When The Rock Lottery Returns To Denton In November, All Bets Are Off.
Nothing happens in Denton's music scene without Chris Flemmons' involvement.
Or at least that's the way it has seemed over the past several years.
But after voluntarily deciding to take more of a backseat role in the fourth year of the 35 Denton festival and relinquishing much of the festival's execution to a younger, more willing staff, Flemmons has been able to restore some sanity back into his life and work on some new projects.
To that end, The Baptist Generals, a band that Flemmons has fronted since 1998, announced back in August that they'd finished recording their first studio album since 2003.
And, furthermore, when Flemmons, who had for years been bugged about putting on a Rock Lottery, was once again approached by former Record Hop guitarist Scott Porter about organizing the first event of its kind since 2007, he didn't immediately brush the idea off.
After months of talks over beers, Flemmons was finally persuaded to reach out to Chris Weber and Martin Iles of the now-defunct Good/Bad Art Collective, who initially created the concept and held the first event back in 1997, about the possibility of holding an 11th incarnation of the event this year.
It was a crucial step, because, as Porter puts it, “You don't get to do a proper Rock Lottery without their approval.”
And, with that, Porter and Flemmons were handed the reins to this year's event.
The concept behind the event is a somewhat simple one. A team of curators selected by Porter — including 35 Denton programming director Natalie Davila, Glen Farris of local booking agency Spune, Christopher Mosley of D Magazine and Andy LaViolette of Mr. Magic Carpet Ride Productions — joined him, Flemmons, Iles and Webber in eventually paring down what Porter calls a “mega-massive” list of Denton musicians into a final list of 25 participants. On the morning of the event, drummers Tex Bosley (Warren Jackson Hearne & Le Leek Electrique and The Holler Time), Bill Dodds (Bukkake Moms), McKenzie Smith (Midlake) and Rob Buttrum (Vaults of Zin) will meet at Dan's Silverleaf and draw names out of a hat until five new bands are formed. The bands will then go their separate ways to rehearse and will return at noon to turn in their new band name. Later in the evening, the drummers and their new bandmates will return once more, this time to perform their new sets.
Pretty much the only rule, says Porter, is that only one cover song may be performed in the band's three- to five-song set.
What happens next is anyone's guess.
“It's entirely possible that a death metal drummer will end up with four ukulele players,” Porter says. “Once the band gets to its practice spot, all bets are off. They can do [and] play whatever they want.”
With participants this year including string and horn players and electronic musicians from area bands such as Old Snack, The Heelers, Pinebox Serenade, Hares on the Mountain, RTB2, Wiccans, Bludded Head, Terminator 2, Brave Combo, Dust Congress, Shiny Around the Edges and Deep Snapper (among others), the resulting new groups will surely, as one might imagine, vary widely.
And the whole concept really lends itself to creating an environment where artists and audience members alike feel like anything is possible. Porter, for one, says he has seen several memorable performances take place in Rock Lottery's past.
“People have done full-on rock operas,” Porter says. “I believe it was George Quartz who tap-danced through an entire set. One year, there was sort of a satanic sex R&B crew. Seeing a quiet folkie lose her mind on stage upon realizing the power of bass-driven bootie jams is always a magical thing. And then [there's] the scary guy with the face tattoo [who] sings like an angel. It's just a lot of fun.”
Regardless of whether these hastily formed bands are terrible or so good that you forget they joined forces that morning, the prospect promises to be an entertaining one.
“Some of these bands end up being so good that you get sad half way through their set,” Porter says. “[You'll be like,] 'Shit! I never get to see this again?' And, occasionally, bands do fail. Sometimes, it just doesn't come together. But the audience still gets behind them. Folks know they're seeing something special. They recognize that these musicians are really sticking their necks out for a good cause.”
(This year, proceeds from the event will benefit the Communities in Schools of North Texas organization.)
With the band selection ceremony taking place early in the morning and the final concert happening so much later in the evening, Rock Lottery 11 promises to feel more like a day-long event than a run-of-the-mill local rock show. And, as a past Rock Lottery participant himself, Porter promises that the affair will be anything but a boring one.
“If you end up in the band playing last, subtlety might not be your best approach,” Porter says. “By the time the last band of the evening begins, the audience is humming with energy. They're dancing. They're cheering. Adult beverages have been consumed. The last band might want to consider these things while working out their set. Rock Lottery is an awesome party. Always. Shit gets wild.”
Rock Lottery 11 will be held on Saturday, November 17, at Dan's Silverleaf.