Throwback Thursday: Los Amigos Invisibles with Brazilian Girls at Irving Plaza – June 4, 2004

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This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to a show we did in 2004 at Irving Plaza with Los Amigos Invisibles and then, up-and-coming Brazilian Girls. Giant Step had worked with both bands for a number of years, and seeing their careers grow and them putting on this fantastic show for us was really amazing. Originally from Venezuela, Los Amigos came together in the early 90s during a time of heavy rock and gave us a refreshing mix of funk and jazz, infused with the best genre ever: DISCO. Brazilian Girls came up from the NuBlu club with a sound that can’t easily be described but is something like electronic music mixed with elements of tango and reggae. As a result, this pairing was an explosive and fun concert that had even the least inclined to jump up and dance.
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Throwback Thursday: Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Mama Zap at Giant Step SummerStage 2001

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With the madness of the holidays behind us and Mother Nature giving us some weather related blues, we thought it would be a nice vacation for the soul to take this Throwback Thursday to revisit a particularly hot and humid summer night with Erykah Badu at Central Park.

There’s something special about summertime in New York. The city slows down and everyone’s a bit more carefree. It’s late in the season, and the long, sweltering days make us hesitant to venture from our little slice of heaven we’ve found in the closest air conditioning. It was a show not to be missed though, and everyone knew the promise of the night would be worth the heaviness in the air. It was August 6, 2001 and those that faced the above and underground temperatures made it to one of the city’s favorite escapes for the SummerStage concert series.

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Throwback Thursday: Jimmy Castor @ SOBs – March 13, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein shares with us about our March 1991 show with Jimmy Castor. What do you remember about this monumental show? Your favorite Jimmy Castor sample?

Jimmy Castor was on our list of artists to track down for our Groove Academy concerts. He was an artist who wasn’t really playing in New York anymore. In fact, this show was his first New York appearance in 10 years.

I don’t exactly remember how I managed to get his phone number. But once I got his number, I called him up and the first thing he said was, “I’d like to meet you.” I remember he drove into New York from New Jersey and we met him at one of those traditional Spanish restaurants next door to the Chelsea Hotel for dinner. He was interested to hear our proposal about a show, but also wanted us to understand where he was in his music career and why he was pretty much retired from the industry and very disillusioned with the business.

After a lot of talking and hearing him do his “Bertha Butt,” “King Kong” and “Troglodyte” voices, and a lot of persuasion, we were able to get him on board along with the “original” Bunch, which was his band. We wanted to hear the whole band do their parts when they performed the song “Potential” at the show.

Although Jimmy hadn’t put out any new music in years, he was, however, heavily sampled. Back then, a few of the many were “Gangsta Gangsta” by N.W.A. sampling “Troglodyte,” “Pump Up The Volume” by M|A|R|R|S, and “Watch Me Now” by Ultramagnetic MCs sampling “It’s Just Begun.” He’d also been working on new music, which he had us hear, including a track called “Firecracker” and one where he rapped about the fact he was heavily sampled.

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Throwback Thursday: Bootsy Collins @ SOBs – Sep 26 & 27, 1990

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein tells us about Bootsy Collins’ fall 1990 shows at SOBs.

We started the Groove Academy shows in June of 1990 with Leon Thomas and The JBs. The JBs featured Maceo Parker, Pee wee Ellis, and Fred Wesley. And after meeting those guys, I was able to meet Bobby Byrd – also a James Brown alumni.

By continuing to put on shows with these artists and building their trust, we came to a place where we were able to ask Bobby’s wife Vicky Anderson if she could give us Bootsy Collins’ number. Bootsy was also an alumni of James Brown plus a member of Funkadelic.

We wanted to bring Bootsy to New York for a show – he hadn’t played New York in 5 years. I didn’t realize that Bootsy was living at home with his mother at the time. So when I called, his mother answered and I said, “Excuse me, is Bootsy there, please?” And she said, “Hold on a second.” She shouted up the stairs, “William! There’s some guy with a strange accent on the phone.”

Bootsy came to the phone and in the trademark Bootsy voice started talking to me. I explained who I was, that Vicky Anderson and Bobby Byrd had given me his number, and that I wanted to know if he’d be interested to coming to New York and doing some shows for us. He said, “Yeah, I need to you speak to my brother, he takes care of all the arrangements.” Bootsy’s brother was Catfish Collins, another James Brown alumni.

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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.

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