Dentoning………35 Denton 2015

After a break in 2014 to take a step back, regroup, and re-evaluate, 35 Denton, the monster music festival founded by Baptist Generals frontman Chris Flemmons, came roaring back to life March 13-15. With 265+ band playing in 13 venues within walking distance of the courthouse, the break proved worthwhile…….35-2015 was beyond amazing.

What is now 35 Denton (there were a handful of name changes) began as an invitation-only house party in 2004 according to Flemmons. After five years in a self-limiting environment, it was decided to take the next step and splash it across the Denton canvas.

Denton is home to a variety of music festivals. 35, the Arts and Jazz Festival, the Blues Festival and Oaktopia all bring specific genres to the music-hungry population of Denton. This years 35 was a slightly scaled back version compared to past festivals and included the best of local bands with a perfect pairing of national/international bands.

35 Denton

~Ed Steele Photography LLC

Denton, which always glows, burned a lot brighter for 3 days in March.

35 Denton is often talked about as being SXSW’s little brother. With Austin’s SXSW becoming an almost unattendable behemoth, that comparison is much more appropriate than calling it a twin. Let’s hope 35 never becomes a SXSW……

The size, scope, footprint and attendees make 35 a magical event.

With over 265 bands, there was music to satiate almost any musical need. Denton oozes music and is internationally known for its concentration of incredible musical talent. 35 is a showcase for that unique feature of our great town…..with bands from around the nation and world thrown in to round it out.

35 Denton has become such a mainstay of the culture of Denton that it has been decided to give it a year round presence. The festival will continue to be a yearly event every Spring, but will become more a part of daily Denton through fresh, ever changing website content, sponsorships and much more.

35 Denton

~Ed Steele Photography LLC

35 Denton 2015 was a huge success. The year round hard work of an unseen, un-named and uncredited cadre of mega talented people made 35 what it was this year. 35 will be back in 2016 bigger and better than ever.

From a humble beginning as a house party to an internationally recognized music festival, 35 Denton is an anchor in the most touted aspect of the fabric of our special town…..MUSIC.

Watch for music news, events, videos, interviews and more at 35denton.com until the festival blossoms again Spring 2016…..!!!

Dentoning…..a story of love.

Let’s review the definition of Dentoning:

DENTONING: \dent\un\ing
(intransitive verb)

1: the experience of enjoying/discovering/exploring all that the great City of Denton, TX
has to offer

2: the discussion of pertinent/impertinent/fun/serious
/political subjects involving the great City of Denton (or anything else this blogger wants to discuss)

3: an event/occurrence /incident happening in the great City of Denton

I’ve said many times that Dentoning is anchored in its people. An event happened recently that was the epitome of our beloved pastime. This event was born from the love of two people, Steve and Karen Yount, for their son, David. The soiree was the wedding reception for David and his bride, Angela. Numbers 1 and 3 of the definition above come heavily into play in all that led up to the reception and the magical evening itself. Denton itself helped pull off the amazing, wondrous, extra-ordinary (not sic) night in the backyard of a house in our fantastic city.

Entrance to reception

Entrance to reception

The idea was spawned in an open-air outdoor kitchen in the same backyard. With cigar smoke waifing through the air, Steve explained what he envisioned. He talked about adding a roof to an existing deck, but “extending it out a little”. That was an understatement. The Younts have three children, two daughters, Andra and Katy and a son David. David is the first to get married and Steve and Karen wanted to do something special.

They did.

If you’ve lived in Denton for more than a couple of days, you know that the end of February is not the best time to have an event outdoors, but that’s when the wedding was so, of course, the reception. They decided to take the chance and work began.

Steve, my son Ryan and my spare son, Kyle did most of the work. As I watched them drill holes for the support beams, I realized that the “little extension” was a massive understatement. This thing was going to be huge!

Two 40′ X 40′ and 16′ high connected gazebos.

Steve is a master of construction. The guy can build anything. Over a period of a few weeks, the three of them erected what turned out to be the PERFECT setting for an outdoor event. As the day of the wedding approached, everyone with anything to do with the wedding fervently checked the weather forecast. It changed from hour to hour even a couple of weeks out, so we didn’t know what to expect.

The rafters go up.

The rafters go up

Construction of venue

Construction of venue

While all this was going on, there were other things to do…..like plan a rehearsal dinner. Since everyone else was busy doing everything else, I volunteered to make arrangements for the dinner. I asked David and his wife-to-be, Angela, what they wanted. They said they wanted something cool, something fun, and something “Denton”.

I knew where to go.

Now there are lots of cool places in Denton for such events, but I decided that the rooftop floor of LSA would best fit their wants, their needs and their friends. This is when the event became a Dentoning event, with different Denton people playing parts that led to the grande finale.

I called my friend Sparky Pearson, one of the owners of LSA, and told him what I was thinking. I had no clue what it would take to make it feasible for both sides of the equation to have the entire top floor of LSA for an evening. Sparky said “I think we can make that happen, talk to Kjell”.

I ended up working with Kjell Knutson, Steve Watkins and LSA manager, Krit Allen. It was a pleasure. They bent over backwards to make the dinner…..cool, fun, and “Denton”…..exactly what the couple wanted. It was a huge success. Thanks to LSA from me and the Younts for an incredible evening.

Before the onslaught

Before the onslaught

Rehearsal- LSA

Rehearsal- LSA

Just before the dinner, the weather outlook for the day of the wedding took a drastic turn for the worse. Typical Texas winter weather was on its way. At this point, the plans became a bad symphony of change, panic, bewilderment, frustration and even possible cancelation of the reception.

Again, the people of Denton stepped up and made things happen.

The basic structure of the temporary venue was finished. Now it had to be weather proofed. Enclosing it with wood was financially and logistically impossible. Things looked bleak and a “plan B” was thrown about, but the groom made an executive decision and said “there is no plan B”. The wrapping of the venue began in earnest. Now wrapping 3200 sq ft in plastic is not an easy endeavor, but with the help of friends and family…………the gazebos were weather proofed by the morning of the wedding.

The groom- before the leap

The groom- before the leap

The temperature was in the 20s, which is a little cool for a wedding reception. Several friends were contacted in regards to borrowing propane heaters. John Williams owner of East Side/OSDH, John Cartwright of Cartwright’s and even Matt Arnold, co-owner of the as yet unopened, Harvest House volunteered the use of their heaters. Thanks to all of them! By noon that day, the “outdoor” space was warm.

Next came decorating the private venue. The groom’s mother, Karen had spent weeks getting ready to splenderate the space……and that she did. Karen, several of her friends and a couple of husbands went to work and turned the space into incredible. Tables, benches, and bars were built and the place set aglow with lighting. Everything was ready.

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The weather for the reception turned out to be a worst case scenario.

Sleet, snow, rain, mud and ice surrounded the “tent”, but inside was warm and dry. About an hour before the wedding, the groom got a call from the un-named (here) little chapel asking him if he’d consider rescheduling the wedding. I’m not sure exactly what he said, but in essence it was NO.

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The wedding went off without a hitch (other than the bride and groom) and at about 6:30pm on February 28th, the guests began to arrive from the little chapel. The weather went from rain to sleet to snow to rain to ice and back. There were around 150 people present and getting them in and out was a chore. A plywood walkway had been laid from the driveway to the “tent” due to the mudhole the yard had become.

The opaque plastic, the lighting, the decorations, the dance floor and the people made for a surreal, magical……almost mystical night. After the requisite razzing by friends of the groom and sister of the bride, Denton’s Mariachi Quetzal began to play outside and filed in to the surprise of everyone there. Everyone in attendance was amazed with the setting. The festivities lasted until about midnight and would have lasted longer had the streets not become treacherous.

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David and Angela Yount

David and Angela Yount

The love of a couple for their only son led to this epic, phenomenal, distinctive Dentoning event……

Epic by definition and epic due to the kindness of many Dentonites. We live in magnificent city and a magnificent community. The city of Denton helped create an extremely unique event and showcased its love.

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I love Denton…….

Denton……….and CHOICE. Should the City Council butt out?

No one likes smoke. Most smokers don’t like smoke. But, the fact is smoking is legal and people do smoke. Being legal, people have the right to smoke and if a business decides to not allow smoking, then there is no smoking. If a business decides to allow smoking, then people who smoke can and those who don’t are free not to go into said business…….at least for now.

The Denton City Council is about to consider a total ban on smoking in businesses.

That’s right, they are thinking about taking away the right of a business owner to run their business, legally, the way they want. Do we really want the Council to make decisions about what we can or cannot do with our businesses?

I really don’t care about smoking.

That is not the issue here. The base issue here is freedom. Does the City Council have the power or the right to tell a business it cannot do something which is legal? The issue is also responsibility. Do you feel you have the intelligence to decide what is right for you? Are able to decide for yourself not to drink a beer if you think it’s not good for you? It should be your decision, not the decision of seven men at City Hall.

Let’s keep it that way.

Let’s take smoking out of the equation.

Instead, let’s substitute rental property. If you owned a bunch of rental property, what would you think if the City Council voted to ban renting YOUR property to other people due to potential liability? Would that seem right?

Or what if the City Council banned bicycle riding because people have died while riding bikes. Would you approve of that?

Or what if you had an incredible program to help parents guide their children to excel in life, but the City Council banned the use of video in such programs? Would that be right?

Or what if the City Council decided that caffeine should be banned? It’s a drug, like the nicotine in cigarettes after all. Would you be OK with that?

Who should make these basic decisions? All of these examples are legal. Should the City Council really make such decisions for business owners? The smoking ordinance adopted by the City Council two years ago, sensibly allowed Denton business owners the CHOICE of allowing smoking in their establishments……..or not. The ordinance also gave Denton citizens the CHOICE to go into a business which allows smoking……..or not. No one forces anyone to enter a business.

Again, this is not about smoking, it’s about personal responsibility, boundaries and CHOICE.

Not Dentoning……….

The Mercer Stone

The Mercer Stone

Let’s face it, we all have times when we can’t be in Denton. It happens. It doesn’t make us bad people, maybe miserable people while we’re gone, but not bad people. Surviving those times can be a challenge. The times away from Denton can be caused by a multitude of different reasons, none of them good reasons, but they are what they are.

Family-emergency-caused absenteeism is probably the most well accepted of all the excuses……I mean, reasons. Business travel is another. Vacation still another. The last one I don’t get, but hey, that’s just me…

Family reunions, helping your brother-in-law move out of the house, visits to the Mayo Clinic for exacerbated ingrown toenail appointments and dead grandmothers are all legitimate and exempted occasions which can remove us from Denton and thus Dentoning…..

I’ll give you an example of not-Dentoning. There really isn’t a typical variation of this, each person’s separation from Denton is unique, in and of itself, and should be dealt with accordingly. Of course it should never be bragged about, but sometimes telling your story of time away can help others when they have to confront such times in the future.

I am now not Dentoning.

I’m not proud of it, but it’s happening.

I am in Virginia, helping out a friend. This is a friend I’ve known since junior high, and I consider him my 3rd brother. I am minding the manor while he is away. If one is forced to be away from Denton, this is not a bad place to be.

My friend lives in a very nice house built in 1753. The ruins of an old mill are behind the house and there are still regular fox hunts in the area. 1753 of course, predates Denton which is really difficult for me to wrap my head around. How can that be? As I sit here in an office where George Washington used to buy flour, I have to feel sorry for him and those of his time who didn’t even have the ability to go Dentoning. Oh…..the humanity.

I will be here for a total of eleven days. That is a LONG time not to be doing it.

As you can tell by the age of the house, this is an area ripe with history. The house itself was built on British Territory before being liberated by patriots of the American Revolutionary War. The house has seen three wars……..the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. That is a war-rich environment!

The countryside surrounding Sally Mill is speckled with historic markers, 250 year old houses, low, stone fences built with rock cleared from the fields centuries ago, old slave quarters, and some really nice people. There are only 625 people who live in this town and I don’t know all of them yet, but I’ve only been here 4 days.

As of yet, I know (by name) Cindy who owns the local coffee shop, Barbara who works for her, Jack who is the caretaker of the Mercer Stone (more to follow) and his brother Bud. I’ve shook and howdy’d with some others, but these I know by name.

Cindy and Barbara are nice and called me “Tex” until we properly introduced ourselves. Jack and Bud are a different and fascinating story.

Jack is now in possession of the “Mercer Stone”. This stone is claimed by many to be the predecessor of the “Stone of Scone”, on which the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned for over a 1000 years. Queen Elizabeth was crowned on a throne containing the stone in 1953.

The story is told that the present Mercer Stone was taken to Ireland in the years BC from the Holy Land. This was in the time of Moses and before Christ’s birth, so this thing is OLD! The royalty of Ireland was crowned while seated on the stone for centuries until it was “borrowed” by the Scots. They continued the tradition of rock-related crowning until the British got jealous.

Well one day, the King of Scotland heard that the King of England was coming to get his rock, and he wasn’t too keen on the idea. He hid the Mercer Stone and replaced it with a hunk of Scottish sandstone for the English King to take. Having never seen the stone, he took it back to Westminster Abbey in London and the royalty from then to now have been crowned on an imposter stone.

So, you might ask……..why is the Mercer Stone in Virginia now? It seems back in the 1700′s, a man named Charles Mercer somehow obtained the stone and brought it to the Colonies to give to his daughter as a wedding present. Evidently, she wasn’t too fond of it and had it placed in a spring where it remained until just the past few years.

A while back, my new friend Jack, mentioned above, heard that the land from which the spring flowed was for sale and bought it. Within a month…..and before he could retrieve the stone, some Free Masons from about 100 miles away came with a truck and a crane and stole the stone!!

Well fortunately, a lady saw this stone rustling as it was happening and took a picture of the truck which included the license plate number. Jack was able to track the truck and thus, the stone to where it had been secreted by the vile, thieving Free Masons. Jack and brother Bud quickly went to said place to retrieve their rock. They were met with guns and nastiness. The sheriff was called, and before long, the Mercer Stone was returned to a safe place near Sally Mill……..where it resides today.

Not all non-Dentoning stories can be as intriguing as this one……I just lucked out. Suffice it to say, while not-Dentoning is something to be avoided at all costs, one can learn irrelevant information in the process.

I have six additional days of not-Dentoning and it IS a challenge. I’m pretty sure I’ll survive, but I can’t wait to get back to my town and to my way of life……