Big Sam’s Funky Nation – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – August 6th, 2018

Big Sam's Funky Nation

"Noladelic Powerfunk" outfit fronted by former Dirty Dozen Brass Band trombonist Sammie Williams

Big Sam's Funky Nation

Etta's WORLD

Mon, August 6, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$15 ADV / $18 DOS

This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seats 

Big Sam's Funky Nation
Big Sam's Funky Nation
Noladelic PowerFunk. That’s the sound Big Sam’s Funky Nation have been whipping up for more than a decade. It’s high-energy music that mixes funk, rock & roll, hip-hop, and jazz into the same pot, glueing everything together with the brassy influence — and heavy grooves — of New Orleans.

From national performances at Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits to hometown appearances Voodoo Fest and Jazz Fest, Big Sam’s Funky Nation have built their reputation onstage. The band’s live performance are legendary, filled with blasts of brass, bursts of electric guitar, and the charisma of Big Sam, a frontman who sings, plays, dances, and involves the audience in everything he does. You don’t just watch a Funky Nation show. You become part of the show, singing along with Big Sam whenever he demands a call-and-response.

A native of New Orleans, Big Sam first rose to fame as a member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, whose touring schedule kept the young trombonist on the road for 300 days a year. The group performed with bands from all genres, backing up Widespread Panic one minute before sharing the stage with Dave Matthews Band the next. A fan of diverse bands like Parliament Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, and Prince, Big Sam loved the variety that Dirty Dozen Brass Band offered. He wanted to front his own group, though. He needed to sing, to engage the crowd, to write his own songs. Inspired to chase down that dream, he formed Big Sam’s Funky Nation, reaching out to some of his favorite players from around the Big Easy — including Joshua Connelly, Chocolate Milk, Jerry “J Blakk” Henderson, and Drew “Da Phessah” Baham — to create his own supergroup.

Big Sam isn’t the only member of the Funky Nation to sport some serious credentials. J Blakk kicked off his career as a trumpet player, even performing with Southern University’s marching band — Human Jukebox — before finding his love for bass. Horn player Da Phessah established himself around town as an in-demand producer and multi-instrumentalist. Guitar player Connelly grew up on rock & roll, eventually growing into a world-class musician whose style dips into rock, funk and jazz. Chocolate Milk began drumming in church. Together, those five musicians make up Big Sam’s Funky Nation, a group that knows no boundaries, no limits, no restrictions — only the thrill that comes from playing music inspired by the thrills of their New Orleans hometown.

“We don’t cater to one demographic,” says Big Sam, rattling off a list of jam band festivals, jazz shows, rock clubs, and funk gigs that his band has played since 2007. “We play music for everybody. It’s not just funk; that’s the foundation, but the music goes from funk to rock to wild jazz. It’s music about love and partying. Everyone can get down with that.”
Etta's WORLD
Etta's WORLD
There are people who know how to take the tragic and make it magic. Arietta Ward is one of those people. The eldest daughter of the late, legendary Janice Scroggins, the sudden loss of her mother became the catalyst to solidifying her space on the stage – a space that Arietta, commonly known as Mz. Etta, has already occupied for years.

Alongside everyone who is anyone in Portland’s multi genre music scene, Mz. Etta has been a staple. From Linda Hornbuckle to LaRhonda Steele, Ken DeRouchie, Tony Ozier, and Norman Sylvester, Arietta has shared the stage with the elite and on her own merit. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone affiliated with jazz, soul, funk or R&B that doesn’t know who she is. Yet only now is she on the cusp of releasing her debut solo album, a body of carefully crafted musical masterpieces.

When asked why now in regards to releasing her work, Ward says “Carrying on my Mother’s legacy is a huge motivation”. She also acknowledges that her mother did a lot of the work so that she and her sister, Nafisaria Scroggins-Thomas, who is also an established vocalist, don’t have too. Subsequently, Mz. Etta is able to successfully navigate an often male dominated and difficult industry – and she does so with a following of respect. “I got grandfather into it [the music scene]. It’s a blessing because I can get into rooms that it takes years for others to access.” For example, Mz. Etta’s third solo show was at the renowned Jimmy Mak’s - - a venue typically reserved for music royalty, not still blooming solo artist who haven’t yet released an album. And as if being booked for a show at the venue wasn’t impressive and powerful enough, Arietta’s show was sold out. That is the power of Etta’s world.

Even though most would assume that singing is what she’s always done, Arietta acknowledges that her mother never pressured her or her sister to sing. “We grew up with music, it was always a part of our lives but Mom didn’t push us into the industry. She gave us freedom and choice to be whoever we wanted to be.” A glimpse into the powerhouse that she’d become came by way of a stage appearance in the “Red Beans and Rice” play. “Even close friends were shocked; they didn’t know I could sing like that.”



While others were shocked at her vocal prowess, Mz. Etta was dealing with her own type of shock. “I had really bad stage fright.” However, as an original member of the famed Doo Doo Funk All Stars, Arietta eventually grew more comfortable in the spotlight and her talents quite easily manifested into greatness. Arietta worked closely with the late Obo Addy and she credits him, amongst others, for helping her “work outside the box”. Addy’s friendship and mentorship was a blessing, even leading to her learning different Ghanaian dialects. Ms. Ward is featured on Obo’s last recording, which was released in September 2015. Arietta has also shared the stage with many local turned national and international stars including Liv Warfield and Esperanza Spalding, Thara Memory, Jarrod Lawson, Curtis

Salgado, Lloyd Jones, Farnell Newton and far too many more to name.

​By trade, Arietta is a licensed cosmetologist and spends her days as an educator in the field. It’s not really a secondary career but instead, a compliment and conjunction of her life as an artist. “Singers and Stylist actually have a lot of commonality” she says, flashing her warm smile that reminds you of a woman filled with wisdom well beyond her years. “In both fields, you have to create. “ The steady income from the cosmetology career gave Arietta the stability she needed to raise her now 22 year old son. “Music money comes and goes but in Portland, you can make it – you can definitely make it.”



As she plans to release her first solo album in Spring 2018, Arietta seems destined to be among those who will not only make it, but make it big. The album will not only stand as a testament to Ms. Etta’s unrivaled vocals, but it will also serve as a tangible contribution to the continuation of a legacy. “I am indeed, my Mother’s child. All the music, all the songs, these are my stories. They’re stories that need to be told, and I am here to tell them.”

While many labels of style exist, Arietta doesn’t define herself by any particular genre. Some would call her neo soul, others jazz, and still others R&B. But Mz. Etta is more focused on content and the responsibility that she believes every artist has. “Be mindful of how you deliver. Be mindful of your intent while delivering your messages. When you open your mouth – always hold that intent in the highest positive vibration possible. Artist are healers, music has healing power. Music is sacred.”



And from that sacred and healing space, we meet Arietta Ward. A name you’re bound to be hearing for a long time; a name that, like her Mother, will be spoken of in reference to legendary music royalty for a long time coming.