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Old 6th May 2018
Here for the gear

Hi strings n sax:

we run everything from a laptop, so I don't need the midi interface. I think if I get a USB to DMX interface like the Entec Open DMX USB, and something like DMX Control or Freestyler, I should be able to program a midi track for each song...?
Yes, I think using a laptop, particularly if you use a DAW for your backing tracks, should open up a lot more alternatives. You may be able to use some DMX software 'directly' for your lighting automation, not involving MIDI at all. In my case I want to avoid using a laptop, since we already have a solid system using iPads to play backing tracks (previously created on an DAW), display synchronized lyrics & chords, and play MIDI for simple guitar & vocal fx patch automation. To keep it simple (less potential points of failure), I want to also control the lights through the MIDI files.

do you know how much cpu load these free dmx programs use?
No, but I'd guess they are not too bad since there's nothing like audio codecs involved. I suspect most DMX event playback not a lot more taxing than MIDI, which I've had working fine even in the 80s on the original IBM PC.