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A little bit of soul, some blues, a twist of gospel and some good old-fashioned rock-and-roll will highlight this year's Acorn Concert Series at Gabis Arboretum.

Concert-goers are asked to bring their lawn chairs or blankets to settle in at the stage among the trees at the arboretum for five Saturday nights between June 1 and Sept. 15.

The arboretum is located at 450 West 100 County Road North, Valparaiso.

This is the fifth year for the series at the 330-acre arboretum operated by Purdue Northwest, said Derek Braggs, a former board member at the former Taltree Arboretum. Braggs helped create the concert series.

The idea for the series, Braggs said, is not only to provide top-notch entertainment to area residents, but also to raise money to support the arboretum's conservation efforts and programs, which positively affect hundreds of children throughout Northwest Indiana.

The concerts also attract more and more people to the arboretum, he said.

"We are trying to bring in more original music, in a lot of cases, music people probably haven't heard," Braggs said.

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This year's concert series will open June 1 with Echoes of Pompeii as the headline act. Mr. Funnyman will open for the group, which is composed of a 10-piece band to give fans the sound of a Pink Floyd concert.

Other performances will be Mr. Blotto on June 22. Mr. Blotto takes the Jam band aesthetic into areas unfamiliar to the standard Jam Scene, covering albums by Led Zeppelin and The Who as well as performing shows of country and reggae. Family Groove Co. will be the opening act.

July 13's concert will feature The Kinsey Report with opening act The Gerry Hundt Trio. The Kinsey brothers, vocalist/guitarist Donald, drummer/vocalist Ralph, and bassist/vocalist Kenneth, enjoyed success throughout the '80s and '90s recording and touring first with their late father, Lester Big Daddy Kinsey, as Big Daddy Kinsey and the Kinsey Report.

The Kinseys arrived on the blues scene in 1985, joining forces with their father to create a signature sound that mixed the traditional with the contemporary. 

The Way Down Wanderers will headline the Aug. 10 concert. Opening act is Gato. The Way Down Wanderers are from central Illinois, which is reflected in their distinctive sound, which draws on elements of bluegrass, but also touches on classic rock influences including the multi-part harmonies of the Beach Boys and The Bands hybrid soul, as well as the roots qualities of The Avett Brothers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

The series wraps up on Sept. 14 with Mike Farris and opening act The Blues Project. Nashville rocker Farris, now sober for seven years, has a soulful vocal delivery reminiscent of Sam Cooke or Otis Redding. 

Concerts are held from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on June 1 and 22; July 13; Aug. 10 and Sept. 14. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 one week before the concert or at the gate. Tickets can be ordered online at pnw.edu/gabis-arboretum/calendar/acorn-concert-series/ Food trucks will be on site as well as an extensive beer selection at a cash bar. No outside alcohol will be allowed.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.