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]

Maurice Talks the Birth of the Iconic Giant Step Brand

 

The Standard Culture recently conducted a wonderfully thoughtful interview with Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein about the start of Giant Step.

Maurice discusses his early affections for soul and jazz music growing up as a Manchester native, his entry into the NYC music scene and the first Giant Step show as Groove Academy, the launch of Giant Step records and how it relates to the company’s venture into marketing, as well as a couple funny tidbits about a call to Bootsy Collins and a miscalculated road trip.

Read the entire interview on The Standard Culture.

Nickodemus Takes Us Back with His 1995 Giant Step Mixtape

 

Nickodemus takes us way back with his first mixtape he did for Giant Step in 1995 back when we were Groove Academy. Hear and download below as well as get Nickodemus’ nostalgic recollection of a legendary time:

In 1995 I passed on a mix tape to Groove Academy (Giant Step) Marc Labelle at an outdoor stage that was rocking with DJ’s Jazzy Nice, Chillfreeze + Groove Collective & Nappy G live. They soon took me on as a 3rd DJ in the weekly rotation of the legendary Giant Step parties. The club vibes were HOT! There was a mix of hip hop, jazz, funk, live instrumentation, paintings, tap dancers as well as a very funky & sexy dance floor! Needless to say, I was hooked & thanks to Marc, Maurice Bernstein & Jonathan Rudnick, I stayed in the Giant Step crew for many years after. We pushed the sounds from Acid Jazz/funk, Hip Hop/Trip Hop, House & Drum & Bass- all with live musicians taking it to another level. I’ve also had the opportunity to DJ at shows for Jazzmattazz, Tricky, K&D, St Germain, Pharcyde, Groove Collective, Massive Attack, Gil Scott Heron & all the greats who passed through NYC at that time. Here’s the 1st mix-tape I did for Giant Step in 1995. It featured artwork by BLUSTER! #MixTapeDiaries with more mixes & stories continue on www.mixcloud.com/Nickodemus ENJOY & please share this moment in time!

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Remembering Gil Scott-Heron

 

As most now know, the great Gil Scott-Heron passed away late last week. The revolutionary poet, musician, and author has been a long-time favorite of Giant Step, having played many of our earliest shows under the Groove Academy banner in the early 90′s. The image headlining this post is the flyer from our 1992 show. After the jump, you’ll find a few more vintage Giant Step concert flyers from shows we’ve done with Gil; you are welcome to download the flyers and add them to your collection.

Our friends at The Revivalist have put together a beautiful post detailing Gil’s journey and his contributions along the way. We encourage you to give it a read – the man’s influence and reach is both expansive and inspiring.

We would like to leave you with a lovely one-hour mix by Twit One entitled, A Salute to Gil Scott-Heron.

A salute to Gil Scott-Heron by Twit One

more after the jump

The Last Poets & The Black Panthers

If you’re in London on September 11th this year, why not spend the day learning some history with Tongues on Fire: A Tribute to the Black Panthers. The multi-artform event features David Murray, The Last Poets and The Roots at The Barbican. Check out what The Guardian has to say about The Last Poets’ connection to politics in the late ’60s- early ’70s in their article After the Party: Music and The Black Panthers.

Below, listen to a classic track from the Last Poets’ 1970 self-titled album and check out another vintage flyer from the days when The Last Poets were honored performers for The Groove Academy.

The Last Poets – “When the Revolution Comes”