By Shawn O’Brate
DUBOIS – Wednesday’s have been largely known to be one of the most boring, moody, depressing days of the week because of many reasons. For one, it is still days away from the weekend and the work week only seems like it is just beginning. There’s also the feeling that “hump day” is neither here nor there, it’s almost like the week is in limbo and you can’t decide whether to celebrate or not.
But the Dubois Museum, built in 1976, has made Wednesdays the new Friday with their weekly ‘Music at the Museum’ nights filled with music, dancing and more.
The museum has two artists that switch out every week, filling the gorgeous Dunoir Dance Floor and stage every Wednesday night–rain or shine–to help the local community break out of their boring, regular routine and have some fun.
At the end of last year the idea came to one of Dubois’ longtime residents, Les Hamilton, who approached the Dubois Museum about the chance of playing weekly.
“Les approached us this winter,” Johanna Thompson, Dubois Museum site manager said, “he said ‘hey you have this beautiful dance floor in the backyard, what do you think about us coming and letting us play?’…we kicked it around a little bit and look at it now.”
With this being the first year that the Dubois Museum has put on this event there are still learning curves and opportunities to grow, but for the moment the event has seemed to draw large crowds and followings that show up every Wednesday to sit and watch some live music that is typically held down the mountain in the large city parks of Lander or Riverton.
“We’ve been getting good responses from everybody,” Thompson said, “It’s been better than expected on a lot of nights.”
She’s not the only one who believes so, just ask this past Wednesday’s band “Packin’ the Mail” how they felt their most recent show went:
“The turnout has been outstanding,” Hamilton, the harmonica-wielding, viola-stringing musician said after their show, “we’ve had anywhere from 70 to 80 to 90 people here and some nights get big.”
After 20 years of playing at the K.O.A., Hamilton and Packin’ the Mail moved to the Dubois Museum this year in hopes of starting something new and bringing a new tradition to the museum that also informs and educates hundreds and hundreds of people every month.
But, as mentioned before, Packin’ the Mail isn’t the only people playing on the museum stage in their beautiful backyard. There’s also local musician Jan Marrou, who splits her time between Dubois and Arizona to satisfy the weather needs and reach more people with her country western sound.
“I think it’s really done well, it’s such a great spot out in the backyard there,” Marrou said, “it’s been a great and wonderful event every week, I’m just tickled to be a part of it.”
Marrou has decades-long ties to the town of Dubois, starting through her mother who used to own a beauty shop at the Red Rock Ranch before the turn of the century evolved it into what is now the Longhorn Ranch Lodge & RV Resort. Some of those ties to the town are intertwined in her shows as well, with tales of old Dubois from her childhood and, in turn, those lead to larger crowds for Marrou’s shows whether they be during Wednesday’s new and fun-filled nights at the museum or at other shows across the town.
“I do have a lot of support here, I love it,” Marrou said about Dubois, “it’s great and I appreciate their support.”
With sponsorships pouring in every week for the event it’s become easier and easier to fill the backyard of the museum but that also helps them simultaneously take donations to help the extremely informational building that helps tie people to the town they reside in up high in the Wind River Basin.
“There’s so much information here,” Marrou said about the museum, “it’s wonderful how much we keep finding too.”
But, in the end, the event is meant to bring happiness, joy, fun, and the thrill of live music to a little mountain town that doesn’t seem to get as much as surrounding areas of Fremont County.
“There’s not a lot of live music in Dubois, and the music community as a whole in Wyoming,” Hamilton said after his show, “I was a professional musician for 16 years with my late wife, but there’s just not a lot of it going on.”
“We play traditional stuff, old school country, and bluegrass-ey and ‘rootsy’ music, we do some western music too,” Hamilton continued, “We have fun, it’s a lot of fun. People enjoy it.”
“This crowd really appreciates the music that we play,” Dan Seelye, the guitarist for ‘Packin’ the Mail’ said, “and they like to have us come back so it’s exactly the type of atmosphere we like to do.”
This upcoming Wednesday you can see what the museum has to offer yourself for free with Jan Marrou on the stage this week, sharing her stories and voice through a multitude of western music. And next week ‘Packin’ the Mail’ returns to the stage to play the fiddle and mandolin for the town of Dubois.
Every Wednesday until late August you can find these two rocking and rolling at the Dubois Museum for free, helping the community regain some of the live music that it’s lost over the past few years.