Funk rocker Big Sam Williams’ favourite thing to sing about is women.
“I like to sing about woman, man. How beautiful she is. How she makes you feel, feel good, feel sad, you know? Things you may’ve done to make her feel a certain way, or maybe she made you feel a certain way, but at the end of the day you need each other,” he said.
“Other than that, I like to have a good time. Have some drinks, have a party vibe going on. Who knows what the night holds?”
The larger-than-life frontman of Big Sam’s Funky Nation, whose image was immortalized in HBO’s New Orleans drama Treme, recently released a new album called Evolution. And he’s excited to bring it to the Hume Hotel on August 16.
“Man, it’s a great time every time we come through. Love Nelson. This time round we got the chance to bring out some new songs, plus I got a new guitar player and a new bass player. We’re funkier, but we bring a rocky edge too.”
Williams said he’d been trying to enlist guitar player Joshua Connelly for over five years.
“I knew he was a badass, you know. It was bad timing, he was busy, but I knew he had that sound, that sound I really wanted. He’s got extra funky rhythm and he’s a great lead. He’ll go from Jimi Hendrix to playing more of a James Brown riff like that. He understands all the genres, man,” he said.
He also recently brought on Jerry (JBlakk) Henderson.
“Man, I met him through my drummer Chocolate Milk,” said Williams. “This cat can do whatever. Ever now and then I needed a sub on bass, I would call JBlakk and every time he came in he was a master. He’s got the presence, absolutely off the charts. You’ll see for yourself when he comes through. He understands rock, he understands funk, he’s another one.”
Williams said he recently tweaked his musical style after completing a tour with Elvis Costello, because he realized audiences want to be able to hear the songs and sing along. He believes his new work is more accessible.
“I wanted to keep the funk, keep the party rolling. But I figured out how to write songs like that talking about how I feel, you know? I think that shows growth,” he said.
Williams profile has risen in the past few years, due to both his recurring cameos on Treme and the character, played by Wendell Pearce, who is based on him.
“I love the Wire, man. Wendell came to me and he was wearing the hat, the blazer. He said to me I’m gonna wear stuff like you, you know, be you, and I couldn’t believe it. He did a great job,” he said.
Williams said he believes people didn’t understand the show, which is why it wasn’t as successful as other HBO productions.
“Man, they portrayed the way it is. New Orleans. I don’t think they could’ve done a better job. But there was a lack of violence, drugs, sex. They insinuated this stuff was going on but in the industry that’s what sells. And I think that’s why it didn’t last too long, is people don’t understand the war on culture. They didn’t get it, didn’t understand the show. But people from the city, we all loved it.”
Williams said he welcomed the chance to act, but music is still his primary passion.
Tickets are $20 and are available from the Hume Hotel. For more information, visit Big Sam’s Funky Nation on Facebook.