By Jim Schutze
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By Lauren Drewes Daniels
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By Alice Laussade
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Stall!" someone hollered from the back of Dallas' Lakewood Bar & Grill. "Play a few more."
Here, In Arms had just finished riffing through what frontman Brent Engel had announced as the band's last song of the night—but half of Denton-based folk-rock duo RTB2 was still on the way to Dallas.
It was the first of the LBG's new weekly "Denton in Dallas" showcase where, every Tuesday night, the bar will host Denton bands in its Dallas setting. John Keener, who has been managing LBG since leaving the Granada Theater last month, said the idea for a weekly Denton showcase came from his two years serving as the general manager at Granada.
"I saw so many talented Denton bands that played the Granada go un-championed and unnoticed," he says. "I feel like we have a good opportunity to [get them some attention] here. I really believe that Denton is the new Austin, minus all the hype and the bull...uh...crap."
Keener asked Engel for some recommendations of Denton bands to book to the first night, but, now, Engel has been put in charge of booking the shows. (For those of you scoring at home: Yes, Here, In Arms is technically a Dallas-based band. But, as Engel says, "half the band lives in Denton...")
"We're also trying to guarantee that if there's no draw for the band, they will still get compensated," Keener says. To encourage bands to make the drive, LBG is offering the bands that play its "Denton in Dallas" shows a $25 gas card to help with the cost of travel (on top, of course, of regular compensation). And to get some Denton fans to make the trip, the bar is also offering people with proof of Denton residency their first draft beer or well drink on the house.
But there were some snafus on the first night. RTB2's set didn't start until two hours after Here, In Arms' opening set began. Still, with a little more than 50 people showing up to the first "Denton in Dallas" show, Keener deems the event, in its early stages, a success—especially considering that TV on the Radio was playing a block away at the Lakewood Theater on the same night.
"It's great that they're doing this," RTB2 frontman Ryan Thomas Becker says. "It will shed light on some Denton bands that deserve some light shed on them. There are so many good bands and artists; I've said for a while that if you scratch the surface, you get back tenfold."