FREMONT COUNTY – The halfway point of the Summer has come and gone now but to celebrate, and add to Fremont County’s expanding love of all things music, the Sugarbeats concert series and Lander Summer Concert series brought back some familiar names with some amazing talent.
It all began Thursday night in Lander City Park when Michael “the Original G” Milligan started off the show with his expert harmonica and powerful voice. Milligan was one of the first artists to represent the Austin Blues Society at the International Blues Competition in the early 2010s and he hasn’t slowed down ever since.
Milligan’s harmonica and superb vocals brought some souls and some blues to Lander before handing off the mic to Curtis Lee, the headliner for the Sugarbeats concert back in the middle of June.
Lee brought back his neo-soul, funky jazz sounds to the City Park ahead of their second annual pig roast and he sang some of his own songs with a fierce energy that exploded off the stage. His cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” sent shivers down the spine of anyone and everyone who had ever heard the original 1971 hit.
After Lee was done harmonizing and bringing some jazzy vibes back to Lander it was time for the headliner of the weekend, a local artist that moved to Texas 20 years ago just to bring back some rock and roll this Summer.
That man, Garrett LeBeau, rocked out until the bandshell was the only lights remaining in the park with help from Nick James, another spectacular guitarist that was featured in the Sugarbeats concert series this Summer.
“We’re going to push the limit a little,” LeBeau said on stage, referring to the 10:15 PM stopping time that he was supposed to end his set by. But, instead of that, he and the rest of the Austin, Texas singers came back out on the stage and performed one final song together–something they did not do the last time they were in town.
LeBeau was born and raised in Fort Washakie and is enrolled in the Shoshone tribe. He went to Lander Valley for seventh grade before moving down to Texas and finding his purpose in life through the guitar and the sultry sounds of his voice.
He brought that guitar and that voice back to Riverton the next night for the second of three Sugarbeats concert series in the park, with special guests Lost Springs Band opening for him and guitarist / vocalists Nick James.
James came out with his soulful blues guitar-playing, rocking out with keyboardist Vince Wiley, bass player Mario Castellanos, and drummer Johnny Duran who were all in their second show of the Summer at Riverton City Park.
LeBeau would come out to a crowd of Riverton citizens that wanted to jam out to the rocking sound of his guitar and his smooth collection of songs like “Blue Eyed Girls” and “Darkness”, giving off similar vibes to that of a sold-out Santana show in a massive arena.
For LeBeau this was more than just another opportunity to play his music for the people that want to listen, it was an eye-opening return to a place he once called home.
“It’s cool,” LeBeau said about being back in Fremont County, “it’s been so long since I lived here but it’s very cool to bring the music back. And it’s just good to play for a community that wanted to support us and listen to our kind of music.”
He also mentioned that in a town like Riverton or Lander, a town that may not get very many traveling professional musicians that live outside of the county, it’s nice to see such support for his peers like Lee, James and Milligan.
“It’s nice to bring professionals to a town like these,” LeBeau continued, “it’s real fun to see appreciation over talent like this.”
The groups of musicians, including the band and most of the singers, will be back for more shows on August 19th with special acts like Rydog, Josh Purdue and Crystal Finger to rock more of Fremont County. So if you didn’t get a chance to experience the South Austin Soul Revue in all their glory this past weekend, or last month, circle the next Sugarbeats concert date on your calendar and look for more information on more shows around town.