Saturday, July 22, 2017

Porretta day two

The second evening of the Porretta Soul Festival was a marathon, with possibly too many acts to fit in. But it was a varied and interesting evening: 84 per cent good according to my friend Rod. I have to agree. The good acts more than compensated for a couple of duds.
The first 90 minutes featured the original James Brown orchestra, with many musicians who played with the great man. Acting as MC was his original 'cape man' Danny Ray and bass player Fred Thomas made sure the funky groove dominated throughout. A slightly odd aspect was the introduction of a blonde woman named Tammy who did a below par version of Get On The Good Foot, with Fred Wesley looking on rather disapprovingly I thought. Next came long time vocalist Cynthia Moore who  got things really going with Papa's Got A Brand New Bag and It's A Man's World. Fred's trombone was to the fore on Pass The Peas and the audience joined in on Breaking Bread. Martha High reprised  some of her numbers from the previous night, but was excellent on a soulful Try Me. She finished the set off with Sex Machine and her gospel number from Thursday's show. The whole set was professional and slick, but with a half hour change over it was two hours before the main backing band for the night, the excellent Anthony Paule band, set up.
After a couple of crisp instrumentals, including Town Without Pity, it was time for a couple of numbers by backing group Sweet Nectar, first Sue McCracklin with her dad's The Walk, and then Loralee Christensen with Darling Mine, featuring some great guitar by Anthony Paule. The show really came to life with the arrival of Falisa JaNaye, now a firm favourite at Porretta. She danced around the stage and injected plenty of energy into Betty Wright's Shoorah Shoorah. Her sexual innuendo on If Loving You Is Wrong was positively X rated as she made advances on drummer D-Mar, and Baby Workout was a show stopper. Wonderful stuff from Falisa I thought. Things went downhill rapidly with the next act, Scott Sharrard, one time musical director with Gregg Allman. He's an adequate rock guitarist and was good on High Cost Of Loving You, but too rock orientated in the rest of his set. Things picked up slightly with the next act, Oregon based singer LaRhonda Steele, with keyboardist King Louie, on Natural Woman,but they, along with the next act Rob Paparozzi were a waste of time, given some of the artists who appeared later. A harmonica version of Ticket To Ride was followed by Monkey Around, which was OK but not great. The night's high point followed, with the deep soul of Willie Hightower, who was brilliant, just as at the 2015 Ponderosa Stomp. Nobody But You, the Sam Cooke flavoured Time Has Brought A Change, It's A Miracle, Walk A Mile In my Shoes were all excellent as was the blues of You Used Me Baby. I forgave him for the singalong of If I Had A Hammer as he is a soul singer of the highest quality and a joy to watch. Next up was the self proclaimed Queen of Beale Street Barbara Blue. Built like an all in wrestler and heavily tattooed she has a strong voice and was enjoyable on Memphis style songs including I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, Ko Ko Taylor's Keep Your Hands Off Him, the self penned A Woman's Blues and Heartbreak Hotel (apparently the first ever Elvis song recorded at Hi Studios). Final act was 79 year old Toni Lynn Washington who showed that she can still do her stuff on Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine,Sam and Dave's I Take What I Want and a great version of Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday, with fine vocals from Sweet Nectar. Her final number was I Feel So Bad and she was joined on stage by many of the other acts. D-Mar did his party piece of leaping over his drum kit. A fitting climax to a great evening.


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