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Columnist Jerry Fink: Cagle branching out from the lounge scene
Friday, Oct. 1, 2004 | 8:33 a.m.
During his four years in Las Vegas, vocalist Michael Cagle has come to realize he doesn't fit into a lounge.
Lounges are small, intimate rooms where performers often provide background for an evening out.
The robust Cagle has a voice that can blow out the walls of a lounge when he cuts loose with one of his gut-wrenching numbers.
"My problem with performing for the smaller audiences in a lounge is that, with my theater background I learned to sing in a certain way," said the likeable, gregarious entertainer from the state of Washington. "My style and delivery have always been for a big audience, as opposed to a lounge.
"My biggest shortcoming is that I don't adapt well to lounges."
Not that he won't if he has to. He sometimes performs at Cafe Nicolle, the Bootlegger and other venues. His first lounge gig was at the now- defunct Castaways, where management pulled him from the stage before his performance even really got under way.
"I was three songs into the set when the entertainment director yanked me," Cagle said.
The reason? His voice was so dominating that it was drawing a huge crowd -- most of it away from the gaming tables and slot machines.
"He told me I needed to be in a showroom on Broadway," Cagle said.
If his luck continues holding up, he may not have to worry about lounges.
Four weeks ago Cagle, who is gay, and his partner, Jason Cates, began a radio talk show on KLAV 1230-AM, which airs at midnight Fridays.
The premise of the show, "The Spin Cycle," is an entertaining, open discussion of current events, politics and other topics. Guests include politicians, entertainers and listeners who call in.
The hot topic right now is politics. Even though Cagle says he is left of center, he lets everyone have their say.
"I have always been political," he said. "But this year, I'm very political. This election has stirred me more than any other in my life."
Monday, Cagle's monthly television show, "Singsations," debuts at 1:30 a.m. on KVVU Channel 5. Patterned after "American Idol," the program will spend the entire season narrowing down dozens of contestants to four finalists who will compete on the final show of the season.
Cagle performs and hosts the show, which is being taped at such locations as the Stardust and the Gold Coast.
He recently won a contest at Bourbon Street, which earned him a cash prize and a one-week performance with the show "Spotlight" at the off-Strip venue on East Flamingo Avenue. He will be one of the revue's cast members beginning Oct. 9.
On Oct. 27 he will do a showcase as part of Call Back Expo at the Golden Nugget. The event, sponsored by the entertainment trade publication Call Back, will feature a number of performers who will demonstrate their talents for potential buyers.
And producer/director Ronnie Cammisa is shopping for a nightclub in which Cagle would be able to let his flamboyant personality and unbridled talent run free.
The lights in Vegas weren't always looking so bright for Cagle, who has been performing for more than 20 years -- opening for such entertainers as Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs and others.
When he and his partner decided to leave Washington and broaden their horizons, they got rid of most of their belongings, bought a 1974, 20-foot-long motor home and headed south.
"I was planning on Reno because it's smaller and I thought I would have a bigger impact," Cagle said. "But a guy who had seen me perform in Washington called me from Vegas and said he had three gigs for me."
So Cagle came to Vegas and did the three gigs, but the promoter refused to pay him. He was able to survive on money he earned selling his CDs at the gig.
"We had just enough money to start living in an RV park on Fremont Street," Cagle said. "That's where the real Fremont Street Experience is -- where you can watch drive-by shootings and crack sales."
Cagle earned money by singing for free at karaoke bars and selling his CDs.
"I would treat the karaoke contests as if I was performing at the Grammy Awards," he said.
There was a two-week period when he was too ill to work and survived on Hawaiian popcorn.
"I would go into a casino and pretend to play a slot machine so I could get free drinks," Cagle said.
Eventually he landed a gig singing at Keys, a former gay bar on East Sahara Avenue. Then a few more gigs came his way, and now he stays busy bouncing all over town with one project or another.
"Everything started falling into place," he said.
But he still has a hard time finding the right place where he can fit in. Although he's been offered a lot of money to be a tribute artist performing as Elton John, he refuses to do that.
"I don't want to get locked into being an imitator or anything else," Cagle said. "I won't compromise.
"I try to be completely honest. I'm not trying to showboat or anything. I'm just being honest. What you see is what you get."
And what most people see is a performer with tremendous talent and energy just waiting for the moment when his voice can fill a concert hall or a showroom.
Click On Then Pic Below To Read
Michael's 2018 In-Depth Article and Interview. Featured In
PROUD TIMES Magazine
Booming voice of Cagle featured at Bootlegger
Saturday, March 25, 2006 | 7:15 a.m.
Michael Cagle, who has been doing some touring lately, will be the featured performer Sunday night at the Bootlegger's weekly showcase.
"I just came back from a little tour of the Pacific Northwest," said Cagle, known for his booming voice. "I have some dates coming up on the East Coast and in Florida, then I'm going back to fairs and music festivals."
The Las Vegas singer covers everything from Broadway musicals to pop and R&B. He says he recently was approached by a major record label to do the sound track for a movie to be released later this year.
And he hasn't given up on Broadway.
Cagle's Bootlegger performance begins at 9 p.m. It is preceded by a dinner.
"Basically it's a one-man show, but there are a couple of surprises," he said.
LAS VEGAS BUZZ
Michael Cagle was on fire when he gave his super powerful performance of And I’m Telling You from the hit movie Dream Girls. Michael always sings his heart out whenever he performs. Soon the powerhouse vocals of Michael Cagle could very well be heard on radio stations all around the land! Michael’s first original single will be released this summer on the Brooklyn West Records label and distributed by Universal Records.
Best of luck to you Michael Cagle.
Photo DivaSeptember 13, 2010
Photo Diva: It’s All About The Climb
Michael Cagle performs at Hot August Nights at Town Square.
Photo by Linda Evans.
Las Vegas is full of singers who grab a mic, turn on a backing track and belt out a song that speaks to them on some level on whatever stage that will accept them in an attempt to feed their hungry artists’ soul. Most will become discouraged by a lackluster response after their heartfelt performance or become disillusioned by the fact that some record label rep isn’t at their door begging for their signature on a contract the next day. Many do it to achieve fame and fortune simply because they crave the attention. I have been fortunate to be able to continually find those talented artists who, like me, understand that it isn’t about the praise and accolades (although those are nice) it is all about feeding the fire that fuels our souls.
I recently met such an artist. Michael Cagle is a very talented vocal performer living here in the Las Vegas valley. Having moved here in 2001 from Washington State — with roots in New York — Michael has had “the pleasure of singing and performing for almost as long” as he has been here, starting with a Cabaret show called “KEYS.” Believe me…that is an amazing accomplishment in itself.
I discovered Michael through Facebook (gee…surprise surprise) and something about him and the video performances on his MySpace page resonated with me but I wasn’t sure why. Sure, he’s an exceptionally fabulous balladeer and his choices of popular songs are spot-on for his tone and vocal range but there was something more to it than that. So I went to see him perform at the inaugural Hot August Nights in Las Vegas event at Town Square on the South end of the Strip.
It was a miserably hot Sunday afternoon with the sun beating down and I almost stayed home. When I finally got my sweaty self over to the stage area in the back parking lot of Town Square he was well into his set. There were maybe a dozen people within earshot of the stage — all of which were seeking shelter under pop-up coverings. Well, all except for one woman at the foot of the stage swooning not from the sweltering heat but from Michael’s hand in hers and his smooth and sensual voice. “It is much more fun and exciting to have crowds in the thousands, obviously,” said Michael. “My philosophy is that anyone who comes out to see me is entitled to have me give my all.”
Away from that hot parking lot we had a little chat…
Michael Cagle performs.
Photo by Linda Evans.
PD: You have the reputation of being a balladeer…do you ever sing other types of music?
MC: I am really drawn to emotional songs. I love feeling like I leave a part of me in the room every time I sing. Because of this, I get labeled a “Ballad Singer” a lot. I am, without a doubt, a belter! I guess I don’t sing many laid back songs or things that are in the background. I am not background material.
PD: I have seen your videos on ReverbNation and other social media outlets but the first time I saw you live was at the Hot August Nights event and even though it was a very hot Sunday afternoon and not a big audience you came out and performed very difficult ballads with full force and with an obvious love for the music. Who are your influences and do you have any that are “out of the box”? Names that would make people pause and say “what the…”?
MC: If I am on-stage, for one song or a whole “show”… If there are 50 people or 18,000 (like when I opened for Reba), I give my all! My biggest influence is Patti LaBelle. I am not saying I am in her “league” but the way she approaches her concerts, the way she takes a song and makes it her own is a lot like me. The best compliment I ever had was when FOX TV said “Patti LaBelle meets Nathan Lane.”
I am very drawn to “big” singers — whatever the genre. Aside from obvious staples like Celine or Whitney, I also love Steve Perry, Dennis DeYoung, Linda Eder, Sam Harris, Billy Porter and Adam Lambert. I also am a big Lady Gaga fan. I love people who put on a show when they perform. We need more Michael Jacksons, Freddie Mercurys and Judy Garlands!
PD: With so many tribute and cover bands in Vegas vying for fewer and fewer venues willing to book live music why do you suppose you have such staying power?
MC: I think i sing with a passion that isn't seen often now. and I think there is an honesty that allows people to identify with my deliery of the song and the lyrics. I think they fell what i am singing, not just entertained by it.
PD: I saw you perform to tracks. Do you ever perform with a live band and, if so, what are the differences and do you approach it in a different way?
MC: I LOVE performing with a band! But it’s very hard to find one that plays all the styles I cover in my shows and performances. I do a lot of Broadway, but also do a lot of other styles. I love singing with a band and my style ends up being more dramatic and a bit more “soul.”
Photo by Linda Evans.
PD: What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever gotten?
MC: To sing at a “Chippendale’s” type of event that was a benefit. Then I found out they wanted me to do a “Chippendale’s” type of routine also! Really? They would have been yelling at me to “Put it on! Put it on.”
PD: What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened at a gig?
MC: I had an obviously drunk lady repeatedly interrupt a show by saying I was sexy and that she wanted me. Oh my God, I am dying thinking of it! She jumped up in the middle of the show and said, “Take me.” I wanted to die!
PD: Any upcoming gigs in Las Vegas?
MC: I am recording original music and have been signed to Universal Records! So that is going to take up some time. I do a lot of out-of-town gigs — theaters, showrooms and festivals. I will be performing Thursday, September 23rd at the newly renovated SunCoast Showroom. It will be the return of their afternoon show and I am thrilled to have been the first one booked! I will be hosting the show as well.
PD: What is the professional philosophy you try to live by?
MC: I try to be honest, be sincere. I can say that I am never more alive than when I am on stage! It is my World, my Home. I also believe that if someone pays to see you, they are entitled to 100%. I don’t step on stage unless I am ready to lay it all out! I also know that there are a lot of talented people out there. When someone decides they want to be a fan, you need to let them know how special they are, and how important they are to you as an artist.
Photo by Linda Evans.
PD: Anybody in particular that you want to thank?
MC: There are so many people who have helped support me and encouraged me. All my incredible and faithful friends who write me or show up to my gigs. My manger Lynn, who really has ALWAYS believed in me. My Mom is probably one of my biggest, if not biggest fan — her approval is so rewarding. And finally, and most importantly, my partner of 11 years, Jason. Jason has sacrificed a lot. He has even denied things for himself to see all our dreams come to fruition. He is without a doubt, The Wind Beneath My Wings. And this year, his dreams are coming true — he was signed to a record label as a Country Artist.
PD: Any last words of encouragement or advice?
MC: I hate cliches but, NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER! Dreams can and will come true. Be nice! There are a lot of singers out there — great ones — and everyone wants to be a star. Unless you want to be your only fan, show some humbleness! Fame can be fleeting, enjoy it, savor it. You are not the best thing out there — your fans are!
Be prepared and face every opportunity as “this could be the time when it all falls into place!”
So back to the hot parking lot…
Once he started singing Miley Cyrus’ hit song “The Climb” I finally understood why I was drawn to him.
There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb.
When he finished the song, he fell down onto the stage and jokingly said, “I have to find easier songs to sing.”
No, Michael, you don’t. “Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb.” The real reward is in the journey, not the destination. I could see that you embrace that and that you get it.
So do I.