Goodbye Summer with Big Sam's Funky Nation

11:39 September 07, 2016
By: Steve Hatley

There’s a hint of pumpkin spice in the air, which can only mean one thing-- summer is officially over. And by that note, Tipitina’s Uptown hosted their last Foundation Free Friday. You could tell that school was about to be in session by the sheer magnitude of people waiting to get in the door to see Big Sam’s Funky Nation and their opening band, The Crooked Vines. For as long as I can remember, Big Sam has always had a brass band in the opening slot, but to my pleasant surprise and the audience's too, Crooked Vines was the opener. 

According to their website: “Based out of New Orleans, Louisiana, The Crooked Vines is a funk-pop collective that brings exciting 'funk-fueled jams' to the stage. 'Their heavy-hitting energy sustains and tastefully dips into spacey pleasure' throughout their shows, bringing a new sound to life. Mikayla Braun's 'sensitive yet compelling voice' leads the ensemble, backed by Stephen Bohnstengel on bass, John Marcey on guitar, and Woody Hill on drums. This trio holds down the 'gritty' rhythm section grooves where Steve Schwartz perfectly places his sweetly distorted keyboards, creating the perfect pocket for the hard-hitting horn lines provided by Lori LaPatka on saxophone and James Keene on trombone.”

There’s an oddly infectious energy that exists when you see The Crooked Vines. For such a big band, they still manage to keep things understated at times, while blowing the roof off the building at others. They played material off their debut album and new tracks off their upcoming crowd-sourced second album. I felt bad for those unlucky enough to have still been standing in line outside when the Vines set ended because they missed one amazing show.

There’s an energy that comes along with a Big Sam’s Funky Nation show that’s hard to put into words. You just have to experience it and take the energetic rollercoaster ride for a whirl. Sam’s love of the city is evident in practically every aspect of his live show, and this Tipitina’s show was nothing short of spectacular. It’s amazing how a crowd can either energize or flatten a performance. Friday night’s free show was the height of all the frenzy one could put out without bringing the place to the ground. Unlike the last time I saw Sam at Tip’s, the crown managed to hang the whole night.  

Summer may be over for the most part, but the fall music scene in New Orleans is just picking up. You can see more pictures HERE.

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