WSU graduate Ron Atencio started the Ogden music venue Mojos in order to find unknown local talent. He ended up finding that and more.
“It was a dream that came to me after many years of traveling and living in many wonderful cities such as Honolulu, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. I just wanted to bring a bit of all of those places into Ogden, Utah,” Atencio said.
Atencio was working for STREET Magazine in 2003 when he started renting the room next door in the magazine’s building. Every Friday night he would open the doors for musicians to come and jam.
“One time I remember it was such an amazing jam and lasted, oh, say 20 minutes. Felt like a long time and we were all so connected to the music,” Atencio said. “Nobody really took the lead, that you could tell, but everyone just played with each other and magic came out.”
From that moment, Atencio said he knew he wanted to own a music venue.
“I always saw a vision of this perfect place, which would be eclectic, hip, groovy and more,” Atencio said. “One that is magic and free to create and express oneself and to meet others of the same mind and open to all genres and types of people.”
Atencio took a handful of albums with him while traveling around the nation, but ended up only listening to “The Best of the Doors.” One song in particular, “L.A. Woman,” struck him as he was driving.
“In the song ‘L.A. Woman,’ the lyrics go, ‘mista mojos rising keep on risin,’ which turned out that this was an anagram for Jim Morrison,” Atencio said.
From that lyric, Atencio said he knew the name of his future venue would be “Mojos,” after the song.
“We found this building, and the city gave us an incentive to come to Washington Boulevard on the east side, as back then the mall was empty,” Atencio said. “There was about 75 percent vacancy on this side.”
Feb. 5, 2005, Mojos Café and Gallery opened to the public. In 2006 the name was changed to Mojos Music Venue. Mojos became the first all-ages music venue in Ogden.
“Ten years ago there was not any music in town other than two bars,” Atencio said. “I knew that there was an untapped group of people here in Ogden, which is the youth and young folks under 21, who may need or want a place to play and hang out.
Atencio said he’s seen a lot of positive changes in the downtown Ogden area since 2005 . “We have the Junction across the street, the new LDS Temple and are 75 percent occupied on this side now,” Atencio said. “We have seen lots of changes right here from our front door.”
The music venue began attracting a small following and has since continued to grow.
“There seemed to be a sense of community there. I liked that,” John Allred, a Utah musician, said. “How people would hang out in front and around the coffee bar.”
Mojos is nearing its 10-year anniversary. “We have been open officially for 10 years on February 2015,” Atencio said. “That will be a celebration.”
Atencio said that bands such as the Fictionist, Desert Noises, The Moth and Flame and others touring the country have stopped at Mojos because of the developing scene. One of his favorites was Kingsfoil, whose drummer was Frankie Muniz, from “Malcolm in the Middle.”
“In 10 years we have had so many play at Mojos. But our locals are what we are about,” Atencio said. “To me they are all superstars.”