Andrea Valeri strikes the right chord in Netley

Andrea Valeri strikes the right chord in Netley. A dull, damp day in Netley was illuminated to Aurora like status as the sound of fingerstyle guitars filled St Edward’s Church, the temporary home of Chapel Sessions Music pending the refurbishment of the Chapel, Royal Victoria Country Park.

A full house illuminated by gently changing atmospheric lighting was the perfect setting for some of the most beautiful fingerstyle guitar music played and heard in the world today.

The much heralded UK return of Andrea Valeri, 25, world renowned fingerstyle guitarist from Pontedera, Tuscany arrived accompanied by quotes such as

– “A Guitar Genius, one of the best Guitar players in the world” John Doan

If Tuscan smiles were translated into music notes, a whole symphony of beautiful music was to grace the Chapel Sessions stage.

With Valeri’s audiences across the world regularly attracting 2,000 plus, this was surely a treat to reach all the senses in the intimate setting of St Edwards.

First up, 20 year old, highly regarded fingerstyle guitarist from Oxfordshire, Rory Evans with a fast and furious, well crafted set, sure to raise the tempo and the temperature. The ‘antipasto’ of the evening went down a storm with the audience of all ages including Hampshire Guitar students that cannot fail to have been inspired.

Anti Pasto savoured, it was the turn of the ‘Primo and Principale’ the first and main course all rolled into one and hot it definitely was.

Accustomed to playing to crowds of 2,000 plus in some of the most beautiful cities in the world, Valeri demonstrated the warmth of his Tuscan heritage infused through tunes from every continent. The Tango of Argentina, the drum heartbeat of Africa, the mysteries of St Petersburg, Russia, the plains of Australia and an emotional song La Lettera that made the hairs stand up on the back of the neck with a story of a WW2 soldier who is shot and killed on the battlefield before he has chance to read the letter his mother has sent him. The gunshot percussion on Valeri’s signature Maton guitar, ricocheted through the building and caught the breath of the audience before an overwhelming applause.

A set of two halves, the first, featuring tunes from Valeri’s aptly named 2014 album ‘Race Around the World’ plus some Rock’n’Roll in the form of Dire Straits ‘Sultans of Swing’ which saw Valeri down on his knees whilst playing. Straits original bassist John Illsley was ‘very impressed by Valeri’s beautiful interpretation of the song’ and passed on his good wishes and apologised he couldn’t get to the concert personally. A poignant rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine had all the audience singing along in heartfelt harmony.

Valeri’s second set treated all the senses to a taste of his Tuscan homeland with tracks from his new album ‘Mediterraneo’, literally hot off the press, collected 2 hours before leaving for the UK from 38 degree temperatures in Tuscany. Tracks such as ‘the Journey home’, Hans Zimmer’s ‘Driving’ plus ‘Young Gun’ from Australian fingerstyle master Michael Fix all came together to paint a picture featuring the title track Mediterraneo.

Without question this was the best attended and well received Chapel Sessions, not for profit concert to date, at St Edward’s Netley.

The return of Andrea Valeri will be much awaited.


Sonja Davison






From Nashville to Netley – Review Chapel Sessions Jenn Bostic, Sarah Darling, Kyshona Armstrong

From Nashville to Netley – Jenn Bostic, Sarah Darling, Kyshona Armstrong Chapel Sessions


With the media awash with ‘Bake offs, bread and buns’ the finest sweet things on the well crafted menu at Chapel Sessions were three of the most natural ingredients on the singer songwriter circuit today, performing individually and in harmony ‘A Night in Nashville – stories and songs in the round from Music City’ featuring tracks from their back catalogue, plus present and future songs on upcoming, soon to be released albums.

A capacity St Edwards Church, Netley, the acoustically acclaimed beautifully lit, temporary home for the community led not for profit music series that seems to have the knack of welcoming highly renowned international artists to ‘a doorstep near you’ filling a previously barren gap in the world music scene juxtaposed between Bournemouth and Brighton.

The ingredients, all highly acclaimed singer songwriters in their own right hit the right notes with the audience many of whom had seen Jenn Bostic at a 200 seat full house Chapel Sessions back in 2013, when she toured with her band and support from Emma Stevens and Daisy Chapman. Once dubbed ‘too pop for country and too country for pop’ this time she returned ‘stripped back’ with just her trusty Nord keyboard, and two good friends, met whilst touring and at songwriting workshops in the US, for their first extensive tour of UK – Sarah Darling who earlier this year played Country2Country Music Festival at O2 Arena and previously played Grand Ole Opry with Brad Paisley, plus Kyshona Armstrong’s soulful, gospel, blues infused songs for her first foray to the UK.

Powerful voices graced the intimate stage. Re-living heartfelt words and painting portraits with the chords. If smiles could be turned into ‘Bake off surprises’ then the full ‘a la carte’ menu was on offer that night.

Darling opened her set of self penned songs with her current single full of cheekiness, catchy lyrics and ‘can’t stop humming appeal’ – ‘You take me all the way’. ‘Little Umbrellas’ echoed in lights at the back of the church was a fun catchy song that had everyone joining in. Back to the Country Roots from her upcoming album ‘Dream Country,’ her song ‘Where Cowboys Ride’ brought a blast from long gone cowboy movies and the romance of the dusty plains. The clear starlit night with an almost full moon was the perfect backdrop to ‘Halleys Comet’ – a place for me to shine, her signature inspirational song.

Love featured widely as the romanticism of ‘Montemarte’ holds a special place in Darling’s heart with the cobbled streets and a penchant for French macarons, the song preceded a romantic trip to Paris with her English husband.

Bostic’s current single from the album Faithful -‘What love feels like’ BBC Radio 2 playlisted for the 3rd week was delivered with powerful prowess with harmonies from the other two singers, the whole church was tingling with trepidation.

‘Not Yet’ a powerful song of perseverance and tenacity, rose to a powerful crescendo that had so much feeling the throat felt every emotion.

The whole audience were engaged in a rousing clapping and singing reverberating chorus of gospel like ‘Raise ‘em up Hollywood’ which really felt uplifting as did ‘Little Grace’, in a waltzy style about not being judgmental of others.

There were also songs reminiscent of Vaudeville and burlesque in the programme with a touch of humorous theatricals about them such is the confidence of these three great fun loving songstresses.

Armstrong led the audience in stories of her Grandpa with Grandpa’s Song ‘Had a Dream’ – as indeed we all need dreams in this life. ‘Lonely’ penned with Bostic in her early days in Nashville, when loneliness was her only companion, provided an insight into being surrounded by a crowd yet still feeling lonely.

‘Do nothing’ was a powerful reflection of her early days as a music therapist.  

The title track of Kyshona’s new album ‘The Ride’ about finding your own way in life, proved apocryphal as they had certainly been on a ride around UK including first time UK drivers Kyshona Armstrong and Sarah Darling with adventures worthy of a future song title.

Every single word to every song could be heard and in pin-drop silence Jenn sang her signature song ‘Jealous of the Angels’ – an emotional song borne out of tragedy but bringing hope and comfort to so many. A real ‘Showstopper’.

The trio ended the evening with a moving cover of Eva Cassidy’s ‘Fields of Gold’ which brought a standing ovation and the trip of over 4,000 miles from Nashville to Netley, that the whole UK tour was built around, was certainly appreciated by the Chapel Sessions audience who await their future return.

Sonja Davison

Chapel Sessions presents Richard Wood & Gordon Belsher 

Richard Wood- the bow shredding Celtic  fiddler & step dancer from Prince Edward Island, Canada plus Gordon Belsher award winning singer songwriter. Chapel Sessions presents Celtic Routes with Richard Wood – one of the best “celtic” fiddlers in the world. From Canada he has been described as “Prince Edward Island’s Bow shredding Fiddling sensation”. If this wasn’t enough he will be accompanied by his friend and fellow Canadian the superb Guitarist & Vocalist Gordon Belsher.

Saturday 22nd October 2016, Doors open 7.00pm show starts 7.30pm (Bar open in Church Hall for beer, wine, real coffee etc. 6.30pm)
We have managed to get Richard and Gordon to fit in an appearance at Chapel Sessions as part of their Autumn UK and Belgium tour.
For more than two decades, Richard Wood has impressed audiences around the world. Highlights include TV guest appearances with Shania Twain on “David Letterman” and at Carnegie Hall with Irish legends The Chieftains.
Gordon Belsher is a recipient of the prestigious Music PEI 2014 “Lifetime Achievement” Award. He has been entertaining audiences around the world for 40 years and regularly accompanies Richard with featured vocals.
Tickets: £14.00 when booked in advance online.
Please note tickets will not be posted and will be issued as an e-ticket which you will receive via email following confirmed payment.
Keep in touch via Twitter @chapel_sessions and Facebook
The acoustically acclaimed Chapel at Royal Victoria Country Park, is currently closed whilst undergoing major refurbishment works so join us at one of our new venues St. Edwards Church, Grange Rd, Netley, Southampton, Hampshire SO31 5FF. Chapel Sessions is a community led not for profit occasional music series.