Summer of Soul

Last night I was at the Savoy Cinema in Heaton Moor – it’s a single-screen independent boutique cinema just near the border to Manchester, and I’ve been there a few times to see films that haven’t been given a showing at Cineworld (where I normally go because I have an Unlimited card).

Anyway, I went yesterday to see a new documentary film about the Harlem Cultural Festival from 1969 called ‘Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)’, which at the time was recorded with a multi-camera set-up onto videotape, but after it was done, no TV network was interested in showing it, despite there being some pretty big names performing at it. So over 50 years later, these recorded performances are finally being seen, along with talking heads of those that either performed, or were in the audience.

It was a really interesting film, with some great music and restoration of the video footage really held up well on the big screen. It was also pretty educational seeing all this in the context of the racial tensions taking place in the US at the same time, which the documentary showed using archive news footage from the 60s.

The other reason for going to last night’s showing is that the Savoy preceded it with some live music, which made the evening more of an event. A local singer called Jermaine Peterson along with Troy his guitarist performed a set of soul covers and some original songs, and it was really good. It was basically just the guitar plugged into an amp and the vocal mic straight into the PA, and the only thing missing was a bit of reverb on the voice, but it sounded surprisingly good since no-one was actually mixing it!

Troy the guitarist & Jermaine Peterson

One bizarre thing about the night was who I was sitting next to… I’d had to buy a luxury seat because all the regular seats had sold out, so I was directed to a block of 4 seats, where two women were already sitting at the aisle end, so I went past them and sat in the end seat, leaving the single seat in-between for social distancing. After sitting down, I had the slight feeling that I’d recognised the older lady as I passed, and a couple of minutes later I overheard her say that she’d written an article for the Daily Mail that week, and at that point I also placed the voice and realised I was sitting next to former Conservative MP and Government minister, Edwina Currie!

Strangely, I actually met her way back in the 90s when I had to film an interview with her at some conference – I think it might have been the WI – but the one thing I remember about it is that she really wasn’t very nice! We were backstage in a small room at the venue, and she was all smiles when the camera was rolling, but I thought she was very rude to everyone the rest of the time!