Sunday, July 23, 2017

Porretta Day three

Saturday night at the Porretta Soul Festival is always rather special, with some major soul names taking part. This time the show featured a true legend on the shape of Carla Thomas, who was there right at the beginning of the Memphis sound in 1961. She is someone who, for various reasons, I had never seen live so this was really something to look forward to.
First up, however, was a touch of classic New Orleans piano artistry with Davell Crawford, who showed what an excellent piano player he is with an hour long set. Beginning with his grandad Sugar Boy's Jockomo, he included excellent versions of Something You Got,  Tore Down, Don't Play That Song, Let Them Talk, N'Awlins favourites It's Raining and Blueberry Hill and Louisiana 1927, among others, plus a duet with guitarist Vasti Jackson on Georgia On My Mind. The Anthony Paule band took the stage and there were numbers by Loralee Christensen and Sue McCracklin, followed by an excellent version of Drown In My Own Tears by Oakland singer Terrie Odabi. Vasti Jackson then hit the stage wearing a white suit and tore the place up with a tribute to Johnnie Taylor. Who's Making Love was followed by Take Care Of Your Homework, Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone, Dogging Me Around, Cheaper To Keep Her and Last Two Dollars. Great stuff, rounded off with drummer D-Mar leaping over his drums again.
Goldwax artist Wee Willie Walker came next, making a quick return visit, and was smoothness itself on numbers such as the bluesy After A While, I Don't Want To Take A Chance, Hate Take A Holiday, Romance In The Dark and Is That It?, a new song I guess as he was reading the lyrics as he sang. Your Good Thing Is About To End was good, as was a lively duet with Terrie Odabi on Lovey Dovey (she towered over him) but enjoyable though he was he didn't quite hit the heights (difficult when you're only five foot tall I suppose) as he has limited stage presence. Solomon Burke's son Selassie - in town to mark the naming of the river bridge in Porretta after his dad, who appeared here four times - appeared next and was pretty good on Try A Little Tenderness and a duet on Everybody Needs Somebody with Rob Paparozzi. And then it was the turn of not one but two of Rufus Thomas's daughters in a tribute to their dad. Vaneese was fine on Saturday Night At The River, John Fogerty's Down The Road and Wang Dang Doodle, but it was older sister Carla, now 74, who stole the show. She began with a great version of B-A-B-Y and followed with Little Red Rooster and Something Good before Vaneese joined her on stage for duets on two of Rufus's hits, Memphis Train and Walking The Dog.
Final act of the night was a new name to me, Ricky Fante. He had a soul hit a few years ago with It Ain't Easy and showed more than a hint of Otis Redding on These Arms Of Mine. Other numbers were Love Don't Live Here No More and, I think, Wrong To Let You Go. He's a genuine soul singer and didn't disappoint, especially when he was joined on stage by Carla Thomas for a brilliant and word perfect duet on Tramp. This was a very good evening, with no weak links, and Graziano must be pleased both with his choice of acts and the brilliant band. Porretta has been a triumph once again. The final evening features short sets by many of the acts. I will post something about it soon, plus the first batch of photos.


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