FORT WAYNE – Iconic musician Willie Nelson will play the Foellinger Theatre this summer.
Nelson, 81, has been such a large presence on the American music scene for so long that he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame more than two decades ago. His latest studio album, Band of Brothers, will be released June 17; Rolling Stone magazine put him in its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, noting that his first song was published in 1949. He has appeared in more than 30 movies and TV shows, the magazine said.
Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department officials will announce the concert next week, The Journal Gazette has learned; tickets for the Aug. 21 show go on sale at 8 a.m. May 23.
The Parks Department’s Garry Morr said it will be one of the four largest concerts of the Foellinger Theatre summer concert season. The others are REO Speedwagon, Styx and Foreigner.
Even better, Morr said, the show is being put on by Pacific Coast Concerts, meaning the Parks Department is simply renting the facility to the promoter and not taking any financial risk.
Of the four headliners, Pacific Coast Concerts is handling all but Foreigner, though Pacific Coast helped the department book the band, Morr said.
The Pacific Coast shows happened because of the huge response to concerts by Chicago and Kansas last year, he said.
Parks officials began bringing larger acts to the stage a few years ago, and the response has grown tremendously. Last year, officials were overjoyed when they sold $77,000 worth of tickets the first day they went on sale. This year, they sold over $300,000 worth of tickets, had people waiting in line at 7:30 a.m. and repeatedly crashed the website.
We’ve never seen anything like it, Parks Director Al Moll said. We blew the system.
The concerts have been doing so well that they are paying for an upgrade to the outdoor theater’s electrical system. Officials said the large concerts require so much power that they’ve been renting generators, which require an on-site electrician, are loud, produce diesel fumes and cost up to $3,000 a show.
The electrical boxes are in the basement of the theater, which often floods; the new system’s boxes will be in back of the stage.
The $44,500 upgrade will be paid out of the theater’s reserve fund, which has over $200,000 in it – thanks to the success of the concerts.
Concert tickets may be bought at www.foellingertheatre.org, by calling 427-6000 or by visiting the Parks and Recreation Department office at 705 E. State Blvd. during business hours.