Big Sam Hits Sour Note On Tour, R&D Design Campaigns To Replace Stolen Trombone

         Tonight, local funk favorite Big Sam’s Funky Nation is performing at The Independent in San Francisco, CA, but in the early morning hours of Thursday, Oct. 13, in Las Vegas, after a gig at the Brooklyn Bowl at The LINQ, the band’s tour van was broken into at their hotel. It was the first stop of the urban funk band’s month-long West Coast tour, and thieves stole several valuable instruments including Big Sam’s treasured trombone.

         According to the band’s manager Stephen Klein, someone with a large rock “smashed the windows in the van stealing Sam’s notorious long time trombone, JBlakk Henderson’s Lackland bass guitar and Seizo Shibayama’s tan Toakai guitar, amongst other personal items including Sam’s favorite Krewe du Optics.”

         Big Sam Williams, the leader and trombone powerhouse of the band, is looking at a $12,600 loss and sentimental despair.

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         “Man… having my van broken into and equipment stolen is one of the worst feelings ever,” Williams said. “As soon as I saw the window broken I was just hoping that they only vandalized the van and didn't go through it. As I went to the other side to open the door to look under the seats, I realized that all of our instruments were gone. I was devastated. My one of a kind BAC custom trombone was truly unique and a thing of beauty.”

         Williams, formerly the trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, is credited for spreading New Orleans culture across the country through electric live musical performances. The San Francisco Chronicle hails Williams as “the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of Jazz,” and The Oregonian reports Big Sam’s Funky Nation is “tight enough (and hot enough) to turn coal into a diamond!”

         One of the band’s biggest fans, New Orleans marketing agency R&D Design, is trying to crowdsource the loss and set up a GoFundMe page.

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         “We can’t replace the sentimental value, but hope to raise the money necessary to replace the stolen equipment,” Ryan Becnel, creative director of R&D Design, said. “All money raised through the campaign will go directly to replacing the equipment lost in the break-in.”

         Becnel said the goal is to raise $12,600 in the next two weeks so the band can play with new instruments by early November.

         Williams, who has toured with Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint and performed with Dave Matthews and Widespread Panic, shared the world stage with U2 and Green Day on Monday, Sept. 25, 2006 for the emotional re-opening of the Superdome during the Monday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons.

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         “I'm so grateful R&D has stepped in to help raise funds to replace our instruments,” Williams said. “When you’re on the road and have to buy new gear unexpectedly, it hurts big time. Especially because as professionals, it’s hard to just settle for anything. Thanks a ton for helping us out, R&D!”

         The band is actively replacing the stolen instruments, buying them at local music shops along the tour route and by having replacements shipped overnight from New Orleans.

         R&D’s GoFundMe campaign includes covering costs for:


• Sam’s Trombone

Custom Trombone       $6,000

Case                             $400

Mouthpieces                $400


• JBlakk Henderson’s Bass

Bass                             $1,000

Case                            $300

Strap                            $200


• Seizo Shibayama’s Guitar

Guitar                           $2,000

Case                             $200

Strap                            $150

• Shipping                    $300

• Vehicle Repair            $250


         As of this afternoon, $4,417 has been raised. There have been 99 donations so far in five days, and many priceless messages of support.

         Fan and $25 contributor Carolyn Scharpenberg wrote, “This has been heartbreaking when it is your life and love that you share with all of us through your music! …Am feeling grateful that community is pulling together to keep you going! We need the FUNK and LOVE!! <3”

         Kate Davis donated $100 and said, “So bummed about this. I loved that horn! I love this band and this bump in the road hasn't slowed them down! Karma will catch up with those fools that took those instruments. 🙂 Peace and love, Kate.”

         Thomas Brennan pledged $50 and wrote, “Hope this helps. Stay funky.”


         Big Sam’s Funky Nation’s October tour dates include:

Oct. 20        The Independent             San Francisco, CA

Oct. 21        Moe's Alley                    Santa Cruz, CA

Oct. 22        HopMonk Tavern           Sonoma, CA

Oct. 28        Nectar Lounge               Seattle, WA

Oct. 29        Mississippi Studios        Portland, OR

Oct. 31        The State Room             Salt Lake City, UT


         Donate here

         Learn more about Big Sam’s Funky Nation here


         View an R&D video about Big Sam’s Funky Nation here


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