After being deprived of Soul Snatchers gigs for a period of ten weeks, because of my road trip through the Deep South of America, I was lucky to play at the Soul Jazz Festival on the 6th of July in St. Paul 3 Chateaux, South France. I can imagine worse things to do when returning from a long vacation.
When we arrived at Lyon Saint Exupéry Airport, Antoine of the festival organisation picked us up and brought us to St. Paul in two brand new festival vans. It’s a two hours drive, but the vans are comfortable and Antoine plays real fine funky Hammond Soul music on the car stereo.
And what a feast it is in St. Paul: a very hospitable and warm welcome with delicious oven dishes, wine, nice hot summer weather and swimming pool at hand. Unfortunately bass player Ton has to miss all of this. He isn’t feeling so well and moved to the hotel where he layed sick on his hotel bed until half an hour before show time.
St. Paul 3 Chateaux is a beautiful small village, very South French. The picturesque village square at the town hall is now a Soul Festival terrain for three days. Perhaps terrain is a big word for a village square with one stage, a horeca stall and one platform for the public to sit on, but this is exactly what makes this festival myuo sympatico and intimate. I like!
It’s also amazing that this festival for real soul connoisseurs with such a wonderful line up can take place in this little village. Reuben Wilson, Eddie Roberts and the Fire Eaters (with the rhythm section of the Sweet Vandals), New Mastersounds, Lefties Soul Connection and us of course, can you imagine that in the Netherlands?
After sound check, we checked in at the hotel just outside the village. So to see it just opened its doors, everything is brand new. Category: don’t worry, be happy. But they do have nice reading lamps at the bed and a showerhead with red and blue lights in it. And the baguette of course which is superb, especially when you ate that disgusting soft sweet American bread for ten weeks.
Round 7 p.m. back to the festival. When we get out of the vans, we receive a warm applause from the villagers. They make me feel like a Tour de France cyclist. Can’t wait for the kisses of the Tour girls.
The catering on the roof terrace is great: a couscous buffet with everything on it; the cucumber drink is very original. Ask Thomas, our saxophonist.
The Fantastics from England, with the very short skirted singer Sulene Fleming, are the festival opening act. At 10.30 p.m. it’s showtime for the Soul Snatchers, des soul men authentiques (festival flyer quote). Ton, who just arrived and still not feeling well, is hoisted up on stage, we hang his bass guitar on his neck. Go, go, go, Tonnie! A Snatcher never fails! We kick ass and funk the village up. St. Paul 3 Chateaux will never be the same.
The next day it’s time to fly home, but not after being spoiled by our caring hostesses with a delicious lunch by the pool. France and the Netherlands may have failed at the European Football Championships, the French / Dutch efforts at the St. Paul Soul and Jazz Fest were quite good.
Ronnie Guitar Smith