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We're Denton Dammit: Oct. 19

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  • Lucinda Breeding
  • Mariel Tam-Ray

“The closer you get, the more you commit.” That’s what Fishboy (a.k.a. Eric Michener) said Saturday night about deciding where to stand for the first band of Rock Lottery 16. When you’re about to see a band formed barely 12 hours ago, you’re aware the whole thing could be a musical train wreck, or the stuff of local lore for years to come.

But audiences at Rock Lottery tend to be blessedly supportive, because they’re aware the participants have poured a day’s work into an artistic and social experiment — mixing up the 25 local musicians into five randomly selected bands to perform several original songs for the night. Each band puts together five people who might not otherwise ever speak, challenging them to create something new, if fleeting.

Saturday’s event was the 16th installation of Rock Lottery, instigated 20 years ago by Good/Bad Art Collective (there were a few years off). This time it raised money for KUZU, the low-power station that launched this summer on 92.9 FM in downtown Denton. Some highlights from the night:

As advertised: The KUZUmineers’ Dale Jones (New Science Projects) howling about “beautiful deals” while tossing advertising pages into the crowd, in a noisy, slightly surf-y number with Joe Snow’s steel guitar adding a psych-country edge.

Catchiest: Trash Baby’s dance-worthy pop grooves, particularly the number with Sudie Abernathy’s chorus of “I’m not your trash baby!”

Unexpected pop covers: For its last song, Orgasmivore shook its dark mood: Teddy Georgia Waggy (Midnight Opera) dropped the super-serious look to bust into ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” And Dolphin Butt closed out the night with Dahlia Knowles (Lorelei K) belting out a slowed-down, syrupy version of Cher’s “Believe.”

Most unexpected instruments: No, it wasn’t the two bands that wielded Omnichords, that kitschy electronic autoharp. And it wasn’t Cactus Head’s vibraphone, played by Chelsey Danielle (Pearl Earl) for one song before it was swiftly whisked offstage. It was replaced by a massage table — and then a woman’s bare backside, chopped and slapped in time by the classically trained Danielle.

Saturday’s Rock Lottery was dedicated to Jimmy Smith, who’s stepping down as the man behind the board at Dan’s Silverleaf. Smith may not be a household name, but for two decades he’s been the sound man responsible for one of Denton’s finest listening rooms. Musicians know him as famously prickly, but fastidious and exacting about live sound engineering. That is, he may scowl at you, but he’ll make you sound good.

Brent Best and Ryan Williams, musicians themselves, will be running sound at Dan’s now, but Jimmy leaves big shoes to fill (and maybe some gaming high scores to top). As Scott Porter noted while toasting Smith’s work onstage Saturday: “Actual rock stars ask for Jimmy Smith.”

And speaking of Good/Bad: Accordion-playing, arena rock-singing Denton ex-pat Corn Mo (a.k.a. Jon Cunningham) is coming in from Brooklyn to perform a show Sunday at Dan's, but not before selling off the contents of his storage unit ("mostly just junk," he reports) in a garage sale on Saturday. He's been paying for the storage unit since he moved to New York in 2001. 'Bout time, eh?

Frenchy Rheault, the well-known and much loved Denton business owner, was featured for his devotion to the Dallas Cowboys on the CW Channel 33 website on Sunday. The station noted Rheault's king costume and pink breast cancer awareness outfit. 

Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree is a thoughtful soul. Not surprisingly, he thinks like a cop. His recent Facebook post tackled last weekend's annual "Bonnie and Clyde Days" festival in Pilot Point. The celebration is OK, the sheriff mused before adding the zinger, "I just wish some place would have a "H.D. Murphy, Edward Wheeler, Frank Hamer Day in honor of the two Texas troopers killed in cold blood by the outlaw murderers and the Ranger that sent them where they belong. Just a thought."

This week, Denton's theater scene learned it has a sad farewell in the offing. Longtime Denton theater volunteers Rob and Leigh Ann Stadt are leaving Denton for Indianapolis in January. The couple is relocating to be closer to Leigh Ann's mother and family. Both Stadts have been tireless volunteers for the local theater scene, and while Rob Stadt has more than earned his kudos as a top-notch stage manager, we thought he was underrated as an actor. And no one will replace Leigh Ann Stadt's robust alto in musicals. 

Photos of pro-Confederate demonstrators on the downtown Denton Square made the rounds on social media on Sunday. The demonstration was complete with a Confederate flag.  Some people said the demonstrators used the Bellamy salute, which is better known as the Nazi salute. 

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch raised a ruckus over the past few days by placing a cutout figure wearing a Make America Great Again red cap and giving a double thumbs-up among the pumpkins. The sign angered some Denton residents, yes. It also got the business' name in Facebook news feeds all week. The pumpkin patch is located on a small farm, and got lots of traffic on its social media page from people who said they'd be skipping the patch — which has games, mazes and a hayride — because of it. Our best bet is that the cutout won't deter Denton County families from visiting the patch. 

The Texas Department of Transportation reported Monday that it has collected — wait for it — 10 million cubic feet of debris in Texas areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. That's like filling 113 Olympic-size swimming pools with hurricane debris. More than 600 TxDOT employees working weekly rotations have  helped out local employees with debris removal in the hardest-hit areas on the coast — from Corpus Christi to Beaumont. At the height of the Hurricane Harvey, more than 500 roads were closed. Today, only one road — Park Road 1C in Buescher State Park in Bastrop County — is still closed due to damage.

Randy Schmidt, a Denton ISD music teacher and author, is raising money for his next book.  Schmidt is crowdsourcing a book about "libertine stage impresario Earl Carroll and his love affair with star showgirl and faithful, longtime companion Beryl Wallace." If you're a sucker for 1940s Hollywood glamour and drama, visit his fundraising site. Schmidt, who has published books on Karen Carpenter, Judy Garland and Dolly Parton through Chicago Review Press, is a reliable researcher and a music fan. 

The RaceTrac on Fort Worth Drive sold a winning lottery ticket for the Texas Two Step game. The winning ticket claims $575, 000. The same Racetrac sold a multi-million dollar scratch-off ticket in 2014. Hey, no cutting in line, OK?

DHS Cares, a Denton High School nonprofit, will host a fundraiser, Lisapalooza, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Dan's Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St. The event is named for Lisa Rollins, and features performances by Matthew Johnson (Denton High Class of  1982), Isaac HoskinsZack Nytomt  and the Bird Dogs (featuring KTCK's George Dunham). The money raised benefits a grant program for students who are going through medical or personal crises.  

Parting Shot

“This is a song called ‘Denton Plan 2020.’ It’s about the plan the city has for your tax dollars.”

— Daniel Folmer at Rock Lottery, introducing Dolphin Butt’s song involving wine bars, apartments and expletives

Denton Dammit is an old-fashioned gossip column about people, places and things in and around Denton. Send your submissions to Lucinda Breeding at cbreeding@dentonrc.com.