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Concerts offered at courthouse

The Red Willow Arts Coalition, a nonprofit organization formed five years ago with a mission to provide the community with access to more musical experiences, is hosting its best-known project, the free concert series, again this year. The series runs from May 24 through the last Thursday in August.

Sponsored by Anderson's Funeral Home, Elden's Food Fair and other individual sponsors, the concert series started behind the Runestone Museum as something small but grew to attract large crowds totaling more than 500.

The concerts are now held on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn and feature music genres such as country western, gospel, rock and roll, blue grass and polka. The musicians will perform from a showmobile, a self-contained staging unit complete with lights and a gas generator.

This year, youth groups from Zion Lutheran Church of Alexandria will be selling popcorn at the concerts to help raise money for their church youth activities.

On Thursday, May 24, the Red Letter Band will kick off the free concert series, adding a country flare to a Christian message.

"We want to be more than a band," said band members. "We want to be a tool used by God to lead people to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our goal is to be relational and personal with people, and to shine a light in a dark world with music that is both enjoyable and thought-provoking."

Influenced by Randy Travis and Casting Crowns, Red Letter Band traces its roots to a youth band at a local Baptist church in Long Prairie. The band began playing for youth gatherings and later expanded to county fairs, political rallies, concerts and parks.

Band members include Josh Anderson, Rachel Anderson, Kevin Mason, Randy Barnes, Ronn Mindeman, Pat Doyle, Emily Doyle, Laura Cihlar and Karina Roe.

All concerts begin at 7 p.m. on the courthouse lawn and go until 8:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets. In the event of inclement weather, listen to KXRA 1400 AM for cancellation information.

2012 Concert Series

May 24: Red Letter Band - Christian/Country

May 31: Funky Gumbo - Jazz

June 7: D.C. & Hawk - Country/Bluegrass

June 14: Young Musician Night - Variety

June 21: Doc's Dixieland - Dixie/Gospel

June 28: Cassie & The Bobs - Patsy Cline

July 5: Mel Lamar Tribute - Jazz/Variety

July 12: Tina & Lena - Musical/Comedy

July 19: Matt Velline - Jazz Guitar/Vocal

July26: Skilly & Duff Trio - Irish

Aug 2: The Rockats - Classic Rock

Aug 9: BZ Girls - Pop Standards

Aug 16: Tickwood Stringband - Old time/Fiddle

Aug 23: Jimmy Jenson - Vocal/ Accordion

Aug 30: Pure Country - Country