For a long time, cover bands dominated Fort Wayne’s music scene.
Several years ago, drummer John Foxworthy played for the popular variety cover band Good Night Gracie in Fort Wayne, and while he had a great time with the group, he’s also appreciated how the city’s music scene has evolved since then.
“We’ve turned into a community that supports and appreciates original music,” he says. “And we have so many good bands writing great original music here, too.” Foxworthy
It’s a cultural shift he attributes largely to the city’s growing list of music venues—places like the Brass Rail and the Ruin—that have made it a point to book gigs for indie bands and, as such, have attracted large local followings.
So when COVID-19 began to shut down bars and venues across town where local artists play, Foxworthy came up with a creative way for the city’s music scene to give back.
He started a Facebook page and GoFundMe Campaign called Fort Wayne Bar Aid, and in a matter of hours, he had hundreds of members and 70 local bands of all genres reaching out to participate.
“It blew up,” he says. “There’s been a lot of folks who have been reaching out and saying, ‘This is really cool.’”
His original concept for Fort Wayne Bar Aid was similar to national movements like Farm Aid. He envisioned local musicians playing audience-free concerts on-site at popular local venues, streaming their performances on Facebook for viewers and encouraging them to donate to venues in return.
However, when Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana issued a stay home order for the state on March 23, Foxworthy’s plans changed.
Foxworthy has played with several local bands over the years.
He and his growing team of Fort Wayne Bar Aid supporters still hope to host shows at local music venues someday, but, for now, the effort is moving online only.
From March 26-April 5, Fort Wayne Bar Aid is inviting any Fort Wayne area musicians to host Facebook Livestream concerts on their own Facebook pages and use the concerts to raise money for local bars and venues.
All funds will be distributed among 12 local venues working with Fort Wayne Bar Aid, Foxworthy says. The money will support their servers, bartenders, and other service staff put out of work by COVID-19.
To help musicians and the public get involved, they’ve created a website with resources, like instruction sheets on how to set up and run a Facebook Livestream. They’re also asking musicians to share links and plans for their livestreams to the Fort Wayne Bar Aid Facebook page where they will be promoted.
For local music fans looking to catch a livestream concert, Fort Wayne Bar Aid is a great resource, too.
Some musicians have already started hosting concerts, and so far, they’ve raised over $1,200 on Fort Wayne Bar Aid’s GoFundMe campaign.
Foxworthy says how fast and strongly this movement has taken off is a testament to the power of Fort Wayne’s community.
Over the years, he’s lived in other cities, like Tampa, Fla., and Dallas, Tex., but he says that Fort Wayne is his favorite, and it’s only getting better—despite the COVID-19 setback.
“One of the things I love most about Fort Wayne is that something like this can take off so quickly, and everybody is reaching out to help,” Foxworthy says. “All these people from different groups and bands have come together. That’s what this whole experience has shown me about Fort Wayne. When somebody puts a call out, everybody’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”