By Andy J. Gordon
On a cold, rainy night in Hermosa Beach, Big Sam Williams brought a New Orleans style party to a soggy, but lively crowd. Big Sam’s Funky Nation plays rock, dance, funk, and soul music. The focus of the show is on having fun – everything begins and ends with the boundless energy of Big Sam. When he isn’t playing the trombone or singing, he is dancing across the stage and imploring the audience to join in on the fun. His energy is infectious and the crowd at Saint Rocke seemed to be bouncing off the walls while they enjoyed the funky good time.
Big Sam is definitely the center of attention, but that does not mean he is the only talented musician in the band (www.bigsamsfunkynation.com.) Fellow vocalist and trumpet player, Andrew Baham, played some great solos and duets with Williams. Guitarist Takeshi Shimmura laid down some riffs and solos that were reminiscent of funk legend Leo Nocentelli. Desmond “Milk” Williams on drums and Eric Vogel on bass drove a solid rhythm groove. Together they formed a team that was determined to bring a festive party atmosphere to the crowd.
The band opened the show with “King of the Party,” which is also the name of their most recent album. They played other up-tempo songs from the recent album like “Big Ole Booty” and “See Me Dance.” The party theme continued with the crowd dancing to a mash up of the Isley Brother’s “It’s Your Thing” and the Meter’s “Just Kissed My Baby.” The band continued to pay tribute to their New Orleans roots while giving it the Funky Nation treatment on the Meter’s “Hey Pocky a-Way” and closed the show with a rousing “When the Saints Come Marching In.” Williams and his fun loving band gave a festive performance that sent the crowd home tapping their feet. It was definitely a funky good time when “King of the Party” Big Sam Williams came to town.
Photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon