Original Independent Denton is my greatest passion.  This is not breaking news to readers who regularly digest my weekly meanderings about the virtues of our city.  Many of you have asked how it is that I don’t run out of things to say. Truly, there are so many unique aspects to this place that fodder for this column is infinite.  Sometimes story ideas come from you, wonderfully creative topics I look forward to exploring in columns to come.  Other times, stories just happen.  This is one of those.

Eric Pulido’s clear, blue eyes are bright and glad to be home in Denton.   Across the table, I study him over the menu.  Handsomely casual in jeans and a button-up shirt, he sports a fresh haircut he’d put off until he was back in his Denton stylist’s chair.  He is comfortable as though we just chatted a few days ago when it’s been since before his band Midlake’s recent Antiphon world tour kicked off last November, nine months ago.  He is still just Eric.  Yet, I’m partly star-struck.  People all over the globe would be envious if they could see me now!

It is appropriate to interject here that for me, comfortable-yet-wowed is common in Denton, one of those original, independent attributes I love about our city.  Renowned artists are all around us, blending in such a way that we are complacently used to them (Brave Combo’s Carl Finch was at the table behind us).  They are we, so this is a good thing.  But they are also giants on the world scene.  The mere fact that here is home where they let their hair down and can be themselves is a very cool thing.

We order lunch and get about the business of catching up.  Eric’s easy energy inspires me.  He is one of my favorite people to brainstorm with because he is as enamored with Denton as am I.  Now that the tour is over and he’s home to stay awhile, he’s eager to plug back in to the community.

We talk about his Denton business.  Paschall Bar, tucked without fanfare above Andy’s Bar on the square, is a local favorite frequented often by Midlake fans and colleagues when they visit.  Members of the band opened Paschall Bar to offer an alternative pub experience to the downtown entertainment scene.  Named for the building’s original owner, local grocer B.F. Paschall (1877), the pub’s ambience is distinctly European yet Dentonesque.  Books, art, chess, living room cushions and Courthouse views lend the space a smart vibe.  It’s a souvenir to Denton from Midlake’s more than 375,000 miles toured.

Eric is excited about digging back into his work with the Denton Historic Landmark Commission.  He dreams aloud about buildings and projects and potential.  He marvels at Change’s mark in the short-but-long time he was away.  We talk about ideas we have shared and new ventures on his horizon.  And I think again how fortunate I am to be sitting here in conversation with Eric.

Midlake is special in that when they are on tour, Denton goes with them.  This band’s love for their hometown is an integral part of their persona.  A new film released this summer says it all. “Midlake: Live in Denton, TX,” is a combination of live concert scenes and Denton documentary.  The film was directed by actor Jason Lee who also appears in it.  Midlake’s recent music video “Aurora Gone” is taken from the film’s footage and is featured at their concerts.  Eric and Midlake are some of Denton’s greatest ambassadors.

Most well-known for his roles as Earl in the television series “My Name is Earl,” as Jeff Bebe in the movie “Almost Famous,” and as Dave in “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” Jason Lee is no stranger to Denton.  He visits Eric often, enjoying Denton’s sense of place and welcome-home-lifestyle.  Rumor has it that Eric’s zeal for Denton is so contagious Jason may consider putting down roots here one of these days.

Non-music-oriented Dentonites may wonder why our music scene is such a big deal.  The CVB touts it like a major attraction, because it is.  Like the North Texas Horse Country focus of last week’s column, the music industry’s nexus positively affects many facets of our economy.  Musicians like Midlake with world acclaim draw global attention to Denton.

Eric and I parted ways with renewed enthusiasm for our common Denton projects.  This time, we waved “so long and see you soon.”  It really is good to have him home.