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6 DEGREES OF SEPARATION american-hard-rock power-pop trio connects with the basics

Ever since I attended my very first rock concert at age 15 to see The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Chicago Coliseum (a.k.a "The Syndrome") in December 1968, I have always had a special place in my heart for the classic sounds of a 3-piece rock band comprised simply of guitar, bass and drums. I finally got a chance to see this rockn’ similarly-formatted "power pop" trio hailing from Hanover Park, Illinois called 6 Degrees Of Separation at a Chicago suburban venue earlier this month (August 14, 2010@North Beach-Downers Grove, IL). One word describes these old school rockers…WOW! This band rocked me to the rafters, baby! Good ole solid American straight-ahead classic hard-rock music recalling the 1970s and 80s somewhat, giving you the expectant feeling that the Chicago Outlaws or the Hell’s Angels are gonna show up riding their Harleys to the edge of the stage in dazed excitement at any minute. Okay, okay...maybe thats a little over the top...but then so is this band's original sound. Also known as “6DOS” to their fans, these musicians pretty much stole the musical show for me this night and it was great to get to hear them do an extended set of 13 tunes (due to a band cancelling so they got extra stage time) that were ALL ORIGINAL with the exception of a Billy Idol cover, thank god. Damn, this band is good! With a tinge of the laid-back bluesy-hard-rock heavy-driving sound one hears with ZZ Top, the very experienced songwriter/lead singer/guitarist and consumate musician Rich Dahl was singing forth with a timbre in his voice and a vocal style similar to that of Roy Orbison...with perfectly and clearly heard lyrics to boot and a unique guitar sound that uses a "sustain" technique...then the steady drumming of a Ginger Baker coming from the sticks of Scott Jacks, along with the "way cool" occasional single-fingered bass playing by the chick musician D.D. Dierking displaying a playing style reminiscent of Cream’s Jack Bruce (which she claims to be one of her musical influences, not surprisingly). What a musical combination this band of rockers make. They've got their craft down cold. 6DOS is very polished and professional in thier presentation, hitting the stage right on-time, tuned up and ready to play for you. No fumbling around with the equipment or annoying sound-check or anything like that, just getting directly to the show at hand.

Prior to starting their set, Rich half-jokingly called out to the beer-happy crowd of mostly 20-something-rockers (which were gathered there in-part for the last night of the venue’s incarnation as the North Beach nightclub), “You’re gonna hear a lot of good music you won’t know.” I laughed when I heard him say it as I purveyed the youth-laden crowd. He was right. It was all original music created by this band (except for one cover). Only I would have replaced the word “good” with “great". After a short intro riff...the opening tune was “Tear This Down” loved this tune's opening guitar riff, the Orbison-like vocalizing by Dahl and driving drums by Jacks with lyrics pleaing "give me the power to change me now", then “Face In The Crowd”, followed by Rich matter-of-factly announcing “...A new one by us...” called “Modern Life” a tune that has a slow start then gets jacked up in speed, about dealing with the fast-paced gadget-oriented life of today and the electronically-caused isolation/withdrawal from in-person contact with people these days due to FaceBook and cell phones and the like singing the lyrics "I feel like I'm getting so old...I feel so lost...I feel alone"...then a chick wearing a sequined belt buckle that simply spelled out the word ROCK in sparkling letters (named Michelle) was called to the stage by the band from the audience to do some back-up singing with them on the Van Halen-esque title-track tune from their album of the same name “Just Wake Up” “Pennies For Heros”...then they deferred to a cover of the Billy Idol tune "Rebel Yell", followed by “Just A Little Rain” which I considered bet of show...“Healer” which had a guitar riff using a plucked/picked lead style of playing alternating with beats from the drums...then after two clicks of the drum sticks they drove into the tune “All I Can Do”...but my personal fave of the show was “Seven” I guess due to the hauntingly repetitive guitar riff and lyric that defines the tune...“Make It To The Bridge” was the only song that didn't make it for me having the beat being tempered by a cowbell on the drum kit that somehow seemed out of place with the guitar line of the tune...then another great original sounding tune similar to ZZ Top stuff that showcases Dahl's lead guitar work and Dierking playing the bass guitar one-fingered throughout called “Thin Skin” and ending with another one featuring Rich's lead guitar skills entitled “No More Heartache”.

The self-described "power pop trio" was formed about five years ago with the goal of reording and performing in their words, "strong definitive original music". The band's configuration as a rock trio lends itself to the "rawness and edge of real rock music" as the band states in their MySpace bio. They are in the process of moving from playing Chicago suburban venues to those in the city. Rich Dahl has a ton of experience fronting bands over the years such as Watz (1978-81) to Ready For Ransom (circa mid-1990s) and having had played with members of the band The Blasters (before they came to fame on L.A.'s punk rock scene in the 1980s) from his early musical years in Los Angeles, California. The self-taught Rich had a musical association with the drummer Bill Batemen from that band, as he made use of him in several of his California-based bands. He also played with the likes of Elton John, the Allman Brothers and Eric Burton of War fame. The drummer for 6DOS, Scott Jacks, started playing in rock bands, age 16, at venues from Chicago to Los Angeles and back. Bass player D.D. Dierking, not having been at the music game as long as the other two members, has guested with many bands but now has found a musical home here with 6 Degrees Of Separation.

The actual concept of "Six Degrees Of Separation" (also known as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in six steps or fewer...the band will accomplish this easily through their original music as it goes out into the world at large, as once you've heard them you'll probably become a fan and find yourself connected with other people by only 6 Degrees Of Separation. 'Nuff Sed.


Rich Dahl-Guitars, Vocals
Scott Jacks-Drums



(source:,, various artists sites)

1 comment:

  1. great review for a great band and a great group of people! can't wait for my next chance
    to see you on stage.
    -greg (dbl."G"