Sixteen years ago when The Pizza Shoppe opened at 6056 Maple Street, Benson was a much different neighborhood. As music venues popped up, including one connected to The Pizza Shoppe called The P.S. (or Pizza Shoppe) Collective which opened around 2005 (Full Disclosure: I booked shows at the venue years ago), the area became a much more bohemian destination. It was a place to catch shows, chill at corner bars and enjoy a variety of art offerings. The Pizza Shoppe has been a Benson icon through all of this growth and change and will continue to be a vital part of the neighborhood well into the future. The Pizza Shoppe celebrates its Sweet 16 Birthday Thursday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. Ten dollars gets you in the door to see local performer Matt Cox and Wyoming native Jalan Crossland. The venue will offer a host of food and drink specials, including $3.50 New Belgium drafts and $3 pizza slices. Cox is a perfect fit for the party as he has graced The P.S. Collective stage as much or more than any other performing artist. Known for soulful acoustic performances and his more electrically charged shows with The Matt Cox Band, the troubadour is among the best local Americana performers. Crossland can be considered a friend of the venue as well. He has visited at least once a year for the past four years, giving performances that are legendary in some circles. He is an accomplished guitarist who has won several regional contests as well as National Fingerstyle Championship honors and the Wyoming State Championship Flatpicking title. When you add his original songwriting and energetic performances to the mix, you get one of the most engaging solo acoustic performers of our time. As Crossland so eloquently put it on his website, “I ain’t great at anything, but if you are half-assed at enough things and roll ’em all together, you can amount to more than one whole ass.”


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