Big Sam’s Funky Nation and Savants of Soul Perform at the High Dive

written by Greg Gargs Allard

photography by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

Funk, dancing and fun was on tap in Gainesville Friday as New Orleans-based Big Sam’s Funky Nation displayed their expert musicianship and party attitude for all to experience at the High Dive.

Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

While walking about the venue and carrying in their instruments prior to going on after a strong performance by The Savants of Soul, the members of Big Sam’s Funky Nation looked more like a former football team getting together for a reunion than a professional music outfit, but from the start of the first bass line, it was clear that these were instead highly empowered incarnations and sound vessels of the ethereal roots of rock n’ roll, whose spirit still blows in the winds of the Bayou and the Big Easy.

Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

That penetrating magic has blessed these five men led by Big Sam Williams, great grandson of Jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden, making them, as far as this music journalist is concerned, music royalty.

Forget the lyrics, which are fun enough and beckon many of the women of the crowd to get on stage and shake their booties according to Big Sam’s direction during songs like “Funkey Donkey” – it’s those possessed horns (the magnetic Sam Williams on slide trombone and Andrew “Da Phessah” Baham  on trumpet), that incredible driving bass (Jerry Henderson) that can make the most sedated acid rocker want to get up and move , the Prince-like guitar playing of Joshua Connely and the thunderclap drums of Chocolate Milk all coming together in a tight-knit force of electric nature that would give the best funk bands of the early and mid-seventies a good run for their money.

Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

After a great hour of Motown, early rock, hip hop, soul and ska from Gainesville’s own energetic 10-piece band The Savants of Soul, the baton was passed to Big Sam and company, making the lengthy night out one concert-goers would not regret or forget.

Savants of Soul Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

Savants of Soul
Photo by Japa Magyer of Outdoor FL Creations

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