Throwback Thursday: ‘Giant Steps, Vol. 1′ Record Release Party @ Supper Club – December 9, 1993

 

*(2013)_19931209

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein takes us back to our record release party for Giant Steps, Volume One at Supper Club in December 1993.

By 1993, the acid jazz scene was garnering much more awareness in the US and labels here were beginning to take notice with the success of Jamiroquai and Brand New Heavies. Most of the larger UK acts on majors were coming out of imprints on Polygram such as Talking Loud and FFRR. A subsidiary of Polygram US was London Records, which also had Payday Records. Payday Records was run by Patrick Moxie, who at the time also managed Gangstarr – he’s now the owner of Ultra Records.

Given that acid jazz was one of our primary areas of specialty, Patrick approached us about putting together a compilation for him. Naturally, we wanted to the name to be in line with our brand, so we called the compilation “Giant Steps,” adding the “s” on the end to differentiate a bit from “Giant Step.”

Read the rest and hear select tracks after the jump

Throwback Thursday: George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars @ Palladium – June 25, 1991

 

*(2013)_19910625

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein takes it back to the Groove Academy first year anniversary at Palladium in 1991. Featuring George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars, the Brand New Heavies, and Blowfly, it was nothing short of an incredibly memorable night. Were you there? Tell us what you remember!

This was our first anniversary concert for the Groove Academy. Groove Academy was the concert division we set up pre-Giant Step where we presented artists from the funk and soul era. Over the course of our run as Groove Academy, we put on shows with acts like the JB’s, Bobby Byrd, and Bootsy Collins, so to have George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars for our first anniversary was kind of like reaching the motherland – or should I say, Mothership.

We decided to go big and chose the iconic Palladium in New York as our venue, which is now a PC Richards and an NYU dorm. The venue held about 3000 people.

The line up also included Brand New Heavies, who we’d recently done a debut show with a couple months earlier. As a special guest, we had Blowfly. Blowfly is Clarence Reid from Florida who would dress up in a mask and cape and perform X-rated versions of well-known songs. To note, he is also a well-respected writer of tracks for Betty Wright, Sam & Dave, and Gwen McCrae, amongst others.

Blowfly was the opening act. We didn’t really have the budget to bring his band out, so we asked the Brand New Heavies if they’d be the backing band; they said “yes,” but to be honest they didn’t know much about his act. They all had a quick chat pre-show where Blowfly explained he would be doing his version of certain soul classics like Otis Redding’s “Sitting on The Dock Of The Bay” and KC & The Sunshine Band’s “That’s The Way I Like It.” I think the only member of the Heavies who actually knew about Blowfly, his unique XXX rated lyrics, and that he was a respected songwriter in his own right was N’Dea Davenport, the singer. 


We started off the show, and Blowfly came out with the Brand New Heavies as the backing band. Blowfly started a monologue, which of course was extremely X-rated with talk about people’s private parts and all sorts of rude stuff. It was part of his show, but I don’t think the Brand New Heavies really understood that. So, as he was talking, telling everyone to go eff themselves and speaking in a misogynistic way about women, the Brand New Heavies were getting more and more embarrassed by being on stage with this guy who they didn’t really even know. And as he’s talking, the band one by one leave the stage out of embarrassment.

Read the rest after the jump

Throwback Thursday: Jamiroquai US Debut Show @ Supper Club – Nov 4, 1993

 

*(2013)_19931104

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein takes it back to Jamiroquai’s US debut! We know you’ve got some Jamiroquai memories – serve ‘em up!

This was Jamiroquai’s US debut. We first became familiar with them in the very early 90s when they released the “Too Young To Die” single on Acid Jazz. Very quickly, they were signed to a major deal on Sony in the UK. This was first artist we worked with from the “acid jazz” scene that really garnered major label interest. You had the Brand New Heavies before that, but this was huge – it was a massive, massive deal.

The album came out in the UK; it was a double album called Emergency On Planet Earth and it went straight to number one – #1 in Europe, #1 in Japan – massive. Keep in mind that before this all happened, the type of music we were all promoting was underground and not mainstream at all – but this was total mainstream.

With that said, it was then time for Jamiroquai to come to the US. Leading up to the show, the band came out to the states a few times to do bits of promo, and each time they’d come to the club and hang out with us; we got to get to know the guys pretty well.

Read the rest after the jump

Throwback Thursday: Brand New Heavies @ SOBs – May 6, 1991

 

We’re super excited to present our third installment of Throwback Thursday. Today, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein recounts the Brand New Heavies’ debut NYC show.

This was the first of about four shows we did with Brand New Heavies. They were just about to release their debut album here on Delicious Vinyl; the original version was released on Acid Jazz in the UK.

We were playing The Brand New Heavies at Giant Step for quite a while. “A Dream Come True” originally came out with Jay Ella Ruth on vocals. But when the band signed to Delicious Vinyl in the United States, they decided to have N’Dea Davenport (another Delicious signee) become the vocalist.

They re-recorded some tracks like “A Dream Come True” for the American album version, and N’Dea definitely gave it a funkier sound. Also, “Never Stop” was an instrumental on the original album; when they recorded it for America, they had N’Dea sing on it.

This first New York show paired with an American debut album on the way got the band quite a big buzz. The show sold out. The who’s who of downtown New York were there – everybody wanted to see The Brand New Heavies. The place was packed, and people went bananas. It was a very energetic, memorable show

An aside – people might notice that we presented the show under the name Groove Academy at that time; This was because we wanted Giant Step as a club to stand alone and Groove Academy was the name were using for concerts back then.

The album came out and “Never Stop” was a radio hit. The following summer we had them play at our first anniversary show at The Palladium with Parliament Funkadelic headlining; The Brand New Heavies opened up and backed Blowfly as well – that’s a story for another time. [laughs]

Exclusive Interview: Brand New Heavies Move ‘Forward’

 

by Jennifer Parker

Famed London acid jazz group the Brand New Heavies are set to make heads turn with their latest studio record in almost seven years, Forward, which drops tomorrow. Jan Kincaid, Simon Bartholomew and Andrew Levy, as well as original vocal contributor N’Dea Davenport and Dawn Joseph, a new vocalist, create a high energy funk and soul groove with a twist of disco. If anything, BNH is indefatigable – they’re constantly touring and always on the road. Check out what Jan Kincaid had to say:

On getting back in the recording game after an almost seven-year hiatus:

We were really motivated by a sense of frustration. We had been on the road for a long time and were reinventing our business, changing management, and many of us were starting families. So we were extremely productive. We have a live album but a studio record was long, long overdue. We were more than ready to go forward, but our frustration was the motivating factor. The title of the album is a reflection on moving forward into the new millennium. We’re the same band, but this album is a fresh outlook. And it’s uplifting.

On people’s different reactions to funk music:

You can see a lot of new people coming into funk, especially a lot of young people. It seems there’s a lot of interest in NY, especially in the Afrobeat scene. But it’s mainly young people interested in the music – it’s accessible, dynamic, exciting, and people can feel it. If you look at today’s pop music and alternative, funk is the antithesis of that. As much as people want to plug into the matrix and be a part of the machine, there’s a lot of people who want something more real.

Read more after the jump