It’s rare for hometown acts to headline the historic Granada Theater these days. It’s even more rare for them to do so without an album release attached. Granada owner Mike Schoder was hard-pressed to name more than a handful of Dallas area bands who’ve so over the last decade. They’d each have to draw a crowd of more than 500, which can be a tall order, he says.
But three local bands? That could work. Popular Dallas outfits Medicine Man Revival, The Texas Gentlemen, and RC & the Gritz will co-headline as a collective of sorts at the Granada May 5.
The three acts aren’t even found in the same genre of music. The Gents most often sit somewhere in the country-Americana realm, although they happily branch into psych and funk. Medicine Man Revival could be best defined as a funky electro-soul duo, while RC & the Gritz have a more R&B vibe. Despite their differences, an official collaboration was a long time coming. Jason Burt, one half of Medicine Man Revival, is a producer at Modern Electric Sound Recorders, which is partly owned by producer and musician Beau Bedford of the Texas Gents. Burt and Bedford often use players from each of the groups as session musicians for recordings they produce at the studio.
Naturally, they decided to record a single. “We wanna make great music and celebrate the community we’ve established in Dallas, genre be damned,” says Bedford.
Named “Breakthrough #Dtownhump,” the track was written by Burt and his partner in MMR, Keite Young, plus Jordache Grant and celebrated local country artist Paul Cauthen. It was co-produced by Burt and Bedford, who used all the musicians they’d been working with over the years. The song pretty much sums up what the groups have been trying to achieve via their respective collaborations.
“It’s a letter from us to the city, reminding everyone that the best way to win is to team up,” Burt states. “Find your best assets, get in a room with the best people you know, and sacrifice your ego for the greater product. That’s our M.O., and has been since day one.”
Young explains: “Before we met, Dallas was sectioned off into silos of music, but our goal for the greater music community is finally being realized, and this is the first deliberate unveiling of that vision.”
Where they got the “breakthrough” part is fairly obvious. The second part of the name is derived from the drum style Burt says he was “raised on” called the “Texas Hump,” which is expertly executed on the track by drummer TaRon Lockett.
“The base follows the drum and creates a rhythm and you kinda hump to it,” Young explains. “It’s definitely a Dallas signature.”
Putting Dallas on the national map is the overarching goal of their collaborations.
“Dallas’ legacy over the past several decades with Erykah Badu and RC & the Gritz, is that this a world-wide hub for hip-hop, soul and R&B. For us to get to dabble in that, it’s something we’ve always wanted to be a part of,” says Bedford, a Dallas native. He’s one of several people active in the local music community who are striving – and making headway – at boosting Dallas in a national way.
Rolling Stone highlighted the Gents as one of the best new country acts “you need to know,” and Texas Monthly called them the best backing band in the business “you’ve probably never heard of.” They’ve traveled far and wide, recording at famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, and they’ve played behind Ed Sheeran, George Straight, and Kris Kristofferson, to name a few.
“We’re not trying to get famous to move out of Dallas. We want to keep music here and have young artists see what we’re doing, and take it and run with it. We want them to do something special in their careers and not feel like they have to leave Dallas to do it,” Bedford explains. “We want to have a foundation here, both in the studio and playing shows, that gives artists a platform to launch out of.”
And to that end, they brought together some of Dallas’ best talent to highlight what this city has to offer.
“Keite is the best singer I know, TaRon is the best drummer I know, Beau is one of the best producers I know, Nigel Rivers is the best bassist I know, and it keeps going down the line,” Burt says. “That was the best we could do as an offering to Dallas. If it doesn’t break through, then damn us.”
Also on the track is RC Williams, frontman and keys player for RC & the Gritz, Erykah Badu’s music director. Members of his band often back the neo-soul queen on stage, and Williams has played keys for Snoop Dogg, Common, Pharrell, Talib Kweli— the list goes on. Drummer TaRon Lockett, who can be seen playing with the Gritz, has often backed Badu, plus notables like Prince, Willie Nelson, CeeLo Green, and Snoop Dogg.
After the bands came together to record the single, the show fell into place serendipitously. Schoder was looking to host an event at the Granada on Cinco de Mayo. He approached Burt who pitched him the idea of the cross-collaborative lineup featuring the three groups with plenty of special guests.
“We’re extremely excited about this show – to have the Gents finally headline the Granada, and Medicine Man Revival is so on fire,” he says.
The show won’t be oriented like a typical concert with openers and a headliner. While the bands were still working out the set list as the time of this writing, Burt promises there will be a rotating assortment of musicians on stage from all of the outfits, truly collaborating in real time on each other’s tracks.
“This will be as close people can get to hearing the process of how we record things in the studio,” Young elaborates.
Schoder is looking forward to the show and the bands’ special guests as much as anybody. “They’re friends with so many people, and know so many others via their relationships with Modern Electric,” he says. The Gents, for one, are known for bringing noteworthy musicians onstage in an impromptu fashion whenever they perform. “That list is going to be well worth discovering,” Schoder says.
He warns concertgoers against the typical routine of skipping openers and arriving before the main act. “It’s extremely important for people to understand: they shouldn’t make the mistake of trying to be fashionably late to this show.”
To follow the collaboration on social, use the hashtag #dtownhump.