JANESVILLE

Mequon native and contemporary rock recording artist Willy Porter will headline a series of four free outdoor concerts planned downtown this summer.

Presented by the Janesville Performing Arts Center, the donation-only shows will take place at the Marvin W. Roth Community Pavilion in Lower Courthouse Park, 51 S. Main St., and at the JP Cullen Pavilion at ARISE Town Square, 65 S. River St.

“This is JPAC’s way of saying thank you to the community for its continued support during the pandemic,” JPAC Executive Director Nathan Burkart said. “Even though our earned revenue was way down, donations and grants were way up.”

Porter—known for albums such as “Dog Eared Dream,” “High Wire Live” and “Human Kindness”—takes the stage at the Roth Pavilion at 7 p.m. Friday, June 18. Rain date for the show is 7 p.m. Saturday, June 19.

“He is bringing in some of his band members, and I believe this is the first show he’s doing with a full band since COVID-19 (started),” Burkart said. “He’s done some virtual shows, but this will be a nice little celebration for him as well as for JPAC.”

“I saw him live and really loved his music,” Burkart added. “He is a soulful, bluegrass, hybrid-type singer-songwriter, and if you get to know Willy, you’ll find him to be loving and accepting. And his songs really speak to that.”

Roth Pavilion also will host “Take Me Home,” a John Denver tribute show featuring musician Jim Curry, at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 17. Rain date for the show is 2 p.m. Sunday, July 18.

Bookending these shows will be a pair of concerts featuring Dueling Pianos with Piano Fondue on Thursdays, June 10 and Aug. 12, at the town square. Though both have sold out and only wait-list availability remains, Burkart said continued easing of gathering limitations forced by the pandemic might allow for increased capacity.

“With Dueling Pianos, we went up to 150 people, and then up to 250,” he said. “We are looking to increase that number if the city opens things up, but I have to make sure my staff and board are open to any decisions on that.”

Walk-in tickets are expected to be available for the Porter and Curry shows, but organizers strongly suggest advance reservations. Eight-person pod seating is planned for all four shows.

“Things are opening up a little bit, but we want everybody to feel comfortable,” Burkart said. “The painted square pods won’t be there; we are going to put flags in the ground and then trust people will do their best to be respectful of others.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs. Beer, water and soda will be available for purchase.

To reserve a pod, call the JPAC box office at 608-758-0297. For more information or questions about the shows, email Burkart at nathan@ janesvillepac.org.

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