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Southport Weekender 49: Minehead, UK

Gfunkdiva

TRIBE Member
Hello all!

As I sit by the lake at my cottage in Prince Edward County, celebrating the Canadian Victoria Day long weekend, my Southport Weekender in Minehead, UK seems way more than just a week away: it's a warm and fuzzy blur, snippets of memory with no defining or distinctive order. Even re-watching performances and parties I attended on Youtube doesn't seem to give me the crystal clear recollection required for a proper review. I blame the jet lag perhaps, or the fact that my circumstances around going to Southport were very different this year. Last year, my first time, I was living in Leeds, doing a Masters degree, and, despite being in the midst of exams, had time and space to go, party, wander, soak it all in and relay it with clarity afterwards. This year I flew in from Toronto just for the weekend, catching a red-eye on Thursday night, with an early morning stop-over in Paris, finally arriving in London to then embark on a 5 hour drive to the southwest coast, driving through Bristol to pick up a few friends along the way. It was quite the pilgrimage!

We arrived at the sprawling Butlins resort about 7pm, there wasn't a queue and we were able to park and get in fairly easily. My boyfriend and his crew went off to find their chalet while I went in the opposite direction to find mine. I was bunking in this year with my new friends Natasha and Dean who have been an absolute god-send in introducing me to the house music scene in England. I met them last year, the weekend after attending my first Southport, when I decided that I absolutely needed more dance floor, and I caught a train and booked a hotel in Manchester to check out my favourite UK duo, Audiowhores, along with Jimpster at a party, that as it turned out, was hosted by the fabulous Tash (DJ Tashizm) and her wonderful guy Dean, who plays with Dave Law in the fierce duo Tempo Twins. They immediately took me in, lone dance floor waif that I was, and we danced, hugged, laughed slept and ate over the next 36 hours together. I finally felt like I had met some kindred spirits! As it happens, Dean and Tash were also the ones to introduce me to Vocal Booth, another amazing festival in Spain, which is where I met loads of people, and now felt confident that I would no longer be alone on the dance floor at Southport. It was a great feeling getting there and knowing I'd see some familiar faces!

I knew from last year that there would be way too much to see and do, and to not get too hooked on having a detailed schedule. With 7 venues featuring live PAs, full bands, top DJs and turntablists and people smiling and dancing in every room, it's impossible to catch it all. Friday night I had committed to Black Coffee at 10pm and Dennis Ferrer at 2am. Everything else, whatever adventures I got up to, was negotiable.

There was a lot of excitement about Black Coffee's inaugural stint at Southport. It seems everyone is hungry for a more earthy, organic, Afro-percussive vibe to their house music - I for one welcome the infusion with open arms, and wish we'd hear more of it! I had seen him play at Sunnyside Pavilion in Toronto a few years ago - an incredible set and amazing party, and I knew we were in for a treat. He started off rather ethereal and slow, but it built perfectly as the room filled and the party got into full swing. The energy in the room was palpable and as he broke into Bucie's 'You Turn Me On' the whole Powerhouse sang along.

Southport Weekender 49 - Black Coffee - YouTube

Prosumer came on afterwards, but I admit I didn't give him much of a chance — it was time to head back to the chalet for a cheeky drink and re-gather before setting out on the long night ahead. I was back in the Powerhouse for Dennis Ferrer, and basically lost myself in the music for the next 2 hours. Ferrer is one of my all-time favourites - his productions are timeless, bold, sing-along tracks that are on consistent rotation on my iPod, and I was looking forward to hearing him pull out a few gems like Hey Hey, Church Lady, Cure and the Cause, Touch the Sky, Sandcastles… But to be honest I can't recollect if I heard them - I just grooved, smiled, ran into peeps I recognised, and loved every minute.

** It was at this point I had the good fortune of meeting Rage -- happy to make your acquaintance, my new friend! :D

Southport Weekender 49 - Dennis Ferrer - YouTube

From the Powerhouse and onto the Suncebeat Dome, where Andy Ward was dropping some beautiful, happy tunes that had the whole crowd bopping and smiling. This was a great change! I've gotten to know of Andy through the great work he's done with VB, and I feel blessed to be part of the community that's built around his longstanding radio show and the party. That vibe was in full effect in the dome that night.

Andy Ward: Southport Weekender 49 - Andy Ward - YouTube

Next up was Atjazz and Karizma, playing together under their 'Exist' moniker. I'm a GIANT longtime fan of Karizma and am never disappointed in his sets. Atjazz is a luscious, talented producer and musical scientist who I have come to discover recently. I had high hopes for this set! There were some good moments, to be sure, but sadly the pair just didn't seem to nail it. A few people I talked to wondered what was going on, as it wasn't up to the calibre we knew we could expect from these two musical geniuses. We were all a bit confused, but stuck it out as a sign of respect. This had us wandering back to our chalets by daybreak, and it seemed sensible at that point to get some sleep - there was still lots of partying ahead!

Karizma AtJazz @Southport Weekender 49 - YouTube

Saturday afternoon started with a live performance from vocal powerhouse legend Melba Moore. She was boisterous and sassy! Southport Weekender 49 - Melba Moore - YouTube

We bopped along for the day, having a tasty fish n' chips (when in England), a stop off in a chalet party, and a rush back to the Beat Bar to catch the last of Jose James' set. Was blown away by this talented vocalist. Definitely one to watch and purchase.

Southport Weekender 49 - Jose James - YouTube

Into the evening is a tad foggy, as we danced in the Sun and Moon Pub, had our pictures taken on the giant Butlins' chair, had plenty of laughs and happy boogies in various rooms. That it's all a complete blur is a testament to the amount of fun it was. :)

My next non-negotiable for Saturday night was Arrested Development, playing a live concert in the Funkbase at 11pm. Their iconic album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... was on constant rotation for years, and I still have a few tracks kicking about my regular playlists today. They were flawless and energetic on stage; the crowd danced and sang our hearts out, and it was a holistic, happy and healing experience.

Southport Weekender 49 - Arrested Development - YouTube

From there it was on to the eclectic, jazzy groovy sounds of Gilles Peterson in the Beat Bar, and then back to the Powerhouse for Adeva and her live kick-ass vocals.

Southport Weekender 49 - Gilles Peterson - YouTube

Southport Weekender 49 - Adeva - YouTube

At this point I parked myself on my dance floor spot, where I stayed throughout the entirety of Spen and Karizma's awe-inspiring, crowd-pleasing set right into Kerri Chandler's. The night is a blur of beats; once again I was lost in the music. As it should be, at Southport.

Southport Weekender 49 - Spen & Karizma - YouTube

Another sensible amount of sleep had me refreshed and ready for the Body and Soul party on Sunday. What a treat - Danny Krivit, Joe Claussell, and Francois K bringing their globally-infused, spiritually-vibed deep knowledge based party to the Powerhouse for the whole afternoon. The collective combined knowledge of those 3 is unparalleled and it was a rare treat to experience the true journey they took us on. It was here I had my moment - the one that's worth the price of admission. Three thousand happy souls singing and jumping and smiling and losing it to Donna Allen's 'He is the Joy', the floor literally pumping and heaving beneath our feet. If I feel just that one moment at every festival I attend, I'll keep festivalling til I die.

This was my moment: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151931916909992

Body and Soul: Southport Weekender 49 - Body & Soul - YouTube

And even more Body and Soul: Southport Weekender 49 - Body & Soul 2 - YouTube

A proper meal in the grilled chicken restaurant onsite fuelled us for the night ahead. The food was really impressive at Butlin's - an added bonus that makes the all around festival experience totally top notch.

Only about half of the total 6,500 attendees have tickets to stay on Sunday night. The 'after-party' tickets are only available to the first 3,000 that request them. The Powerhouse is shut-down but the Beat Bar, Funkbase and Connoisseurs Corner were hopping with eclectic, soulful house, and classic soul and RnB vibes, respectively. We planted ourselves in Funkbase for Ralf Gum, a live PA with Monique Bingham, and Grant Nelson to close. Flawless party, on every level. Everyone was still going, smiling, singing, grooving along… Gum was tight and creative, Bingham was classy and dynamic, and Nelson was groovy, fun and robust. It was a perfect way to end such a weekend.

Southport Weekender 49 - Ralf Gum - YouTube

Southport Weekender 49 - Monique Bingham - YouTube

Southport Weekender 49 - Grant Nelson - YouTube

Of course, it ended all too quickly, and the inevitable 'post-Southport blues' hit pretty hard this week, especially given I was back on a plane on Tuesday, saying goodbye to London and my life there once more, and teaching a class at Seneca by 8am Wednesday morning. It's also 'go' time at work with a major event coming up next week, so I hadn't much of a chance to really digest the fact that I flew in, I danced, I laughed, I cried, and I conquered Southport Weekender once again. And then, just like that, it was over!

There's much talk of signing up for the 50th next year. By all accounts, it's going to be a real banger. Although I'm moving to London to start my PhD in September, I can't really commit to going at this point. I'd be gutted to miss it though. There's definitely something so special about the event that transcends the obviously top notch calibre of the artistic acts, or the well-oiled machinery of the logistics, or even just the happy camaraderie of the people. It's a whole package that just feels like it should be a necessary regular injection in the fabric of a life. On second thought, I might need to start thinking about putting a crew together. :)
 

Rage

TRIBE Member
Well, it would be silly to try to come up with any kind of review that would even be in the same ballpark as the amazing G (who was an absolute PLEASURE to meet & thank you for the gift!!!!! ;), but I'll try to give my take on things!

I've wanted to attend this festival for as long as I could remember. It's always been tugging at me, always been in the back of my mind and to be completely honest here - reading G's review of it last year was really the final PUSH to do it. It also helps to be married to an English girl who loves it just as much as me and we always go back to the UK at least 1X per yer - that was that!

The accommodations were perfect for the event. Think a summer camp style of grounds with strip motel lodging - best way to describe it.

The venue has a main pavilion where you enter each room from - a few rooms were just outside of the doors but like maybe a few steps.

The lights & sounds through out each room was great but straight up, the LX & SND in the Powerhouse was off the charts amazing - super impressed...and they do it all to spec - they start with a blank canvas and go from there. Amazing!

We got to the festival and hit the only venue that was open (3pm - main venues opened around 9ish) - Sun & Moon pub. Think standard pub with a patio. IT WAS GOING OFF!!!!! At that point I knew this was really going to be something special.

Partied in the pub for a bit, had a nap - got up for Black Coffee. Meh, he was ok. When he played at Sunnyside a few years ago he was WAY better but, he was pretty much opening the room for the night so it's to be expected. People were loving it.

We then checked out our first live PA of the weekend - Mel'isa Morgan. She was amazing. We missed the first 10-15min of it trying to find the room but we enjoyed what we did hear from her.

*I can't say enough about the live acts at this festival. They are some of the most well received acts of the festival and some of the most enjoyable.

Started to wander through all the other rooms and found myself coming back to the Sunce'Beat Dome. This MASSIVE inflatable white dome that was put in the heart of the pavilion was just fantastic!!! Could hold what, 1500-2000 people maybe??

From there - checked out The Connoisseurs Corner which was super nice, The Beat Bar, The FunkBase...all wicked.

Made our way back to the Powerhouse for Dennis Ferrer. Now I gotta admit that I love many of his productions but as a DJ (I've seen him 4X now) he just always disappoints.

This was when I meat the lovely GFUNKDIVA!!!!! What an amazing girl, tons of fun and helped me out of a jam!!! Thanks girl!!!!

The wife & I wandered around a bit and at G's insistence, we checked out her friend Andy Ward who was KILLING IT in the Dome!! HELLO!! We stayed there for most of the night. Caught Atjazz +Karizma and I think I may have liked it slightly more than G did but yeah, was expecting more.

Went back to the Powerhouse to check out a bit of Sneak's set. It was good, typical Sneak, what you'd expect him to play at 5am in a big room.

Sat we started with a Live PA from Melba Moore. WOW is all I can say. So amazing. her background singers had their own spotlight towards the end of the set & just blew the room away.

Then we moved on to what is the highlight of the festival for me - Kerri Chandler absolutely SLAYING the 3pm Sat slot in the Dome. Words can't describe it so I'll just move on.

Hit up Phil Asher in the Beat Bar for the 5pm slot and then went back to our room for a nap & to get ready for a monster night.

The night really kicked off with Arrested Development's live gig. They played everything you'd expect from them within 45min and it was great.

Did some more walking around but by 1:30am, it was ALL Powerhouse.

Adeva just SMASHED her live PA, killed it.

Spen & Karizma owned me the entire night, just spectacular!!!!! If it wasn't for what Kerri did earlier in the day in the Dome, this would have been set of the festival for me.

Towards the end of their set, Spen came out from behind the booth and did this SICK live PA with Kerri (who was playing the next/closing set in the Powerhouse) on live keys & Karizma holding down a great groove. It was so good!

Stuck around for a bit of Kerri's set (which was stellar) but had to check out Ron Trent - who was putting a serious beat-down in The Beat Bar. He really brought it. Probably the best set I've ever heard from him and considering he's been over here many times & always delivers- this is high praise. Great way to end off the night.

Sunday we were only able to catch the very beginning of Body & Soul as we had a long drive back and a flight to catch. I can say that the sound & lights had really been taken to a whole new level & we knew it was going to be a great send-off.

All in all I'll say this - this was by far the most incredible weekend of music I've ever experienced in my life - and this isn't my first rodeo.

If you're thinking of hitting this up - DO IT! It's worth whatever $ amount you'll spend and whatever is involved in getting there. You wont regret it.

I hope to make it to the big 50, we're going to try!!!
 

alison87

TRIBE Member
Glad y'all had a good time, sounds lovely. I definitely like the idea of a festival with real beds and showers.
 
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Gfunkdiva

TRIBE Member
Big 50 coming up this weekend!! The line up is a bit insane. Have my highlighters out and planning my must-sees. Review (hopefully) forthcoming once the fog clears next week!
 
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