Eagle musician Brendan McKinney brings together local talent on pandemic-friendly recording project
Six Guns of Production features local musicians as producers and contributors
The Vail Valley loves its local musicians, and many of them have been actively recording and releasing original music in the wake of COVID-19.
The latest project from Eagle County’s scene is spearheaded by Brendan McKinney. Six Guns of Production, as he’s calling it, features six of the Vail Valley’s most well-known talents: Brian Armstrong, Joe Bianchi, Vince Melamed, Scott Rednor, Johnny Schlepper and Dave Tucker. Each of these musicians produced a song for McKinney, hence the name. So far, McKinney has released seven tracks — one is self-produced — and hopes to add more to the project’s website, sixgunsproduction.com.
“I appreciate and respect all the talent that’s involved in this project and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to connect, through music, during what has been some dog days of isolation. The producers … the musicians all have brought their unique brands of talent to these songs,” McKinney writes on the website. “The project is all laid out here on this site and it is continuing to grow. Let it settle on you … let it sink in. It’s kept me moving forward. Feeling grateful … I hope you find something positive here and it sticks with you.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced musicians everywhere to pull the plug on live concerts, their main source of income, McKinney was one of many that was reeling. Music has been his career for almost 30 years.
“I missed performing almost immediately, and I initially thought that there were only limited ways to respond to the shutdown,” McKinney said.
Naturally, he turned first to livestreamed shows on Facebook. As he sunk his teeth into COVID music a bit more, he came up with more creative ideas to share music safely.
One of his out-of-the-box ideas was to set up a stage in the bed of his pickup. Complete with amps, a mic stand and his instruments, McKinney drives wherever he needs to be — from places like E-Town to Moe’s Barbecue to trailheads in Eagle — and sets up his stage and plays his set.
He also had the idea to start a collaborative recording project that could still be completed while social distancing: enter Six Guns of Production.
Prior to the pandemic, McKinney recorded frequently at Bianchi’s Mintown Studios in Minturn and Rednor’s Rock House. He also had established relationships with locals Tucker and Schlepper. Armstrong is a friend from Copenhagen, and Melamed is a songwriter and touring keyboardist based in Los Angeles. He’s worked with Jimmy Buffet and Bob Dylan, among others.
He thought it would be interesting to invite each of them to work on a piece of his project with him. They agreed.
With his six guns locked and loaded, McKinney sent off demos to each producer, and added local musicians Terry Armistead, Michael Jude, John Michel, Larry Dutmer, Dave Anderson and Mark Levy as contributors.
The tracks are now complete, but McKinney hopes he can take the project further.
“It’s still a work in progress. Let’s see where it goes from here. I hope everybody continues to just have fun with it,” said McKinney.
For now, he’s grateful that everyone has chosen to share their passion for music with him.
“The fact that everyone has dedicated their talent and time from their already busy schedules is really what has made this project a success,” he said. “I hope to pay it forward to others in any way I can.”
The tracks from Six Guns of Production are available to listen online at sixgunsproduction.com. McKinney’s 2015 album, “Waste of Good Rain,” is available on Spotify for streaming. He also posts his concert schedule on his Facebook page.