Poretta Soul Festival 2013
Midsummer is always a special month for European lovers of Southern Soul. For the past 25 years, in a small, friendly, picturesque ‘spa town’ in Northern Italy called Porretta Terme, Italian music promoter and Otis Redding obsessive Graziano Uliani has been curating and ‘creatively directing’ Porretta Soul, probably the longest running - and almost certainly the best – music festival of its kind anywhere in the world.
Every July, soul fans from all over Europe – and, increasingly, the world – assemble in Rufus Thomas Park (yes, it really IS called that, and all year round, too!) to enjoy three days of quality performances from some of the great names in vintage southern soul, in the surroundings of a specially designed amphitheatre with an atmosphere that brings out the best in everyone, both onstage and off.
Every year Graziano tries to bring in at least one headliner who has not appeared in Europe before – or, at least, not since the 60s or 70s – and Porretta has provided many of the finest southern artists with their European debut (and, in some cases, their one and only European appearance). Sadly many of the artists who have graced the stage in Rufus Thomas Park in the past are no longer with us, including Rufus himself, but happily the festival’s great reputation and Graziano’s considerable powers of persuasion continue to combine to bring star names that, in many cases, many of us thought we’d never see or hear in person.
Porretta Soul 2013 – the 26th (and counting!) Porretta – is no different in that Graziano has persuaded soul legend Miss Mitty Collier to take time out from her day to day activities minister of her own church and sing some of her great Chess and Peachtree sides – something she rarely does these days. Mitty is by no means the only soul and blues legend on show, either. Veteran Miami great Latimore and Chicago’s Bobby Rush are also bringing their music to town, while David Hudson of ‘Honey Honey’ and ‘Must I Kill Her’ fame is also making a quick and welcome return to Porretta after going down so well last year.
With an ‘undercard’ that includes Porretta favourite Toni Green, welcome returnee Charles Walker, a specially-assembled band of crack musicians under the direction of Paul Brown and much more besides, it’s harder to think of an excuse not to be there than it is a reason to go…
Our accompanying photo shows Mitty Collier caught on camera just a few days ago. Many of the songs that Mitty will definitely be singing at Porretta can be found on the Kent CD ‘Shades Of Mitty Collier’ (CDKEND 301) and I for one intend to be there to hear her sing ‘em…
Porretta Soul runs from July 18th to the 21st inclusive. Porretta Terme can be reached by train (nearest airport: Bologna). For more details check out www.porrettasoul.it