Mocha Joe’s welcomes students ready to study, grab some coffee and unwind with friends. An argument can be made that a certain component may have been missing from Mocha Joe’s coffee shop atmosphere in the past.
Occasionally, small performances of live music will take place in Mocha Joes. These performances are typically one-off events or occasional departmental performances, like the musical theatre event Cabaret.
Live music will now be welcomed every third Thursday of the month with the new concert series, “Mocha Jams in Mocha Joes.” Songwriters, instrumentalists and casual performers alike will be given the opportunity to perform on the Mocha Joe’s stage at 8 p.m. during Mocha Jams.
“Mocha Jams in Mocha Joe’s” is a student-run and typically student-based event. The person primarily responsible for planning and organizing Mocha Jams is senior music business major Abigail Stamper. Stamper hopes that the event will grow to become a tradition of its own on campus.
“There were concert series happening here, but it was only once a semester or something like that,” said Stamper. “They were really neat ideas, and Mocha’s is a good resource we have, but we weren’t really using it. I thought, ‘What if we did something that was like this but consistent.’”
Two Mocha Jams have already taken place and received positive feedback. The first Mocha Jams featured student performances, while the second one had alumni performing during the week of Homecoming. Both events were packed with students prepared to take in the live performances.
Every month for the rest of the school year there will be a Mocha Jams taking place. Stamper has ideas in place for other themed events too, like a possible showcase for the musical theatre department.
Hope Brandenberger, who performed a set at the inaugural Mocha Jams, envisions the event becoming a building block for the community on campus.
“I think Mocha Jams is a great thing and can play a really large part in building community here at AU,” Brandenberger said. “I think the longer it goes on and the more people that get involved from different groups on campus, the more community it will build. I think the environment is a supportive and encouraging.”
The experience of creating this safe environment has forced Stamper through certain learning experiences already. For example, Stamper has had to deal with technical difficulties during the alumni set. But for her, these issues are not always negative issues to deal with.
“I don’t mind the problems because I like to fix things,” Stamper said. “It’s important to recognize that you’re depending on other people’s abilities too. You’re giving a lot of responsibility up. But it’s not costing anything, so it’s free-range learning.”
Luckily, Stamper is not alone in building this experience for the attentive crowds. Austin Hostetler, a sophomore music business major, is Stamper’s partner in bringing Mocha Jams to life.
“After the first Mocha Jams, he asked how he could help,” Stamper said. “So he got involved and helps with the sound. I know how to set up a stage but I do not know how to go about working a soundboard. He also helps with a lot of the technical stuff, making sure I’m being held accountable, but he is also working on marketing stuff, so it’s kind of a tag-team effort.”
The upcoming Mocha Jams in Mocha Joe’s theme is focused on Residence Life leaders. Resident assistants and discipleship coordinators will be headlining the event. With the theme focusing on student leaders, Stamper hopes to draw a sizeable crowd ready to support RAs and DCs.
“There are actually a lot of student leaders in the dorms who are into music, like more than a hobby,” Stamper said. “I just want them to have a little time when their residents can come out and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s my RA.’ I think it would be a really fun night to have all of the halls out.”
The next Mocha Jams will be taking place Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. on the stage in Mocha Joe’s.