writing and recording, he plays over 120 live shows a year in venues all across the U.S., Canada and Europe; and has appeared regularly on radio and television. He prefers smaller, more intimate spaces, where the audience is up close and personal, where true musicianship counts, and where real emotion can’t be faked.
July 16 — Jeremy Facknitz has been entertaining audiences with his crafted music and high-energy performances for over 20 years. Since the 2002 breakup of his Detroit-based band “The Ottomans” (2001 Detroit Music Award Winner, Best New Alternative Band), Facknitz has performed primarily as a solo artist, sharing through songs his intimate stories of life, love, and “the journey home.”
Facknitz’ songwriting style epitomizes the strength of confessional greats like Jim Croce and Gordon Lightfoot, “with an obvious wink to Michael Penn in the chord changes and an appreciation for melody and structure that might make Elvis Costello feel as though the torch had been passed,” according to the press release.
Today, Facknitz continues to tour the United States, Canada and the U.K., performing primarily at house concerts and listening rooms to promote his latest retrospective album, “People and Places,” which was recorded live at Sloan Song Studios in Castle Rock, Colorado, in November 2017.
When he’s not on the road, Facknitz and his backing band are recording songs for his fifth album of original material with producer/engineer Jarrod Headley at North Park Studios in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His past albums “Gimmick,” “What a Day,” “Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack,” and “All’s Well” can be found at Bandcamp.
July 23 – The W Lovers are comprised of Fleur and Wesley Wood. They have made their mark on the live music scene all over the American West with more than 300 live shows since their inception in 2014.
Based in Washington state and friends of the road, touring has taken them from Washington to Colorado and across New Mexico, California and Oregon over the summer. They have also played in Canada and New Zealand.
The debut album was released at the Sunset in Seattle on April 29, 2016. The first single “Canyon Wind,” was well received across radio, reaching as high as No. 6 on WPHS in Warren, Michigan. It has also been picked up by many independent stations across the U.S. for medium rotation and has been given good reviews on local media.
“This is music for a hammock near a river, with a cold lemonade on a hot day,” the Yakima Herald-Republic reported. “This is music for driving alone in the middle of the night. This is music that’s easy to listen to but hard to shake afterward.”
The Portland State Vanguard said the W Lovers latest album is “a cultured blend of alt-country and Americana that rings of rustic small towns and makes the listener feel warm and at home.”
July 30 – Nick Gomez is a multi-instrumentalist that performs under the name The Altitude and Atlas, an ambient/folk project based out of Green River. Born in Lubbock, Texas, where he studied engineering graphics and architecture at Texas Tech University, Gomez would changed his major to music under the instruction of banjo virtuoso Alan Munde.
“Always keeping busy musically, sound has always been a passion for Nick and being able to share his art with whoever will listen has always been the greatest and most fulfilling reward,” the release states.
The Altitude and Atlas was created as an outlet for a collection of music written through a 20-year music career that could not be used for bands. Gomez still wanted to record and perform the songs at some point. Most of the songs are based on family, inner struggles and environmental surroundings using a combination of music styles to create a unique blend of calming tones. The soothing sounds Gomez produces have called, “a colorful, dream inducing soundscape,” according to organzers.
Nick moved from Texas to Wyoming for better job opportunities when he met his soulmate and best friend, Brittany Gomez, at the Pickin’ Palace guitar shop in Rock Springs where he worked. They married in May 2012. Gomez taught guitar at Western Wyoming Community College for two years and now works as a supervisor at the J.R. Simplot Company supporting his wife and two children, Brooklyn and Bennett.
Aug. 6 — Annie Oakley is a folk band fronted by twin sisters Grace and Sophia Babb that are paired with Nia Personette, a violinist who also delivers an occasional one-liner. They group is keen on telling stories, finding the sweetest harmonies possible, and playing shows where they meet the listeners they’re playing for.
They started writing songs after the deaths of their fathers when they were middle school students. Personette lost her dad a year before the Babbs lost theirs.
“This mutually-shared grief made them closer than friends – they became three sisters instead of two,” according to the release. “During this period of recovery and self-discovery at the height of adolescence, they wrote songs, played countless shows, and began touring.”
Now they’re graduating from college and the grief that first brought them to music. Once their remedy for pain, folk music has become their recipe for joy. The recent release of their first full-length album, “Words We Mean,” chronicles their transition from youth to young womanhood, from grief to happiness, narrating the first chapter of their story.
Aug. 13 — Tim Marcum grew up four miles outside of Lovettsville, Virginia, as the youngest of three children. His parents owned a farm/ranch operation named Armarc Farms.
At 14, Marcum became interested in writing poetry. When he was 17 he bought his first guitar and started turning poetry into song lyrics. Music had always been a big part of his life and he decided in some way, shape or form he wanted to be a part of that world. At 26, he started a band called TW Marcum & The Sagebrush Band that gave him the opportunity to perform the songs he wrote.
“Marriage and children came along which has a way of making other things less important,” the release states. “Although performing became secondary, writing always remained his passion. Children grow up and once again performing his music has become priority. Tim believes life’s experiences have allowed him to give a message that people can relate to through his music.”
Aug. 20 — McLeod Nine are comprised of Gordon and Christy McLeod. Their eclectic and energetic sound covers a broad range of intriguing material, from string jazz with a gypsy flavor to inspiring original songs with lots of energy and musical spice to Americana to traditional Irish fiddle tunes. The McLeods are known as founders and performers in the Americana-Celtic-roots band, Beyond The Pale, and as founders, with cellist Dirje Childs, of the elegant string ensemble, The Aisling String Trio.
Gordon McLeod is always searching for the true soul of any music he plays. He plays a number of instruments; as a fiddler he is equally at home with jazz, Americana and folk styles as well as traditional Irish fiddling. He is also known as a guitarist and for playing mandolin, clarinet and other instruments. He in demand as a recording session artist, producer, and live performer, according to the URA.
Beside his work with McLeod Nine, Beyond The Pale and The Aisling String Trio, Gordon McLeod is a former violinist with The Texas Gypsies. He is also an award-winning songwriter. He took home the 2008 Americana Songwriting competition in Nacogdoches, Texas, for his song “Dog Year,” and in 2006 for his song “Hester.” Gordon’s original songs have been licensed for independent film and television projects as well as being included on numerous compilations.
As for Christy McLeod, she has been called “a fun-seeking missile.”
“She radiates warmth and energy and conveys a love of life through her singing and playing that is infectious, igniting spontaneous human happiness whenever she performs,” according to organizers. “Her clear sweet voice is the perfect match for her powerful guitar style. Having played many styles for most of her life, her creative song renditions, whether her own compositions or covers of other great songs, never fail to captivate and inspire her audiences.”
She is also a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, mandolin, percussion and harmonica and is an accomplished songwriter, having penned several songs performed by The McLeods and Beyond The Pale including the title track to Beyond The Pale’s album, “The Music Plays Me.”
Aug. 27 – Joe Barbuto Trio: Hailing from southwest Wyoming, the Joe Barbuto Trio features an eclectic mix of original music and interpretations of songs “that will be sure to thrill and please all who hear them play,” the release states.
Rock Springs native Joe Barbuto mans the keys and provides powerful melody lines, and creative arrangements. The trio also includes Micah Paisley, born and raised in Green River, who takes the bass beyond its foundational roots to being a music machine, venturing into the world of melody, harmonies, and chords. The third member, Michael Weiss, also from Rock Springs, rounds out the group with the finest percussion playing in Wyoming, offering not only fantastic stylings but an explosion of expression and energy, the release states.
“Both my parents and my grandma were really great musicians, so I grew up surrounded by music and started playing accordion and piano at a pretty young age.” Barbuto said. “It wasn’t formal teaching, but my first lessons came from them and I’ve been at it ever since, on my own, with piano teachers, and studying music at the university.”
According to Paisley, hearing the song “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet inspired him to become a musician.
“You could say that I’m mostly self-taught, but I’ve also had the opportunity to study with Terry Burns and Travis Schilling at Western Wyoming Community College,” Paisley said.
Weiss said his father Morris inspired him to start playing.
“When I was a kid, I heard him play drums at a wedding and knew that’s what I wanted to do, too,” Weiss said. “After that, I took lessons growing up and had formal studies at Berklee in Boston.”
The Brown Bag Concert series is underwritten by the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund. Sponsors of the series include The Bridger Coal Company, Edward Jones Investments Financial Advisor Justin Spicer, High Country Realty’s Emily Lopez; SweetwaterNow, Western Engineers & Geologists, Dr. Steve Harmon, DDS, Joe’s Liquor and Bar, and The 307 Real Estate Group.
For more information, call 307-352-1434 or go to DowntownRS.com.