Throwback Thursday: Ginger Baker, Jonas Hellborg, & Jens Johansson @ SOBs – December 15, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein shares with us about our December 1991 show with Ginger Baker, Jonas Hellborg, and Jens Johansson at SOBs. What do you remember about this night? Any crazy Ginger Baker stories of your own?

Jonas Hellborg is a very talented Swedish bass guitar player who came to prominence in the early 80s. At that time, he was the bassist in the reformed Mahavishnu led by guitar player John McLaughlin. He settled in New York, and I was a big fan of him.

I believe the initial connection came in the form of a call where he called to say he wanted to work with us, which was a big surprise and a thrill for me, me being a fan. I think he noticed the work we were doing at Giant Step with the club and had heard about us from others. Around then, he was working with producer and bass player Bill Laswell who had the Axiom label on Island Records. Laswell would produce records with people like Bootsy Collins, Bernie Morell, Ginger Baker, etc.

Jonas decided that he wanted to do a show with Ginger Baker and Jens Johansson, who was the keyboard player in Yngwie Malmsteen’s band.

I was super excited about working with Ginger Baker who is a music legend; he was the drummer in Cream with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, and was the drummer in Blind Faith. Ginger was also famous for his albums with Fela Kuti in the 1970s, and a notorious drug addict as well. He didn’t appear very often.

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Throwback Thursday: Jimmy Castor @ SOBs – March 13, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein shares with us about our March 1991 show with Jimmy Castor. What do you remember about this monumental show? Your favorite Jimmy Castor sample?

Jimmy Castor was on our list of artists to track down for our Groove Academy concerts. He was an artist who wasn’t really playing in New York anymore. In fact, this show was his first New York appearance in 10 years.

I don’t exactly remember how I managed to get his phone number. But once I got his number, I called him up and the first thing he said was, “I’d like to meet you.” I remember he drove into New York from New Jersey and we met him at one of those traditional Spanish restaurants next door to the Chelsea Hotel for dinner. He was interested to hear our proposal about a show, but also wanted us to understand where he was in his music career and why he was pretty much retired from the industry and very disillusioned with the business.

After a lot of talking and hearing him do his “Bertha Butt,” “King Kong” and “Troglodyte” voices, and a lot of persuasion, we were able to get him on board along with the “original” Bunch, which was his band. We wanted to hear the whole band do their parts when they performed the song “Potential” at the show.

Although Jimmy hadn’t put out any new music in years, he was, however, heavily sampled. Back then, a few of the many were “Gangsta Gangsta” by N.W.A. sampling “Troglodyte,” “Pump Up The Volume” by M|A|R|R|S, and “Watch Me Now” by Ultramagnetic MCs sampling “It’s Just Begun.” He’d also been working on new music, which he had us hear, including a track called “Firecracker” and one where he rapped about the fact he was heavily sampled.

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Throwback Thursday: Gil Scott-Heron @ SOBs – Jan 20, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein highlights our Martin Luther King Day Celebration featuring Gil Scott-Heron in 1991. Maurice shares:

Gil Scott-Heron’s importance and influence on today’s music is indisputable, and we were lucky to do many shows with him. Gil’s use of his platform was admirable, too; As someone who was always outspoken – especially in politics and social issues – it would be interesting to know what he would have thought about the current government shut down. We invite you to tell us your thoughts on Gil: Did you attend this show or one of the thousands he did in his lifetime? How is his legacy being remembered in your experience? And what’s your favorite piece of music by Gil?

Throwback Thursday: Joey Arias Channeling Billie Holiday @ Metropolis Cafe – April 25, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein takes us back to Joey Arias’ mind-blowing channeling of Billie Holiday at Metropolis Cafe on April 25, 1991. Were you there with us? Let us know what you remember, and be sure to catch a video of Joey performing “Strange Fruit” earlier this year after the jump!

After starting Giant Step the party in September 1990 on Mondays at SOBs, in January 1991, we moved the night up to Tuesdays at AKA on Houston. However, that was around the time of the first Iraq war starting, and the night wasn’t very successful.

Prior to starting Giant Step, I was working in restaurants; A year prior, a coworker told me that a friend of his worked at a restaurant called Metropolis Cafe on Union Square. Apparently, they had a basement where they were looking to do parties.

It was a pretty raw basement, but in wanting to move the club to a better night in the week, I re-approached the people at Metropolis about doing a Thursday party. I met the manager Dennis Cicero and we made it happen. We started on the new night and location around the end of March or beginning of April in 1991.

We’d open the doors at 11, so in order to for us to try to get people in earlier, we decided to have some live performances beforehand. For this particular night, we chose Joey Arias – a very famous downtown performance artist who has been around a number of years and comes from a history a vibrant NYC performers from the 1980s; Joey had an act where he would channel Billie Holiday.

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