Venus Cruz: “I love putting together musicians who are strangers to one another, especially for last-minute shows. It gets players to be instantaneous alongside me, since I consider myself to be an improviser. For a recent outdoor gig, I threw a band together at the last minute with two musicians who apparently had a beef with one another. A grand thunderstorm greeted us. As sound guys threw tarps over equipment to try and salvage it, the band before us fled the stage. One of their members hit my drummer in the head with a tuba.
“I was between them when the fight started. I dodged a punch, and soon a full fistfight was happening in the mud, including bloodied knuckles from punching teeth in braces and pulled dreads, all while a torrential rainstorm assaulted us and lightning struck close to the generator on our left. They were fighting behind a slope near the sound tent, so from the main building, you could only see me frantically moving. People inside began screaming at us, not because they saw the fight, but because they thought I was being electrocuted. I’m lucky to be surrounded by incredibly talented musicians. My goal is immediate joy, because that’s what improvisation is. But the improvised fights need to stop.”
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Editor's Note: The Denver Bootleg is a series chronicling the history of local music venues by longtime Denver cartoonist Karl Christian Krumpholz. Visit Krumpholz's website to see more of his work.