Sugaray Rayford began his musical career at the tender age of seven, singing and playing drums in church, and his gospel influences definitely shine through in his music.
As front-man of The Mannish Boys, Rayford and the band won the Blues Music Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2013 and Rayford himself has been nominated for over a dozen BMA’s, including Vocalist of the Year and multiple nominations for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year.
With his 8-piece crack band and personal charm, Rayford’s live shows are quickly becoming renowned for their high-energy and celebratory nature, with Rayford whipping the crowds into a frenzy like a Gospel Preacher. In the studio and in person, Sugaray Rayford is developing a reputation as a force to be reckoned with and an artist to watch in the coming years. Suga is very proud and excited about his latest release recorded on Blind Faith Records in Italy. “The World That We Live In” is an album of all original material with the feel of 1960- 70’s soul. It includes a full band with horns, strings and back-up vocals that has an old school feel. Be on the lookout for Suga’s latest release and an extensive world wide tour!
Big Sam’s Funky Nation will appear in Forsyth Park, Saturday, September 28, 7:00 p.m. as a part of the 38th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival, featuring 27 free performances highlighting regional, national and international world class jazz in the Lowcountry.
A New Orleans treasure, Big Sam’s Funky Nation is a huge crowd pleaser, merging funk, rock, jazz and hip-hop, and a healthy dose of call-and-response. Big Sam Wiliamson, the trombonist, has backed many big acts including Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello and the Dave Matthews Band.
No other place could birth such an undeniable, unpredictable, and downright unique collective.
Speaking about New Orleans, Big Sam says, “By playing on these streets, you learn how to work your craft and entertain an audience. You can go to Julliard and Berklee all you want, but they won’t teach you how to rock a stage. It comes naturally in New Orleans. I’ve been here my whole life and rocking these streets. Even during Hurricane Katrina, I drove nine hours from San Antonio every weekend for two years just to play live. The sound out here is unlike anything else in the world. It’s not just a figure of speech—there’s music going all night, literally.”
Against the backdrop of New Orleans, the group released five fan favorite albums and quietly developed a devout following. Powered by jaw-dropping technical talent and uncontainable energy on stage, their performances have become the stuff of legend. Big Sam ensures you’re not just a part of the crowd, but “a part of the show, dancing and singing along.” Beyond standout sets at the likes of Voodoo Music + Experience and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the boys have performed at Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Austin City Limits, to name a few.
The frontman personally draws on over two decades in the game, spanning everything from 300 shows per year during his days in Dirty Dozen Brass Band and gigs backing up Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews Band to recording and touring with Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello. Additionally, he would be sought out for a recurring role on the critically acclaimed HBO series Treme.
Following the release of 2014’s rock-leaning Evolution (and yet another marathon of gigs), Big Sam wanted to “bring the funk like never before.” So, he decided to “write originals that show how cats like Morris Day & The Time, The Gap Band, P-Funk, inspired [him]—while not just repeating the past.”
The group accomplished this mission on their aptly titled 2018 sixth fulllength Songs in the Key of Funk, Volume 1. Spending just five days at The Parlor Recording Studio in New Orleans, Big Sam’s Funky Nation emerged from the studio with an album tailor made for singing, dancing, and, of course, partying.
“We’re going to keep the funk alive,” he affirms. “This is just Volume 1. It’s just the beginning. Stevie Wonder made one of my favorites: Songs in the Key of Life. I thought it would be hip to build on the title. Funk is life for me. Funk is everything. We all need some of it in our lives, so guess who’s here to give it to you?”
Big Sam continued, “When you see us live or listen to our records, we’re all going to have a good time,” he leaves off. “That’s what funk is all about. That’s what New Orleans is all about. That’s what Big Sam’s Funky Nation is all about. If you come to a show, you’re going to party. That’s what we’re here for.”
For a complete lineup of Savannah Jazz Festival, September 22-28, 2019; visit savannahjazz.org.