Most creatives assume you can only make it big in LA or New York. But for professional musicians, Las Vegas is an oasis of talented people working together to make dreams a reality.
David Ostrem is one of those musicians—a bassist whose pedigree landed him touring gigs across Europe and North America with jazz guitarist Pat Martino, an opportunity to play bass for Shameless actress and singer Emmy Rossum, a stint with Clint Holmes and now, an all-expenses-paid trip to Uranus.
Ostrem’s role in the now-shuttered Cosmopolitan show Vegas Nocturne brought the Bostonian out to Vegas, and the resort’s second Spiegelworld production has kept him here. Ostrem now serves as the musical director and bassist for the funky, outer-space romp Opium.
I had to figure most of that out for myself. As a Spiegelworld cast member, Ostrem was required to stay in character during our interview, which made things a bit tricky. In Opium, he plays Evad, which is definitely not his name spelled backwards, he assured me in a phone call. We had to make it quick, so he could make his flight on the OPM 73 spaceship, which he and his crew board every Wednesday through Monday for a quick pit stop in Sin City. (And I imagine the roaming charges on Uranus get quite expensive.)
When the opportunity came up to do Opium, he says he had to take it. As music director, Ostrem works with the other band members—Dusty Moonboots (vocals), Dlanor (keys) and Spacecrabs (drums)—to pick the right songs and arrange them to come to life. K. Flay’s “Blood in the Cut” is the perfect, sultry accompaniment to performer Lucia Carbines’ dancing balloon act. Other choices, like Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” are the embodiment of the show’s zany, funky shtick. The Opium band makes each cover dynamic and unique, while still paying homage to the original.
“It’s a lot of working with the [Opium] artists and discussing with them what the intention of their act is,” Ostrem says. “You find the right song and tailor it to fit, and hopefully we pick something that has enough energy to drive the act forward and really pop.”
What does it take to land a gig like Opium, beyond talent? Ostrem’s advice is simple. “You’ve got to go out every night,” he says. “Make socializing and networking a full-time job. Go see all the shows, go see all the bands and meet people. Eventually you’ll build a community for yourself.”
And speaking of community, Ostrem is highly complimentary of the city’s musical players. “The musicians here are the best in the world,” Ostrem says. “People come here from all over, and I feel really lucky I’ve been able to have the opportunity to play with such true professionals.”