“Porretta belongs on every serious blues and soul festival-goer's bucket list, a confluence of positive forces to be honored and treasured.”
Dick Shurman, Paul Harris Living Blues 2017

ART DIRECTOR Graziano Uliani

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Chiambretti at the Porretta Soul Festival

In 1995 a memorable edition of the Porretta Soul Festival was held. That year there was an incredible cast and among the audience, intrigued by the growing fame of the festival, even Piero Chiambretti who in the front row followed the performance of one of his myths, Wilson Pickett, sacred monster of Black music, being last gig on stage on the final evening. There was another rooster in the hen house, and what a rooster! The authentic real funky chicken Rufus Thomas, eternal young man, who called himself the world’s oldest teenager. This didn’t seem to upset Rufus too much, who went on stage before Wilson, ending his show with Funky Chicken, his masterpiece, calling dozens of girls to dance on stage. At one point he launched the legendary sentence “This is my park, you are my people! This is my park you are my people!” The excited audience held him back for a long, long time. And so the irascible Wilson Pickett stepped on the stage late at night after devastating the dressing room by throwing bottles and threatening to leave. Rufus made clear to everyone that in Porretta HE was the king.

The experience was so engaging for a showman like Piero Chiambretti that he decides, as soon as he got the chance, to recreate the atmosphere of a Memphis club in a television studio, as he saw it in Porretta. He proposes it to Rai with no  luck, they say for a firm refusal of Pippo Baudo with whom he had to package a new show, and that he did not share the vision. Only ten years later, with the move to La7 TV, he will invent Markette recreating a black club environment, bringing on stage artists and gospel choirs. Success was immediate. In fact, the broadcast was renewed for four seasons.

The experience at the Porretta Soul Festival was so intense that it still remains in the showman’s memory. Recently, hosting the Porretta and teen idol Andrea Montovoli at Grand Hotel Chiambretti, he asked him: ”Do they still organize the Porretta Soul Festival?” Receiving a vague answer from Andrea, perhaps still bewildered by his stay on the Island of the Celebrities. Andrea Montovoli recalls that, as a child, he accompanied his father, who he lost at thirteen, to attend the festival many times.