Tuesday, July 14, 2020

My first Porretta - 1997

Next week should have seen the 33rd staging of the Porretta Soul Festival, the world's greatest annual soul event. It's a time when the quiet hill town of Porretta Terme, 50 kilometers south of Bologna, comes alive with the arrival of top quality US soul acts and visitors from all over the world. Sadly this year's festival has been cancelled because of COVID 19 and we have a whole year to wait until next year's show takes place. But knowing Graziano Uliani, the man who has organised the festival since its beginning in 1988, it will be well worth waiting for.
My first visit to Porretta was in 1997, a couple of years after some of my friends first made the trip,  but I have been back many times since. The shows that year were held in the town football field as Rufus Thomas Park, where the festival is now held, was still under construction. It was appropriate, however that Rufus Thomas, the man who was first persuaded to appear at Porretta in what was described as a tribute to Otis Redding, was one of the stars that year (pictured above). Other artists appearing that year were the Bar-Kays, Mable John, Jackie Johnson, James Govan, Isaac Hayes, J Blackfoot, Otis Clay and the wonderful Irma Thomas so, as ever, it was a stellar line-up.
I remember that I had camera problems that year so don't have as many photos as I would like. But there are a few that came out, so here they are as a memento of that year's festival.
Here's one of me with J Blackfoot, former member of the Soul Children and a great solo act.
Here's one of Graziano with Isaac Hayes.
This is a photo of me with Mable John.
Much of the time when the festival isn't on is spent outside the local Irish bar, The Califfo pub. Here we are enjoying the local beer: L-R me (Nick Cobban), Mary Howard, Dave Carroll, John Jolliffe, Julie Thomas, Dave Thomas (obscured), John Howard.
This is the Sassocardo Hotel where I stayed that first year. It's now an old peoples' home.
Finally here are a couple of me - at the swimming pool at the top of town, and in the main street.


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