Q&A: Big Sam’s Funky Nation brings New Orleans to the mountains
The New Orleans band Big Sam’s Funky Nation will take over the base of the mountain this weekend for another iteration of the Bud Light Rocks the Boat free concert series.
Known for their eclectic blend of musical genres and their genuine Southern charm, the band promises to keep people up on their feet and moving for the entirety of the show.
Explore Steamboat caught up with Big Sam ahead of this weekend’s concert.
Explore Steamboat: You’re the founder of the band – tell me a little bit about how you guys got started.
‘Big Sam’ Williams: It’s been a while! It was originally a band with a bunch of guys that I went to school with and over the years, it’s changed. But it actually started when I was a part of Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
I got to play with groups like Modest Mouse, Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic. But then I wanted to have my own band, so around that time, I decided to start my own group, which was hard to do when I was on the road with Dirty Dozen for most of the year. But eventually I made the jump and here we are.
ES: In starting your own band, what are you most proud of?
SW: Being able to get my name out there … that’s really hard, especially being a trombone player. It’s rare that you have a trombonist leading the band. Getting people to know who you are and take interest in you — I’m proud of leading my own group and traveling the world playing my music.
ES: How has New Orleans influenced your sound?
SW: New Orleans is my sound! I was born and raised here — but I’ll try to describe it. I like all different genres of music — funk, hip hop, rap, everything. Within my show, I try to incorporate all of that without it being all over the place. I call it a musical gumbo. We try to put everything together and do it well and make up one big pot of gumbo.
ES: Do you have a favorite place to play?
SW: Home. I’ve been all over the world and there’s no place in the world like New Orleans — the food, the culture, the vibe of the crowd. But also, the natives tend to take you for granted because they came up with this music and it’s everywhere.
It’s kind of like you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, but when COVID hit, people were playing music wherever they could — in their driveways — people were loving that and knew they had to keep it going.
ES: You’re known for experiences and making sure the audience is a part of the show — did that happen naturally or did you make a point to work that in to your shows?
SW: It kind of happened naturally because of where I’m from. In New Orleans, we came up playing on the street in the beginning. You’re playing for people who don’t know who you are and you’re playing for tips, so you do anything you can to grab their attention. That transitioned to the stage. It’s all a part of my upbringing.
ES: What can we expect this Saturday?
SW: A good time and a party like no other. When we come through, we want to get the crowd up. We’re very high energy and we like a lot of dancing — so don’t come with your high heels on unless you know how to move in them.
What: Bud Light Rocks the Boat free concert series presents Big Sam’s Funky Nation
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2
Where: Steamboat Resort
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Yampatika, an environmental education nonprofit based in Steamboat Springs, will host its 22nd annual Wild Edible Feast on Thursday evening, May 26, at Aurum Food & Wine.