Mission Accomplished: The Biscuits Check Out Solar Panels

Back on March 21st, HeadCount and the Disco Biscuits staged “Bisco Power Mission,” a benefit concert to raise money toward the purchase of solar panels for a school. Now, less than a year later, the Albert M. Greenfield Elementary school has become the first public school in Philadelphia to install solar panels on its roof – and it’s all because of Bisco Power Mission. The band and the HeadCount staff visited Greenfield on Wed. Nov. 17th to see the results for themselves. Enjoy this first-hand account of their visit.

To view more photos from this visit, check out our album. Be sure to tag yourself if your name is on the commemorative plaque!

I walked through the doors of the Albert M. Greenfield Elementary school and I knew that it topped the list of places I have seen the Disco Biscuits. I was without a ticket but this time I probably would have been better off showing a hall pass to get inside.

I watched Marc Brownstein, the Biscuits’ bass player and also the co-chair of HeadCount, survey a flat screen monitor that was mounted on a wall. That screen displayed various charts and graphs, which corresponded to the energy output from solar panels located on the roof of the school — Solar panels funded through a grant from HeadCount and The Disco Biscuits. Next to the monitor was a plaque, listing the name of the every Disco Biscuit who kicked in for a commemorative poster that helped make that grant happen.

“Some ideas are only crazy until you do them,” quipped guitarist Jon Gutwillig. Back in 2009, Jon hatched the idea to install a source of solar power on a school with HeadCount’s Executive Director, Andy Bernstein. Then on March 21st of this year the band and the nonprofit teamed up to hold a charity concert at the Brooklyn Bowl in NYC. Two sets and $15,000 later, Bisco Power Mission started with a bang.

Now, here we were seeing what became of that idea and that concert.

With the school’s principal Dan Lazar as our tour guide, the lot of us entered a fifth grade science classroom. While the band took the proverbial stage, I looked around at the faces in the crowd — the kids (and faculty) looked excited. The students told us what they already know about solar energy and then were treated to a lesson from the gentlemen from Mercury Solar Systems who installed the system. The band asked questions to the class as the experts from Mercury Solar explained just how the system worked.

Then the tables were turned. “So your name is really the Disco Biscuits?” asked a young girl. Another one asked, “What is a name of one of your songs?”

“’On Time’ — like, get to class on time!” chuckled Marc.

“Do you want your own TV show?”

Jon replied with a coy, “We’ve talked about it.”

I started to get the notion that the 5th graders in the classroom had no idea who the four men in front of them were. Their faces had been filled with joy not because of who they were but because of what they had done for the school. As the questions kept rolling, the faces of the band brightened a few shades as well.

The Disco Biscuits said goodbye to the class and our tour of the school went onward and upward. When the door to the roof opened, I saw sunlight bouncing from every corner of every building in downtown Philadelphia. The group walked around the rows of solar panels while the band had their pictures taken amongst them. It was at that moment I knew that they had “done it.” In less than a year, their “crazy idea” to assist in greening a school is a reality.

In the classroom with the kids, I didn’t think they were fans of the Disco Biscuits. After all, the reason I am a fan of most musicians is because I enjoy the music they make and these kids didn’t even know one Biscuits’ song. But, as we made our way back to the lobby and passed two young girls staring at graphs on the monitor, appreciating the results of the solar panels, I realized that every person in that entire building was a Disco Biscuits fan. With renewable energy like that comes a renewable fan base.

The Disco Biscuits pose with engineers from Mercury Solar Systems.


Chris Keating is the Donations Manager for 501Seats, a HeadCount supporter. Photos by Ashley Beliveau.

HeadCount wishes to extend special thanks to Mercury Solar for donating consulting and installation services. Bisco Power Mission could not have been completed without their generosity.

Tell your friends!