Big Sam’s Funky Nation is first up in this summer’s Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing lineup. Here are a few fun facts to prep you before Big Sam and his crew bring their talent to Omaha.
1) Learning from the best
Schools can teach budding musicians how to play, but they can’t teach them how to rock. Big Sam’s Funky Nation picked up their masterful stage control through practice in and exposure to America’s greatest gathering of jazz musicians—New Orleans. Big Sam’s Funky Nation has captured the spirit of New Orleans’s vibrant jazz scene and brought it with them to every venue they play. On top of their jazzy style, the Funky Nation blends funk, rock, and hip-hop into their unique sound.
“By playing these streets, you learn how to work your craft and entertain an audience,” “Big Sam” Williams says. “It comes naturally in New Orleans. I’ve been here my whole life and rocking these streets.”
2) A long, diverse career
Williams has been performing for over two decades. Hundreds of gigs with a variety of groups and performers have molded this band’s lead vocals and trombonist into the performer he is today. The group’s more recent goal was to bring back the musical vigor from jazz’s history without simply repeating it. The result? The 2018 album “Songs in the Key of Funk, Volume 1” featuring six full-length songs inspired by those that inspired Williams.
3) An experience, not just a performance
Audiences of Big Sam’s Funky Nation don’t just have music played at them—they become a part of it. With emphasis on dancing, singing, and partying along, this group is dedicated to keeping the atmosphere high energy.
“When you see us live or listen to our records, we’re all going to have a good time,” Williams says. “That’s what funk is all about. That’s what New Orleans is all about.”