The concert schedule in Fort Wayne this summer has been jam-packed with a remarkable lineup of classic pop and rock acts, a veritable feast for the Baby Boomers among us. But if the younger generation, those who grew up listening to the music of the 1990s, feel like they may be getting the shaft, there's good news. Jack Hammer has your back.
The always highly anticipated concert lineup at this year's Three Rivers Festival is bringing in some of the tribute acts that have become popular over the years while also bringing in some of the 1990s most popular music. As has been the case for the last few years, TRF now kicks off with music on the Friday night, July 8, before the Opening Day Parade.
That evening will see a return of the popular Who's Band, a Michael Jackson tribute. Hammer himself raves about this show which was a big hit in the past. With Jackson now gone for seven years, the value of a performance like this is even more appreciated and serves as a great vehicle for a couple of local acts to serve as warm-up. G Money and Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra will kick things off at 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 9 will see a powerhouse triple-header of bands billed as SummerDaze, which features Better Than Ezra as headliners while Sister Hazel and Cracker take the stage as openers at the Headwaters Park Pavilion. The combined hit power of these three groups should satisfy music fans who have been turning out in force the last few years for other bands of their era. While these performers will naturally satisfy the audience's desire for their classic hits, attendees of SummerDaze can also expect some new music, with Better Than Ezra having released their latest studio album, All Together Now, in 2014, the same year Cracker released their latest album, Berkeley to Bakersfield. Sister Hazel's latest, Lighter in the Dark, came out this past February.
Christian music headlines the stage on Sunday beginning at 5 p.m. with Sidewalk Prophets, Danny Gokey and We Are Messengers all performing with an after-party featuring DJ Promote.
Local music is featured on Tuesday, July 12 with the band Brother headlining and the Lennon Brothers and Sunny Taylor serving as special guests. Wednesday brings another packed evening of entertainment with Summit City Rising, which features Oferle with American Idol Manny Torres along with Either/Or and Soft N Heavy.
If you missed Stevie Wonder's performance in Indianapolis last November (or if you saw it and want to relive the incredible experience), Thursday's Second Annual Heart & Soul Affair is the place to be. Cam B will be opening for the evening's headliner, Natural Wonder: The Ultimate Stevie Wonder Experience. The next best thing to seeing Stevie live is to catch this performance. If you want proof, check out some of the many videos available on YouTube. It's uncanny.
Then batten down the hatches for the final two nights of Three Rivers Festival when Night Ranger come to the Summit City on Friday, July 15. It's easy and appropriate to think first and foremost of "Sister Christian" when you think of Night Ranger, and there's no denying that the song is an enduring classic. Still heard on radio more than 30 years later and featured on Broadway and in film - most notably in Rock of Ages and Boogie Nights - it's come to be their signature smash. But before "Sister Christian" came to define their sound, hits like "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" and "When You Close Your Eyes" had already established them as rockers who could show a softer side. Both came in handy on "Sister Christian." Opening for Night Ranger will be local favorites All Fired Up and Urban Legend.
The festival closes on Saturday, July 16 with the return of Pink Droyd, a tribute band which has ably filled the Floyd void. Their popularity in Fort Wayne seems to grow with every passing year, and it almost seems they should become honorary house band for TRF's concert lineup.
Making their performance even more dramatic will be a slight pause in the proceedings for the launching of the TRF Fireworks Finale, a display which Hammer thinks is the best annual fireworks in the city. After the fireworks, music will continue and will play out another Three Rivers Festival. Opening for Pink Droyd will be Straight On, a Heart tribute band which comes just two months after the Wilson sisters themselves filled the Fort Wayne airwaves with their incredible power.
Ticket prices for the shows vary, but there are a few ways to help curb the costs. A TRF button provides a discount at the door, and the $50 Mega Music Pass is also a game changer. New this year is the Admiral's Access pass which includes four Mega Music Passes, drink tickets, early admission to shows and all day ride passes for only $195. For more details about tickets and passes, check out threeriversfestival.org or visit the Embassy box office where TRF tickets are available.
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July 11 • Foellinger Theatre