Southport Weekender 42nd, May 9th - 11th 2008
Festival Review

Well would you believe it May has come around again so soon and that means another Southport Weekender is on the cards. It doesn't seem two minutes ago since I was last there having one of the most amazing times of my life. Last May was the 40th and it was dynamite! Having had a winter weekender still celebrating the 20th year it's now time for number 42. Could it possibly match the previous year?

Well Southport Weekender 42 sold out in record time. In fact all the chalets were gone by December 2007. If you want to go to this event and get some chalet action you've got to book early and it proves that this unrelenting loyal crowd are in no rush to put this card down. Southport is a diamond number with such classic gems as Snowboy, Giles Peterson, Trevor Nelson, Norman Jay, Bob Jones, Simon Mansell and Bigger to name but a few. Billy Davidson was playing his final set at Southport 42 having been there from the start and finally letting go of his slot. At 50 it has been a legendary service. Many DJ's that play Southport come back again as this is the heavyweight division of soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, hip hop and house music. To play Southport you have to be at your best as the crowd expects the best and if you get it right it's one of the best dancing environments you can get. All the dance areas are designed to get you moving. The Powerhouse, The Funkbase, The Beat Bar (that was a new addition to Southport) and Connoisseurs' Corner have great sound systems and enough space for you to let go. Mix this with some of the best well known and contemporary DJ's on the planet plus the best and most legendary live acts you could possibly see it definitely sets the tone. But it's the people that make the Southport experience and that's why they keep coming back. It's the people that maintain the friendliness, good vibes and one love spirit. It makes for one of the most electric atmospheres you could imagine. Good vibrations.

It was a last minute decision to go to Southport this year and as it was looming I thought I can't miss out on the summer vibes. I had made commitments so couldn't stay for the whole weekend but thought even one night would be worth it. We decided to go Friday night. Usually most people pick the Saturday night to go for one night but we were in for a treat on Friday. It was warm and buzzing. It was going to be good.

The standout for many people was Eric Roberson performing live in The Funkbase. Yes indeed this was talent personified. Roberson was perfect for the Southport crowd showing fantastic vocal skills and knowing exactly how to work the 'up for it' gathering. Regulars of The Funkbase like Simon 'Schoolboy' Phillips, Shortee Blitz, DJ Diggz, Bigger and Steve Wren know exactly what to do to that room. You get the best in r'n'b and hip hop from old to new and everyone is trying to impress. We even got a garage special from The Firing Squad. The Funkbase always stands out at Southport.

The Powerhouse had a host of great talent as you would expect at Southport. You've got Norman Jay's regular slot, an eclectic display from Studio Apartment, the fantastic Tortured Soul performing live, Frankie Feliciano and quality Patrick Wilson. But it was DJ Spen that rocked it for me and sent me straight into the dancing grooves of Southport. From playing a classic Curtis Mayfield track to a pumping house tune he just kept you wanting more. So much good choice.

The Beat Bar (formerly the Bacardi Bar) has always impressed me playing such eclectic music jazz funk, broken beat, drum & bass, techno to deep house and soulful house. It's worth going just to hear the sets from Giles Peterson, Snowboy, Bob Jones and Simon Mansell. But to top this we had the legendary Carl Craig and contemporary Zed Bias and Jihad Muhammed showing true skills. Fertile Ground played a great live set that worked great with the atmosphere of the crowd.

The Connoisseurs' Corner as always has the dons and true collectors of rare and classic soulful tunes that spans three decades of Southport. You'd expect to hear amazing tunes in there and the big boys Terry Jones, Norman Jay, Bob Jefferies and Andy Davies were there as always. A special guest appearance from Mr Scruff was a much welcome treat. In fact he smashed the place with pumping bass tracks and uplifting tunes that hit the button. I really enjoyed his set.

With such an array of DJ's such as Quentin Harris, Kerri Chandler, Steve Sutherland, Rahaan, Joey Negro and fantastic live acts such as Soul II Soul Soundsystem, Luisito Quintero, Roland Clark, Barbara Tucker, The Sunburst Band, Tawiah and a very special performance from The Blackbyrds yet to perform for the rest of the weekend surely I'd be a fool to leave so soon! In fact seeing friends that I've got to know at Southport there was no worry about being left with nowhere to stay or without shelter and the thought of leaving now did seem like a shame.

What was certain is that you don't want to miss out on the Southport experience; it's too much of a good buzz. You always get something from it that's why you keep going back. I was thankful to get a taste this time but next year for sure I'm staying the whole weekend. Bring on the chalet parties!

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