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.

Read the rest after the jump

Throwback Thursday: The Very First ‘Giant Step’ @ SOBs – September 24, 1990

 

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As we approach the 23rd anniversary of the very first Giant Step club, it’s only fitting that we highlight the historic night for this week’s Throwback Thursday! Join our President/CEO Maurice Bernstein as he takes us back to September 24, 1990 at SOBs. Were you one of the few that were with us in those early days? Tell us what you remember!

This was the very first flyer for Giant Step. After the success of the Groove Academy shows in the summer of 1990, our goal was to set up a weekly party that focused on the jazz and dance movement that we were familiar with in London. We were very influenced by Dingwall’s Sunday party and The Wag Club, which I used to go to when I lived in London and Jonathan Rudnick (Giant Step co-founder) had visited as well.

But we didn’t want to just do a straight version of that; we wanted to bring in the elements that were fundamental to New York – one being hip-hop music – so, we decided to mix jazz and hip-hop together. However, there was very little music like that at that time – there was Tribe that was mixing jazz with some of their hip-hop and Gang Starr had just done “Jazz Thing.” It was also tough to find DJs who really knew how to play the music and make people dance, plus there weren’t really records

I ended up picking DJ Smash who I used go hear at Save The Robots, which was a famous after hours in New York in the 80′s. What I liked about Smash was his amazing music sensibility and knowledge, as well as his ability to mix anything, which is something that British DJs didn’t really have the ability to do. He was able to take original jazz records and mix them with hip-hop – exactly what we needed.

We were given Mondays by SOBs because it was a dead night for them. If I remember correctly, our original night had more people working than actual guests. Cool to note: there are in fact a few people who came to the opening who still come to Giant Step parties – Michael July is one of them. A lot of people claim to have been there in the early days, but I remember every single person that was there the first night because there weren’t that many of them.

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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]

Throwback Thursday: Gangstarr & Masta Ace @ SOBs – Dec 17, 1990

 

Today, we continue with our new Throwback Thursday series! Join us as we dig into our archive of flyers to give you the lowdown on the get down from back in the day. In case you missed it, last week we covered a show with The Roots from 1994.

This week, Giant Step President and CEO Maurice Bernstein shares the background on a 1990 show with Gangstarr and Masta Ace in 1990.

That was Giant Step’s Christmas party. We started the Giant Step weekly club in September of 1990 on Mondays at SOBs with the resident DJ as DJ Smash. Occasionally Jazzy Nice played as well. And to be totally honest, it was not an instant hit at all. We kind of struggled through the fall and the early winter; A lot of times, we’d have more musicians on stage than we’d have people in the actual crowd.

We managed to get the opportunity through Gangstarr’s managers, Patrick Moxey and Neale Easterby. Patrick now runs Ultra Records and Neale is a successful manager in England. I knew those guys and we were very much into Gangstarr because of their music and their song “Jazz Thing” from Mo’ Better Blues. And they said, “Would you want to do a holiday show with Gangstarr, with Masta Ace opening?” Masta Ace was an artist they also managed.

Read more after the jump