Near the End for City Opera
Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Carnegie Hall

Export NOLA at Hill Country

by Brian Weidy

Big Sam's Funky Nation
(photo by Dino Perrucci)

Every year as the APAP conference rolls through New York, dozens of showcases come with it. This year was no exception, as I found myself at one of my favorite barbecue restaurants in the city, Hill Country, for their annual Export NOLA showcase, featuring the incredibly talented Big Sam's Funky Nation.

The highly entertaining and engaging "Big" Sam Williams, formerly of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, is trombonist and band leader of this five-piece outfit.  Genre-wise, the band fluctuates between funk and rock while incorporating everything from traditonal jazz to hip-hop influences, creating their own brand of what they call "Noladelic Powerfunk."

As the band took the stage to a sample of Continent No. 6's "Afromerica," the band began dancing around on stage while laying down an even funkier line on top.  They then launched into a medley of classic funk songs including "I Don't Know What You've Come To Do" and "Funkify Your Life," among others.

One thing that makes Big Sam so entertaining is his lively interplay with trumpet player Andrew Baham, which makes the audience in turn want to dance. In a way, his show is reminiscent of Trombone Shorty, another member of the new wave of New Orleans funk trombonists who have incorporated hip-hop influences into their music.

The band's hour-and-a-half set closed with a blistering run including a bass solo of Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music White Boy" and a cover of "Hard to Handle," followed by a Hip-Hop medley which eventually snaked its way into a mashup of Adele's "Rollin in the Deep" and The Isley Brothers "Shout."

Openers included Mia Borders and Amanda Shaw, and the evening was closed down by the Stooges Brass Band.