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.

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]