The Orion

New Orleans-based band to bring funk to Chico

Big+Sam+on+stage+at+a+festival%2C+getting+lost+in+the+music.+Photo+courtesy+of+Any+Goetz
Big Sam on stage at a festival, getting lost in the music. Photo courtesy of Any Goetz

Big Sam on stage at a festival, getting lost in the music. Photo courtesy of Any Goetz

Big Sam on stage at a festival, getting lost in the music. Photo courtesy of Any Goetz

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Let there be funk.

If you have any plans this Saturday — cancel them. Extravagant dinner party with friends? Reschedule. Bae’s birthday bash? There’s always next year … probably. Netflix and chill? I hope you’re joking.

This weekend don’t miss the chance to avoid the typical bar scene, house party and another average Saturday night. Something is coming to town in the form of furious funk from New Orleans — the birthplace of jazz.

Big Sam’s Funky Nation has been all over the globe — Japan, Germany, Europe — touring nonstop for the last six years. And on March 19, they are going to be bringing some heat to Lost on Main in downtown Chico.

This group is like no other funk group to play the stages of Chico. Combining the backbone elements of jazz — the hot horn section, the groovy bass lines, the jiving wah-wah guitar — with a mandatory sense of get-the-hell-up-from-your-seat and shred-this-dance-floor-with-everyone-else vibes.

“It’s high-energy, feel good music,” said Big Sam Williams, bandleader, in a recent phone interview. “It’s a combination of power-funk, Morris Day and Prince. It’s a good time.”

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Big Sam's Funky Nation stands proud as a group. Photo courtesy of Matt Kelly

Williams, his stage name being “Big Sam,” is the quintet’s bandleader, wielding a slide trombone and bringing a force of funk to every venue he and his band plays. Throughout his career Williams has shared the stage with popular acts including U2, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic, Green Day and many others.

Born and raised in New Orleans, Williams began making music a passion from a very young age. In middle school, after discovering he was too tall and too big to play basketball with the kids in his age group, he turned his attention to playing in the marching band.

“Marching bands out here in the South are real popular,” he said. “The band instructor put a trombone in my hand and the rest is history.”

For the next few years Williams began to develop a love for the instrument and discovered he had a natural talent for music. In the 10th grade, after his mother bought him an album from the New Orleans group The Dirty Dozen called “Ear to the Wall,” funk became a big part of his teenage life.

Williams was so inspired by the record he decided he wanted to play music professionally. He also decided that one day he was going to share the stage with the group, playing his trombone with The Dirty Dozen, the funk legends of the New Orleans music scene.

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Big Sam stands outside of an event venue, taking it all in. Photo courtesy of Matt Kelly

Only a few years later, at the age of 19, his dreams became a reality.

“Those were my idols,” Williams said. “I played with The Dirty Dozen for four years before attempting to put something together on my own.”

Big Sam’s Funky Nation is the contagious funk thunderstorm, the musical culmination that Williams and his bandmates have put together.

“It’s a good time, going to a different city, meeting new people and seeing how different crowds react to your music,” he said. “No matter where we go, even if we don’t speak the same language, people just want to have a good time. Music is a truly universal language.”

Big Sam’s Funky Nation plays Lost On Main on March 19. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are available at the door. Visit lostonmainchico.com or bigsamsfunkynation.com for more information.

Matthew Manfredi can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewmanfredi on Twitter.

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New Orleans-based band to bring funk to Chico