Sweetwater: Sounds Like a Great Place!

There’s just no place like Sweetwater. From the two-story slide to the “Microphone Vault” to the electric piano playing “Memories” from Cats, this place is unique.

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This two-story slide provides a quick descent to the diner for visitors and employees at Sweetwater.

Sweetwater Sound is Fort Wayne’s largest distributor of electronic musical services and equipment. From selling quality microphones to offering great recording studios and sound tech services, this place is on par with the best recording studios in the nation.

But Sweetwater also sells Apple products, grand pianos, and other tech-savvy materials. How about picking up sheet music for your next lesson at the Sweetwater Academy? Just walk over to Dave’s Music Den, and you should be covered. Getting a little hungry while waiting for your kids to finish their piano or guitar studies? Check out the Downbeat Diner, with its tasty selection of sandwiches, salads and other fresh-made foods. Or if you need to defrag, there is the arcade (check out the Ping Pong or Demolition Man pinball machine) and a salon/spa, with chair massage services and hair care professionals.

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The Downbeat Diner – for anyone who wants to grab a bite to eat at Sweetwater.

The minute you walk into Sweetwater Sound, you’re immediately struck with how friendly and sincere everyone is. The receptionist next to the front door is ready to locate anyone you need to see, or to send you down the correct hallway to find the right room. Chuck Surack, the founder and president of Sweetwater, is always on the floor, checking to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

The building that houses Sweetwater is huge – but it is a LEEDS certified property. From the white-toned roof (which deflects solar heat) to the renewable wood resources that cover the walls, many of the products used to create the Sweetwater building are either recycled materials or rapidly-harvested renewable substances. Windows are everywhere, making the inside of the building as bright as the outdoors.

While the building and products offered by Sweetwater are cool to experience, the really interesting part comes when you get to see the employees at work. In the sound studio area, a tech experiments with different tones, shaping a recording like a chef creates a masterpiece. A sound bends, pitching high, low, galactically spacey, then digi-pop sparkly. With a flurry of mouse clicks, the sound track is blended with other tracks and the full music emerges, whole and complete, from a large pair of speakers behind the sound tech’s desk.

Frequent tours are given of the Sweetwater Sound building. Visitors should contact the concierge, Julie Ratliff, at 800 222 4700 ext. 1137 to reserve a specific tour time – tours can be arranged for the morning or afternoon. Visitors are welcome to try out the arcade, visit the Downbeat Café, and explore the different shop floors of Sweetwater. Tours can focus on the LEEDS eco-friendly innovations that Sweetwater has incorporated, or they can explore the entire building with an eye to the music industry – even viewing the large warehouse area from the huge second-floor window.

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The Microphone Vault at Sweetwater Sound

Whether you’re looking for a place to start songwriting lessons or you just want to tour the store that sent you your new guitar, Sweetwater has lots of room to explore and they’d love to see you.

5501 U.S. Hwy 30 W, Fort Wayne, IN 46818



Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

Masterworks with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic

If you’re thinking about sampling the classic music scene here in Fort Wayne, let me recommend some of our very own Fort Wayne Philharmonic concerts. The Masterworks has a lineup of performances has some really exciting music planned for the season. Let me list a couple favorites that you’ll definitely want to put on your calendar:

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Philharmonic musicians will perform great art during the Masterworks concerts.

Masterworks: All Mozart – Saturday, January 10

Whenever the Philharmonic does Mozart, it’s good. The bubbly exuberance of the young Classical composer always comes through his compositions. When the violins of the Philharmonic ripple through his sparkling arpeggios and chords, the world is a better place. The “Jupiter” symphony is like listening to an 18th century depiction of the solar system. Strings and a small brass section race through twinkling passages that create, for the listener, an antiqued example of galactic grandeur. And then, there is Mozart’s clarinet concerto – the melody of the second movement is THE clarinet piece to remember. It’s plaintive yet pleasant, resolving in a graceful way that leaves you wanting more. This concert will take place in the Embassy Theatre.

Beethoven’s Third Symphony – Saturday, February 28

Beethoven was just edging from the Classical stage to his Romantic style when he composed this symphony. Written with a title page that originally paid homage to Napoleon Bonaparte, Beethoven later destroyed the first cover and left the piece as a monument to the ideal of a great hero. Carl Maria Von Weber’s “Overture” from Der Freischutz features the French horns in a slow introductory melody, making one think of dark forests and German folk tales. As an interesting side note, portions of this overture were used to add excitement to action radio programs from the 1940s and 1950s – simply hearing the tension-laced chords raises goose bumps and mental images of villains and heroes locked in epic struggles. This concert will be given in in IPFW’s Auer Performance Hall, in the Rhinehart Music Center.

Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto – Saturday, April 18

The concert begins with Dvorak’s Symphony no. 5. A peppy yet strong melody flits from strings to flutes in ways that make one think of the famous “New World” symphony. This is a great introduction to another work by Beethoven, his fourth Piano Concerto. Guest artist Ilya Yakushev will make a second guest appearance with the Philharmonic for this performance. Yakushev, from Russia, has an impressive background in piano performance and was well received when last he played with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in 2012. This concert will also take place in the Auer Performance hall, at IPFW’s Rhinehart Music Center.

In classical repertoire, the true gems of great music shine through during the best of concerts. Why not reserve a place to see these great pieces with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic?



Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

Counting Crows’ Somewhere Under Wonderland Tour – Live at the Embassy!

It’s hard to believe I’ve been a Counting Crows fan for more than half my life. I remember how much I wanted to learn to play guitar after hearing “Mr. Jones”. And I learned how – eventually, sort of – but couldn’t actually play “Mr. Jones” because my guitar was a little too beat up (it wouldn’t play an F chord!). I remember grabbing August and Everything After at the mall when in Indy for the state speech meet and Recovering the Satellites at a midnight sale when I was at Purdue – yes, back when people still bought CDs. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen them live (somewhere around 14). Oddly enough, I’ve never seen them in Fort Wayne. That’s going to change, though, when Counting Crows returns to Fort Wayne Sunday, December 7, 2014, to play the Historic Embassy Theatre.

CCpic 300x224 Counting Crows Somewhere Under Wonderland Tour   Live at the Embassy!

August and Everything After, Counting Crows’ first and arguably best album, is near the top of my “all-time greatest” list. Since its release in 1993, the band has recorded five additional albums of original material, including this year’s Somewhere Under Wonderland, and an album of covers. I’ve thought a lot about where I’d place Wonderland on the list of their best work, and I feel pretty confident saying it’s a close third, after August and Recovering the Satellites. Ranking the band’s albums is tough business, as even their “worst” album is still great and better than most of what’s out there. While I am a fan of the kind of music Counting Crows makes – and the talented musicians who make it – it’s frontman Adam Duritz’s words that have always been the bigger draw for me. There are few contemporary lyricists who write such poignant, poetic lyrics, and his turns of phrase, imagery, and epic storytelling wouldn’t be out of place in a lit class.

So what can I say about the live show? Well, it’s generally a mix of new stuff, hits, and a couple deeper cuts thrown in for good measure. Yes, I could tell you the songs you’ll probably hear, but what fun is that? (If you want to cheat, though, visit this site for past setlists: http://www.setlist.fm/search?query=counting+crows). One of the unique things about Counting Crows’ live shows is their penchant for reworking tunes. You’ll see this in several different ways: they’ll speed up or slow down the tempo of a song, they’ll perform the song acoustically (see the version of “Mr. Jones” on Across the Wire: Live in New York City, featuring the band’s appearances on MTV’s Live at the 10 Spot and VH1’s Storytellers, as an example of both), they’ll change the lyrics, or they’ll sandwich part or all of one song inside another song (“Round Here” and “Rain King” are the best examples). On stage, Duritz invests each song with an immediacy and intensity for which there are few venues better than the Embassy. I have no doubt this will be an amazing show.

I really can’t say enough about Counting Crows or their live performances. I first saw them in 1997 (also the year I first saw Ben Folds), and their performances have only improved. Believe me when I say they sound just as good today as they did then. Tickets are still available and range from $45 to $85 (additional fees may apply). For more information, please visit www.fwembassytheatre.com or www.ticketmaster.com.



Apart from spending his college years in West Lafayette, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, Mike Flohr is a lifetime resident of the Summit City. Today he divides his time among his wife, Megan, his job as a college librarian, and his many geek obsessions.

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1 Response to "Counting Crows’ Somewhere Under Wonderland Tour – Live at the Embassy!"

November 28th, 2014
Thanks for info. I'll be there for sure.

Straight No Chaser comes to the Embassy and you can WIN TICKETS!

The explosion of Pitch Perfect as one of the top-grossing movies of its season put a cappella music back on the map. While I’m sure we all love listening to the Bellas belt it out during the movie, it’s even better seeing and hearing groups perform in person. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the best a cappella groups in the country, Straight No Chaser, at Fort Wayne’s historic Embassy Theatre when they travel here December 16.

straight no chaserWEB 300x225 Straight No Chaser comes to the Embassy and you can WIN TICKETS!

Straight No Chaser is not your stereotypical a cappella group of college males singing outdated tunes in suit jackets and khaki pants. This talented group of men sing a variety of songs from covers of Adele and Ed Sheeran to songs with contributions from Phil Collins and Dolly Parton. The voices of these 10 men combine to create amazing vocal achievements that sound as if they are made by an orchestra of instruments and a choir of singers.

Their US and UK tour, Happy Hour, comes right after the release of their latest album, “Under the Influence.” This latest album features a number of holiday songs too, to put you in the mood of the season!

While you are in downtown Fort Wayne, make an evening of it! Stop by one of the local restaurants before the show. Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits is just down the road from the Embassy. And even though it might be cold, it would be a great evening to see the Christmas lights that will be up around downtown. Straight No Chaser begins at 7:30 so there will be plenty of time for dinner before and it will be dark enough when you leave to enjoy the holiday season!

And, you can win tickets to the show here!

Holley Taylor


Holley is a student at Albion College in Michigan studying English with a Creative Writing Emphasis and History. She is excited to be back in her hometown this summer working as a Marketing Intern for Visit Fort Wayne. Holley enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.

Swinney Homestead Christmas Celebrates Season of Yesteryear

In today’s fast-paced world it can be easy to get caught up in technology, the shopping frenzy and the urge to travel and see everyone this holiday season. In the midst of the chaos, the Swinney Sisters invite you to visit the Swinney Homestead for a trip back in time at Fort Wayne’s historic homestead.

swinney1 Swinney Homestead Christmas Celebrates Season of Yesteryear

“Christmas At Home” takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 5; and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Swinney Homestead, a historic home located at 1424 W. Jefferson Blvd., just southwest of downtown.

The home will feature elegant Victorian Christmas decorations for the holiday season. Guests will be greeted with warm refreshments such as tea, tasty sweets and savory samples to nibble on. A gift shop on the second floor of the home features unique gifts and “stocking stuffers.” Further, guests will enjoy holiday music as they soak up the historic holiday atmosphere.

swinney2 Swinney Homestead Christmas Celebrates Season of Yesteryear

This event requires pre-paid reservations for a fee of $20. Proceeds from this event go toward the support and maintenance of the Swinney Homestead so it may be enjoyed for generations to come. To secure a spot at the event call 260.747.1229 or 260.747.1501.

Insider Tip: If the weather is mild, which it often can be in early December, consider taking a peaceful winter stroll through Swinney Park before or after your visit to the homestead. Enjoy some fresh air at one of Fort Wayne’s gorgeous and calming city parks. (Then get back to your holiday shopping!)


Previously a news reporter at daily newspapers in Indiana and Ohio, Holly Hammersmith now enjoys the lighter side of writing through freelance work. In her spare time, Holly can be found running or practicing yoga. She also enjoys visiting local coffee shops and day-tripping. Holly lives with her husband, dog Lulu and half a dozen houseplants. Find Holly on Twitter @HFHammers and at http://hollyhammersmith.com.