Fri, Feb 28, at 8 pm | Dance Cabaret Doors Open at 7 pm
If you can’t get to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras, let it come to you. Big Sam’s Funky Nation will preside over a pre-Mardi Gras dance party on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, in Jorgensen’s award-winning Cabaret in Storrs. Doors will open at 7 p.m. for food and cash bar, and the funk will start at 8 p.m.
Big Sam Williams and his Funky Nation is “tight enough (and hot enough) to turn coal into a diamond,” exclaims Ryan White of the Oregonian. The band is a driving force of urban funk led by the renowned New Orleans trombone powerhouse.
Williams was once the trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The San Francisco Chronicle calls him “the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of jazz.” He regularly appeared on the HBO Original Series Treme, the post-Katrina character study of New Orleans that ended in a fourth season late last year. Williams and other Big Easy talents contributed to a portrait of a place that was as much about music as cuisine and culture, power and corruption.
In 2006, Williams played with Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint on their Grammy-nominated The River in Reverse album and subsequent international tour.
In the 2000s, Big Sam’s Funky Nation became Williams’ main band, touring in the U.S. and abroad and appearing at the big festivals, such as Bonnaroo, Gathering of the Vibes, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Voodoo Music Experience and South by Southwest. The group is making only the UConn stop and one in New York before going back to the Southwest and to Madrid in March. Funky Nation recordings include Funky Donkey (2012), King of the Party (2010), Peace Love & Understanding (2008), Take Me Back (2006) and Birth of a Nation (2003).
Big Sam’s Funky Nation sends up a dead-center funk and rock sound spiced with some traditional and contemporary jazz, hard rock and punk. But Big Sam is as much about dance as he is sound; he will urge the crowd to get on their feet and join the energetic vibe of the band’s solos, his distinctive trombone riffs and his signature dance moves.
The concert is sponsored by New England Public Radio, and co-sponsored by the H. Fred Simon African American Cultural Center.
Jorgensen was named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers’ Poll for both 2012 and 2013.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Doors open at 7 p.m. Sandwiches, dessert, alcohol and other beverages can be purchased before the show (cash only). Or pre-orders can be placed at www.jorgensen.uconn.edu. Ticket prices are $35 for table seating, $30 orchestra, $27 mezzanine and $25 balcony, with some discounts. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., or order online at jorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient, free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.