Oh, Big Sam!! You ripped us up GOOD!!!!
New York City was NOT prepared for what hit it Friday night. How do I know this? Because EVERYONE I know who attended Friday’s show was crying from the pain on Saturday after we danced OUR ASSES OFF!!!! Big Sam’s Funky Nation rolled in hard and strong to Sullivan Hall for the Album Release Party of their fourth studio album, King of the Party this past Friday. OK! I am just going to say it: Big Sam is…STRAIGHT UP…the King of the Party. What an amazing, fun, fantastic performance!
I was unable to make it for the opening acts as I had a previous engagement uptown with a group of my favorite girlfriends. Yes, just sometimes, I make room for things other then music in my life. S0, I quite literally arrived at the venue as the The High & Mighty Brass Band was wrapping up. SORRY H&MBB!!
As I entered the venue, I walked up to the right front of the stage and there they all were; the lovely members of the NYC Funk Live Group who were able to make it out that night. I was immediately bombarded with hugs, introductions and smiles. Apparently, I had missed a hell of an opener as they all seemed energized. My good pal, Russ, says “I wasn’t sure of the set list, but I got this for ya,” as he hands me The High & Mighty Brass Band‘s set list from the stage!!! Enjoy:
High and Might Brass Band’s Set List:
1. Cerole Love Song
2. Ol Girl
3. St. James
4. We Rock, We Roll
5. It’s Alright
6. Island Tune
7. Why Don’t Cha?
9. Big Draws
10. Lil Mary
The first thing I recall about the scene is that it was SUPER hot, as per Sullivan Hall’s usual. The venue had unloaded into the street during the set break and I was able to make my way up front and put my things down after the lovely greetings ceased. At that time The High and Mighty Brass Band decided to make their exit…or was it their segway in for Big Sam’s entrance? Similar to Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra, out came a parade of horns, parasols and tambourines from the side of the stage. They paraded all the way through the venue and out the front door…and then there was Big Sam on stage!
Poor Big Sam started to melt the second he stepped foot on stage but it did nothing to hinder his performance. Wearing a navy blue button up shirt over jeans with a pageboy cap, he was stylin and lookin’ fine…Big (very in shape) and fine!!! Big Sam, on vocals and trombone, was joined on stage that night by his Funky Nation, consisting of:
For his fourth studio album, King of the Party, Big Sam has combined rock, jazz and hip-hop into his already intensely funky styling. Being that this was an album release party we were very excited to hear the new music that Big Sam was ready to fling at us. And he brought an arsenal of music. First things first, a trombone RAGE! Blowing on his trombone as hard as he can, holding the note out and commanding the stage, Big Sam got all our attention. Each musician on stage took thier turn giving us a little samples of their instruments before it was time to get the dance party started.
With a introduction of Up in Here, Lil Liza Jane, a Jazz standard, started us off. It reeked of tradition and the 1920’s, which was lovely. Without stopping a beat, Feelin’ Kinda Funky was getting us all to dance. “I’m feelin’ funky! Are you feelin’ funky,” asks Big Sam. The venue erupts with a scream. Danny Abel caught my eye at this point. What is it about the guitar players that join these horn bands? They are always AMAZING! Danny Abel was good! He was no (insert name of my favorite guitar player here) but he really gave it up when he was let go to solo. FKF ended with a bass rage from Eric Vogel.
Krunked Up! was our first taste of music from his new cd. This song is very modern, a little dirty, and very much not at all what I was expecting to hear that night. It started out a nice little jammy tune, horns and guitar in a nice little jammy beat. The bass was vibrant in this one! “We’re gonna get krunked up tonight!! While we’re dancing on the dance floor, everything is feeling right!” And then BOOM!! Into a rock driven chorus where Big Sam’s voice was converted with a machine sounding similar to T-Pain. Big Sam had definitely dipped his hands in the pool of funk-rock jam with this one.
Covers followed with Sexy M.F. by Prince and Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. Danny stood out again playing the guitar again on these. I honestly can’t stand a sloppy guitar player or one who doesn’t fill all the space with the notes when the time calls for it. Danny put on a smile and he just shredded it when it was his turn to shine and I loved it. There was a great horn battle during Crazy, that had the entire venue jumping. They were turning in circles and dancing around each other; all while playing Prince and Gnarls Barkley. It was funny to me.
So, we were then given a phat tease from Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid in Full, which brought us into the Otis Retting cover, Hardle to Handle. This is also number 7 on Big Sam’s new cd! Upbeat and funk driven, there was a wonderful dance off here between Big Sam and Da Phessah Drew Baham. Without missing a beat, “Who Dat! Who Dat!” was being shouted from the stage. The Saints Chant was next with a great trumpet vs. trombone battle. There is something about that song too! It just makes you want to look to the heavens and smile! Even in that dark, grimy, exhaustively hot Sullivan Hall, my smile was blasting and I felt sunshine in my heart. It’s time like these when I take a look around and I see all my favorite people smiling, laughing, dancing…the real reason music was created…to bring happiness.
“It’s on like Donkey Kong,” someone screams! And Sam returns, “Yeah, You Right!” We were given a second line tease into number 8 off the new cd, Big ‘Ol Booty! And then the horns were alternating blasts, sounding off and leaving way for the guitar and bass to pick it up. “Shake that Big ‘ol booty for me. Shake it, shake it! Don’t you stop!” was Sam’s chant in what was yet another rock laden jam. And yet another a horn heavy song asking us to shake our big ‘ol bootys. Oh, irony!
At this point Big Sam steps up to the microphone and gives a shout out to Treme, a dramatic television series based in New Orleans and meant to take place three month after that bitch, Hurricane Katrina. I have not had a chance to sit down and watch ANYTHING, let alone something that would demand my attention so deeply. I don’t even have HBO, but I will watch this show as I suggest you all do. Aside from the gorgeous story of survival, the soundtrack to the show incorporates different musicians from NOLA. I don’t think I want any distractions when I sit down and watch this one!
The stage begins filling with members of The High & Mighty Brass Band and it was back to tradition with Rebirth Brass Band’s Do Whatcha Wanna horns and drums. And I hear COWBELL!!! It was the perfect segway into Everybody Needs Somebody To Love. I believe this is when I was noticed the High & Mighty Brass Band dancer in the audience with a tambourine. She set it down to dance! Oh yeah, it was on. I always want the tambourine 🙂 I grabbed that son-of-a bitch and then it became just a general RAGE fest. Seriously. I am just going to post Russ’s amazing set list section here:
Chameleon intro —> It’s Your Thing (Isley Brothers) —->Just Kissed My Baby (Meters) —-> Chameleon (Herbie Hancock) —-> Shake What Yo Momma Gave Ya —> Flashlight (G.Clinton) tease during solos —-> Sam teases Freedom Jazz Dance (Miles Davis) during his solo —> No Diggity (Blackstreet) —-> Rebirth of the Slick (Digable Planets) —–> Hip Hop Hooray (Naughty by nature)—–>Rebirth of Slick
Seriously? How does one remember all of that? BIG BIG SHOUT OUT to my funky fine friend, Russ Adgren, who put together a wonderful set list for me, all as the show went down. This man is a music encyclopedia and is a major reason I was able to just kick back and enjoy myself at this performance without taking copious notes!! He will also be hookin the site up with his review of Sharon Jones and the Dap King’s newest CD, I Learned the Hard Way! Keeps your eyes peeled.
Ok, back from our regularly scheduled plugs…
During that whole time of FUNKY NATION raging, The High and Might Brass Band members were taking turns ripping solos. In particular, saxophonist Chad Gales really pulled out a nice one. During It’s Your Thang, 5 horns fronted the stage and blasted in our faces. Big Sam brought the heat for Flashdance! The dancer girl, Jamie Neumann was all over the stage and at some point gained control of the tambourine again. Then Big Sam had it and they danced with each other. Then it was time to sing…Big Sam and Da Phessah singing most of the lyrics and Da Pessah sticking the microphone in my face for parts of No Diggity No Doubt. I got to tell them all I liked the way they worked it!! Hip Hop Hurray brought Danny back into the forefront with another guitar shred.
And the cowbell made it way back into the songs haha.
This whole time I had been focusing on the horn players. Because why not, wouldn’t you? But raging like a monster behind Big Sam and Da Phessah was Drummer Boy Milk Williams! There is a reason your momma tells you to drink your milk. Yes sir!! And his shirt had come off, as had many peoples. I wanted to take off mine but alas, ladies don’t strip in sweaty nasty dance halls….or do they? Man, that sexy, shirtless glass of chocolate milk raged a drum solo that went on for days and days and days. And damn, it kept the dance party going with out all the other musicians. Eric backed him and teased him on the bass and so it went on and on for a good five minutes of solid drumming rage.
Honestly, I don’t ever remember them leaving the stage. I truly don’t. But if Russ says there was an encore then there was. I don’t have the separation into my notes, thanks again for the help my man!! My notes do say, that in that T-Pain style voice, Big Sam said, “Everybody on the dance floor,” and he didn’t mean dancing. He meant down. And down the band went, on their backs kicking their legs in the air. And down we went some on their knees, some on their backs, some legs in the air, most just bent in a squatting position, all smiling!
Big Sam and his Funky Nation, with the help of The High and Mighty Brass Band really whipped the floor clean with us that night. I was not kidding when I said earlier that all my friends were sore the following day. I, myself, had company coming in and another show to attend and the second I tried to stand the following morning my back and legs yelled at me fiercely. There are dance parties and then there are dance parties. The entire venue never stopped dancing for the entire set. It was a rock laden brassy night. A little unexpected, a little expected…all in all, it was a WONDERFUL dance party with friends and I encourage you all not only to buy this fourth album, but the previous three Big Sam and his Funky Nation have previously released!!!!
Big Sam’s Funky Nation Sullivan Hall Set List
1) Up in Here —> Lil Liza Jane —> hey hey hey hey —->Feelin Kinda Funky
2) Krunked Up
3) Sexy Muthafucka (Prince) —> Crazy (Gnarles Barkley)
4) Paid in Full tease into Hard to Handle
6) Second Line Tease into Big Ole Booty
7) Do whatcha wanna —> Everybody Needs Somebody to Love —-> Lighthouse
8) Chameleon intro —> it’s your thing (Isley Brothers) —->just kissed my baby (Meters) —-> chameleon (Herbie Hancock) —-> shake
what yo momma gave ya —>flashlight (G.Clinton) tease during solos —-> Sam teases Freedom Jazz Dance (Miles Davis) during his solo —>
No Diggity (Blackstreet) —-> Rebirth of the Slick (Digable Planets)
—–> Hip Hop Hooray (Naughty by nature)—–>Rebirth of Slick
9) “Long Ass Drum Solo” by Chocolate Milk
10) Up in Here
11) Second Line(!!)
See Me Dance
Robert : Oh I loved it! And whenever I see you, I know the evenings gonna rock.
Best drunk note of the night : BF in NYC = WOOKIE