By Greta Cobar
It’s always nice to interview people that I like, and it’s an added bonus if it’s a band whose music makes me get up and dance pretty much every time I hear them play.
I would like to introduce you to the Venice Street Legends, comprised of Greg Cruz and Petr Hromadko. Having been playing together for the past eight years, mainly in Venice, Cruz and Petr are “the core” of the band, often joined by other musicians also.
“This is the best place to play – you got the sun, the tourists, you can play at what time you want. I don’t have interest in going anywhere else,” Petr said.
“I love playing guitar – I go into trances. And here we have the Venice Vortex – it channels the spirit of long-gone artists. Here in Venice, time slows down, ten years go by, and you don’t even know it. And we don’t age,” Cruz told me. And I had to agree.
After escaping the communist Czech Republic and getting political asylum, Petr came out to Venice in the 80s and started playing with different people on the beach – whoever was available. He played keyboards for Inner Secrets, which was a regular participant in the anti-apartheid rallies and jam sessions on Brooks and a regular at Miami Spice, the club that used to be on Lincoln and Washington.
Cruz himself started playing blues guitar in the 80s, also here in Venice, with a gentleman from New Orleans. His resume includes gigs at Angelica Huston’s wedding, the House of Blues, and touring in Tahiti.
It was on the fortunate day about eight years ago that Petr approached Cruz and said: “I’d like to play base for your kind of music.” And so the Venice Street Legends came to be.
This year they were invited to platy at Ferarra Buskers, the biggest street festival in the world, which took place in Italy. “They loved our music – people were dancing and screaming in the streets,” Cruz said.
Playing mostly Johnny Cash and other oldies blues/funk hits, the Venice Street Legends entertain the flowing crowd on Ocean Front Walk most sunny days, and play at the Venice Bistro every first friday of the month. I tend to find them throughout Venice at house parties, The Talking Stick, and festivals like the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally and the Venice Surf and Skate Festival.
“Music is very healing, and I like to play for Monae a lot,” Petr said referring to their most dedicated fan, who is present at each and every one of their shows – Monae Hromadko, Petr’s daughter, who suffers of cerebral palsy.
“Singing and playing the guitar is what makes me the happiest – it is my greatest joy,” Cruz said.
Cruz and Petr often also play with Kathy Leonardo in another band, the Country Legends, and Mitch Montrose joins them on drums at the Venice Bistro. But their fellow musicians have included many, spanning from a group of friends just popping into the bar to American Idol contestants.
The Beachhead is thrilled to have the Venice Street Legends play at our 45th Anniversary party, at Beyond Baroque on December 1.
“The Beachhead is the best newspaper on the planet. You can quote me on that,” Petr said. “I don’t read any other paper. I like the Beachhead because you don’t care what anyone thinks,” he continued.
In the month of December the Venice Street Legends will also be playing at the Two-Wheeled toy drive, taking place December 5, 8pm, at Beyond Baroque. Bring a toy or $20 for fun, food and drinks.
And I will see you all December 1!