Note to Alan Bleiken: Give that new Monday evening thing you got going on at Jojo’s Cafe a name — something cool like “Jojo Munday.”
I know that sounds like the moniker of some cheap ’70’s movie detective, but it seems so appropriate — right out of the gate this event had character. It was a packed house, gritty. The music was raucous. The drink flowed.
It was fresh and new and not the kind of thing you would expect in Osoyoos to start the work week.
Jojo Munday. Do it, Alan. I promise it will catch on.
And while you’ve got that to-do list out, make a note to invite back Ben Crosby. Maybe have a chat with your Amigo buddies — yeah, that’s a bit redundant, isn’t it — and see if you can’t find him a spot during this summer’s Music in the Park run.
Ben was a great way to introduce JoJo Munday. And he was tickled pink to be here.
“That far exceeded what I was expecting,” he told me after the show. “I’ve never played here before, but the fact that people were willing to come and check it out was really big to me.”
You sold out the joint, Alan. Almost 50 bums in seats for this guy who hails from Toronto, ON. Did you know his first career was fixing elevators? Yup, right out of high school he did that. For 10 years.
Then his union went on strike and Ben made the most of his time on the picket line. He picked up summer gigs and just went with it. Said he wanted to see how far he could run with that ball before he had to drop it.
His words. Still doing it — did 250-plus shows in 2016.
Life on the road is hard. Just ask Ben:
“The best you can hope for is to break even and maybe make some money,” he says. “Basically having your costs covered so you’re not going into the red and living as cheaply as you can.”
He calls them investment months. You don’t really expect to make a profit on them, but the next time you do it, you build on the audience that you hopefully impressed on the way through the first time.
Bring the kid back, Alan. Let the rest of the community find out about Ben Crosby and the cool storytelling he delivers from the stage.
Cool lyrics, like, “They say, ‘sign right here on the dotted line, No you don’t need money baby, blood’s just fine’ “ or “I don’t wanna be an old time bomb that never went off when it should’a gone.”
Heck, the guy even knows where to put the quotation marks.
Remember, Jaime? Do you think she hung up after getting the call from her old man, the guy who happened to be in jail after doing some “hard drinking about her?”
Storytelling’s important, even if it is becoming a lost craft — important, perhaps, because it is becoming a lost art.
“It’s nice as a songwriter to have people actually listen to your words and focus on that,” Ben told me. “You spend so much time trying to get those words right.”
“People don’t want to necessarily think when they’re dancing to a tune. The storytelling songs have kind have gone by the wayside. They’re still there, you just have to dig for them.”
I’d say your first Jojo Munday was a success. It’s a win-win bringing Ben Crosby back to town. He did you proud and he wants to come back. And he’s setting up house just down the road in Coquitlam. He’s practically a neighbour.
“The vibe is great out here; everyone has been super friendly,” Ben says. “I would love to come back in the summertime and actually experience what Osoyoos is supposed to be. 100 percent i would come back.”
So, to recap: 1. Jojo Munday. 2. Ben Crosby. 3. Music in the Park. 4. Story-telling.
Got it, Alan?