Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Big big prog rock band coming to the Pavilion

Nick Braun

Whatzup Features Writer

Published February 20, 2020

They’re a big band with a big name and have become well-known figures in the progressive rock world. Big Big Train has been going strong since the early ’90s and will roll through town on Saturday, May 23, for a performance at the Sweetwater Performance Pavilion.

The Jesters, a performance troupe of community members with mild to severe developmental and physical disabilities ranging in age from six to seniors, host an annual performance which has grown in visibility and attendance over the years.

Taking their inspiration from ’70s progressive rock and adding a pinch of modern musicianship, the band aims for drama and dynamism in every song and on every stage they play. If you love the thrills and spills of storytelling, then you will join legions of fans who love to get lost along Big Big Train’s scintillating, cinematic wanderings.

This highly skilled English septet, among them Sweetwater’s own Nick D’Virgilio, are four-time winners of the Progressive Music Award, reaching No. 1 in the UK Official rock album charts with their 2017 album, Grimspound.

If you’d like to feast your ears on these cats, no problem, they have twelve releases under their belts for your listening pleasure.

Better yet, come catch them live at the Pavilion and also check out opener Robert Berry’s 3.2. Tickets are currently on sale and available at the Sweetwater campus or online through Eventbrite or

Strutting their stuff at the clyde

Back when Piere’s was rocking, I was able to see English rockers The Struts perform at the club, fresh off a summer tour with the Foo Fighters. It was one of those evenings where folks might not have been all that familiar with the act at the beginning, but by show’s end, they had you in the palms of their hands.

That’s not hard to do when you have a frontman such as Luke Spiller, a cross between Freddie Mercury, Justin Hawkins from The Darkness, and Jack Sparrow.

Besides opening for the Foo Fighters, the band has also shared stages with Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.

Lately, The Struts have taken over headlining duties due to the success of their single “Body Talks,” featuring Kesha.

If you like glam metal stompers and epic, emotional power ballads, The Struts are what you need. Trust me, it’s a complete rock show.

Come see for yourself on Saturday, June 27, when the band comes to The Clyde. Joining them will be JJ Wilde. Tickets for this show are on sale now. Thank me later.

Flamingo in Michigan

When you have a second, hop on over to the Facebook page of Fort Wayne-based punk band Flamingo Nosebleed. Check out the fan-made video for their song, “Radiation Love,” off their latest release Degeneration Pop. Clocking in at nearly two minutes, the video expands the viewer’s consciousness through trippy, technicolored imagery which works well with the song’s lyrical phrasing.

In addition, the band is set to perform on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Stache International in Detroit. They will be accompanied by The Dewtons, The Black List, and The Lily Livers. If you’re looking for a chance to get out of town, there you have it!

Blue Ribbon Art

The Pabst Blue Ribbon Art Contest returns to the Brass Rail on Sunday, March 1, from 3-7 p.m.

Artists, this your chance to throw your hat in the ring and show your talent while paying homage the almighty red, white, and blue. You never know, your PBR-inspired art could win you a prize.

The artist entry fee is $10 for one art piece and $15 for two. Just make sure to drop it off between 1-3 p.m. that day as voting for the public is 3-7 p.m. Cash prizes for first, second, and third place will be handed out and there will also be a raffle for some sweet PBR gear.

Proceeds from the PBRart Contest will go to the Center for Nonviolence.

If you’re a fan of local music, then you know about The Legendary Trainhoppers. The six-piece Americana band will perform Feb. 28 as part of Friday Night Vibes showcase inside The Club Room at The Clyde.

WBOI’s Meet The Music host Julia Meek emcees the night as The Club Room at The Clyde offers up its state-of-the-art sound system and stage to help bring together the local music community and promote its diversity. This is a unique chance to experience a band that burst onto the scene 15 years ago, took a nine-year hiatus, and made a grand comeback in 2016, releasing their long-awaited sophomore album Family Tree and following it up with Let It Breathe a year later.

LTH features three lead vocalists, tons of harmonies, and mind-blowing amount of instruments.

Past notable shows for The Legendary Trainhoppers have included the inaugural Down the Line local music showcase at The Embassy Theatre in 2007 and the tenth anniversary Down The Line in 2016. They have also opened for The Avett Brothers, The Cactus Blossoms, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Ike Reilly Assassination, and David Grisman.

In short, The Legendary Trainhoppers are a band worth going out of your way to see. It’s definitely going to be a rowdy one. Best of all, admission is free. — Chris Hupe

Straight out of Old Hickory, Tenn., Nate Bargatze has become one of the hottest stand-up comedians on the circuit over the past half decade, selling out arenas across the country on a regular basis.

It’s a “Nice Problem To Have” and he brings his tour of the same name to the historic Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne on March 1.

Without current avenues of entertainment, Bargatze might be just another comedian traveling from club to club just trying to make a living.

But Bargatze found fame thanks to Sirius, Spotify, Pandora, and Netflix.

While his 2014 Comedy Central special put him on the map, as did traveling on Jimmy Fallon’s “Clean Cut Comedy Tour,” it was Netflix’s half-hour standup special The Standups that catapulted him into the mainstream.

A second special, the hour-long The Tennessee Kid, was released last year on the streaming giant and has led to future opportunities in movies and network television.

But for now, Bargatze is content travelling with new material that has been described as more mature than previous subject matter yet every bit as funny as everything he has done in the past. Expect routines based around real-life scenarios delivered in a way that will leave you in stitches the whole evening. — Chris Hupe

Jesse James Dupree is best known as the front man for Jackyl, the southern rock influenced good ol’ boys who really know how to throw a party. But Dupree has a lot more going on in his life than that.

A popular television personality as the host of Full Throttle Saloon and a staunch supporter of Harley-Davidson and motorcycle related charities, Dupree also has his own record label and management company, his own brand of whiskey, and his self-produced solo material under his own name and as Jesse James Dupree & Dixie Inc. It is the latter band that is slated to play at Flashback Live on Feb. 26.

Dupree has a well-deserved reputation as an energetic performer and anyone who has seen him live, whether solo or with Jackyl, can attest to his enthusiasm. While this isn’t Jackyl, his solo material compares well to that music and should appeal to Jackyl fans. But with Dixie Inc., Dupree also shows off some of the country influences he was undoubtedly exposed to while growing up in Kennesaw, Ga.

This is Dupree’s solo project, but there’s no reason to think he won’t play some of the songs that helped make Jackyl famous, including “I Stand Alone,” “Dirty Little Mind,” “Secret of the Bottle,” and “Down On Me.”

Will Dupree bring his trademark chainsaw along with him as well? It’s a good bet as “Lumberjack” is always a crowd favorite as is his chainsaw rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” — Chris Hupe

Celebrate 30 years of Steven Curtis Chapman music when the iconic contemporary Christian musician visits the Rhinehart Performing Arts Center on the campus of Purdue Fort Wayne on Feb. 29.

On this tour, the multi-Grammy Award winning artist is visiting smaller venues, chosen specifically for their world-class stages and because they have the accommodations he needs to offer a memorable intimate performance for the whole family.

The show takes things back to the very basics; back to how it all started for the 58-time Dove Award winner, with just Chapman, a guitar, and a piano. There will be no band, no opener, and no extravagant lighting. The night will simply feature one of the biggest names in Christian music performing hits like “The Great Adventure,” “Let Us Pray,” “Live Out Loud,” and “My Redeemer Is Faithful and True” in an acoustic setting.

In addition, Chapman will offer some stories and “behind the music” narratives to give an unprecedented glimpse into both the successes and challenges he and his family have gone through during his journey. He’ll likely even take a few requests along the way. In short, it’ll be a unique night that Chapman fans and fans of Christian music won’t want to miss. — Chris Hupe

For this highly anticipated annual Fort Wayne night of music, giving, and fun, The Embassy Theatre has selected five local performers/bands for Down the Line 14, a one-night music tribute to music legends. The event, which is also a fundraiser for The Embassy, takes place Feb. 29 at 7 p.m.

Down the Line 14 showcases local talent paying respect to those artists who have inspired them, all on the world-class stage of the historic Embassy Theatre, a place where locals don’t always get a chance to play.

Launching more than a decade ago, the concert series began simply as a way to simultaneously raise money for the Embassy and highlight local talent. The response from the community was so positive that a second show was quickly scheduled. The series took on a life of its own, eventually evolving into themed nights as another way to give the shows a special meaning.

This year’s event honors women in music with five fully female-led artists/bands.

The Eliza Toth Band will perform the music of country superstar Dolly Parton. Scratch N’ Sniff, a longtime member of the scene, will take on the Linda Ronstadt catalog.

The Shelly Dixon Band, also a fixture of the local music community, are serving up several offerings from Fleetwood Mac while singer/songwriter Marnée August will be joined by Moser Woods to perform the challenging Led Zeppelin archives.

Finishing off the night, Whoa, Man!, a relatively new Fort Wayne supergroup featuring Toth, Sunny Taylor, and Teresa Lyon, will sing the hits of The Bangles.

Tickets for this all-ages show are $20 (early-entry seating before general public) and $15 general admission. — Chris Hupe

This year’s performance will take place 6 p.m. Saturday, March 7, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 8. Titled “H(OM)E,” the show will feature “cultural icons searching for home,” according to a press release. “These participant-selected references will include Annie, Wizard of Oz, and Finding Nemo. The show also references the book The Missing Piece, by Shel Silverstein.”

The performances will feature all of the arts which have come to define the university: music, dance, theater, improvisation, visual art, storytelling, and animation.

The Jesters began as a University of Saint Francis outreach program in 1978.

Tickets are $10 and available via phone at (260) 399-8064, at the door before the show, or Saturdays leading up to the performance at the University of Saint Francis’ North Campus Auditorium from 8:45 a.m.-2 p.m.

Growing fun at the art farm

For those who may have visited the Art Farm in Spencerville over the holiday season, the fun of that studio is not limited to shopping for Christmas.

In fact, the Art Farm frequently hosts art workshops for those who would like to try their hand at making their own unique pieces, particularly jewelry which happens to be one specialties of Lisa Vetter, who with her husband Paul Siefert, owns the Art Farm.

The cold weeks of winter are a particularly good time to indulge in a workshop and develop some new talents. The Art Farm has several coming up in the next few weeks starting with Vetter’s own Basic Wire Working Jewelry Workshop.

Vetter’s necklaces and earrings make use of wire and repurposed materials to create incredibly unique pieces, and this workshop will allow her to share her techniques in a fun atmosphere.

There are two times from which to choose: 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28, or 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 29. The cost is $75 which includes the materials required to create a handmade link necklace or bracelet.

The following weekend Vetter hosts two Talisman Jewelry Workshops and invites those who wish to attend to “start gathering all your old charms, single earrings, heirloom jewels, trinkets, special beads, ‘found’ objects i.e. coins from travel, buttons, keys, game pieces” which will be used to create a talisman.

The cost is $85 and includes materials. Workshops are limited to 10 per session which take place on Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7, both at 10 a.m.

On March 27 and 28 at 10 a.m., the Art Farm will host workshops featuring Hannah Burnworth for “a day of paper printing, snipping, and stitching” at the Mixed Media Birds & Butterflies workshop. The workshop fee in $85 and includes materials needed to create and frame your pieces.

For more details, visit the Art Farm’s Facebook page or look for registration on

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