Levitt Pavilion, in the heart of Down Town Arlington, is filled with music-goers and their families. Levitt is an outdoor pavilion that offers FREE live music all summer long, and I figured Big Sam’s Funky Nation was the show to check it out.
I’d only ever been to Arlington for Texas Rangers’ games or one of the amusement parks. But after this show, Levitt Pavilion will definitely be one such amusement park on my list! Let me paint the scene for you; Levitt lists capacity on their website at 2,500, which would easily quantify the patronage for Funky Nation. Almost completely full, Levitt Pavilion housed families with lawn chairs and blankets, seemingly arriving way before my friends and I did (30 mins before performance) to snag a great spot.
We start at the back, not wanting to upset these nice families who have waited, but the Upbeat, Funk/Rock seemed to be lost on all but the small children. As expected the music was excellent, but it was a family-type function, which made for significantly less Funk-tion.
“Big Sam” Williams, a New Orleans Trombonist/Singer/Band Leader, got his start with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the age of 19. After one year with the Dirty Dozen, Williams began a broadening his musical goals. Big Sam played with Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint in 2006 on their Grammy-nominated "The River in Reverse" album and ensuing international tour. Big Sam's Funky Nation has become his main band, touring nationally, internationally, and at major festivals such as Bannaroo, Gathering of the Vibes, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Voodoo Music Experience, South by Southwest, & Austin City Limits.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation describes their sound as a “signature Noladelic Powerfunk sound masterfully combin[ing] a rock sensibility with improv-style associated with jazz and the horn-heavy front section that’s the hallmark of big band funk.”
In my opinion the highlight of the show was, after the band had left the stage, our music-going group started to chant the Parliament lyrics “We want the funk, gotta have that funk!”. The band came back out for an encore performance which combined of several songs; “The Treme Song”, “Everybody Needs Somebody”, and a special shout out to yours truly with the camera-phone “You Better Tweet About Me”. They invited people from the audience up on stage, and what had started out as an encore, quickly became a dance party!
All and all, this was a great, did I mention FREE, community event put on by Levitt Pavilion and the city of Arlington. I’d highly recommend catching some more of those shows, I know I will, and will keep ya’ll updated on what will be playing when.
Thanks Big Sam and Funky Nation for a funky good time, and keep on jammin’ my friends!