Pittsburgh's '80s funk band The Assignment gets new life from Internet interest 

One seller on Discogs.com had a copy of "Jammin' to the Beat" on vinyl priced at $40

click to enlarge Still jammin': Kim and Bill Gandy
  • Still jammin': Kim and Bill Gandy

Bill and Kim Gandy are North Siders through and through: He grew up in Northview Heights, she in Spring Hill, they met at Perry High in the mid-'80s, played in a band together and eventually got married. They moved to Connecticut in 1996 "to try to start a normal life," Bill explains — "but the music just kept coming back." They've been in music in one form or another since, as promoters, players and producers; they moved to Indiana for a time, then back to Pittsburgh five years ago. But they hadn't thought much about their group from their early days on the North Side, The Assignment, until just a couple weeks ago.

"My son and I were talking," explains Bill. "I was talking about professionalism in our band. You know how parents do that — talking about professionalism in our day. And he said, ‘Well, what's the name of one of your songs?' And I said, ‘Jammin' to the Beat.' So he types it in [to Google], and it appeared everywhere! The first 20 posts — about The Assignment, ‘Jammin' to the Beat.'"

It seems The Assignment, unbeknownst to Bill and Kim or any of the other musicians who were in and out of the band during its four-year run, had taken on a new life via the web. At the time, The Assignment got a little ink in Right On! and Billboard, but never broken out in a big way. In recent years, though, music blogs specializing in '80s electro-boogie have written about the band and its lead single as a lost classic (and shared the track as an MP3). One seller on Discogs.com had a copy of "Jammin' to the Beat" on vinyl priced at $40.

The Gandys are still figuring out how to handle the newfound interest in their old, Minneapolis-sound-inspired music. They might re-press the single; in the meantime, their current project is the Allegheny City Historic Gallery. They're working with Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris to open a gallery of collected historical photos from the North Side, to occupy a space on East Ohio Street.


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