Bassist Marc Brownstein is one of the masterminds behind jamtronica juggernaut The Disco Biscuits. This weekend will be a busy one for the bassist, who has scheduled performances at the Biscuits’ own City Bisco in addition to multiple sets at Brooklyn Comes Alive, a two-day multi-venue festival featuring over 100 individual musicians arranged into dozens of unique collaborations, tributes, and dream lineups. We got the chance to catch up with Marc Brownstein ahead of his Brooklyn Comes Alive performances to chat and get a better idea of what to expect from the weekend.
Late-night on Saturday, September 23rd (technically, the wee hours of Sunday, September 24th), Marc Brownstein will play one of his special DJ sets at Music Hall of Williamsburg from 2 to 3:30 am following the Disco Biscuits’ own run-closing performance at Ford Amphitheater. Brownstein will perform a special supergroup set on Sunday, September 24th, along with Biscuits brother and keys player Aron Magner, Umphrey’s McGee keyboardist Joel Cummins, Lotus drummer Mike Greenfield, Motet guitarist Ryan Jalbert, and Trey Anastasio Band horn section and vocalists Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman.
L4LM: You’ve played on all three Brooklyn Comes Alive events. What do you love about the event that keeps you coming back?
Marc Brownstein: It’s just such an interesting and unique idea to have so many musicians doing rare collaborations, you know, outside of, say, Jazz Fest. Brooklyn Comes Alive has also been really supportive of my DJ project. To me, I love to get out of my comfort zone but only in special places.
L4LM: You’re playing with Magner, Mike Greenfield, Joel Cummins, Ryan Jalbert, Jennifer Hartswick, and Natalie Cressman for a supergroup set on Sunday. Obviously, you have a lot of history with Aron and Mike, but what can fans expect with the others getting thrown into the mix?
Marc Brownstein: I guess we are all going to have to check it out to figure that out, though we do have some great surprises going on for the Sunday Fun(k)day set. You know, Ryan and I have played together once or twice, and I specifically felt like we had really good chemistry. I’ve been looking forward to collaborating with Jals again for a while. Super funky. Deep in the pocket.
L4LM: You’re also doing a DJ set at Brooklyn Comes Alive. How do you approach your DJ sets, and is it different than how you approach the Disco Biscuits or your other side projects?
Marc Brownstein: Well, for one, I’m not playing bass. That’s a pretty huge difference. Maybe I should start bringing my bass to my DJ sets! I bring a drummer—Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic—along from time to time. When we do that, it’s called Tennis Jacket. But, ya know, I’m just trying to explore music and learn new ways of performing. If the perfect opportunity presents itself, I’ll get myself out there and start mixing tracks together.
L4LM: The Disco Biscuits have City Bisco going on the same week as Brooklyn Comes Alive with two nights at Irving Plaza the 21st and 22nd and then two nights on Coney Island at the Ford Amphitheater the 23rd and 24th. Coming off of some pretty amazing runs like Colorado and Camp Bisco, how excited are you to get back out and play some more shows?
Marc Brownstein: We have gotten into the groove. It took some time to figure out how to stay fresh always without being constantly in the midst of long tours, and it all comes down to discipline. Do we have the discipline to stay on top of our game during the four or five weeks that we don’t play? I can only speak for myself, but I was always the least disciplined member of the band. Now that I’ve stepped up my game in terms of keeping on a really strict routine, I feel like the band is consistently at a higher level than a few years ago when I would let myself fall out of shape for a few weeks at a time. Staying ready on an instrument is the same as in sport and with exercise, you know? It’s just all about consistency.
L4LM: As a New Yorker, what’s your favorite thing about doing multiple-night runs like this in NYC?
Marc Brownstein: That’s kind of a loaded question! Irving is a few blocks from where I grew up. We went to shows there as kids. It’s fun to come back to the hood. And Coney is in my blood. As a Brooklyn native, Coney Island is that iconic spot that holds the dearest of places in my heart.
L4LM: The last time I got to see you guys play was for the Biscuits’ Colorado run in June, and that Red Rocks performance was easily my favorite show you guys have played up there. The Ogden shows had some pretty rave reviews as well. Do you share the feeling that a lot of fans have right now that the band is sounding as good as it has in a really long time?
Marc Brownstein: It’s definitely nice to have the fans feeling so good about the way the band sounds. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from new fans too. People who tell me our set at Summer Camp blew them away, or how they came to Camp Bisco for the first time, or how LOCKN’ was their first show and it was surprisingly their favorite set of the weekend. That only happens if your band is playing at the top of their game. Otherwise, you get swallowed up by the overwhelming amount of other great talents out there. So, I’ll let you speak for the fans, and from the band I’ll say, we appreciate the kind words.
Inspired by the vibrant musical communities of Brooklyn and New Orleans, Brooklyn Comes Alive is set to take place across three venues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Brooklyn Bowl, Schimanski, Music Hall of Williamsburg) on September 23rd and 24th. The unique homegrown event puts the focus on the musicians, curating dream team collaborations, tributes, and artist passion projects for two full days of incredible music both new and old.
The 2017 lineup is set to include hand-selected band lineups featuring all-star musicians like John Scofield, George Porter Jr. (The Meters), Vinnie Amico and Al Schnier (moe.), Bernard Purdie, Joel Cummins, Ryan Stasik, and Kris Myers (Umphrey’s McGee), Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits), Mike Greenfield and Jesse Miller (Lotus), Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident), Alan Evans (Soulive), Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers), Henry Butler, Reed Mathis (Electric Beethoven), Michael League, Nate Werth, Chris Bullock, Robert “Sput” Searight, and Bob Lanzetti (Snarky Puppy), Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band), and scores of others!
***Tickets Are On Sale Now!***
To find out more about ticketing, VIP options, and lodging, head to the festival website.