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

 

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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.

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

 

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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.

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Throwback Thursday: Giant Step @ Mr. C’s, Los Angeles – Sep 14, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein talks about bringing our legendary Giant Step club to Los Angeles! Were you on the west coast for one of these? Let us know what you remember!

This was the debut of Giant Step Los Angeles, which we held as a bi-monthly for a few months. We teamed up with Brass – the equivalent of Giant Step in Los Angeles or our LA kindred spirits, you could say. Brass was run by Orlando Aguillen, Daz, Blackurn, and Marques Wyatt.

When we came out, we brought with us Jazzy Nice, our emcee Jamal Ski, and Richard Worth on flute – all were part of the Giant Step crew. Camella Ehlke of Triple 5 Soul acted as our fashion muse and styled everyone at the time.

It was great, and the first time I really got to see the scene in Los Angeles. We saw how positively people were responding to the music out there and realized the opportunity to grow this on a national level.

The Los Angeles crowd was a little more laid back than NYC. Another thing I remember is that everything closed so early – the party ended at 2AM. For our club in NYC, 1:30AM is when everyone would arrive – we’d open the doors at 11PM, but it wasn’t really until 1:30AM that the party would start. 1:30 to 3:30, 4AM – that was the real time to be at our party in NYC. But for this LA event, everything was pretty much winding down at 1:30AM. So, getting into the difference of the rhythm was interesting.

The overall vibe was great – great dancers, really wonderful people. I was very impressed.

Throwback Thursday: Groove Collective Debut Album Release Party @ AKA – March 25, 1994

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein shares a funny story about the Groove Collective debut album release party in 1994. Chime in with your memories from the evening!

Groove Collective’s debut album came out on Reprise, which was part of Warner Brothers Records – we had the record release party planned for that same spring. The event was to be held at AKA where the band kept their Friday night weekly residency.

Funny enough, the show never actually happened; the fire marshal shut it down because we had so many people trying to get in. We were over capacity inside the venue and there were still hundreds of people waiting outside. It still ended up being a great way to celebrate the album coming out, though – having a crowd so big that it all got shut down.

Throwback Thursday: Groove Collective Live Recording Session @ Clinton Recording Studios – June 25, 1993

 

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For today’s Throwback Thursday Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein shares his memories on Groove Collective’s 1993 live recording event for their debut album. What do folks remember about these early Giant Step staples? Let us know!

Groove Collective was a band who grew out of the crew of musicians who jammed with our DJs at the Giant Step club. From there, we started managing the band and between the weekly club and their shows created a huge buzz and eventually got them signed to Reprise Records.

When it came time to put together the album, the idea was to capture the essence of Groove Collective’s live show experience since that’s what they were all about. We actually used to do shows with them every Friday at Sybarite on Wooster Street, and then moved the shows over to AKA on Houston Street where they continued the residency.

The album was recorded in three parts; we first did a live recording at the Giant Step club at Metropolis Café where the full band played with DJs Jazzy Nice and Smash and a mobile recording truck parked outside. The next day we held a live recording session at Clinton Recording Studios where we invited an audience of friends to help create the live show atmosphere. Finally, we mixed everything down, tracked it all and added overdubs at River Sound, the studio owned by Donald Fagan and Gary Katz of Steely Dan fame.

Gary Katz was instrumental in getting us signed to Reprise and produced the album, too. And Elliot Scheiner, who worked with Steely Dan and Eagles amongst other artists, mixed the album. They both did a great job of capturing the experience of a Groove Collective and Giant Step party while translating it into an album, too.