When I interviewed rock music legend Eddie Money on my Music Vibes Podcast last year, he said, “Fort Wayne is an amazing little rock and roll town. We really love it.”
Although it’s exhilarating to hear those kinds of sentiments from touring musicians like Money, it’s the local music talent in Fort Wayne that makes it such a great place for rock and roll.
Money last played a show in Fort Wayne at Piere’s Entertainment Center in March 2014. Since then, the city’s music scene has expanded even more.
With this in mind, I set out to help you discover seven places to check out the hottest local bands and musicians in the Summit City.
In no particular order, here are a few spots you should visit.
The Brass Rail (1121 Broadway)
This dive bar has been around for a long time, and it’s been voted Fort Wayne’s best rock bar many times in the past, largely credited with the emergence of a robust music scene in the Summit City.
Some of the biggest compliments it gets around town are its reasonably priced drinks, come-as-you-are atmosphere, loud music, and up-close-and-personal performing space.
The Brass Rail hosts local bands, like Kevin G and The Bandoleros on January 26th. To see their next shows, check the bar’s event calendar on its website.
Piere’s Entertainment Center (5629 Saint Joe Rd.)
Arguably, Piere’s has the biggest variety of different genres of local music play at their venue. Don’t let their recent shows like hip-hop artist G Herbo (January 25th) or Jacquees on February 16th make you think it’s only for touring acts.
Piere’s also hosts events, like Successful Musik Live, coming up on February 23rd, featuring local hip-hop artists T-Zank, AlienNature, and Ben Frankie. The band Rush The Gate will play along with them.
For a full list of upcoming shows, visit www.piereslive.com.
The Ruin Bar (1201 W. Main St.)
The Ruin is a new music venue in a historic bar in Fort Wayne’s Nebraska Neighborhood that’s booked a little bit of everything so far.
“Pete Dio of Left Lane Cruiser is our booking manager and the owner, Cassie Ledbetter, is a former archaeologist from Nashville, Tennessee, who wanted to bring some of the music she discovered on the road back home to Fort Wayne,” the Ruin Bar says in a statement on its Facebook page, where events are announced.
The bar has added local hip-hop artists like J Tubbs, Love Hustler, and Strange Waters to its calendar, too. In fact, it's hosting an EP release Luau for Strange Waters on February 9th.
O’Sullivan’s (1808 W. Main St.)
For 40 years now, O’Sullivan’s has enjoyed a tradition of rugby, friendship, cheer, and music, also the in the Nebraska Neighborhood.
“We are grateful to those, our friends, who take our stage each week and share their talent as a part of that tradition,” Carman Young, Bartender/Booking Agent at O’Sullivan’s says.
From Left Lane Cruiser in the band’s earlier days to Todd Harrold, Coffin Witch, The Kickbacks, and TRONIC, the music scene is rich and diverse at O’Sullivan’s where the tradition of sharing local talent lives on.
Check the bar’s Facebook page for upcoming events.
The Clyde Theatre (1808 Bluffton Rd)
With cutting-edge sound and lighting and world-class acoustics, the revived Clyde Theatre is a live music experience with standing room only for up to up to 2,100 guests. But don’t let their size fool you.
“We have a soft spot for local musicians and artists,” says Brooke Klejnot, Programming and Marketing Director at the Clyde Theatre. “Our founder, Rick Kinney, is the drummer for local band Moser Woods (who you can see live on February 21 when they open for Umphrey’s McGee), so from the venue’s conception, giving local artists access to large audiences in a room with world-class sound was one of the goals The Clyde set out to achieve.”
Since opening last May, The Clyde has had many local musicians grace their stage, including Three Cities, who opened for Hairball in December 2018. Check their website for upcoming shows. This year will present even more opportunities for local programming as the Clyde expands.
“We will be wrapping up construction of a second, smaller performance space in February,” Klejnot says.
The B-Side At One Lucky Guitar (1301 Lafayette St.)
Across the street from the Anthis Career Center lies The B-Side at One Lucky Guitar. In this super-intimate space, you'll find a dozen or so shows a year—from singer-songwriters to punk rocker, stand-up comedians, and modern dancers.
The B-Side’s touring music performers have included everyone from Mandolin Orange to Tommy Stinson, Rayland Baxter to Kim Richey. While the space largely features national touring artists (with locals in support positions), that doesn’t mean that local music doesn’t happen there, says Matt Kelley owner of One Lucky Guitar.
"Local performers who have graced our stage include Rosalind & The Way, O'Sister Brother, Kevin Hambrick, Kenny Taylor, Jess Thrower, elle/The Remnant and The Legendary Trainhoppers," Kelley says. "We tend to have a lot of singer-songwriter and Americana artists, due to the ‘listening room’ format of the venue.”
For a full list of upcoming shows, visit www.theb-sidefw.com.
C2G Music Hall (323 W. Baker St.)
C2G Music Hall is a non-profit music venue in downtown Fort Wayne across the street from the Fort Wayne Tincaps Stadium.
This venue brings in all types of music, forsaking the traditional labels and choosing to promote music it considers “real” and “good.” Lots of its shows are actually professionally recorded and shown on TV stations, like NBC 33 after Saturday Night Live.
Generally, C2G can seat up to about 400 people, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. They have School of Rock shows sometimes with local youth bands and open mic nights. Fort Wayne’s Pink Droyd (Pink Floyd Tribute Band) has played there, and even The Voice’s runner up Addison Agen had a benefit concert there back in May 2018.
One of this space’s best appeals is that its all-ages, so you can bring the entire family out. Check its website for upcoming events.
And so many more!
I couldn’t make this list without at least mentioning Sweetwater with the Sweetwater All-Stars and the local record stores like Wooden Nickel Records and Neat, Neat, Neat Records that also feature local bands/musicians often.
Dani from Neat, Neat, Neat says her personal favorite places to check out original, local music are The Brass Rail, The Ruin, and The B-Side at One Lucky Guitar.
“The Friendly Fox Coffee Shop, Trubble Brewing, Summit City Brewerks, and more recently, Hop River Brewing are also great spots to catch local, original music in a more stripped-down, acoustic format,” she adds.
There are so many different places to find all the talented local musicians and bands The Fort has to offer.
Now go check them out!