Review of the 46th Southport Weekender on May 7th 8th 9th 2010

We're back again at Pontins for the amazing Southport Weekender and I don't think anyone can quite believe how quickly time has gone! Although many Southport stalwarts liked putting on the woolly hat and raving during the winter chill to the same excellent music always provided at Southport Weekender we all know that Weekender 45 was the last winter event and upset a few loyal followers of Southport, however with all good things that come to an end, creation allows the birth of new things to arrive that set the precedent of new horizons. The fantastic crowd that visit Pontins can't get enough and always return resulting in SP46 selling out in only three weeks! Three years on from the outstanding 40th anniversary, through a period of recession and difficulty, the fans are still around to support and there is a reason for that. With the looming fear that Pontins may one day go and all the talk of investment on the site we are reassured that Southport Weekender 47 is booked and ready for May next year. Thank the lord for that.

Southport Weekender

Sometimes from time to time life seems difficult to find the time to enjoy life. The looming responsibilities, the worries of money, constant expectations we wish for that don't come to fruition and the isolation we can feel in our modern world. It's hard to find the joys, unfortunately, for some these days. Maybe that's why so many of us go back to Southport Weekender as you are guaranteed a good time. It's all about fun and party people. As the weekender approached I felt thankful to be going and even though I wondered whether this might or might not be my last one I couldn't help but feel excited whilst getting into my car and the reason for that was because I've been to the weekender before!

If was a beautiful sunset on the Friday evening as I approached Southport and indeed the stage was set for a blinder! I'm always astonished by the Southport line-up. It's like America meets London from the past 40 years, with a history of legends and innovators of music, that have shaped the world we live in and appreciate, all together in one place! This place is a northern town by the sea in England called Southport and anyone who's been over the past 23 years of existence most probably have been back. It's special and unique for sure.

I've written quite a few reviews for Southport Weekender's now and the format of festival remains the same. There's the Powerhouse, the main room that showcases mainly house and soul music; The Funkbase, that is mainly r'n'b, hip hop and funk; The Beat Bar that highlights the progression of fusion-jazz and all new grooves, deep house and soul developed from this fusion and The Connoisseurs Corner, a master class of amazing DJ's and classic performances to educate us all to the history of soulful music. Southport Weekender was set up as a soul weekender so the elements always relate to that, no matter how far music has progressed. That's what creates the love and unity you can't find anywhere else, believe! The music is exceptional and the atmosphere outstanding!!

Obviously it's the people that make it all happen. The musical enthusiasts that create the music, all the hard work from the people behind the scenes but most importantly the lovers of music who just keep coming back to Southport! I feel proud to be one of them. There's no way you can't dance at Southport Weekender as whatever corner you turn or place you go to it is heavyweight music all the way and brilliant performances too! Even when the music stops at 8am it continues on with the chalet parties constantly happening on the grounds. Over the course of the weekend you could talk to anyone and make friends for life. The people create the joy and buzz you take away home from the event that's unlike no other. I've watched Joey Negro play a few times at Southport and is definitely worth seeing; he smashes it every time and he did a particularly amazing job this year! I met him personally in Croatia last year at the Garden Festival. The site in Petracane is memorising and so easy to meet people there. That night Joey was talking to me about the event SunceBeat, the new event from the Southport Weekender family happening there mid August this year and Joey is on the line-up! It looks amazing but more about that later.

So it was definitely a good entrance into SP46 but I have to emphasise this particular Friday night was one of the best I've ever been to. The line up was astonishing; it included some very cool and interesting live acts. Jazzatronik displayed serious musicianship and there was definite quality from Urban Tribe in the Beat Bar. Angela Johnson performance was excellent with a full band to bring some soulful funk to warm the Funkbase up nicely! For me personally seeing Crazy P on the line up for The Powerhouse was really heart warming. I saw Danielle Moore last year, a true fan of soulful music, partying at Southport. I spoke to hear then and she stated how much she'd love to play at Southport Weekender. A year later Crazy P was playing to a packed crowd in The Powerhouse! You could see how much they loved this gig warmed up beautifully by Joey Negro. The crowd were feeling it for sure! The night in The Powerhouse was completed by some great DJs including: Steve Butler, Ralf Gum, Grant Nelson, Marlon D and Ron Carroll.

I have to say I was really pleased I saw Kon & Amir in The Connoisseurs Corner. I didn't know much about them before I got there but it turned out to be a great place to be to start the weekender. Showcasing gems of funk, soul and groove they set the dancing souls of Southport on fire! In fact the strength of artists playing Connoisseurs Corner made it an amazing place to spend the entire Friday night. It wouldn't be the Connoisseurs Corner if it wasn't for residents Andy Davies, Terry Jones and Mike Stephens but how cool to put Greg Wilson and John Morales on for the finale! Greg Wilson played a blinder and that's no surprise playing before John Morales; anyone who knows anything about disco, soulful house music and classic dance will know about John Morales. An absolute legend of the music scene for sure and thankfully back after a ten year hiatus, he made a few appearances over the course of the weekend including at the Afterparty. It's testament to this amazing contributor of the music scene and genuine lover of Southport to be there until the music finally ended. John Morales we salute you!

There was DJ Cash Money (who smashed it by the way), DJ Killbz, Stretch Taylor, Steve Wren, Ronnie Herel, Artful Dodger and Fitzroy Da Buzzboy all in the Funkbase on Friday setting the tone for great night of quality music. I say this in all my reviews that you never hear such quality r'n'b, hip hop and funk anywhere that I know of than in the Funkbase! It's such a good vibe in there! I thought it was particularly cool that David Rodigan was playing late Saturday night much to the delight of the Southport Crew. A genuine contributor and collector of quality bass music, Rodigan contribution to the reggae scene in the UK is second to none. Southport is all about respect for black music and to have Rodigan jamming to the crowd, playing classics and bangers was particularly special. You could see the delight of Ronnie Herel, from BBC 1Extra, who played some outstanding d'n'b to follow and that for me was a real treat to hear at Southport. Mr Thing and Sisqo who both made a delightful performances completed the Saturday night.

Thankfully I managed to pace myself this year and managed to get some dancing action during Saturday day. It's easy to go over the top on Friday and burn out, a move that isn't recommended as you risk missing the day time sessions that are usually amazing. The Beat Bar was warmed up nicely on Friday night with some great DJ's like Benji B, Jimpster and Osunlade so there was a real buzz on Saturday afternoon in there. Restless Soul were set to rock the Beat Bar all afternoon playing the deeper side of dance music with 6 DJ's, 4 Decks, 3 singers and 1 musician featuring Aaron Ross, Dominic Jacobson, Zara McFarlane, BabySol and Bopstar, Selina Campbell, Craig Whitfield and Luke McCarty, Jose Carretas, Phil Asher and Julian Bendall from BAH SAMBA. It was a great place to be and I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be on a Saturday afternoon.

The Powerhouse was cool too with residents Ronnie Herel, Steve Wren and Bigger dropping soulful bombs and 80's band Mint Condition provided a dose of soul that only the 'Southport Weekender' can deliver. Saturday afternoons wouldn't be the same without Bob Jefferies, Andy Davies and Terry Jones 'soul session'. It's was classic and sweet as always and provided the entertainment in the Connoisseurs Corner as per usual mid way during the weekender. I have to mention I quite liked the 'soul session' in Funkbase last year. It was a nice change for it to be in there on reflection. Rodigan style!

So Saturday night came as there was a whole host of magnificent happenings. It was good to see Leroy Burgess back performing and it's always good to see Gilles Peterson's regular slot in the Beat Bar. Bucie and Jasper Street Company were performing live in The Powerhouse as well as Christian Prommer's Drumlesson and King Britt featuring Kaidi Tatham in The Beat Bar. It was without doubt great to see King Britt and the legend Ashley Beedle both performing on Saturday night having both contributed to the Southport Weekender Vol. 8 collection and if you haven't heard this yet, please listen to it, it's excellent. Peanut Butter Wolf I thought played some cool tunes that reminded me how nice it must be to play the Connoisseurs Corner, playing your rare collection, kinda like how Mr Scruff played at Southport last year. Sean P boogie set was also a delight for many. A great selection of DJ's in the Powerhouse with Sean McCabe, Andy Ward, Joaquin 'joe' Claussell and regulars DJ Spen, Louie Vega and Kerri Chandler. Can't really argue with that! I also have to mention particularly Kyle Hall and The Revenge, they played some amazing music that I'm sure will see a return for them both at Southport. Serious!

So on to Sunday afternoon and when first reading the line-up I couldn't quite believe it! Linda Clifford, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown all on the same bill!! All these profound and amazing soul singers, whose contribution to disco, soul and house music are outstanding. All the singers performed without a band, as usually there is a live band on Sunday afternoon, however this didn't matter as it was BIG! Each of the heavyweight divas of soul delivered a great vocal performance which left a permanent impression with the Southport family. Most left happy and rejuvenated but for some lucky few it didn't finish there!

Luckily I made it to The Sands which is always class on a Sunday and then later to the Afterparty! The Afterparty is certainly becoming a feature at Southport these days. It was a sight to behold seeing such a plethora of talent on stage from Kerri Chandler to John Morales to Jocelyn Brown and others all on stage having a great time. Indeed it was an amazing picture and they deserved it, they gave us a great weekend. However maybe everyone on stage was having too much of good time as for me the music didn't seem to fit a Sunday night meltdown which you generally associate with an 'afterparty'.

So another Southport Weekender and I have to say it was a cracker and as long as this festival exists I will keep coming back. Southport always delivers and even when you feel you're getting too old for all of this and want to leave on a high you feel the vibe and know it's timeless. There are no limits at Southport. We were lucky with the weather as there were some nice sunshine vibes happening all the way through the weekend. There were some great chalet parties too. I enjoyed meeting some non Brits, people from Amsterdam, Portugal and Germany. It was good to get a worldwide perspective, one of the girls stating that "If you're into this kind of music, everyone in the world knows about Southport Weekender as everyone you want to see is on the line up" I definitely feel pretty lucky to be so close to the event.

So what is the future of Southport Weekender? #47 is booked and judging by how quickly this one sold out, don't hang around too long before you buy your tickets! There's no doubt in my mind that SunceBeat is the future; if you haven't seen the line-up yet you'll be flabbergasted! There are festivals going on all through the summer in Petracane, Croatia but for me this is the one for the heads, it's seriously heavy weight and those that go to the first event will witness something very special. I know how good the venue is and I know how well received the Southport family will be in Croatia.

Tareck Ghoneim

SunceBeat takes place on August 13th - 15th 2010

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