If I had a million dollars...
Updated: Jun 28
Day #5 of my “Colorado Career Highlights” challenge. Don’t look down, we’re half way there…
We set the time machine back to the early 2010’s, or the 80’s rather, with the 6 Million Dollar Band.
During the last decade I played for a few years with Denver’s 6 Million Dollar Band, a formidable high-tech band that does mostly 80’s hits and some other synth-driven pop hits. Of all the bands I’ve played in I chose this one to add to my highlight reel because of how it felt for me to me to do the gig. The fine folks who created (and still play in) this band are very skilled and dedicated to their craft. I have never worked with a band that brings as much gear as 6MDB, it is quite unique. This band has state-of-the-art high tech lighting, programmed and coordinated with the material. They have enough p.a. equipment to kill Thanos with one punch of the kick drum. The setup and strike of the gear takes HOURS and I’ve never met anyone else willing to work as hard as they do, without roadies. I did my best to be part of the schlepping and setup process. I often forgot I was in my 50’s not my 20’s. I had many nights getting home at 4:00 a.m. and that’s usually when I’m getting up, not going to bed.
I had a lot of material to learn in order to do this gig. I spent many hours transcribing, studying and practicing this band’s repertoire. They changed the keys of some of the songs, creating an extra layer of challenge. I worked hard to be prepared, and I brought whatever basses and pedals I needed to recreate the original parts and sounds as best I could. There was a synthesizer for me also, to play keyboard bass on the songs where it was the proper tool. (I taught myself keyboards as a little kid, we had a Hammond A-100 and an ‘Optigon’ which I spent a lot of time with.) 6MDB gave me an opportunity to play synth bass, fretted and fretless bass, to sing vocal parts and to be part of their family. That’s the thing I will remember the most, that they welcomed me into the band despite my mental health issues and they were always nice to me. Always complimentary and supportive.
With 6MDB I learned to use IEMs (In-ear monitors) and to play very long sets of continuous music at a high velocity. People still love the 80’s hits and it keeps the dance floor full of happy revelers, especially when it’s loud and sounds just like the record. I am proud of the job I did with this band despite my personal challenges and I had fun entertaining the crowds. Most of the bands I have played in involve absolutely zero concern about stage presence. Nobody cares what you look like in a wedding band, church band, cocktail party trio or any other dance band. With 6MDB I got to have fun and actually perform and interact with the people, who were also having a lot of fun. I love jazz and I can play jazz, but no jazz gig could ever provide what 6MDB did. I will always remember the rapture and joy of having the entire room with us, closing the night with “Fight for Your Right” and just crushing it. That’s way more fun than playing bass on “Impressions” pretty much.
Some additional thoughts for the bass nerds...
My favorite synth-bass songs to play were: "Take On Me" "Thriller" and
"Don't You Want Me Baby?"
Favorite bass guitar songs were: "White Wedding" "Panama" and the late Wayne Pedzwater's bass tour-de-force that is "Footloose". You need a pick for Footloose, btw.
I was the perfect age to be part of the spandex & hair bands of the 80's. I actually had hair back then, so I kinda missed my calling. I think I could have been good enough to play in Poison or Cinderella, maybe RATT. Who knows? I was in a sensitive new-age band back then and it wasn't until my time with 6MDB that I learned most of that popular material from those 80's years.
Thanks a million Ryan Day, Steve, Lori, Rick and Meekay.
More like, thanks 6 Million!!!