1383443_10151897240527766_647047682_nI fell in love with Soul4Real & the whole concept when I visited there for S4R 7 in July 2004.

Promising sunshine & featuring Terry Jones & Gavin Page, the temptation was too much to miss & over the years, the attraction has only grown.

The early days saw an event 2 twice a year, & there have been some strange venues – one particularly was S4R 10 where Bob Cosby & Gary Dennis played in a room at a club where over 1,000 reggae fan’s had gathered . . . I’ll never forget that smell !! I was lucky to be asked to play at S4R 13 with my good friend Mark Houghton at what soon became an amazingly atmospheric & popular venue for the Brits who gradually heard all about the Soulful vibes from the wonderful City of Bilbao.

The Kisosk del Arenal was very special & memories of empty pint glasses of ‘vodka orange’ lining the edge of wall beside the dance floor will remain forever . . . as will Terry Jones walk back to the hotel the morning after !

So where are we now, S4R joined with Soul Essence & both events are now once a year which makes them even more unmissable & pretty much the first things in the Soul diary. The Hotel Ercilla hosts the all nighters, while the whole fun & games have grown to a 4 day extravaganza featuring the Cotton Club where on Thursday night we have the meet & greet & the Sunday where we say goodbye . . . but in the middle we are presented with the ‘chiens balons’ or deep Soul delight – definitely not for the faint hearted ! To put the cherry on the cream, the 20th edition features the mighty Phillip Mitchell – how lucky are we all ???

Soul4Real has become a very special Soul event where the nicest of people get to hear the best of music in a wonderful setting . . . Alex, Aitor & everyone else involved, it has been a pleasure to share your hospitality – long may you continue to keep ‘Soul for Real’ !

Paul Thrower

560670_3270082931011_2049950224_nMy first trip to Bilbao was in 2007 was the one with Terry Jones and Mark Houghton as guests. I had no idea what to expect as I had never been to an overseas gig before. I was so amazed and found it so refreshing that there was such a mix of different types of music from disco to northern soul, sometimes in the same set.

It was also an amazing venue at the Kiosk which was amazing to be dancing in this little round café until 7am. I was also introduced to Alex and Aitor for the first time and found them not only very friendly but extremely knowledgeable. I danced until the early hours and really enjoyed myself.

Since then I have been back to nearly every one and have always told friends how good it was and they in turn have told others where now we have I would guess about 80+ coming from the UK.

As time has gone on I have enjoyed the smaller more intimate Cotton club as there is an opportunity to play a different from deep soul to northern etc. I really enjoyed double decking last year with Paul Thrower and found the crowd really receptive and the bar stuff great fun as well. The highlight was of course Mike Lofthouse’s showstopping deep set last year!

Fast forward to 2013 and we have the 20th anniversary with special guest Phillip Mitchell. An unreal achievement and one I can’t wait to see.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many great people through this weekend and regard them as firm friends now.

So roll out the red carpet for Alex and Aitor as they have done a wonderful job and deserve all the acololades.

Well done guys and take a bow

All the best

Mark ´Binsy´ Taylor