Category Archives: Music

Dentoning….We-Do Walnut….Dry run

The vision to close permanently Walnut St (1/2 block south of the Square) is growing legs. A dedicated group of local business people and interested citizens is working diligently to create a block-long oasis in downtown Denton. As covered in previous Dentoning blogs, the plan is to close Walnut Street to vehicular traffic, clean the “alley” and then create an urban park……with trees, grass, shrubberies, benches, other seating areas. This would be done with the City of Denton doing only what it has to, with the remaining labor, materials and talent provided by volunteers.

Much work has already been done, including discussions with the City of Denton. One thing the City requested was having an event or three to provide an example of how the idea would work. So……..on Friday, February 28, Walnut Street will be closed and the first Mardi Gras on Walnut will happen starting at 5:00 pm.

We-Do Walnut

On the 28th, Walnut Street will be closed at 8 am and clean up of the unsightly alley will begin. The street will then be transformed into a mini- New Orleans, pedestrian-only area for that day. The festival will start at 5 pm. There will be a stage featuring Dixieland/Zydeco music. Community Market vendors, jugglers, surprises, Cajun food, and libations which can be freely carried within the festival area will be available. There will also be mask, costume and float contests (floats can be kid’s wagons or anything 6 feet long or less).

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut will be the first of what is hoped to be an annual event ……..and is FREE!! The event will be family-friendly and the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for awesome weather………..!!! Tell your ma, tell your pa and tell all your friends. Put this on your calendar now!!

What better way to spend a pre-Spring evening in Denton!!

Dentoning….a new attitude

Again……this is just my own personal, correct opinion, but I think every Texan and especially Dentonites have every reason to have an attitude. What is there NOT to have an attitude about?? It’s basically a birthright, or a moved-here right……whichever. We live in a COOL place……….and it’s about to get cooler.

When I first saw the brick fa├žade coming off the front of the old Denton Independent Hamburger Company on the south side of the Square, I wasn’t very happy about it. I saw destruction of old Denton, but as it turns out, that particular part of the Square is not that old….. Then I saw the roof top bar going up and I thought “there goes that part of Downtown”. But what I saw today completely changed my mind and won me over. The new can co-exist with the old, the roof top adds to the Square…it doesn’t take away, and Denton is about to have a place to add to its swagger.

Downtown sign

Lone Star Attitude

Lone Star Attitude Burger Co. opens it’s doors November 11 and it will amaze. As you enter the street level floor, you are greeted by greatness. The mural on your left has sparked a little controversy, but the God I know has a sense of humor. The mural is “The Last Supper” of Texas music (my title). Jesus is still at the center of the table, but he is surrounded by Texas musicians of today and yesterday.

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The mural was produced by a group of artists and is chock full of minutia and hidden meaning. It’s one of two centerpieces on the lower floor. The other is a giant metal Texas behind the bar…….covered with Texasy musical instruments…….a star emblazoned on an electric guitar sits squarely over Denton on the musical map. The place radiates the music of our great State and that of our fair city. I don’t want to give away all the secrets, but the walls, nooks and crannies of LSA tell a story………and it promises to be an ever-changing story.

Music/Texas

Instruments of Texas

Morrison Milling

Back view

The upstairs of the downstairs overlooks the mural, the map and multitudes who are bound to frequent the place. The leather booths are finished with shotgun shell butts and and what Texan doesn’t like ordinance nearby while eating?

The rooftop far exceeds what I expected. The openness of the area provides views of Denton none of us have ever seen. The Courthouse dominates the north end of the building and will be an incredible backdrop to the live music coming from the stage above the keyboarded staircase. The roll-up doors/walls provide protection from the elements, but won’t detract from the views. I really don’t want to oversell the place…….it will sell itself.

Denton Courthouse

The Courthouse view

And the food……..it’s typical Texas fair with lots of surprises……..good surprises. I think anyone who really misses Denton Independent Hamburger Co. will get over it. Lone Star Attitude is a great replacement and a great addition to our already remarkable Square…. It opens Monday……..check it out.

Disclaimer: the author of this somewhat (deservedly) gushy post received no swag for its publication.

Enjoy Denton!

Dentoning….Townes

The most important component of Dentoning is it’s people. Partly because most of us are people, but more so, because wherever we go, there are usually people there. This may be a surprise to some of you, but it’s true. Denton is and always has been full of unique individuals. I intend to occasionally interview and blog about Denton characters, but today, I’m going to tell a story about the brother of a dear friend of mine who lives in Denton, Nancy Pannell. His name is Bob Roberts, and as a native-born Texan and a musician, I’d vote to make him an honorary Dentonian in a heartbeat. Bob is in his early 60s, lives in Austin and has had a very colorful life.

Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts

One of Willie’s trademark songs and a Texas classic is “Pancho and Lefty”, written by Townes Van Zandt. Townes had a very tragic life, the resulting melancholia flowing through much of his music. He was a local boy, born in Ft. Worth and after a hard life as a musician and alcoholic, died in 1997 of the disease. Bob Roberts was a contemporary of Townes and a friend of his.

When Townes wrote “Pancho and Lefty” in the very early ’70s, he and a group of singer/songwriters were living in and around Nashville. Bob was part of that group. Bob lived with several people in an abandoned nunnery on the outskirts of Nashville. They were essentially squatters, though the area Catholic Diocese knew they were there. The conditions were fairly rough, but what better environment to write music that was slowly developing into Texas outlaw country? One day in 1971, as Bob and friends were sitting around drinking and whatever, Townes, with his girlfriend du jour, came to the nunnery and announced to the group that he had a new song he wanted to run by them. Townes actually got paid on occasion as a musician, so Bob’s group was somewhat in awe of the guy who would become a legend and a guy who would influence the likes of Willie, Emmy Lou Harris and Steve Earle.

Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt

Townes proceeded to pull out an old beat-up guitar and play the just finished “Pancho and Lefty” for the nunnery dwellers. Bob says he sat there stunned as Townes played the song which would become a song regularly covered by Willie/Waylon and friends. Townes had somewhat of an attitude, but basked in the accolades Bob’s nunnery mates bestowed on him that day. The song wouldn’t be released by Townes until 1972, and would be covered by countless well known artists, but Bob was part of the first group to ever heard the song.


After the mini concert, the squatters sat around, talking music, contracts, gigs and dreams. After a couple of hours of alcohol and smoke-fueled conversation, Townes decided it was time for him to go. Bob stood up and followed Townes and his lady friend to the door and stopped him. Bob had worked up his courage and proceeded to tell Townes that he knew he would be recording the song, but that he (Bob) would consider it an honor to play the song in some of the dive bars of Nashville. Townes looked at him with snarky expression and told Bob to “f*** off”. Bob had tried, and wasn’t surprised by the answer. Bob went back to the people seated on the floor a little embarrassed, but proud of his gumption.

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About 20 minutes later, everyone heard someone coming up the stairs and were surprised to see Townes’ girlfriend throw the door open. Without saying a word, she walked over to Bob and handed him a piece of paper and silently wheeled around and left. Bob looked down at what turned out to be an envelope from a collection agency. He flipped it over, and on the back were the lyrics to “Pancho and Lefty” handwritten by Townes Van Zandt. Bob was happily stunned and excited. Bob proceeded to be the first person to play the iconic song to a paying audience in some disremembered bar in Nashville. Bob went on to have some success of his own in Texas and Colorado. He is now retired, occasionally plays guitar and still has the envelope….

Dentoning….Home made.

We all know well the Denton we love. Our downtown is amazing, our universities.. world-class, our neighborhoods are diverse/unique and historic, our citizens incredible. What we see on the surface sets us apart from both typical and atypical Texas towns. But…….there is a part of Denton……..just under the surface, which adds a completely different aspect to modern Denton, yet is born of our past.

Before TV, video games, movies, smartphones and radio, there was entertainment. Before electricity there was entertainment, trust me…Before the advent of the above items, the entertainment industry was pretty much home-grown. People gathered regularly around the Square to picnic, play music, dominos and around. The neighborhoods of Denton held block parties to while away the time and farms surrounding Denton bustled on weekends and holidays with huge gatherings. The square continues to host a Saturday morning picker’s circle, much as it did 100 years ago, but the “pick up” events of years gone by were edged out, in large part, by the gadgets and detachment of today.

This homegrown fun did not disappear, in fact it is coming back…..back from the past. “House concerts” such as the Denton Domino Hall and impromptu concerts at The Compound are fast becoming an important part of Denton music. What were once small cook-outs in backyards are becoming larger, richer events. Case in point: The “Quest for the Golden Jesus” chili cook-off. The 10th annual QFGJ was held over Memorial Day weekend at an undisclosed location in east Denton.

The QFGJ Trophy

The pepper, meat and water contest was founded by Wally Campbell and has steadily grown into an event not to be missed. Wally started the QFGJ competition in his backyard 10 years ago and magically won the soon to be coveted trophy that first year. I’m not sure how many entrants there were that first year, or who judged the contest, but Wally won…….fair and square….as far as we know.

Since the birth of the event, it has had several homes. This year’s slightly sub-surface fete took place for the second year in a row in a HUGE backyard, dotted with cooking camps under monster shade trees. The day was perfect ……..the Dentoning sublime. 16 self-proclaimed chili-masters cooked their best and submitted the thick, fire-meat stews to be judged by a panel of illustrious Dentonites.

As the cooking, and eventually, the judging went on, the people attending the semi-secret QFGJ sauntered around, quaffing sparkling adult beverages, listening to Denton home-band, Hares on the Mountain, tasting the 16 distinctly different chilis, and basking in a truly perfect pre-summer day. Hares were the perfect soundtrack to QFGJ. The extremely talented band with it’s beautiful at times, quirky at times, hilarious at times music helped make the day beautiful, quirky and hilarious.

Hares on the Mountain

judges workingOnce the chili camps were ready to submit their pots, it was time to determine who deserved the ultimate Denton chili prize, the Quest for the Golden Jesus trophy. The lucky judges, including City Councilman, Kevin Roden, sweated through the judging for close to an hour. With much fanfare, razing and beer, the QFGJ was awarded to Harlan “Meatguns” Anderson and Isaac Hoskins, making Meatguns the historic, overall QFGJ chili-King with his 5th win. There were many incredible batches of chili, but Team Meatguns definitely deserved to win in my own personal, correct opinion.

Team Meatguns

The day long chilipalooza was a shining example of Dentoning at its best and of what makes Denton, Denton. When all was said and done, Denton proved that home-grown fun is the best kind of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy Denton!