There is nothing Gregg Coyle enjoys more than welcoming fans to a show at The Clyde Theatre, whether it’s a concert they’ve only dreamed about seeing in their hometown or it’s a child experiencing his or her first concert ever.
“I think the best thing every day is just the excitement that fans have when they come to see live music. That’s what I think drives all of us who work here,” said Coyle, who’s wrapping up his first year as executive director of The Clyde Theatre.
With two decades in the entertainment industry on his resume, Coyle moved to Fort Wayne last November to run The Clyde.
After growing up in New Jersey and spending time in New York and North Carolina, he’s been pleasantly surprised with Indiana and, more specifically, Fort Wayne.
“I didn’t expect how genuinely friendly everybody really is or how welcoming everybody has been,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure every day to get to know people.”
Reflecting on the past twelve months, Coyle said he’s enjoyed both the ups and the downs that come with running a unique venue like The Clyde.
“The biggest challenge for me has been trying to figure out the patterns of people and predicting what they’re going to like,” he said. “I’m just trying to understand the DNA of a concert ticket-buyer in this town or this region. I guess I didn’t realize how underserved this market really was, but that is also what makes the potential even greater.”
From the beginning, his goal was to provide something for everyone. He said he believes he’s met that goal and is proud of how he’s been able to attract diverse audiences.
“In the last year we’ve done every single genre, from classic rock to country to jazz to gospel, bluegrass, jam bands, reggae, adult contemporary, hip hop, heavy metal, blues, Broadway, R&B, EDM, and even a magic show. And a bunch of those were in one week alone,” he added with a laugh.
Coyle is also tremendously proud of the reputation he and his team have been able to build since The Clyde opened in May 2018. He said both performers and fans alike rave about their experience there. Already, The Clyde has hosted 100,000 fans, marking that milestone at a recent show.
“Artists who’ve performed here love their experience with us,” Coyle said. “We just had The Temptations here and their tour manager literally said, ‘I wish this venue and this team were in every city that we go to.’ We’ve heard that from just about every artist that we’ve had come through, which have included Melissa Etheridge, Hozier, Midland, Tesla, Ben Folds, Branford Marsalis, Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, and NF.
“As far as our customers go, anyone who’s been here knows the sound is great and they know they’re going to have a wonderful time.”
When it comes to the success of The Clyde, Coyle is very quick to praise his team and the work each person does to make sure things run as smoothly as possible. He also credits Sweetwater founder and CEO Chuck Surack and his wife Lisa, who have invested millions of dollars in the renovation of the theater. Their vision and leadership have made his job easier and contributed greatly to the success of the theater, Coyle said.
“This is the first time in my career that all of the people on the team function at a really high level with an incredible amount of passion and professionalism, but they’re also a pleasure to work with,” he said. “There’s no drama. There are no divas. Everybody comes in and grinds it out. Some of our days go from 6 or 7 in the morning until 1 or 2 the next morning. It’s a long day and you have to pack it up and do it again the next day.”
Room for more music
Coyle also manages The Club Room, an adjacent bar and restaurant that opened in March. To add to the already-robust concert lineup at The Clyde, there are live music nights at The Club Room.
Mondays feature blues music and Wednesdays are reserved for jazz. There is no cover charge.
It’s also open for lunch six days a week.
“We’ve had a lot of success with The Club Room,” he said. “Right out of the gate, the community here has really been accepting, people in the ’07, West Central, and Indian Village. What I didn’t expect is so many people who don’t live in this neighborhood anymore, they grew up in this part of town, they come back now. They said they never had a reason to come back and are happy now they do.
“So many people who came here to see a movie when they were younger love sharing those stories with us but are so happy that this area is once again thriving and so many great memories are being made in this iconic Fort Wayne landmark.”
As he begins his second year at the helm, Coyle is excited about what’s to come, including shows featuring Blue Oyster Cult, Umphrey’s McGee, Richard Marx, and country newcomer Chris Lane.
“I love my job. It never gets old,” Coyle said emphatically. “Never.”