Java Joe’s Open Mic a local treasure for musicians
by BART MENDOZA
Published - 03/03/18 - 11:53 AM | 2708 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Open Mic: Tuesdays, at Java Joe’s, 2611 Congress St. 6:30 p.m.
Open Mic: Tuesdays, at Java Joe’s, 2611 Congress St. 6:30 p.m.
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San Diego music fans are fortunate to have many places to hear singer-songwriters as well as numerous songwriters showcases to visit around town. But even in a crowded field, a Java Joe’s Open Mic night is special. Few other local venues have nurtured a music community quite like the beloved coffeehouse. First opened in 1991, Java Joe’s has been located in several areas, including Poway and Normal Heights, before settling in its current Old Town location in 2017.

Hosted by Bob (Bobo) Czarnowski, the current Open Mic kicked off in January, taking place every Tuesday night at Java Joe’s. While the venue is known for its big name performers, according to Czarnowski, the stage is open to musicians at all skill levels. “All it takes is a little bit of courage or a leap of faith,” he said. “We get all levels of performers ranging from relative novices, to folks trying to make a name for themselves in the San Diego music scene, to songwriters trying out new material. I have a lot of friends who are local pros who come and play a few just to say “hi.”

Having to work with so many performers on any given night can be tough, but Czarnowski, is pragmatic. “I like to perform about once a week whether it’s an open mic or a songwriter showcase. Regular performing helps me combat stage fright,” he said. While he performs at each open mic nightm Czarnowski makes sure to keep the spotlight squarely on the guest talent.” I usually open the show with a song and end the show with a song.,” he commented. The opening song is usually whatever I'm working on or that's playing in my head all week. The closing song I usually wing it with whatever inspires me as the night unfolds.

Although some might be apprehensive about taking the stage at Java Joe’s, Czarnowski insists it’s a great way for novices to build up their chops. “ The Java Joes open mic night is all about this. It is definitely not a contest. I love hearing beginners singing songs they just wrote straight from the heart.”

For his part, Czarnowski believes anyone could perform on the open mic stage. “I believe we are all living a song lyric,” he said. “We all have music inside us. Most of us have a tune we hum under our breath as we carry on our day. As a musician I get to manifest this music and share it with the world. I take enormous joy from this.” He’s happy to spotlight a musician no matter new they might be to live performance. “As an open mic host I talk about how we are all somewhere on a path on our musical journey. For some it’s been for 40 plus years, and for some it’s been a few months. No matter where you are on that path if you are willing to share that music you have inside you we want to hear it.”

He points out that guitars and keyboards are the most common instruments, however “we're open to anything that isn't raging loud or that takes a while to set up.”

Although the current Open Mic series at Java Joe’s is less than two months old, Czarnowski has high hopes for its growth over the summer. “My favorite thing about all this is the community that has begun to form around the open mic.,” he mused, “It’s been attracting a group that is willing to experiment and interact with the other performers. A lot of new friendships are forming. Java Joes has always been a tribe and its happening again.”

Open Mic: Tuesdays, at Java Joe’s, 2611 Congress St. 6:30 p.m. www.javajoessd.com

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Lynne Johnson
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March 04, 2018
This is fantastic Bobo! So glad you are hosting this! We could use a venue like this on Salt Sproing for a lot of our budding street performers and buskers, some of whom are quite talented. This is a wonderful gift you are providing the musicians of San Diego! You are spot on when you say..."We all have music inside us". It's a gift to be able to share it with others.

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