The Buzz at the Sawmill Campground: Rigby Summers

Local group Nighfire opens for Summers at Sawmill Campground. Photo by Jeff Rebitski

By Jeff Rebitski, Staff Writer

Lander-The Evening was perhaps the best I’ve seen as the crowd gathered at the Sawmill Campground in Sinks Canyon on Friday afternoon. The band was setting up the stage (Trailer) that was set up in the grass near the road in preparation for the event. 

The event was the debut of none other than Rigby Summer. The concert, one of the last for the season for the Lander Creative Arts Club, was set to go and although there was a normal amount of technical difficulties associated with making a concert venue out of a park, the people were in their comfy camping chairs, ready for whatever the opening band and the star performer had to offer on this beautiful Wyoming night. Since Rigby is a relative newcomer to the area, few could have known what they were about to experience when the music started. 

The opening act is a familiar one to those who frequent the live music scene in either Lander or Riverton. Nightfire is a favorite among local rockabilly fans and they did not disappoint with the short set of only 6 songs from their repertoire of covers and a few of their own. No matter the music, they doctored it with their own style and moxi that made everyone tap their feet. Such a group of talent was never expected from such a remote and isolated venue, must be what every camper or local visitor thought as they provided an introduction for one of the most talented ladies that I have had the pleasure to hear in quite some time. 

Rigby Summer, pretty much a native of Oklahoma and a full time resident of Stillwater, where she was a teacher of several different subjects including English as a second language. She  admits that she has done a lot of different things while deciding about a music career and when she finally made the decision and decided that music was the career for her, COVID hit. 

After being relatively obscure for two years, she began to feel some demand from some people who she would have believed would have all but forgotten her and her music. As she reached back out to those people, she realized that she was missed during the pandemic and perhaps it was time to reintroduce herself and try it again. She has been traveling ever since and although there are some gaps in her current schedule, she hopes that her latest project, “Geography” will launch her into the next phase of her career. For now, She really enjoys the travel associated with the small towns and venues all around the country. 

Her set is laced with songs from her new album and some from people who influenced her development. She shares a bit of that history with the audience as she tunes one of two guitars that she switches between during the show. Her ribbon microphone is a throwback to the days of old and the sound comes out clear and with just enough static to remind you of the bygone years of Buddy Holly and Elvis. The wind, as it came down the canyon was chilly during her set but the warmth of her voice was pure and reminiscent of the blue flame of a candle, stedy and motionless until acted upon by a breeze. 

When I asked how she describes her music, she replied, “Kind of a cosmic folk rock.” After listening to a few of her soon to be classics, I can agree that some things just aren’t worth defining as they will mean something different to each person depending on how it strikes them on that day. I have to say that after seeing so many artists at different venues this summer, I would rank Rigby Summers as at least top two of my favorites. Her soulful yet playful approach instantly put me at ease to enjoy and listen to the lyrics as she shared her experiences with all in attendance. Her presence on stage, although not quite mature, is still commanding as she sings her life out into the cool night air of Sinks Canyon and the Sawmill Campground.

Rigby Summer warms up with her new song from her new album, “Geography.” Photo by Jeff Rebitski