Friday, July 20, 2018

Porretta time again

Once again I'm back in the usually sleepy Italian spa town of Porretta Terme for the annual soul festival, which never fails at attract great soul acts. This time we visited Siena on the way, along with San Gimignano, with its many medieval towers, and a stay with my friend Nick in Bologna. The weather is hot so far and the music looks pretty hot too.
The first evening always features Italian bands and the first of these, a seven piece outfit called Groove City were pretty good. They were here three years ago but this time they featured a different female singer by the name of Daria Biancardi. She is very popular with the locals and I can understand why as she possesses a powerful voice and a good stage act. She began with 'LoveThe One You're With' and other songs included 'Damn Your Eyes ', 'Spirit In The Dark' and a lively version of 'Son Of A Preacher Man'. She was loud but effective. After a duet with regular MC Rick Hutton, she gave way to piano player Mitch Woods, who has recently recorded an album with Van Morrisson, Taj Mahal and others. His set comprised jump blues and boogie woogie numbers, including 'Solid Gold Cadillac', 'Down Boy Down', the Professor Longhair styled 'Mojo Mambo' and 'Boogie  Woogie Barbecue'. A solid set and a good way to kick off the festival. The second act, the JBees, turned out to be a glitzy disco act and didn't appeal, but the best of this superb festival is yet to come.  More reports and photos will appear shortly.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Emmett Till case reopened

News that the Emmett Till case is to be reopened 63 years after the murder took place reminded me of the 2014 visit that Dave Carroll and I made to the museum dedicated to his memory in the hamlet of Glendora, Mississippi.
Emmett Till's death was one of the sparks that lit the Civil Rights campaign in the US. He was a 14 year African American boy from Chicago who was visiting relatives in the south. He allegedly whistled at a white woman in the nearby village of Money and as a result was murdered and thrown off a nearby bridge by two white men. His mutilated body was laid in an open casket when it was recovered. An all white jury found the two suspects not guilty of Emmett's murder, but they subsequently admitted to a magazine that they had committed the murder.
Glendora is, like so many villages in rural Mississippi, a run down place with many derelict buildings. It was the home town of Sonny Boy Williamson, who often played there. The Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center (ETHIC), based in a former cotton gin, is little publicised, or visited. When we arrived it was closed and deserted and we were about to leave when a lady drove up at fast speed in a battered car. Word must have got around that there were visitors there. She opened up and we had a good look around the museum, which told the story of the murder, the racist attitudes that prevailed (and still prevail) in the south, and information about the civil rights movement.
Now, it seems that the Department of Justice has reopened the 1955 case following claims in a book that the woman at the centre of the wolf whistling incident admitted in 2008 that she had lied.
Here are some photos taken on our visit, none of which have appeared in The Vinyl Word before.
Here are a couple taken at the remains of Bryant's Grocery in Money, where the alleged whistling offence took place. Photos were taken in 2015.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Candi Staton shows she is 'Unstoppable'

Candi Staton has a new album out shortly called 'Unstoppable'. Judging by last night's show at the Omeara in London (a new venue for me, but an intimate one which has much to commend it), it's a very apt title, because, at the age of 78, Candi still has energy to spare, as well as a great voice and vibrant personality.
I missed the first couple of numbers as I was watching England do the unthinkable by actually winning a penalty shoot out, but I gather they were 'Honest I Do' and the Bee Gees' 'Nights on Broadway'. When I arrived Candi was going through some of her earlier recordings from her time at Fame, with her excellent version of Tammy Wynette's 'Stand By Your Man', followed by 'I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than A Young Man's Fool)'. It was immediately clear that we were in for something special. Candi has a terrific personality and it shone through. Backed by her regular band, which was excellent, as were her backing singers, she moved on to two numbers from the new album - the bluesy 'I Fooled You (Didn't I)' and Patti Smith's 'People Have The Power'.
Back in the early seventies, Candi had great success with a cover of 'In The Ghetto', a song, she recalled, that she performed with Elvis at the time. From that point onwards it was dance time, something the youngish crowd took to enthusiastically, initially with a good take on 'Suspicious Minds'. Then it was on to an extended version of her disco classic 'Young Hearts Run Free', with hints of gospel ('This Little Light Of Mine') thrown in, during which she introduced members of the band. The dance favourite 'You Got The Love' inevitably got the crowd going and by this time you could feel the love - both from Candi and from the adoring audience. Candi finished with a brief stab at Unstoppable - 'it's what I'm trying to be', she said. On this form Candi certainly is