The Tales of a Southern Soul Sista -Southern Soul Festival 2018
Once upon a time….
My quest for music has taken to many weird and wonderful places and non more so, than the Southern Soul Festival, situated near a small seaside town of ulicij in Montenegro.
Southern Soul festival has just entered it’s 6th year, which each festival growing from strength to strength. For several years my music family told me of tales of this exquisite place, how the music was, ‘par excellence’, and the people who exude warmth and kindness.
This year the stars and planets aligned for me to make this eagerly awaited trip. Due to my hectic lifestyle I did very little research of where I going or indeed what to expect, preferring to go with the flow.
I am writing this post festival, in-between a crazy 15 hour return journey from Podgorica via Budapest, London and finally my home in Bristol. Those regular festival goers will know that functioning normally after a week of partying can be challenging but not in this case. I am struck my zen like calm and ease. For I am elated, fresh and bursting with enthusiasm to share my newly found treasure with you all. Southern Soul festival is a rare jewel.
The Setting Montenegro & Ulcinj
Montenegro, is country I would described as rustic, perhaps not as developed in places as it’s Croatian neighbour, but no less beautiful. Near the Artist Village, site just a short 10 euro taxi journey away is the old town of Ulcinj, nestled within the walled fortresses; are small restaurants and artisan shops. On one particular soggy day, my friends and I, (nicked the 11 plus 1 crew) descended to The Pirate Restaurant at the top of the fort. We look like a bunch of brightly coloured vagabonds, a tad under dressed for this new restaurant and hotel. We need not have worried as we were treated incredibly well by the friendly waiter and sommelier. The food was amazing, two of my friends declaring that that had just tasted the best steak, tuna steak they have very had!
There are plenty of small and friendly seafood restaurants dotted around the festival site to explore and enjoy. On site at the beach stage there was a burger van which offered nice salads, burgers and wraps, seasonable vegetables to enjoy.
Before I continue to describe the wonders of the festival, I am compelled to share the warmth and kind hospitality I experienced from the staff and local people. From the moment I appeared in arrivals I was met by Anna, smiling with banner baring my name. Luka our driver, a student studying economics & history, drove the 1.30hr transfer from Podgorica to the Ulcinq. Luka had to be one of the friendliest and knowledgeable people I have ever met. After spending over an hour in his company I knew more of the social, political an economic history of Montenegro. it was fascinating. Petar, aged 16 years who travelled with us, shared his aspirations of becoming a DJ. Showed enthusiasm at my life as DJ and eagerness to learn about from others. During my time in Montenegro I was bowled over by the friendliness of the people I met, it was humbling.
Back to the festival
There is gentle flowing ease that runs through the festival just under the surface, it lacks the hectic and exhausting energy of most places I have been too. There is ample space along the black sandy beaches to lose yourself, this is matched by the somewhat murky (due to the colour of the sand) but clean& inviting Adriatic Sea
if you stay at the Artist Village on the Copacabana resort site, you will find simple clean chalets standing side by side. I mention this because a large part of the festivals success is down to the people. The festival goers themselves were all that you could ask for at a festival. Over the course of the week, I had the utter pleasure to meet some amazing people. For example one night after returning from the beach stage, I popped over to the neighbours to ask if they had any teabags. I know how very British of me, there where no teabags, but that didn’t stop us from getting on like a house on fire, we stayed up chatting until the early morning. The following night my room mate and I were locked out of our apartment, whilst fellow room mate (who had the key) danced until the early morning to Glenn Underground. Fortunately for us our trusty neighbours returned and for the second time we partied until the early hours once again. We all got on so well that soon we nicknamed our group of chalets ‘Ramsey Street’, after the top Australian soap!
If you were very lucky you might catch a glimpse of the resident tortoise, making it’s way around the site.
So finally we move to the festival site itself, as you can see there is a lot to say.
This year Montenegro was hit by unseasonable wet weather much to the surprise of many of the guests. This made the day time at the beach stages less than favourable but we all persevered. the line up of artists was enough to brighten any clouds that appeared in the sky.
The opening night of the festival was held at the Copacabana Bar club house at the artist village. I was thrilled to see our very own DJ Tunesmith aka Joan Smith, who laid down the gauntlet in true selector stylee; heady mixtures of Jazz Funk, Raregroove and Soul. Next up Patrick Steel, galvanised an already giddy crowd into a frenzy, by playing every song that meant something to the music heads over the years. Following on with; deep afro and jazzy House vibes, anthems that got the crowd singing in unison. After a very long day travelling from London, 4am start, two flights and a transfer I retired to bed. When dynamic duo Al & Ket from Mucho Soul take the decks. I could not sleep I just listened to their wonderful choice in music, the continuing cheers and spiritual, Deep, Afro house rhythms it was glorious! Those guy live and breath music.
If you are still with me at this stage well done, it is a long review but there is a lot to say about this unique festival. One of the things that drew me to Southern Soul was the lineup. From the very first night I knew I had hit the mother load!
The festival is the brainchild of Petar, Nikola and Marko, all 3 are avid music lovers they wanted to share their passions with the world. Eddy Ramich & Dom Servini constructed the programming with such creativity and skill, I’ve never heard of a line up like it.
The line up is a eclectic blend of cultures and diversities, it boasts well world known artists & bands such as; Faze Action & Vanessa Williams, Jazzanova, Leroy Burgess and Chris Dave and the Drumheadz to lessen known but equally talented acts. It is easy to stumble upon a previously unknown treasure, which sparks the interests and inspires you to seek more from that artist when you get home. Over the course of the week I heard everything from: Spiritual Jazz, World Music, Psychadelic Fusion Jazz, Jazz Funk, Acid Jazz, Broken Beat, Disco, Hip Hop, Dub, Jungle, Deep Afro House, Soul Gospel House, Soul, Boogie and Funk and incredible interpretations of all these genres.
All week we danced either swaying and feeling the music flow like water through our bodies, or skanking, bruking out, getting down low lower or jumping up high with arms aloft. Know that the you dance on the sand which is tricky but there is something special about dancing barefoot connecting with the earth beneath our feet, causing mini mole hill like mounds to appear.
Moving and Grooving SSF Style
For the first time in years I discovered so many new acts that I could scarcely contain my excitement. The festival site compromises of 3 stages; the Organic stage plays host to more Leftfield Jazz, world music and looks towards the origins of the music. The live stage speaks for itself, expect to hear world class acts from across the spectrum. The Cosmic stage, explores the evolution of dance music, from Deep, Jazzy, glitchy, to Bass driven, Soulful, Techy Vibes House and Disco grooves. Kudos to the sound engineers for creating for the most part amazing sound quality. The live stage and Organic stage where incredible!
The site is designed to move with ease easy between the stages. The programming designed so that any given time you can flit between the genres depending on your mood. As a result I stumbled on some real gems.
The Artists and the music
There were so many highlights to the week that it is almost impossible to single out specifics. This is the first time I have been in this situation so rather than tell you all about each act I saw, I will suggest some recommendations for you to check out at your leisure, in no particular order.
- IG Culture from COOP Presents, the originator of Broken Beats sound. Catch his shows on https://worldwidefm.net/filter/ig-culture/
- Lay-Far Russian DJ Producer Extraordinaire, his amazing energetic sets, when his hair starts flying the tunes start rocking! https://soundcloud.com/lay-far
- Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, ‘Far out’, Afro Jazz Psychedelic explores conscious and social themes. A must see live! https://idrisackamoorandthepyramids.bandcamp.com/album/an-angel-fell
- Native Dancer, ground breaking, emotive and breath taking Nu Jazz, experimental Soul. https://soundcloud.com/nativedancer
- Chris Dave & The Drum Headz Deep Hip Hop grooves with layers of vocals using a sampler. http://chris-dave.com
- Dez Andres, yo this dude is mad crazy, had me leaping, stepping. Set kept me guessing from start to finish. https://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/andres
- Mad Mats Local Talk Records, Swedish dynamo and a technical wizard rules the decks like a pro. https://soundcloud.com/madmats
- Mad Professor & U Roy, live dub show brought earthly vibrations, combining Dub, Reggae & Jungle, arguably one of my favourites of the week. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156125307301154&set=a.488037596153.276982.613071153&type=3¬if_id=1530649183223909¬if_t=feedback_reaction_generic
- Mucho Soul unequivocally two of my favourite radio hosts & DJs, knowledgeable and passion about their music in equal amounts https://muchosoul.podomatic.com
- Zakia soul sista from Hounslow laid down some serious tuneage, she commands the decks & the audience like a goddess https://www.nts.live/shows/questing-w-zakia
- Paul Trouble Anderson needs no introduction. He single handedly lured the sun from it’s hideyhole, much to the delight of the revellers, with his uplifting House vibes. https://www.mixcloud.com/PaulTroubleAnderson/
- Zepherin Saint moved the crowd with his ancestral tribal house, strictly spiritual vibes. https://soundcloud.com/zepherinsaint
- Vanessa Freeman, singer, song writer with the voice that could launch a thousand ships. Blessed to hear her perform. Her performance with the legendary Faze Action was outstanding. http://www.justsoul.altervista.org/artists/vanessafreeman.htm
- Alex Barck, founding member of Jazzanova, DJ Producer, casts his net across of the genres to create a sound that is second to none. https://soundcloud.com/alexbarck
- Mr Thing, once caught in his musical web there was no turning back. Damn that man knows his music! https://www.mixcloud.com/DjMrThing/stream/
- Shay Okino, DJ Producer, one half of of Kyoto Jazz Massive. Renowned for his sunset performances and eloquent world wide Jazz, Soul & Disco https://soundcloud.com/shuya-okino
- Phil Asher, with the brightest smile and pure energy he has grooves to make you move. https://www.mixcloud.com/PhilAsher/https://www.mixcloud.com/PhilAsher/
The above is the tip of the musical iceberg, for more information about Southern Soul Festival line up, and event information go to http://www.southernsoulfestival.com
And so in conclusion
The Southern Soul Festival is the perfect example of what happens when you dare to dream and create a unique space, that values musicians and their craft. It’s beauty lies in the fact that people of all ages from across the world, come together bringing positive energy and genuine admiration. Without doubt the people shape the festival and this alongside the music makes this festival a marriage made in heaven.
The end result is a festival brimming over with originality, innovation, world class entertainment from start to finish. For me Southern Soul was like coming home and reminded me of why I started my quest in the first place.
Sending massive love and blessings to the organisers; Petar, Marko and Nikola. Eddy Ramich and Dom Servini (both amazing DJs in their own right) for programming such an incredible line up. To all the staff, especially Nina, Luka and Petar. To the 11 Plus 1 crew and the neighbours especially Ann Marie, Joe, Carlos & Maurice for all the laughs and for being amazing company Lastly to all the happy souls who weaved their own individual magic to make this one of the best experiences ever!
Written by Angel Mel Selector for the love of music – www.ammpromotions.co.uk
Special thanks to Alan Kenny Arscott, Ket Shah and Jason Purple for their photography
Follow me on