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King of the Party

Funk is back where it belongs: in your face.
Funk is back where it belongs: in your face.
Andy Goetz

This weekend you'll hear echoing everywhere the shot-heard-round-the-above-ground-pool. It's the starting gun for summer.

This calendar year has proved at least two things: a.) there is a higher power beyond our comprehension who dictates the mechanisms, great and small, of the universe, and b.) he/she/it is very upset with us. Ashura or the mother goddess or Zorbo the World Gardener has dumped on us so far record snows and record rainfall. Unless we get to appeasin', we can probably expect record catching fire in the streets this summer. And this oil change BP is doing underneath our continent means the outlook ain't so good.

But none of that has happened yet. So let us get our grooves on before magma starts to hail from the blood-red skies.

You're a happening guy, probably. You've got plans for Memorial Day, probably. But how about setting the right mental environment for the weekend? You may be scratching your head in front of the computer screen, reminding all of the people sitting around you of a monkey trying to start a chainsaw. But hear it out.

If you've ever watched late night television, you may be aware of the existence of a species called the "warm-up comedian". His one and only job is to hammer a captive audience with jokes until they get used to laughing. Being thus lubed up, the spectators may tolerate even Jay Leno's stale monologue without rushing the stage to feed on his entrails. (Anyone who digs out a funnybone will receive a cash prize.)

Well, Memorial Day weekend is one of the few long weekends you get before the latter half of the year brings its bounty of holidays. So why waste it? It's been a long week of jamming fax machines and screaming foremen and fatsacks yelling about how they almost felt their heart beat because they didn't get the second side of mayo they ordered. Don't let any of that spoil your federally-mandated good time.

Friday night, the Nightfall Concert series hits its stride. Each weekend throughout the summer, the hobos of Miller Park graciously allow us into their not homes and a fair-to-decent band rocks Chattanoogans out of their winter slumber for the low, low price of free.

Well, this week is serving up quite the appetizer to pique your palate for parties to come. Big Sam's Funky Nation is kicking the crap out of your groove thing until it scabs over and becomes a mighty groove callous. Frontman Sam Williams (the eponymous "Big" one) used to sling trombone for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Now he's calling the shots with his own cadre of funk-stronauts. They have the splashy, upbeat brass of K.C. and the Sunshine Band (sorry, just trying to think of something you've heard, there, Prufrock) but the thrubbing underbeat and stage presence of Parliament. Electronic effects seamlessly interspersed add a modern sensibility. There is no fail here.

Your booty has been good to you, and now it's time for you to give back. Treat that thang to a night of getting down in the manner to which it should have been accustomed by now had you not been so busy with deadlines and bills and the kids getting sick and blah.

Shake it, sir. Shake it like a Polaroid picture.


Nightfall Concert Series, featuring Big Sam's Funky Nation. Miller Plaza. Friday, May 28th, 7 p.m.


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