Out dance artist Brian Kent releases new video for ‘I’ll Find a Way’

I have to admit I didn’t know who Brian Kent was until today’s email. Very little digging showed me that this guy’s been making dance music for the past five years with singles and remixes here and there with a full-length release, Breathe Life, in 2008. He told Popnography earlier this year, that his newest single, “I’ll Find a Way,” is a tribute to his grandmother.

The new single is called “I’ll Find a Way” and is dedicated to his 89-year-old grandmother who recently found herself facing breast cancer. “I was inspired by her confidence and I was just amazed that she just kept finding a way to get through everyday. In this day and age whether it’s cancer, relationships, money…everyone is just trying to find a way and move forward,” Kent says.

The video for the song was just released yesterday. “Way” might be a tad too positive affirmation for some, but it is catchy and I did like the video. It reminded me somewhat of both the NOH8 and Bully Suicide Project campaigns and says a whole lot in the span of three minutes and some change. And how can you go wrong when men and women end up topless by the end?

—  Rich Lopez

Out singer Chris Willis steps away from gospel and gets all Usher-like in new video

I can’t say there’s much new behind Chris Willis‘ newest single “Louder.” OK, yes, it’s Usher, it’s Ne-yo, it’s Trey Songz, it’s — well — derivative. Having said that, that’s hardly a bad thing in this case. Being out, Willis is one of the few gay black singers that could make waves in mainstream music. He’s been primed by uber-producer David Guetta with nice results and was featured in Guetta’s One Love album last year singing “Gettin’ Over”and “Sound of Letting Go,” two of the standout songs from the CD. The two have collaborated many times over the past decade and it’s put Willis in a far different light than his gospel roots.

And now, Willis is stepping into his own with his debut single and video which precedes his announced full-length album, Inside Voice. The video is heavily edited and not all that gay, but I think Willis is a start for putting an LGBT face on pop and R&B dance music from the get-go without the baggage of going back in the closet just to have a successful career. Let’s see how it plays out.

Check out his video below. Besides, the song should  bring you up out of the funk from last night’s election results.

—  Rich Lopez

Cazwell brings his ‘Ice Cream Truck’ to Station 4

Cazwell is serious about his music … even if he is a club diva

CazwellIn this week’s issue, Cazwell talked with the Dallas Voice about his approach to music. Just because he’s all about beefcake and sexy, funny lyrics doesn’t mean you should take him less seriously as a musician. He’ll tell you why.

The last time we saw Cazwell in town was at the now-defunct minc in Exposition Park. Then he was first touted as the gay Eminem, but he’s really in his own league layering outrageous raps over dance music. He’s more fun than Eminem with songs like “I Seen Beyonce at Burger King” and “All Over Your Face” from his 2009 album Watch My Mouth. The rapper-singer’s newest hit, “Ice Cream Truck,” is big on the dance floor which I’m sure has nothing to do with the video.

He performs an 18-and-up show at S4 on Sept. 30 at midnight. After his performance, he’s gonna stick around for a Meet and Greet. Maybe he’ll have a Bomb Pop just for you.

DEETS: Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Sept. 30 at midnight. Doors at 9 p.m. $15. Caven.com.

—  Rich Lopez

The accidental DJ

Trying to establish himself as a musician, Micah Banes ended up behind the turntables as ‘MicahB.’ And that’s not a bad place to be

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

FROM BLACK TIE TO GOSPEL TO HAPPY B-DAY! Micah Banes cut his musical teeth with his group  Foreign Trade, but now wows audiences as DJ  MicahB, and as a producer of gospel-cum-dance music. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
FROM BLACK TIE TO GOSPEL TO HAPPY B-DAY! Micah Banes cut his musical teeth with his group Foreign Trade, but now wows audiences as DJ  MicahB, and as a producer of gospel-cum-dance music. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BIRTHDAY PRIDE BASH
The Bank, 1313 Main St.
Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Free.
MySpace.com/MicahBMusic.com.

When Micah Banes blows out the candles on his 32nd birthday cake, he may have only a split second to make a wish and down a piece. That night, he’s also DJing at his own b-day bash under the moniker MicahB (his preferred calling card). And if those beats don’t match up, then there might be blood on the dancefloor.

But really, the last thing MicahB would have ever thought of is providing the entertainment at his own party.

“I kinda fell into [DJing] accidentally,” he says. “But I like the idea of liberating genres and mixing music together. To me, that’s what music is all about.”

Initially, this philosophy was translated into his band (perhaps better described as a “music project”) Foreign Trade. He described the group as electro-funk in which he layered computer-generated sounds against the music of live instruments. Foreign Trade garnered some good local attention; MicahB booked gigs in the underground house scene at venues like Zubar, minc and Alexandre’s. But when he was asked to perform at Black Tie Dinner in 2007, the doors swung wide open.

Foreign Trade eventually dissipated, so MicahB pushed his solo work. Owing to his involvement with Black Tie, he found himself working the fundraiser circuit, a move that has exploded his DJing career over the past year. It has also positioned him for making an impression on the LGBT community.

“With gay crowds, you can definitely feel the music working the energy,” he says. “Especially with the nonprofit work, I can feel like I’m giving back but also put positive energy into my community and of course, the bash itself.”

MicahB got his musical tentacles into other high profile projects, like providing music samples for filmmaker Israel Luna’s controversial movie Ticked Off Trannies With Knives, DJing mixers for the likes of Youth First Texas, Lambda Legal, DIFFA and BTD, and spinning tunes at Margaret Cho’s concert at the Verizon Theatre last week. On top of all that, he’s booked the fall with a gay cruise to Hawaii that includes local comedian Paul J. Williams on the bill.

MicahB, like it or not, is becoming a big deal.

“I love the charity work because it’s easier to control,” he says. “Yeah, I’m young to the DJ world, but I also think that my background in music works to my advantage. I can maybe hear some things in music that DJs without that background wouldn’t hear.”

That’s a bold statement from the likes of a self-proclaimed newbie. But MicahB also isn’t shy about the work he does. He’ll brag, but in a careful, even polite way. But that doesn’t hold him back from admitting his musical plans are grand.

“Well, it’s all about time and the resources, but I’m planning for world domination,” he says with a crooked smirk. “It’s all a hustle but it’s that and the passion that has helped me keep things going. And now, my five-year plan includes hitting up other cities.”

In turn, he has some superstition about totally discussing the future. While he certainly has his goals and is happy with how the career is unfolding, he doesn’t want to jinx anything.

Banes is fine with the baby steps he’s now taking, and if world domination means by his music, that means more production as well. Along with his own music and DJ work, MicahB has five albums under his belt as a producer and some apparently obscure recordings floating around Italy.

MicahB worked with former Dallas musician Dan Paul (who moved on to New York as part of the trio She-Dick) on some tracks from Paul’s latest album. Along with producing credits on other minor releases, it’s his work with a local gospel singer that could put a feather in his producing cap.

“It was awesome working with Marvin [Matthews],” he says. “He’s such a glowing person who uses his national resources to create the project. He would do a studio recording in L.A. that I worked on the audio streams of. Someone else would mix and then would be mastered by someone else. It was wild.”

The resulting CD, Now, was released this year under Matthews’ pseudonym M. Francis. The album stretched Matthews beyond his usual gospel sound into realms of pop and dance. More importantly, for MicahB at least, the album’s potential distribution by EMI puts his name out there on a bigger scale — and ups his game.

“This is a big step for me,” he says. “The album has been sent to radio stations across the country. That’s something!  I’m just growing with it all, man.”

For now, he’s got a birthday to worry about — which always coincides with Dallas Pride. Even though he’s booked other DJs to entertain his guests, he couldn’t resist getting up there himself. For now, it’s about MicahB and he’s all about the music. That is, until he admits the real truth.

“I’m a DJ,” he says with a laugh. “We’re all divas!”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Zayra performs midnight show at the Rose Room

Does she bang a gong?

Dance music newcomer Zayra stops at the Rose Room to perform songs from her debut album Baby Likes to Bang. You might have heard “Sexy Super Mini Skirt” or one of numerous mixes of “V.I.P.” on the dance floor, but now you get to experience it up close.

The Rose Room will also be giving away free albums and downloads. Get ‘em while you can. 18 and up.

DEETS: The Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road (inside Station 4). Midnight. Caven.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Concert Notice: Homo hip-hopper Cazwell will bring his ‘Ice Cream Truck’ to S4 on Sept. 30

Caven has just announced that the “Ice Cream Truck” is heading to Station 4 next month. And by that, I mean hip-pop homo hottie Cazwell is coming to town. The last time we saw Cazwell in town was at the now-defunct minc in Exposition Park. The rapper-singer’s hit is big on the dance floor which I’m sure has NOTHING to do with the above video.

He was first touted as the gay Eminem, but instead I think he’s in his own league layering outrageous raps over dance music. He’s more fun than Eminem with other songs like “I Seen Beyonce at Burger King” and “All Over Your Face” from his 2009 album Watch My Mouth.

He performs an 18-and-up show at S4 on Sept. 30 at midnight. After his performance, he’s gonna stick around for a Meet and Greet. Maybe he’ll have a Bomb Pop just for you.

Cazwell

—  Rich Lopez

Random music tidbits: Download local dj MicahB's mixes; China's own Whitney Houston

DJ and musician MicahB has been back on the scene lately spinning gigs at the Windmill Lounge, Alexandre’s and the Brick. Today, he reminded that  his mixes are available for free download. Right now, you can snag his indie house mix (which I’m listening to right now) or his underground/Euro mixes. But I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you checked out his site as well for more music. You know, if you’re into the whole dance music thing.

His next gig is Sloppy Seconds this Saturday at the Windmill Lounge.

—  Rich Lopez

RuPaul offers free listen of his latest RuMixes

RuPaul gives it up for free.
RuPaul gives it up for free.

Just read a MySpace bulletin from RuPaul hawking his newest release “Jealous of my Boogie.” I got excited when he mentioned the words “17 tracks” and “free” in the same sentence. Turns out it’s 17 tracks off the single. The single, I said! “Jealous of My Boogie – The RuMixes” which dropped on Tuesday is really a small collection centered around nine remixes of the song. Mixes of “Cover Girl,” the “Drag Race” theme song and a selection of ring tones are also on the playlist.

If you head here though and sign up for an absolutely no strings free account, then all 17 tracks are available to you. Just remember, it’s a free listen, not a free download. Or do what I did – not sign up and still get to hear one mix of “Jealous” and then wax nostalgic with a “Supermodel” listen too.

The mix here is faithful to the single. For being a kitschy pop culture icon, Ru comes out with some substantial dance music that thrives because of its old school funk roots. Try not to hear a bit of The Gap Band in his chorus. Plus, his vocals are some of the few that benefit from the already tired Auto-Tune (think Cher’s “Believe”) trick.

Whether you need multiple mixes or just the one, “Jealous” should be a good jump start for the day.

—  Rich Lopez