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Jazz Fest Spotlight: Funk, Latin, and “Blue-Eyed Soul”

Big Sam’s Funky Nation

Fronted by Sammie “Big Sam” Williams, Big Sam’s Funky Nation is about the funk. We’re talking peel-the-paint-off-the-walls funk. “He’s got the chops of Louis, the charisma of Dizzy, the oomph of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band,” says Rachel Levitan of Formerly of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Big Sam and his trombone deliver solos that get the crowd on its feet. The band is tight, but Big Sam leaves plenty of room for improv and excitement. Making up the Funky Nation with Big Sam are Andrew Baham on Trumpet/Vocals/Keys, Andrew Block on Guitar, Chocolate MILK on Drums, and Eric Vogel on Bass. Catch Big Sam’s Funky Nation at 1:55pm on the Congo Square Stage on Saturday, May 5th.

Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A.

Cuba comes to New Orleans with Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A. Together now for 15 years, Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero played electric thrash music back in the 90s, but couldn’t develop a following. They switched to acoustic and have never looked back. Sanchez and Quintero blend a number of latin styles, ranging from Spanish and general European to Mexican. Their latest CD, Area 51, explores the Cuban sound—it was recorded in Havana with a full orchestra. The duo still riff off each other as if they’re on a street corner, and not big stages. And the big stage is where they’ll be, as they close out the Gentilly Stage on May 4th, 5:35pm.

Eric Lindell

Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Eric Lindell came to New Orleans in 1999. He connected with well-known locals such as Johnny Vidocavich, as well as Stanton Moore and Ivan Neville. Lindell’s first CD was released in 2006 on Alligator. He was characterized as “blue-eyed soul,” a term that usually translates to “white boy who can sing the blues.” His tunes are a mix of R&B, funk, swamp pop, and true blues. Lindell has toured worldwide, appeared on late-night television, and one of his songs was used in an episode of the TV-drama, “Boston Legal.” He’ll be performing in the Blues Tent at 3pm on Friday, April 27th.

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