Few people in Fort Wayne are as endearing and unassuming as Brad Etter, who has turned his passion for music into a calling, a mission to share that passion and bring top flight entertainment to town via some equally unassuming venues. While larger stages like the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, the Embassy Theatre and Piere’s have been hosting national acts for years, more recently C2G (formerly Come2Go Ministries) has become a great place to enjoy both local music as well as some very impressive music icons. As Etter’s role at C2G has grown, his role in promoting music in Fort Wayne made his choice for a Special Whammy most fitting.
A native of Fort Wayne, Etter caught the music bug early and as he has lived in other places in Indiana (Bloomington and West Lafayette), he expanded his musical world, always taking advantage of the opportunities to see some of music’s most successful acts when they played locally. His early musical influences are broad but familiar to most fans.
“Some of my earliest memories evolved from listening to the radio and being introduced to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, The Animals, Yardbirds, Simon & Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye and on and on,” he says. “My first memories of actually paying to listen to music were first at local juke boxes and then next discovering 45 records and full length albums at local stores.”
He also caught shows which many of us would give a left arm to have seen.
“Some of my very early concert memories were of The Beatles performing at the old State Fairgrounds Coliseum in Indianapolis, i believe that they were paid $1,000 A Minute which was a gigantic sum of money back then! Locally a number of concerts come quickly to mind: The Rolling Stones playing at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne right after their single ‘I Cant Get No Satisfaction’ came out on the radio.
A beyond memorable experience for local-regional concerts was actually seeing The Who at The Swinging Gate in Fort Wayne, The Kingsman at The Flame, The Flock at the Hullabaloo ( now Ceruti's ), The Electric Prunes also at the Swinging Gate, Eric Burdon @ Gentry's, The MC5 at Hamilton Lake, The New York Dolls at The Armory (now Headwaters Park West), The Byrds at Tippy Gardens, Santana at the Coliseum with Bobby Womac opening, Paul Winter Consort at the Embassy Theatre, Stevie Ray Vaughn at Frankee Park's outdoor Foellinger Theater to mention some highlights.”
It’s that encyclopedic addiction to music, the diversity of his tastes and his exposures to so many great musical venues in the area that now informs his efforts at C2G. But what really lit his fire was a five-year stint in Seattle where he says he “was immersed in the local music scene there.”
“My music passions exploded during this time period and I was introduced to so many types, shapes and forms of music and musicians during that five year period that I am still trying to catch up. Working with a few of those who promoted concerts and clubs in Seattle I had countless opportunities to spend some time and one huge memory is hanging with The Police a bit on their tour right after their first record came out. I met and worked with The Talking Heads, went to dinner post show with the likes of Koko Taylor, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, saw my first ever Zydeco Music show with The Queen, Queen Ida. And I had dinner with The King, BB King. I was also introduced to many varieties of African Music, real Africans playing their homeland music such as The Master of the Oud, Hamza El Din who lived in Seattle and performed magical virtuosic music on his ancient stringed instrument along with virtuosic and polyrhythmic playing on the Tar Drum too.”
Etter was doing in Seattle what he would eventually do here, working at a small club to book bands that were on the cutting edge, exposing him to still more musical directions to explore, something that continues to inform his work in northeast Indiana.
“I was indirectly involved with an after hours club and scene that featured Punk Music which was a pretty new scene, especially for me. Little did i know that the bands that I met, hung and ate with post show would contribute to popular music history –the Black Flag, The Tubes and countless others.
“I hired talent and presented shows at a quaint Jazz Club in the University District of Seattle. Hosting many, Bobby Hutcherson the vibes player, Gary Peaacock on bass with the pianist, Art Lande the ECM pianist and composer, Julian Priester the trombonist, the singer Cheryl Bentyne right before she joined the Manhatten Transfer and so on.
Possibly even more importantly, I was also able to see Keith Jarrett with Paul Motian and saxaphonist Jan Garbereck, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, THE Bill Evans Trio in a small club, Charles Mingus at that same club, Richie Cole, Eddie Jefferson, Lionel Hampton on vibes and in a workshop too.”
After his return to Fort Wayne, Etter turned another direction, admitting that music became an almost insignificant role in his life while he pursued nature activities like hike and birding tours through the local Audubon Society. But about a dozen years ago, another small forum for music was emerging, Toast N Jam, which provided him a new place to connect to music and some new friends to help him make it all happen.
“Due primarily to the persistence of both Sunny Taylor whose music I had recently discovered, and Dave Kartholl who both introduced me to many very fine and talented local and regional musicians at the beloved Toast n JAM Coffeehouse,
I eventually ended up with the gracious help of Al & Jill Mozena hosting and bringing in some big name performers to this quaint music venue. House Concerts is what we called those unforgettable Concerts and they took place in the mighty fine 1888 Victorian Queen Anne Style living room of Jill & Al's house, the Toast n JAM. Some highlights were : Kaki King, The Wailin' Jenny's, Patty Larkin, Kris Delmhorst Sarah Harmer, Rachael Davis, Peter Mulvey and Jeffrey Foucault.”
That who’s who of music has continued, and it is for those efforts that Etter has received the praise he has since his move to C2G after Toast N Jam closed. Since that time many of his musical heroes (like Richie Havens and Chris Hillman of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers) as well as contemporary artists like Jack White and Guggenheim Grotto have come to C2G when they might not have otherwise visited Fort Wayne. Etter did all of this for his own love of music and his determination to share great music with local audiences, whether those artists are world-renowned or locally revered. Winning an award for his efforts was the furthest thing from his mind, but he was grateful all the same.
“It meant a lot. It still means a lot to be recognized by many of my peers in this music community.It also signifies how my own musical talents are very limited, but my deep love and appreciation for music is never ending and as long as able I’ll try to continue presenting and sharing the love and beauty, the life affirming positive energies of music!”
Thursday, April 27
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Community Unity — Community dinner, games and prizes, and neighborhood safety forum, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, Jennings Recreation Center, Fort Wayne, free, 427-6028
Issues and Ales — Panel of experts discuss important issues in the community with audience Q&A , 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, Calhoun Street Soups, Salads and Spirits, Fort Wayne, free, 456-7005
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Click header for complete Music & Comedy calendar
Chris Worth — Variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Fort Wayne Comedy Connection — Comedy at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Hubie Ashcraft — Acoustic at River View Tavern, Decatur, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 724-3500
Open Mic — Hosted by Mike Mowry at Pedal City, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 415-6167
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Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 434-1980
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Josh — Karaoke at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 422-5055
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., ,
Karaoke w/Bucca — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at By: Belle Haven, South Whitley, 8 p.m., no cover, 866-716-9243
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Shut Up and Sing — Karaoke at Duesy's Sports Bar, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 483-5681
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 483-1311
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Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, April 26-29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
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37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3 , Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru April 30, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568