DALLAS, TX – Dallas-based nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions will host their 2012 Cocktails for a Cause, a charity event with the purpose to raise funds for international orphanages, ATG’s community outreach programs and the ATG Artistic Scholarship fund. The event takes place from 6:30 pm – 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30th at LaGrange in Deep Ellum, located at 2704 Elm Street in Dallas, Texas.
The event is headlined by San Francisco-based comedian Zhangster (Mark Zhang) and is preceded by performances by emerging Asian American musical artists, including Xwansongs from Houston and local Dallas acts Twisted Optiks and Duette.
The organization has become known for their successful Fashion for a Passion event, a showcase of emerging Asian American designers, musicians and artists. ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee explained the history behind this event. “Cocktails for a Cause was the first event our organization ever hosted. Although similar to FFAP in many ways, ‘Cocktails’ is an intimate, more casual event that helps introduce us and our mission to the community in a fun way that entertains and enlightens our audience. This year, we’re adding a comedian to the mix, and who knows what will happen. We’re fortunate to bring back CFAC to an already hefty programming slate, and it’s a great segue and kick-off for Fashion for a Passion.” This year’s FFAP takes place on October 13th at the Dallas Contemporary.
Mark Zhang, also known as Zhangster, is praised as one of the most unique new Asian American comedic voices. His high energy comedy hits hard on social issues with clever twists. His improv is unpredictable, and his audiences are always surprised by his edgy wit. “People always say it must be great to make people laugh on stage, but to me it’s nothing compared to the people that goes out of their way to help the unfortunate,” Zhangster said. “This event to me is like a delicious hamburger…It takes many parts to make it work, and when it’s all over with, I can say I was the lettuce for that amazing burger.” Zhangster has been ripping through the comedy scene from West Coast to East Coast from Northwest to Southeast. Zhangster’s powerful stage presence has been electrifying top comedy clubs around the country and even internationally like England, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Xwansongs, a trio that includes Xuan Nguyen, Stephen ‘Nez’ Nesbit and Chris Cuchapin, is known to have a steady stream of songs that were brought to life encompassing several different musical styles and moods. Nguyen said, “I am honored to be involved in Cocktails for a Cause, because it is always humbling to work with others who are so passionate about putting the needs of others before their own. I hope to pay it forward because in my life I was fortunate enough to have good people step forward in my time of need and I’d like to do the same for others.” Currently, they are performing with their close friend and fellow musician, Duane Roger Perez, as a guest guitarist for live shows, gracing stages from Houston to Dallas to Louisiana.
Duette is an indie-pop band from Dallas, fronted by Tex Sirisawat and Angela Yi. The group aims to capture hearts, while also proving that you can make it out of heartbreak alive. “It means a lot to us as artists/musicians [to be a part of CFAC], because it solidifies the hard work we put in is creating something unique and positive that ATG thinks should be presented and represented by other Asian Americans,” Sirisawat said. “We hope to reach a new audience and be able to help ATG raise money, create awareness and find solutions.” The band is influenced by everything from ’50s music, ’90s Indie-Rock to ’80s New Wave and Synth Pop, with a little dash of Motown thrown in.
Twisted Optiks, also known as Ronnie Chea, is is a hip-hop artist who also works as an Audio Instructor/ Mentor for students at Styles of Music Productions in Oak Cliff. He explains that the program plays a big part in mentoring the youth to find who they are and to overcome the negative aspects of life. “It is an honor to take part in these events. I feel that there needs to be a greater awareness of the talented and hardworking individuals of the Asian background. Many go unappreciated and should be allowed to display their gifts that may potentially bless someone else to rise and share their unique abilities,” Chea said. He is also an audio engineer, producer, songwriter and lyricist who wants to make an impact in society with music that speaks to the mind, heart and soul with genuine sincerity. “I only hope that through the music I share, someone may receive the message and find hope and encouragement from it. I speak on my own experiences in life through my music and do my best to bring it in the most professional quality as possible. In turn, I hope that it inspires and uplifts others to let their voice be heard and their skills be shown.”
Admission to Cocktails for a Cause is $25 in advance, includes a complimentary cocktail, Asian tapas, drink specials and entertainment and can be purchased at www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com/events starting Wednesday, May 2nd. Admission at the door is $30 as available.
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian-American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. Their premiere documentary feature, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, has received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.