“In the ’90s, the venue Acappella’s became a hot spot where people laid down sweet harmonies, taking doo-wop to a new level. We became bar lizards there, and when we discovered the venue would hold the Harmony Showdown for a grand prize of $500, tickets to Al Jarreau, dinner at a Mexican steakhouse and a gig at Acappella’s, we couldn’t resist forming a group. We learned three songs, somewhat off-key, and named ourselves Minimum Wage.
“On the night of the competition, the 17th Avenue Allstars were playing and introducing groups. They loved our name and joked: ‘Is Minimum Wage here? They must still be working. Maybe when they get their fifteen-minute break? How much do we have to pay them?’ Our name became the running joke all night. When it was our turn, we dressed in fast-food uniforms and tumbled from the kitchen, my brother Jeff leading the way, holding up a burger. The crowd’s silence soon turned into laughter.
“From that moment, we could do no wrong. Off notes, missed cues, flubbed choreography — it all mattered not. We ended with a country version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ The crowd demanded one more song, which we didn’t have. Weeks passed. We ate the Mexican steak, saw Al Jarreau, and got that coveted gig at Acappella’s. We still perform often, but nothing compares to that evening: the crowd, the smell of lard wafting from our outfits, and the stellar harmonies of those 11 minutes and 43 seconds.”
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.
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