‘Americana’ concerts benefit Kickapoo Edge Prairie Garden

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The Kickapoo Edge Prairie Garden at the Springfield Botanical Gardens offers an uncommon look at what the prairies used to look like, thanks to volunteers. The historic Kickapoo Prairie that existed long before settlers arrived on the Springfield area scene. In addition to an outdoor concert featuring Analise Emerick at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, two more concerts are scheduled in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. Two more concerts will complete the series for 2015.

“Americana in the Gardens” is a house concert series staged in the Japanese Stroll Garden at the Springfield Botanical Gardens, but its significance is that it will help improve the Kickapoo Edge Prairie Garden, funding improvements that include plans for a paved walkway.

And by the way, it’s also a living history lesson each year staged by the Gray-Campbell Farmstead Association to help visitors understand the challenges pioneers faced when the settled the Ozarks. The prairie garden and the farmstead are a few steps away from one another.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, 2400 South Scenic. Admission is a suggested donation of $10 for adults, to benefit the Kickapoo Edge Prairie. Be sure to bring a lawn chair or blanket for more comfortable seating. In case of inclement weather, unlikely for this event, the concert will be held inside the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center. Free parking is available near the entrance of the venues.

So, in many ways, are the similarities in the music performed up-close-and-personal between the performers and audience in a beautiful setting.

“When the arts meet the parks everybody wins,” writes Ric Mayer,  of the concert series. “Music-lovers get a cornucopian taste of singer-songwriters and exquisite arrangements of Americana music by musicians both local and from as far away as New Zealand.”

The up-and-coming musicians perform in a garden refuge for their artistry, adds Mayer. “The gardens, starting with the Kickapoo Edge Prairie Garden, get a funding boost for projects beginning with development of a wheelchair-friendly path through the prairie garden.”

The latest estimates for the path is $11,000 and there are miles to go to reach that goal.

The first in the monthly series of concerts was staged last April. The next performance is Aug. 12 featuring Annalise Emerick in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. Emerick is a young singer-songwriter who blends heartfelt lyrics, beautiful vocals and an Americana sensibility that shines. She was the winner of the 2014 New England Songwriter’s Competition and is now traveling the country plying her craft with her heart on her sleeve, writing new songs as she peregrinates along. Fresh, new, on the edge of creating. You can learn about her on her web site at www.annaliseemerick.com.

Emerick will be followed on Sept. 9, by the Acoustic Eidolin (www.acousticeidolon.com) and on Oct.14, by the father and son duo, Rob & Drew Pommert.

The Kickapoo Edge Prairie is named for its geography. It is right on the edge of the historic Kickapoo Prairie that existed long before people following John Polk Campbell arrived on the Springfield area scene.
In those days a third of the area we now call Missouri was covered in tall grass prairie. Now only 0one-tenth of a percent of the original prairie remains. Even a shadow reflects the form and beauty of the original. Kickapoo Edge Prairie is a precious jewel reflecting our natural heritage.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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