Ben Somers and the Growling Old Men

Venue: The Chapel Sessions
Town: Southampton
Date: 1/4/15

Billed as the best of Bluegrass, and Americana, folk - the latest Chapel Sessions, Royal Victoria Country Park Netley, promised an unforgettable evening of musicianship and succeeded in delivering.

The Growling Old Men - Montana, USA based Ben Winship and John Lowell entertained a full house with their mandolin driven Bluegrass of the highest standard.

Opened by Hampshire based family bluegrass band 'Wood Wire and Words', just two voices A capella, from the pulpit followed by their three piece band selection of both covers and original, ending with the title track of their first album 'Riding the rails' A fitting start to a top class evening. The main act -London based multi-instrumentalist Ben Somers, plus Montana based -'The Growling Old Men', John Lowell and Ben Winship were snapped up by Chapel Sessions hosts on a brief teaching visit to the Sorefingers workshops Oxfordshire. Lowell's guitar work both intricate and tasteful, Winship provided solid rhythm, fills and solos on mandolin and octave mandolin beautifully complimenting the songs. Great voices and a sympathetic delivery of their lyrics. Ben Somers added both the bass and soprano sax and often third harmony. All three provided lead lead vocals and along with Ben Somers Sax made the most of the acoustic properties of the building. Standards such as 'Eight more miles to Louisville' and favourite 'Sarah Hogan' written by Winship were interspersed by surprises too, with Ben Somers Yodelling song. Applause from an appreciative packed audience resonated in every corner. There is no doubt at all that this trio will be back at Chapel Sessions in the future. Hosted by volunteers on a not for profit basis, the building has been transformed into a seriously unique venue for live music with atmospheric lighting that enhances the Chapel's architectural features.

Sonja Davison / Richard Holland

Chapel Sessions is a community led not for profit occasional music series in the acoustically acclaimed Victorian Chapel Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley, Southampton SO31 5DQ

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