Five Thousand (5,000 – we think it's more) revelers came to the Pontins Holiday Centre in Southport England, an hour or so outside Manchester (North UK) in the beginning of November, to have the best weekend of their soulful house music lives.
Already sold out in June of '07, this was the second run of the bi-annual Southport Weekender festival, honoring their TWENTIETH YEAR in existence. That's right, the 41st time they've put on this event, having showcased some of the world's most amazing talent, year after year at the same location since 1987, and trust when we say, it did not disappoint. Soul II Soul, Sounds of Blackness, The Fatback Band, Ananda Project, Michelle Weeks, Lady Alma featuring Mark De Clive Lowe, Rashaan Patterson, and DJ Marley Marl all performed live, and DJs included everyone from Tony Humphries (who celebrated his 50th B-day there), Todd Terry, Kerri Chandler, DJ Spinna, DJ Karizma, Dennis Ferrer, Norman Jay, Giles Peterson, Glenn Underground, Phil Asher, and countless others from the UK, Europe, and the USA.
For those not familiar with the Southport Weekender, the festival runs for 3 days, usually in May and then again in November. People from all over the world come to this small beach resort town and rent out small no-frills chalets in the self-contained complex, go to the on-site convenience store to stock up on food, booze, and Advil, and just party from sundown to sunup. The music is mainly House but within the complex there are 4 big rooms, aka The Powerhouse, The Alizé Funkbase, Connoisseurs' Corner, and Bacardi B-Live Arena that host R&B, NuSoul, Future Jazz, and some Hip-Hop. There are also some other quick food vendors and music retailers as well as a large arcade room for the gamers. Not much to the retailers really, just your basic mom & pop operations that make the experience that much more family-oriented and low-key. That's what this is about and that's what you feel when you get there. Comfortable. Everyone's a bit drunk to be involved much in vid games but one thing is certain; EVERYONE is there to have a great time and there's absolutely NO violence, attitude, or posing whatsoever. It's for people who are looking to vibe with other people through a phenomenal live musical experience and pure unadulterated fun.
Acts in the past have included everyone from Angie Stone, Brand New Heavies, A Tribe Called Quest, India Arie, and Deborah Cox to Barbara Tucker, Martha Wash, Jocelyn Brown, Byron Stingily, and Loleatta Holloway to name a tiny few. Should we mention past DJs? OK. From Louie Vega, David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, and Dimitri from Paris, to Miguel Migs, Sandy Rivera (Kings of Tomorrow), Erick Morillo, Deep Dish, and even Carl Cox!
Call me a cynical NY'er, but this was my second trip there, and there existed not a single sour-pussed face in the masses, further proving the Brits surely know how to stomp, shake, and have a good time. This can easily be ranked as one of the best House Music events in the world and the vids on youtube alone are up to prove it. Don't miss #42 kids – it'll certainly be worth the trip across the pond.