“Nothing kills the mood like a good Jesus song.”
Never did I think I would hear that phrase in the middle of The Peak’s latest showcase of musical talent, The Peak Performance Project. Vancouver’s newest member of west coast radio is putting on BC’s largest talent show ever with $150, 000 as first prize, $75,000 as second and $50,000 as third. Not too shabby for a local kick at the can. As anyone can imagine, that kind of money would go a long way for an up and coming artist, especially since most of the talent had never recorded before the showcase began.
So, after several performances and plenty of voting to get to the top 20, I find myself in the crowd of The Cellar waiting for the final performances in downtown Vancouver. The place is filled with media types, hipsters and supportive family and friends. This is a good crowd. The bar tops and tables are covered with pamphlets for free downloads and reminders to vote. I pick one up for Kuba Oms, who is offering a free album download till the end of November. Amazing, a few years ago Radiohead was publicly lashed by the music industry for doing the same thing and now it’s become a marketing standby.
I pocket it and move on to the back of the bar where people ‘in the know’ are discussing record deals, stage presence and general sh-t I know nothing about. I realize I’m at the judge’s table and move on.
In the corner of the stage a young man is tuning his guitar. He smiles at the crowd and waits to be introduced.
Bodhi Jones spent his early years on Saltspring Island. He began with music when his family moved to the lower mainland before he was even a teenager. Picking up a guitar and never looking back, Bodhi has spent several years busking in Vancouver, performing for thousands along Robson everyday. His latest song he penned for The Peak Performance Project “In a Minute” series can be found on YouTube. The video was shot at Robson and Howe and beautifully accompanies Jones’ voice as the people of the city move about around him. Raw, a bit gritty and full of emotion can describe the voice, and the inspiration of the city. Bodhi Jones is his own talent but you cannot help but hear David Gray and a bit of Ben Harper in his music. I spoke with Bodhi after the show and asked him who he’d like to play for as an opener.
“As in anyone? Oh..David Gray. Ray Lamontagne. And maybe Ben Harper.”
That settles that. He’s humble but his answer is believable, he has talent, and when he blows up it’s going to happen very quickly. Back onstage he is being introduced and starts the first notes of what is becoming his signature song. The crowd sings along and Bodhi seems in his element. Listening to the strength in his voice, you’d have no idea he was in the hospital for the flu the night before. His confidence grows with each song as his voice becomes more and more strong. By the time he’s starting his last song of his set; a cover of Alanis Morisette’s One Hand in my Pocket, the crowd is eating it up and singing along like Jones himself had written it the tune. I asked him about that later on.
“Why Alanis?” I asked casually leaning against the bar as people with big smiles grinned at Bodhi from all directions. He already has fans, but after tonight he has groupies.
“Why? Because when that album came out it was incredible, amazing. And when I sing her lyrics, it’s like I could have written them, like they’re from….me.”
I mention that Canada likes to really embrace our artists and he agrees. “This city is so supportive; it’s not like that everywhere. In America, they tell me they love my stuff, they really like what I’m doing, but no thank you.”
It’s true. With a country that size already producing most of the world’s entertainment, there is no need to import. He shouldn’t feel bad though, the same thing has happened to some of world’s biggest names like Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue. Sadly it seems all they want is Michael Buble and Nickleback from us. By the way, we’d give you Nickelback. Gladly.
Up on stage the second act has started and has the crowd going until the unfortunate timing of a gospel sounding song. The crowd shifts uncomfortably, having been interrupted from their reverie and merriment by the good Lord. Drinks are not touched and the guy in front of me turns around and says IT.
“Nothing kills the mood like a good Jesus song.”
Amen, brother. The crowd eventually catches up on the next song and all is right with the world again. Drinks are ordered, Converse are dancing and skinny jeans are falling down asses all over the room. This is the local music scene tonight in Vancouver. As humble and down to earth the artists seem we all feel like we are on the verge of something great, that one day we will regal our friends with stories about the time we saw Bodhi Jones at The Cellar or when The Left used to play small venues. I think Bodhi summed it up best himself on stage that night.
“Everyone involved here tonight, we are just so happy and cannot wait for the next thing to happen. Look out world, here we come.”