Take 5: Big Sam's Funky Nation, the Veils, Gio Gonzalez and more

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

Friday: Big Sam's Funky Nation at Artisphere

Trombonist and bandleader Big Sam Williams knows when he's putting on a good show.

"How loud they're singing, that's how I know how much of a good time they're having," said Williams by phone earlier this week. "Sometimes we have to wake them up. Some people might come and be on their phone. This is not the time to tweet. If you want to tweet, tweet about me."

Big Sam's Funky Nation performs at Artisphere on Friday.

Tweeting and other distractions should not be an issue at a Funky Nation show. Williams brings a high-energy blend of funk, rock and call-and-response that never disappoints in getting the crowd moving.

"Funk makes you feel good," Williams said when asked how one defines the word. "You can have all kinds of different meanings. There are different types of funk. Just enjoy yourself, enjoy life, just having a feeling full of joy where you don't have a worry in the world. That's my definition of funk."

Bigger than all the other kids in middle school, Big Sam intended to play basketball. Unfortunately, he was too big and not allowed to play organized hoops with children his age, but not old enough to play with the bigger students. Looking for something to do, Williams joined the marching band. The instructor handed him a trombone, and, well, that's that.

Later, Williams started listening to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. He eventually joined the band as an adult, and now fronts his own five-piece Funky Nation in New Orleans.

Williams keeps a busy schedule, and he estimates he plays about 250 dates a year. The band was in Brooklyn on Thursday, and has two shows scheduled on Saturday in New Orleans.

"You're doing what you love," Williams said. "I love playing music. I can't see myself doing anything else in the world."

Info: $20 general admission, $30 lounge level; artisphere.com

When: 8:30 p.m.

Friday: The Veils at the Rock N Roll Hotel

The indie rock act from London wraps up this leg of U.S. shows in support of its new album, "Time Stays, We Go," which came out April 29.

Info: $12 in advance, $15 day of; rockandrollhoteldc.com

When: 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show

Saturday: Charity autograph event featuring Gio Gonzalez at Fluffy Thoughts Cakes

Fluffy Thoughts Cakes in McLean is hosting an autograph signing event with pitcher Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. Proceeds to benefit the G.I.O. Foundation. Buy a dozen cupcakes, get an autograph. Additional autographs cost $50 each.

Info: fluffythoughts.com

When: 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Saturday: Fiesta Del Stroll

This bar crawl hits six watering holes offering deals in the Penn Quarter neighborhood.

Info: $20; iheartbarcrawls.com

When: 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Saturday: Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour

The ninth annual event features more than 140 artists in the Prince George's County communities of Brentwood, North Brentwood and Mount Rainier. The day starts with a Don Quixote sculpture unveiling at 11 a.m. and concludes with receptions and an after party.

Info: Free; gatewayopenstudios.org

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Author:

Robert Fulton

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner