Another Syos in the Wall: Sax Gordon's Mural in Italy

Another Syos in the Wall: Sax Gordon's Mural in Italy

Saxophonist Gordon Beadle, also known as 'Sax Gordon,' has been honored with a vibrant mural at the Porretta Soul Festival, showcasing his dynamic performance style and featuring his signature Syos mouthpiece. Read the article to discover the story behind this artistic tribute and Gordon's remarkable journey in the soul music scene.
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I recently received this really cool picture of a big mural painting of musician with a Syos mouthpiece! 

Photo by Giorgio Barbato

The musician on the painting in Gordon Beadle. Gordon Beadle, also known as "Sax Gordon," is a renowned saxophonist celebrated for his energetic performances and deep-rooted blues and R&B style. With a career spanning several decades, Gordon has toured extensively across the globe, captivating audiences with his powerful and soulful sound. He has collaborated with numerous iconic artists, including Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, and the late greats, Solomon Burke and Junior Wells. Known for his dynamic stage presence and virtuosity, Gordon Beadle remains a prominent figure in the blues and R&B music scenes.

I was really curious to know the whole story behind this wonderful painting so i contacted Gordon and asked him to share the story with us. Here is what he said:

"There’s a small town called Porretta Terme just an hour from Bologna in central Italy that for over 30 years has been the home of the world’s greatest Soul Music Festival. The Porretta Soul Festival has featured classic original American Soul artists like Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, Percy Sledge, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers, Mavis Staples, Fred Wesley, the Memphis Horns, and hundreds of others.

Festival organizer Graziano Uliani is not only interested in bringing attention to classic Soul Music but also in bringing people to this beautiful and often overlooked area of Italy with it’s great natural beauty and culinary traditions. Porretta Terme is also known for it’s healing thermal waters, and somehow all these things come together to make the festival a fabulous destination! Artists and audience relax together in the main square, streets, and restaurants of the small town in a way that you rarely find elsewhere.


Photo by Giorgio Barbato

When I started working in Italy in the 1990s I found my way to Porretta and sat in the audience watching the great Solomon Burke (who’s band I would join later) but it wasn’t long before I was able to start helping out at the festival, opening shows, teaching students, playing with local bands, backing different artists, arranging horn parts, and eventually I joined the house band (which always featured a full horn section) backing dozens of great singers over many years. My family even got involved working with the production and one of my kids had some of his earliest on-stage experiences there joining the horn section when I would step out front..

Porretta Terme and the Porretta Soul Festival have honored Soul Music by having the park where the festival takes placed named “Rufus Thomas Park,” and there is an “Otis Redding Way” as well as a “Solomon Burke Memorial Bridge” (another one of my tasks was organizing a saxophone duet to play a medley of Solomon Burke songs at the dedication of the bridge!) In recent years they commissioned a series of murals featuring Soul Music greats like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, the Memphis Horns, Millie Jackson, and many more, as well as some festival favorites like Toni Greene, Bobby Rush, Vasti Jackson, Chick Rodgers, and to my great surprise - me!

I was caught completely by surprise when I arrived to perform with Mighty Mo Rodgers at the 2023 edition of the festival and saw this large mural! Of course I was deeply humbled to be chosen for this honor. The mural is a collaboration of two artists - Eduardo Ettore and Antonio Cotecchia an as you can see - the SYOS mouthpiece stands out clearly!

I won’t be at the festival this year but I know it will be great and I’m already thinking of a project to propose for next year because I have so many friends there now and it’s one of my favorite places to play!"

That's such a great story!

If you want to learn more about the festival, the painters or Sax Gordon, here are some links: