In 2003, Denise Cerreta opened the first “pay what you can”community cafe called One World Cafe in Salt Lake City.
After nearly a decade, the board of One World Cafe made the decision in 2012 to close the cafe and focus on helping others replicate the model in their community.
One of those models is still in existence and thriving. The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation runs the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, New Jersey, where no prices are on the menu, serving meals to customers who have earned them through volunteer hours.
In a phone interview, Jon Bon Jovi — who will lead the rock band Bon Jovi in EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday, April 17 — said he first got the idea for the JBJ Kitchen when he and his wife were watching the NBC Nightly News and anchor Brian Williams talked about what One World Cafe was doing in Salt Lake City.
Jon’s wife Dorothea Hurley took a trip to Salt Lake City to visit the cafe and meet with its directors, and “that’s where the basis of Soul Kitchen came from,” Jon, 51, said. “The only hesitation is that we wanted to make sure that everything is done right. We didn’t want any shenanigans going on.”
Besides serving meals at its location, when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, where Bon Jovi calls home, the Soul Kitchen provided food to emergency relief workers, families in need, and to other nonprofits who were unable, due to the effects of the storm, to provide meals in the community. After the NBC Concert in support of the Red Cross emergency relief efforts in which Bon Jovi performed, many donations flowed in to his foundation to support a project for those that experienced great loss in the hurricane.
(By the way, that is not the only Utah tie that the band Bon Jovi has. Bass player Hugh McDonald calls Park City home when the band isn’t on tour.)
The elephant in the room during Bon Jovi’s”Because We Can” tour is the departure of founding member and guitarist Richie Sambora last week. In an April 8 story in the Austin American-Statesman, Jon said, “I think Richie’s doing all right, (but) I haven’t spoken to him ... We were surprised. It was 3:30 on show day on Tuesday and we got a phone call that he wouldn’t be there. It’s a personal matter. Don’t believe what you read on TMZ because it’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
TMZ reported immediately after the departure that Sambora bailed on the Bon Jovi tour because of erupting tensions between Jon and Richie that revolved around money and respect.
Phil X has replaced Sambora for the rest of tour. In 2011 he substituted for Sambora, who missed a number of dates after entering rehab.
During Jon’s Tribune interview, conducted two days after Sambora left the band, Jon said there have been times during the band’s long career when band members fought and needed breaks from one another. “There was a time after [the ‘New Jersey’ tour that ended in 1990] that we were burned out. We were wise enough in our exhaustion [to use] outside interests to fuel the band.”
As for any current and future problems for the band after this world tour, Jon said, “I hope we don’t run into that.”
On the brighter side, the band began a world tour in February behind the band’s twelfth studio album “What About Now,” with tour taking its name “Because We Can” from their first single. The tour will have the band travel to Wales for the first time since 2001, and it will also be the first time in since 1995 that the band will perform in Africa. It will also be the first time Bon Jovi will perform in Bulgaria and Poland.
“What About Now” features messages from the band about the state of the nation and the world, with the first single offering the chorus-ending lines “I ain’t a soldier but I’m here to take a stand because we can.”
But Jon said that while he appreciates political anthems from the likes of fellow Jerseyean Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Midnight Oil, those aren’t aims of Bon Jovi. “I don’t utilize the stage as a soapbox,” he said. “People see me to entertain, not to [preach].”
What the new albums celebrates, he said, is the idea of “We.” He added: “That’s the social conscience.”
Jon said the stage design of the new tour is “really minimal,” but when you watch YouTube of previous shows, you know he is understating. There are over 90 high-speed moving elements, and for the first time in the band’s history, the lighting and video production teams will direct all of the automated effects while simultaneously controlling the lights and video during the show. At the same time, a motion control system monitors the production, which also includes 50 moving lighting structures and hexagons, for safety.
Jon’s priority, though, is the music. “I’ve always said if you can’t rely on the songs, it doesn’t matter how many dancing girls you have,” Jon said. His job, he said, is to make sure that people don’t go and get a beer when the band starts playing new songs.
Keyboard player David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres and Sambora participated with The Tribune and other media outlets in a January conference call, and they raved about the production.
“With every tour we also try to up our game as well with that, without making it such a production that you lose the fact that there’s a band there,” Bryan said. “So for us it enhances what we do and we really got some really cool tricks up our sleeve. I’s really looking cool.”
“Yeah, and for the live shows it’s important,” Sambora said. “We have a great bunch of guys that are working with us, very creative, and to come up with something that’s different, that’s never been done before by anybody, we sometimes try to do that.”
Getting into the groove of a tour is important, Sambora said. “Fortunately, it’s an anomaly that we still all get along together and have a great time playing together.”
Bryan was asked why the tour wasn’t branded as a 30th anniversary tour.
He said, “I don’t think anybody’s thinking that this is some kind of finite beginning or end.”
Bon Jovi in SLC
When • Wednesday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Where • EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $16.50 to $472 at SmithsTix
Tour by the numbers:
4,500,000 • number of pixels of video projection
1,000,000 • dollars spent on the 10 video projectors used on the hexagon projection wall
698,000 • total watts the sound system can generate
240,000 • brightness of the hexagon wall projection screen in lumens
32,000 • potential square feet that the hexagon wall can expand to while displaying video content (largest projection screen in the world)
8,460 • feet or aircraft cable used to fly the moving lights and flying hexagon wall
350 • number of wheels on the tour buses and trucks used to transport production and crew
84 • number of touring crew members (with 80 added in each city)
7 • number of guitars Jon uses on tour, including three acoustic and four electric guitars
0 • number of strings Jon breaks during one show