By Shannon Frost Greenstein
Part One: The Band, The History, The Show
For Brownmark, it’s about giving back…about putting good vibes out into the world and reflecting the commitment, charisma, and one-of-a-kind talent he got to share with Prince and the Revolution.
Brownmark, of course, is the bass player for The Revolution…which, incidentally, is playing the SugarHouse Casino on Friday, March 9th. And how did he become the bass player? He was hand-picked by Prince. Hand-picked, out of countless bass players, because of that special something he brought to the group.
Friday’s show is an auspicious one, because The Revolution is the band Prince himself formed. With members Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Bobby Z, Dr. Fink, and, of course, Brownmark and Prince, the group dominated the zeitgeist of the mid-eighties. This is the permutation of the band which is responsible for the certified Platinum album “Purple Rain”, as well as featured in the film of the same name. The Oscar for that Best Original Song was also a product of the very members you could be lucky enough to see on Friday night.
Marilyn Russell sat down to speak with Brownmark, along with Entercom employee John Diaz, a longtime supporter of Prince and his musical compatriots. They discuss Friday’s upcoming show, they discuss Justin Timberlake’s performance at the Super Bowl halftime show, and they discuss the music. Because it’s the music that the bass player most wants to highlight. Prince, says Brownmark, didn’t dwell in the negative; he was endlessly positive, endlessly joyful, and that can be felt almost palpably in his music. So the purpose of the show at SugarHouse, and the other shows The revolution has played? To keep the music alive. As he says, “You’re going to feel Prince there.”
Part Two: Brownmark on Bass, Mazarati, and More
John Diaz has an intimate knowledge of Prince and the Revolution, and was the perfect individual to extend the interview with Brownmark after Marilyn took her leave.
One theme which echoes through part two of the interview is the authenticity of The Revolution. Friday’s show will be a fully immersive experience with the original creators of the sound. As Brownmark comments, “We’re not a backup band. We’re not a tribute band. We’re the real deal. We are The Band that created this material with Prince.”
Anyone who has seen The Revolution recently can probably agree with John’s assessment that the band, both past and present, plays flawlessly. According to Brownmark, this is the consequence of hours of rehearsal. In his opinion, the less you think about what you’re playing, the more fun you’re having. The more you rehearse, the less you have to think, and the more you can enjoy playing itself.
Brownmark also describes his individual music style, a direct result of his coming of age in Prince’s band. While holding down a basic base line, he learned to find the “holes the pocket” of Prince’s music, and fill them with a rhythmic pattern. He christens this method the “Rumble Technique”, which has accompanied him throughout his musical career.
John and Brownmark discuss the Mazarati Project, a former band the bassist created, as well as future plans: Namely, that The Revolution will be recording in the near future, and that he has a book he’d like to release about the course of his journey.
The theme of the band’s entire philosophy, and Brownmark’s personal ethos, comes to light after this revelation. In speaking about the book, Brownmark states, “It’s about how a big brother can have such an influence on a little brother. Prince is the reason I’m an artist.” Regarding the show on Friday, he urges the “purple family” to come out and support the band. After all, as he says, “Prince wanted to play for you, loved watching people have a good time. We’re giving back to the purple family.”
Wow. That strikes close to home, perhaps because we can all understand the meaning of having a mentor and the shape our lives can take because of those who teach us. You can listen to part two of the interview below. Remember, it’s Friday the 9th at SugarHouse Casino, and tickets can be purchased HERE.