Friday, July 21, 2017

Porretta Soul Festival day 1

The 30th Porretta Soul Festival started on Thursday and once again this pretty little town in the hills south of Bologna is filled with soul music fans instead of the usual octogenarians taking in the spa waters. It's a chance to catch up with friends from the UK, the Netherlands, the US (Noah Shaffer) and of course Italy. This year for the first time there was an admission charge for the first evening, but there was a good crowd on to see what was a largely undistinguished line up.  Much better will follow.
First up were The Sweethearts, an all girl group from Geelong, Australia, comprising around 20 instrumentalists and vocalists. Their set was mostly standard soul fare with Otis Redding songs such as I Can't Turn You Loose and Mr Pitiful, enlivened by some fine drumming by Bernard 'Pretty' Purdie guesting on Cold Sweat. There was also a good original number called Favour. Sax Gordon also made a contribution, but this was only moderately interesting as a set, although the girls were quite a lot more professional than the last time they were here a few years back. The second act was the Gaudats Junk Band, featuring Italian musicians playing home made instruments with regular MC Rick Hutton on vocals. The less said about them the better (although the audience liked them) and the same could be said for the next act, Spanish band The Lucilles. Lead singer Lucille Hurt, a slim young lady in a geometric patterned mini dress shaking a tambourine, gave her all but it was a pop act, with very little in the way of soul included. Final act was the highlight of the evening. This was singer Martha High with members of James Brown' s band. They got into the Godfather groove, with Cold Sweat, Stay Tonight and a medley of Big Payback, Make It Funky, Open Up The Door, Think and Mama Feel Good. Martha, who was discovered by Bo Diddley when singing with a group in Washington DC, looked and sounded great and finished with the gospel number Got Something To Shout About. There was no 'One More Time' despite Rick Hutton's best efforts, but there will be more from them during the weekend, with an extended James Brown Orchestra.
More posts will follow covering this, the world's greatest soul festival, with photos when I get home.


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