A couple of months ago, Ottawa’s Chris Murray wanted help with proposing to his girlfriend, Jennifer Katsuno. He reached out to the lead singer of one of his favourite bands, Arkells to ask for a little help.
“This is definitely a long shot, but nothing ventured, nothing gained,” began Murray’s online message to the band’s frontman, Max Kerman. He then explained that he and Katsuno had been dating for a year and a half, and had originally connected over the Arkells’ track “11:11.” So, he wanted to create a proposal around the song that meant so much to them. He knew Arkells were playing Bluesfest, and wanted to see what could be done.
“Jen and my first major trip away coincided with the release of Arkells’ most recent album, and we listened to it on repeat for almost four days straight,” he said. “The lyrics of the song 11:11 loosely describe how we met, locking eyes at a bar, so we both identified with it.”
The Hamilton band loves to connect with their fans, and Kerman responded to Murray’s message soon after, equally as excited about the idea. They played around with some ideas and finally came up with one that was just the perfect mix between subtle and meaningful.
On Sunday, a couple of hours before Arkells’ Bluesfest set, the couple walked by a bench near the entrance of the Canadian Museum of Nature, an area near their house that they walked every weekend.
This time though, was different. A busker was sitting on the bench, strumming his guitar to an acoustic rendition of “11:11.” Only it wasn’t a busker – it was Kerman himself.
“She actually thought, because the band itself is really community engaged, that maybe they were doing a social media stunt,” Murray said. “I had to bring her around to the fact that, ‘No no, he’s here for me. He’s done this for us.’”
He kept his proposal short and sweet.
“I told her, ‘Listen, you know I’m longwinded and tend to go get carried away when I’m talking. So I’d rather just let Max and the words say what I need to say.’ She was confused, but then I dropped down, pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me.”
Katsuno, she said, was in such shock that it took her “a good 30 seconds” to respond.
“We both got emotional pretty quickly and started to cry,” she said. “I was quite taken aback, but eventually once I recovered some sort of semblance of myself I said, ‘Of course,’ and we hugged and kissed.”
“For us, for the band, it’s really a touching thing when a couple has one of our songs as their song,” said Kerman. “I like when somebody takes the initiative to try something like that. Because with our band, we’re always taking chances. It never hurts to try or ask.”
As an engagement gift, Kerman also gave Murray and Katsuno backstage passes to hang out with the band, and watch the show from side stage before bringing them front and center to share the news. The band then performed 11:11, the song about two people who meet at a bar and fall in love, changing the woman’s name from “Lonnie” to “Jenny.”
Watch the video of the couple on stage above, and the proposal below from their Instagram.
Congratulations, Jen and Chris!