The Orion

Big Sam’s Funky Nation brings Noladelic Funk to national relevance

Sam+%E2%80%9CBig+Sam%E2%80%9D+Williams+courtesy+of+Matt+Kelly+and+Michael+J.+Media.
Sam “Big Sam” Williams courtesy of Matt Kelly and Michael J. Media.

Sam “Big Sam” Williams courtesy of Matt Kelly and Michael J. Media.

Sam “Big Sam” Williams courtesy of Matt Kelly and Michael J. Media.

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New Orleans boasts an impressive roster of homegrown talent, including Jazz legends like Louis Armstrong, the Marsalis Brothers as well as current mainstream acts like Harry Connick Jr. and Frank Ocean.

Adding to the list, Sam “Big Sam” Williams, founder and band leader of Big Sam’s Funky Nation, has already etched his name among New Orleans greats. Williams is best known for his contributions as the essential pioneer of Noladelic Funk, a harmonious blend of hip-hop, soul, R&B, and urban funk.

2009 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Sam “Big Sam” Williams at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Photo courtesy of Andy Goetz, Matt Kelly and Michael J. Media.

 

Identifying his uncanny connection to music at an early age, Williams immersed himself within his hometown’s rich musical culture. During his teenage years, he joined the John F. Kennedy High School Marching Band, where he first began to hone his craft on trombone.

Eventually, Williams transitioned to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), which serves as the premier pre-professional arts training center in the U.S.

“It’s a great, surreal feeling,” Williams said. “With Louis Armstrong, Alan Toussaint, The Meters and Dirty Dozen Brass Band—you’ve got all of these great bands that come from New Orleans who are cats that I grew up listening to. Just to be inserted into that list of amazing musicians is an honor.”

At the age of 19, Williams and his devotion to New Orleans earned him a spot touring with one of his longtime influences, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. After four celebrated years of touring with the Dirty Dozen, Williams made the decision to place his own band, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, as his principal pursuit. Here, Williams gathered the talents of former classmates whose sound he knew would fit his unique vision.

Big Sam.jpg

Matt Kelly/Michael J. Media

 

In concert, the band packs a punch, delivering an upbeat party atmosphere to fans across the nation. Funky Nation concertgoers can expect to be an integral part of the show, as Williams admits their performances are all about building a repertoire with fans.

“I want the fans to have a great time and enjoy themselves. It’s not about what we want, it’s about what the fans want,” Williams said. “We want to get you involved in the show, have fun with you at the show. It’s all about hanging out and getting to know each other.”

Big Sam’s Funky Nation is currently embarking on a profound touring schedule through the end of the month, which included a stop in Chico on Oct. 15. In addition to performing live shows, Williams is simultaneously putting the finishing touches on an album coming out early next year.

Music connoisseurs can expect to see the growth of Noladelic Funk continue as the transcendent performer shows no signs of slowing down.

“I don’t want to do anything else in the world but music,” confesses Williams. “Music is what drives me.”

Tour dates and more information can be found on Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s website and Facebook page.

Rylee Pedotti can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.

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Big Sam’s Funky Nation brings Noladelic Funk to national relevance