It was a full house for the finale of the Club 1200 series, sedately sitting at their cocktail tables with drink and food service, when New Orleans-based Big Sam’s Funky Nation took the stage on Saturday night. Drummer Chocolate MILK, guitarist Andrew Bock and bass player Eric Vogel started with a groove before lead men Big Sam Williams on trombone and Andrew Baham on trumpet joined them.
The opening number was quickly followed by the James Brown classic “Get On Up” and Williams and Baham threw it out like a demand to the crowd. The narrow space in front quickly filled up and there was barely a butt in a seat as they pressed the crowd to come closer. With the exception of a slower interlude about halfway through the show, that dance floor stayed full, as those still at their tables stood at the high points of the show and sat to catch their breath for the rest.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation was polished and tight and the repertoire was a solid line-up of funk classics with an occasional original, including the “Funky Donkey” from the band’s EP of the same name. Each musician had mutliple solos and points to show off, particulary the back-up musicians. Vogel stood out with a bass riff that veered into melodic guitar noodle. Though Williams and Baham led with horns and vocals and dance moves that fed off each other, it was Williams who started the show closer with a trombone solo that ended with a stage full of the ladies from the audience, close to 30 dancing on the small platform with the band.