Tuesday, July 24, 2018

More on Porretta plus photos

Sunday at Porretta always features a revue of most of the acts taking part and this year was no exception. But first I went to a screening of a documentary film called A Soul Journey, by Marco Della Fonte, which told the story of the festival from its inception over 30 years ago, when Graziano Uliani. the man who has masterminded it ever since, invited Solomon Burke to Porretta. There were interviews with Graziano and long time MC Rick Hutton, and with some of the stars of recent years, including Sugar Pie DeSanto, Toni Green, Otis Clay and David Hudson, along with footage from down the years, not forgetting Solomon and, of course, Rufus Thomas, after whom the auditorium is named.. A fascinating film and a fitting tribute to Graziano's superb efforts.
Sunday night itself was very disciplined, with each artist limited to two songs each. Don Bryant and the Bo-Keys had gone by this time, but everyone else took part, the highlights being John Ellison, wearing what looked like purple leopard print pyjamas. a duet by Wee Willie Walker and Terrie Odabi on Lovey Dovey, more excellent soul from Terrie (including Nine Simone's Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter), Booker Brown, Lacee, Ernie Johnson. Missy Andersen and Wee Willie Walker. There was a rather poignant and sad moment when Spencer Wiggins was brought to the stage and stood side on to the audience, apparently unaware which way to face. It took Wee Willie to come on and point him in the right direction. Brother Percy also sang a couple of numbers, as did Swamp Dogg. Also, bizarrely, a Japanese singer whose name I didn't catch. Finally all the artists came on stage for a group version of Bring It On Home To Me.
This year Alan and I stayed an extra day for a free concert on Monday night in the small town of Vergato, a few miles north of Porretta. Many of the acts performed in a piazza in the centre of town and there were some new numbers on show, including Make Me Yours and Precious Precious by the excellent Lacee, plus more blistering soul from Ernie Johnson. Mitch Woods did a couple of numbers and there was one each from Sax Gordon, Sandy Griffith, Larry Batiste and Alvon Johnson. Missy Andersen sang a couple of songs, as did Percy Wiggins, who sang brother Spencer's Lonely Man as something of a tribute, I guess, as Spencer did not appear. Wee Willie Walker did four numbers before D'Mar took charge, leaping over his drum kit, drumming on the stage supports and leading the horn section in a second line around the audience. It was a joyous end to what has been another exceptional festival. Thank you Mr Uliani! And Anthony Paule for leading such a first rate band and backing the singers so brilliantly.
Now that I am home I will be adding quite a few photos from the trip, beginning, this time, with the artists who, in my opinion, were the stars of the weekend (although all of them deserve credit for their superb efforts). The photo above shows the great Don Bryant, who with the Bo-Keys, performed a wonderful set. Pictured below is Terrie Odabi, who showed again what a superb talent she is.
Here is the excellent southern soul artist Ernie Johnson.
This is another southern soul star of the future, Lacee.
Contributing as much as anyone to the weekend's success was Wee Willie Walker.
Another excellent, and exciting, performer - John Ellison.
Missy Andersen was another female singer who made a good impression.
Finally, in this segment, here's Booker Brown, who was a revelation. More photos will follow soon.


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