It’s been five years, but the Rock Lottery is back.
Rock Lottery 11 unfolds on Saturday in front of a live audience.
The event is one-part experiment and one-part mini-movement. Born in Denton in 1997, Rock Lottery is a day jam-packed with fun and frustration.
Twenty-five musicians have their names drawn from a hat to form five bands that have but one mission: Spend the day rehearsing and writing songs. Twelve hours later, the bands have to perform three to five songs in front of a packed house. Only one of those songs can be a cover.
Scott Porter, a member of Record Hop and Rock Lottery 11’s master of ceremonies, said the event is something that bridges Denton’s club bands and the city’s house show bands.
“A while back there was — oh, whatever the nicer word for ‘schism’ is — in the scene. There was this separation of sorts between the house show people, who are very punk, very do-it-yourself kind of folks, and the bands who play in clubs,” Porter said. “Rock Lottery brings those two scenes together.”
Porter said the revival of Rock Lottery was precipitated by two things: the rare block of free time in the life of Chris Flemmons, the founder of 35 Denton and the guitarist-singer of the Baptist Generals; and the green light from Rock Lottery founder Chris Weber, who was among the alumni of the Good/Bad Art Collective, an association of visual and performance artists who staged buzz-worthy shows, events and art happenings in Denton in the 1990s. It’s Good/Bad that gets the credit for creating Rock Lottery.
“Maybe over the last year and a half, a conversation about bringing Rock Lottery back has been going on,” Porter said. “Once Flemmons and Weber said, ‘Yeah, you can do it,’ we got a committee together to get going on it.”
The committee did the hard part. It ticked down a long list of local musicians who could handle the rigors of this band-in-a-can idea — bring creative types together, just add instruments and see what it all sounds like, Porter said.
The idea is that a musician is invited just once to play Rock Lottery. The 10th anniversary lottery in 2007 was an all-star event that brought former lottery players back for a whole new gig.
“We’re looking for diversity in every applicable sense of the word,” Porter said. “You want to produce a list of people that don’t really go together. You want all levels of experience, all different backgrounds, all different kinds of music. You want something like Doug Burr, who does this quiet, pastoral, conservative music. And then you want someone like Rob Buttrum from [the now-defunct] House of Tinnitus, one of the major house show venues in Denton, who put together some of the harder, noise-music kind of scenes together.”
Basically, Porter said, organizers put a premium on unpredictability.
“What you hope for is having a guy like Tex Bosley, a drummer, getting into a group of musicians and doing something unexpected,” Porter said. “He’s a laidback guy, a rock drummer. It’s not like you want to see him do some heavy metal drumming, but you’re hoping he might be like, ‘Hey, let’s try this,’ and then see what happens.”
Hares on the Mountain frontman George Neal was in the second Rock Lottery, and was then invited into the 10th anniversary rock lottery.
Why did he say yes to the invitation?
“Because it’s Rock Lottery,” he said. “I’ve been to ever Rock Lottery since it started in Denton. My first time was great. I consider it one of the best moments in my life.”
Neal’s Rock Lottery band, Lacheenies De La Boonies, played several gigs after forming during the second event.
“The second one was a struggle,” Neal said of Rock Lottery 10. “It was just harder. That, and we had to go on after [Denton jazz, pop and rock artist] Paul Slavens. He had <ITAL>the experimental guitarist of all time in his band, plus that tall opera singer girl. What was her name? Yeah, Sarah Alexander. Talk about a hard act to follow. But they were very different experiences.”
Porter said a goodly number of the lottery concert audience shows up the morning of the event to see what bands are formed. The bands are chosen and then taken to rehearsal spots that have been arranged for them. They return to the venue at 3 p.m. to announce the band’s name and to have a photographer shoot their band photo. The bands reconvene at the venue at about 9:30 p.m. for the show.
They arrive at a sold-out house.
“That’s at every Rock Lottery. And the audience is 100 percent behind you,” said Porter, who performed in Rock Lottery 7 with the likes of Tim DeLaughter, Little Jack Melody and Emsy Robinson.
“Bands do fail. Sometimes it doesn’t go well for bands. But the audience is behind you all the way.”
LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
DENTON ROCK LOTTERY 11
• When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Dan’s Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St.
• Details: Tickets cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door. For admission to a 10 a.m. breakfast and lottery selection and the evening concert, tickets cost $20. Ages 21 and older only. To buy tickets, visit www.danssilverleaf.com . Proceeds will benefit Communities in Schools of North Texas.
10 a.m. — Announcements, $20 ticket-holder breakfast and lottery-based band selection
3 p.m. — Band lunch, photo shoot and name announcement
8:30 p.m. — Doors open
9:30 p.m. — Rock Lottery 11 show begins
ROCK LOTTERY 11 PARTICIPANTS
• Aaron White (Old Snack)
• Bill Dodds (Bukkake Moms)
• Chris Welch (Pinebox Serenade, Old Warhorse)
• Cody Garcia (The Heelers)
• Daniel Zeigler (Wiccans)
• Darcy Neal (Bludded Head)
• David Saylor (Terminator 2)
• Doug Burr
• Ginny Mac (Brave Combo)
• Isaac Hoskins
• James Washington (Peopleodian)
• Jeff Barnard (Dust Congress)
• Jeremy Buller (Bosque Brown, the Hope Trust)
• Judson Valdez (Chambers, Becoming)
• Justin Gray (Cerulean Giallo, Idiots)
• McKenzie Smith (Midlake)
• Mike Forbes (Shiny Around the Edges)
• Nicole Estill (True Widow)
• Paddy Flynn (Deep Snapper)
• Petra Kelly (Spooky Folk, Hares on the Mountain)
• Rachel Yoder (Odd Partials, Madera Wind Quintet)
• Rob Buttrum (Vaults of Zin)
• Ryan Becker (RTB2)
• Taylor Kimbrough (Deep Throat)
• Tex Bosley (Warren Jackson Hearne & Le Leek Electrique, the Holler Time)