In the undisputed birthplace of jazz — grand old New Orleans — there's a brass-band tradition called the "second line." On random Sundays and during Mardi Gras or other celebrations, a group of people without a parade permit gathers to blow horns, twirl parasols, and strut through the streets of the French Quarter, Tremé, or Mid-City. Why? Just for the hell of it.
Born and bred in the Big Easy, trumpet player Big Sam Williams is a lifelong member of the second line. He's an expert horn blower who has performed with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Elvis Costello, and Allen Toussaint. And though Williams doesn't typically touch a parasol, he shuffles and sidesteps between solos.
Beyond gigging for hire, he has led his own crew, Big Sam's Funky Nation, since 2001. It's a big band with only five parts: trombone, trumpet, guitar, bass, and drums. The groove is deep and the vibe is pure party. So when the Funky Nation rolls into town this Friday for Tobacco Road's 98th anniversary, expect fat riffs, scattered tail feathers, and Big Sam shouting, "Shake it! Don't break it!"
Big Sam's Funky Nation
With the Heavy Pets, AfroKumbe, Jahfe, Tilt, and Jay Blue's Band as part of the Tobacco Road 98-Year Anniversary Party. 6 p.m. Friday, November 19, at Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-374-1198; tobacco-road.com. Tickets cost $10. Ages 21 and up.
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Now go slip into that second line.