For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein takes us back to the 1992 New Music Seminar series of events we held at Sweet Jane, which culminated in a huge night with Atlanta band Arrested Development.
For a period of time in the summer of 1992, Giant Step weekly relocated to a venue called Sweet Jane that is today the Jane Hotel (legend has it that that was where survivors of Titantic where brought after the fatal accident). There was a large room, which was a like an old ballroom where somebody ran a club – I don’t remember his name, but he was a shady guy at the best of times. Actually, I think his name was Guy (maybe some of the old timers can jog my memory).
Every summer in New York there used to be something called the New Music Seminar, and that year we put together four nights of Groove Academy and Giant Step shows. This was our second year putting on events during New Music Seminar – the first year we had held our events at the Village Gate and will feature that one soon in this series.
It was a pretty big undertaking putting together four nights of music. The first night we had ED O.G and da Bulldogs, a live hip-hop band called SSL, which stood for Smoking Suckers With Logic, a band called Lovehead who were a local band, and Pal Joey, the DJ who produced the track “Hot Music.”
Last minute we also booked a band called the Whole Earth Mamas – a bit like the Black Crows – who I put on the bill after we printed the flyer. The guitar player in the band was this high school kid named Mark Ronson. He had started coming to some of our shows although he was under age, and he pleaded with me to include his band on the bill. He said, “if you put my band on the bill, my friend Sean will come.” I go, “Who’s Sean?” And he said, “Sean Lennon.” I told him, “If you do that, I’ll put you on the bill.” So, Sean Lennon came through that night and played with the band. We got some good press out of that.
The next day was Thursday, the night we held our Giant Step club regularly anyway. That night we showcased the whole Giant Step crew. We had Showbiz & AG as guests, Jamalski the lightning fast rapper and a resident at the club, Dana Bryant (who we managed), the Giant Step crew (which was pretty much Groove Collective – I don't recall why they didn't do this show under that name), DJ Smash's project Jazz Not Jazz, and Jazzy Nice. It was a great opportunity for out of towners to experience the club in full swing.
On Friday we brought our sister club from LA – Brass – to town. We had performances from Master Ace, Angel C, as well as their resident DJs Marques Wyatt and Orlando Aguillen. We also brought over from London somebody called James “HolyGoof” Lavelle who later dropped the “HolyGoof” and was just James Lavelle. He had just started MoWax, the record label.
The final night was massive; we put together a bill that ended up being the talk of the town, really. There was a band from Atlanta that we found out about called Arrested Development. When we booked the show, which was about three months ahead of time, the band hadn’t yet released their hit single “Tennessee,” so we managed to secure them for a nominal fee. By the time of the show, they reached top of the charts. The result: Giant Step got the New York exclusive with one of the hottest bands in the country at the time.
I remember Sweet Jane had little to no ventilation, and that Saturday night event was absolutely ram packed. There was no air conditioning. It got jammed so early because everybody wanted to see Arrested Development.
The Last Poets were also on that bill – and finally, our band Repercussions played as well.
I remember Spike Lee coming, and he was completely taken by the Repercussions’ performance. So much so that he tried to sign them to his label – Forty Acres & A Mule – immediately. That was the start of us spending time with Spike Lee – some great memories there.
As expected, The Last Poets were fantastic, Arrested Development blew everyone away, and Repercussions weren't too shabby either.