Collaboration is nothing new for the Texas Gentlemen, but their latest project will surprise even the biggest fans of the Dallas collective. On “Breakthrough (D Town Hump),” the group joins funk outfits R.C. & the Gritz and Medicine Man Revival for a slinky new soul jam dedicated to their hometown music scene.
The Gents, who released their first LP, TX Jelly, in 2017 via Nashville’s New West Records, got their start as a rotating cast of session players. They’re in the studio element on “Breakthrough,” but share the load with Gritz leader R.C. Williams—the longtime band leader for Erykah Badu’s Cannabinoids. The song was written by singer Keite Young and guitarist Jason Burt, both of Medicine Man Revival, with the help of country singer Paul Cauthen.
All three acts will be joining together for a special performance at Granada Theater in Dallas on May 5 with the new song. Ahead of the show, the Gents’ de facto leader Beau Bedford tells Texas Monthly how the project came together.
Texas Monthly: “Breakthrough (D Town Hump)” officially has Medicine Man’s name on it, but the Gents and the Gritz are all involved in it.
Beau Bedford: It’s really the brainchild of Keite and Jason Burt. We’ve all been making so many records together and this was us going out of our way to do this all together. Those guys, I love how they’re just working their asses off to bring our community together. “D Town Hump” is an old drumbeat that was made famous in Dallas in nineties hip-hop. Jason [Burt] had the idea of paying some homage to that.
TM: You guys frequently collaborate with Jason through production work, but how did the Gritz gets involved?
BB: [Drummer Taron Lockett] and [bassist Nigel Rivers] have already played a ton on the Medicine Man record. R.C. had already been showing up at the studio a number of times hopping on the organ, and R.C.’s a great fan of [Gent] Dan Creamer. So I think they were each getting off on the idea of being able to play some keys together. But the idea that the Texas Gentlemen would be working on a soul-R&B-pop track with R.C. & the Gritz? It just blows my mind.
TM: Do you think that will come as a surprise to people who might think of the Gents only as a rock or country band?
BB: I’m excited that it opens the doors. I definitely feel like we carry this country and Americana artist tag, but we’re a little more rock ‘n’ roll with some psychedelic moments, and definitely we’re always trying to be funky. I hope that’s surprising to people. Those who know us well won’t be too shocked.
TM: You and the Gritz actually have a lot in common, in terms of being adaptable and comfortable taking a background role when necessary.
BB: Those guys, who’ve played with Prince and Erykah Badu, the stuff they’re involved with is such next level music. Honestly, we feel lucky to just be in the same recording studio with those guys. They’re such stewards of the song. They just sit back and serve the song, do the right things to make the track come alive. That’s our same mantra in the studio.
TM: What is it that you enjoy so much about that collaborative process?
BB: I used to laugh when I’d see Kanye West and Bruno Mars, their pop singles would come out and have ten writers on it. There’s a tendency for traditional singer-songwriters smirking and thinking there’s something cheap or devalued [about that]. It takes a lot of really big talent and really big egos walking into a room, and everybody just working together.
TM: The song seems to be a celebration of Dallas, but also a call to arms. What message do you want to be putting out there with it?
BB: I really feel like there’s something special in the water right now [in Dallas]. The song is definitely a call to arms for all of our friends who are in the industry locally and regionally: Let’s make music together. This is definitely a concerted effort on our parts to not be the groups with all their arms crossed looking at each other across the way, sizing each other up.
TM: The predominant voice on here is Keite’s, who a lot of people won’t be familiar with. What does he bring to the table as a performer?
BB: Keite is a complete spirit guide at this point in his life. He’s so laser focused on communicating with people in direct messages with what he’s doing musically. The guy’s got such a freak of nature vocal ability. As a producer, I always feel so lucky when there’s a Keite Young around singing on the recording because it immediately makes us sound like professionals.
TM: How do you feel the Granada show will help convey the message of the song?
BB: It’s kind of our Dallas anthem. I hope we can come together when we’re old and keep playing shit like this together. That’s one of the coolest things about building a scene and doing something like that: nobody’s trying to get out of here. We’re not trying to leave Dallas.