There are some great soul shows coming up in the next few months which I am looking forward to.
First up is Eli Paper Boy Reed at the Jazz Cafe on June 7. Eli made a big impression when he first appeared in London in 2008, but I hadn't seen him for quite a while until I bumped into him not once but three times at blues clubs in Los Angeles when he was with Allen 'Charmin' Larman. He got up and sang at each club - quite a daunting thing for a young white boy from Boston to do in front of such a discerning audience - and went down well in every case. I'm sure he will wow the crowd at the newly reburbished Jazz Cafe as well.
I won't be able to go to see the great Maxine Brown at Cleethorpes the following weekend. But, having seen her at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2013, I'm sure she will put on a good show. I will definitely be around the following weekend however for the Blackpool Soul Weekender which features four soul stars. Bettye Lavette, who I saw perform in London a couple of months ago, will be doing her sixties and seventies material exclusively I gather, which will be a treat. She's still a fantastic singer but I'm not so keen on some of her newer material. Here's a photo of Bettye with Ann Peebles and Don Bryant taken when they performed at the Porretta Soul Festival in 2001 (the year it was held in Bologna). Also on the bill at Blackpool is Dee Dee Sharp, who I have never seen. I know her best for her early Cameo Parkway material such as Mashed Potato Time, Gravy, Ride and Do The Bird but she's a big name on the Northern soul scene with tracks like Standing In The Need Of Love and What Kind Of Lady. Other US acts at Blackpool are Chicago soul star Bobby Hutton and Gerry Grainger, famous for I Go To Pieces (Every Time). Not being much of a Northern expert I don't know a great deal about them, but it should be a great weekend and it will be good to catch up with Noah Schaffer again.
Finally there is this year's Porretta Soul Festival which starts on July 21st. Every year Graziano somehow manages to get a stellar line up of soul artists on the bill and this year is no exception. This, the 29th in the series, stars Bobby Rush, George McCrae, Frank Bey with the Anthony Paule band, Toni Green, John Ellison, Stacey Merino, Stan Mosley, Theo Huff, Falisa Janaye, Jerry Jones and Vasti Jackson. Should be yet another brilliant festival.
Summer looks good, and I'm off to the States again in the autumn, taking in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Lafayette, ending up at the Blues and Barbecue Festival in New Orleans. I haven't seen the line up for that one yet, but it always features some great blues and soul artists. Vinyl records are all very well, but you can't beat live music. Catch it while you can.