Big Sam Wants YOU! in His Funky Nation
Review: Big Sam’s Funky Nation at StageOne 1/5/12, at Infinity Hall 1/8/12
Get your hands in the air, hands in the air! Get em up, get em up! Get your hands in the air!
He’s a drill sergeant, a dancer and Don Juan. He’s the Pied Piper of funk, weaving his way through the audience, trombone pressed to his lips and a conga line of ladies in tow. This is Big Sam Williams whose slide trombone and staccato vocals lead the Funky Nation through a set of beat driven, brass centered, danceable tunes that have everyone on their feet and moving.
Shake yo ass, shake yo ass. Tell your neighbor, “Shake yo ass!”
Sam is building an army of followers, and he wants you in the ranks. He enters with trumpet man Andrew Baham, and the pair dance across the stage in sync. The dance ranks high on enthusiasm and lower on grace, but produces the desired effect. The audience is energized and ready to be drafted. Within minutes, a roomful of weekday warriors are happily raising their hands and shaking their backsides on cue.
At Fairfield’s StageOne venue, the crowd is on their feet, surrounding the stage on three sides. At Norfolk’s Infinity Hall, the side orchestra has been cleared to allow the audience enough room to get funky. At both Connecticut venues, the mood is upbeat and so is the music. The audience is moving and grooving to “Hard to Handle”, “Big Ole Booty” and “Shake that Funky Donkey”. Sam takes a moment to explain just how to shake the donkey, and then it’s right back to dueling brass lines with trombone and trumpet pointed to the sky, raising the roof just a little bit higher. Backed by Andrew Block on guitar, Eric Vogel on bass and Chocolate MILK on steady drums, the horns make this a party to remember.
Get down, get down. Put your ass on the ground. Get down, get down. Everybody down!
Sam has his hands in the air, then his back on the ground. He’s shaking harder, longer and better than you are. In Norfolk he plays “Happy Birthday” to a delighted member of the audience who smiles broadly while her friends applaud. At StageOne, the bandleader pulls every woman onto the stage for the grand finale. A sea of hips sway in unison, and the newfound friends groove to the beat. Sam is the recipient of numerous hugs and an occasional backrub as the set draws to a close.
Two nights of fun and funky, two nights of solid aerobic exercise with Big Sam’s Funky Nation; Sam, have I earned my stripes?
Short video from the StageOne show:
Photographs from both the Fairfield and Norfolk shows:
For more on Big Sam’s Funky Nation, go here.