by Ryan Snyder


It takes a Funky Nation of millions to hold Big Sam back

Everyone loves chocolate milk, except maybe those with an unfortunate biological aversion, so it’s only natural to expect good things from a band whose drummer bears that very name. With Chocolate Milk on the skins and a prominent Dirty Dozen Brass Band alum leading the way, Big Sam’s Funky Nation ( is bringing the best of New Orleans to the Blind Tiger on Friday. Trombonist Big Sam Williams presides over this jambalayahot six-piece jazz and funk outfit that also includes bass, guitar, keys and trumpet that blends searing grooves with MC-style calland-response. They tend to venture into other musical avenues, however, and have been known to explore the brassy sides of acid rock and punk when they really get cooking. They’ve made their names as festival favorites, but the small-venue shows like this one are where their boisterous noises truly shine. Williams and his band are masters of not only blistering brass chops, but his infectious second-lines (a uniquely New Orleans style of street-dance) are always assured of bringing the crowd into the show both physically and emotionally. Admission for the show is $8 and is scheduled to start at 10 p.m.

High Point celebrates 150 all year long!

I’ve heard of folks having a weeklong birthday celebration, but the city of High Point is taking that a little bit to the extreme by stretching out the observance of their 150th birthday over an entire year. But then again, who doesn’t love a good party, particularly when it culminates with a day of great food and free music and crafts? The High Point International Festival, where this is all going down, will take place on Saturday on the 200 block of East Commerce Avenue from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the spirit of this week’s world tour of funk, the festival will be headlined by Asheville’s Afromotive (, an eight-piece (not the KFC kind) orchestra that fuses Afrobeat, funk and jazz into irresistible dance beats. Not to be outdone in sheer numbers, West End Mambo ( goes 10 strong with their lineup of Cubano jazz and salsa and will be performing earlier in the day. Also appearing are the steel drums of the Jonathan Scales Band (, the Donna Hughes Band ( and the Wally West Little Big Band ( The event is free for all ages and will include plenty of food vendors and a beer garden. You need some soul, come on get some

This must be the all-funk edition of my weekly music forecast. With all due respect to Jonathan Timber and Evan Olson, the top two finishers in YES! Weekly’s Best of the Triad vocalist category, there’s another man worthy of the top spot in my eyes (and ears). His name is Jeremy Johnson and while doing his best Godfather of Soul impersonation, he heads up a seven-piece funk outfit comprised of some of the best young jazz hounds in the area. The Soul Brothers Band ( will play Greene Street this Saturday, offering a dynamic rhythm section to go along with a groovy brass complement that throws out some of the best honest-to-God renditions of James Brown’s greatest hits like “Sex Machine,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Feel Good.” Johnson channels Brown as well as anyone possibly could with his gritty articulation, commanding stage presence and the genuine enthusiasm for performing that only the best possess. Doors open at 10 p.m. and tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the day of the show. Acoustic R&B band Goose ( johngoose) will open the show.