The annual Dance Party Time Machine that takes over Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom for just one much-anticipated night every year returns on Friday, February 28 with both the usual suspects and some fresh faces thrown into the mix. We were lucky enough to have the chance to speak with longtime DPTM participant and Disco Biscuits’ bassist Marc Brownstein, who took a moment to share with us his thoughts on this year’s event between a busy tour calendar and a post-op healing schedule. Due to an indefinite recovery period following surgery, Brownstein was pure gratefulness and positivity when talking about the event that has become an all-time favorite for musicians and fans alike, and we’re expecting big things from 2020’s Dance Party Time Machine.
A group of “amazing Denver local musicians and really great musical directors,” who make up the back-up band for the show, join forces each year with promoter Gary Mellini and become the brains behind the operation. In Brownstein’s own words, it works like this — “They spend a couple of months with a playlist of hundreds of songs and they go through and try to figure out what songs to play.” Then on the night of the show, “we play decades of music at a time and it switches from decade to decade. It’s all about taking a time machine through music.” It’s a Denver-based project, but for years they’ve brought in Brownstein and fellow Disco Biscuits members Allen Aucoin and Aron Magner, “for a little extra sauce.”
After months of planning, with the set list set in stone well in advance, the Dance Party Time Machine is truly a well-oiled machine, thought-out and rehearsed until the players “know every note of every song and show up to rehearsal knowing the music.” Brownstein, Aucoin and Magner, along with Lotus’ Mike Greenfield, have been deemed the “captains” of the Dance Party Time Machine, and help to carefully curate the evening’s playlist. Those four will once again return to the Cervantes’ stage alongside a rotating cast of guest musicians, and this year, three names in particular will make their DPTM debut, all of which Brownstein is equally excited to work with on the project.
On that list of special guests is Robert Randolph, the joining of which Brownstein helped make happen. “This year they said they wanted to get Robert Randolph, who I’m friendly with, and I just called him and explained the whole thing to him, and later that day they were like ‘Robert’s confirmed.'” When reaching out to musicians to cast them for the Dance Party Time Machine, Brownstein emphasized the importance of explaining its whole concept. “Like, is this a jam session? You have to explain to people that there is a lot of work that goes into this one night, but it’s worth it.”
Next on the list is Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick, who Brownstein referred to as “double trouble.” This is not even close to the first time he’s played with either, and he’s very much looking forward to the upcoming collaboration. “They write horn lines in real time while you’re jamming. They’ll dip off for a second, and you see them talking, and they come out and they play a composed horn line together. It’s really impressive, and in addition to that you’re talking about some of the best singers in the game.” Having the pair onstage for the Dance Party Time Machine, Brownstein doesn’t quite know what’s going to happen, but he knows “we’re going to laugh. A lot. Like we always do.”