Big Sam's Funky Nation Brings the Second Line to Tobacco Road's 98-Year Anniversary Party

In the undisputed birthplace of jazz, grand old New Orleans, there's a brass-band tradition called the "second line." On random Sundays, Mardi Gras, or certain other celebratory occasions, a group of people without a parade permit will gather to blow horns, twirl parasols, and strut through the streets of the French Quarter, Treme, or Mid-City. Why? Just for the hell of it.

Born and bred in the Big Easy, trombone player Big Sam Williams is a lifelong member of the second line.

He's an expert horn blower who's performed with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Elvis Costello, and Allen Toussaint. And even though he doesn't typically touch a parasol, Sam will still shuffle and sidestep between solos.

And beyond gigging for hire, Williams 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 tailfeathers, and Big Sam shouting: "Shake it! Don't break it!"

Now go slip into that second line.

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. Friday, November 19. Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 6 p.m. and tickets cost $10. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-374-1198 or visit

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S. Pajot