Samui Wining & Dining
Musical maestros The Night Sessions just get better and better.

Musical maestros The Night Sessions just get better and better.Vocalist Pete McDowell and guitar player Alex Rigley have been playing together for the last 15 years. They have a unique sound which is created by combining skilful, intricate guitar arrangements with dynamic, soulful and smooth vocals. Based on Samui for nearly four years, they have been performing exclusively as a duo, playing classic hits and popular tunes from all genres. Now they are developing their style and diversity, adding more members and creating a further blues and soul sound.


Pete and Alex are both originally from Hertfordshire in the UK, where they met on a college music course. Here their friendship began when they found a shared passion alongside a drive and dedication to work hard at musical perfection.


Pete was a talented sportsman, his heart set on becoming a professional football player. After a serious injury, he became more involved in his other passion, music. With training from a teacher who recognised his potential, his voice quickly became his strongest asset.


Pete eventually graduated with a university degree in music composition, but has never stopped learning. He is currently studying great vocalists such as Howlin Wolf, Aretha Franklin, Ray Lamontagne and Freddie Mercury.


Alex was initially drawn towards blues and soul music, but it was hearing Jimi Hendrix, when he was just 12 years old, that completely blew him away. He got his first guitar and started learning to play in private and with friends. He persevered, and developed a clear understanding of musical composition, alongside a deep desire and obsession to practice and to be the best. Further inspiration came later from funk and reggae, and more recently from the great solo and duo guitarists such as Tuck Andress. Nowadays, he still spends most of his time improving his guitar technique and overall musicianship, jamming with other musicians or listening to other acts.


The Night Sessions has its origins in a hotel in Trang, southern Thailand. Pete was working as an English teacher there, and spent a number of evenings watching the resident duo. He realised that, along with Alex, they could create a similar duo. And with the plethora of opportunities available in Thailand, they could finally achieve their dream of becoming full-time professional musicians. In 2012, he convinced Alex to come to Thailand. They rented a house in Phuket, and practiced every day until they felt they had perfected their act, their brand. Musical maestros The Night Sessions just get better and better.Here the concept for simple but smartly dressed professionals, performing polished classic and very recognisable hits began. As beginners in the professional world, they didn’t know what to expect, so in order to be successful, they set themselves high standards for the musical arrangements from the very start. Pete dreamed up a name to fit their brand and The Night Sessions was born. After six months of working relentlessly on their performance, they successfully pursued an audition at Anantara on Samui. This meant they would be professional musicians for the first time in their lives.


For the first few years, The Night Sessions’ sound was based on Pete singing lead vocals and playing the drums, with Alex on guitar and provided backing vocals. They continually looked at ways to improve and decided to drop the drums and cut back on the backing vocals. Hence began a long search for a percussionist to fit with their concept, complete their sound and push them beyond what they could achieve as a duo. They jammed with many, and finally they found Nattawat Benjasuwan, nicknamed BB.


BB is Thai, originally from Chiang Mai. In his youth he played in marching bands, learning the rudiments of drumming and other rare skills amongst drummers on the island, such as reading and writing music. He soon progressed to the full drum kit and began playing in jazz, blues and rock bands around Bangkok and the north of Thailand. In 2014, he moved to Samui as demand for drummers of a high standard increased. He soon began turning his attention towards other percussion instruments, and met Alex at a jam night in Chaweng. BB is a skilful, dedicated professional; his versatility meant he quickly became one of the most sought after session musicians on the island, an excellent choice for the third member of The Night Sessions. Now a percussion whiz kid, BB is able to deliver unique and complex sounds, using simple instruments such as a cajon and shaker. The cajon (pronounced as cahone), originated in Peru and is a wooden box which you sit on and play as a drum. With just two simple instruments, BB is able to create the sound of a full drum kit. Oh, and he can sing! So The Night Sessions now has a third voice to make a really big sound!


They also sometimes play as a quartet, when they add a bass player. Alex is then lead guitarist and BB plays the full drum kit, treating the audience to the big band sound alongside Pete’s smooth, sophisticated vocals.


Whatever combination of The Night Sessions you are lucky enough to enjoy, the result is a sophisticated, eclectic blend of easy listening, soulful sounds. Whatever your age or nationality, you will recognise the tunes and the lyrics. The Night Sessions really get under your skin and into your head. They involve you, and you have no choice but to tap your toes to the rhythm, sing along, and rack your brain trying to guess the title and the artist. Their playlist ranges from soul classics like “My Girl” and “Stand By Me”, reggae from artists such as Bob Marley, rock classics from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, legends such as Elvis and Queen, blues from Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf, rhythm and blues classics such as Little Walter’s “My Babe”, and “She Caught The Katy”, and even romantic ballads such as Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”. Conversation is never dull with these guys around. They are a great choice to book for weddings or social events. The ‘feel good’ sounds encourage even the shyest guests to get up and dance the night away. The Night Sessions are very much attuned to their audience. They adapt their style and playlist to suit, and will always give a smooth, polished performance that you will remember long after the event.


Currently resident musicians at Banyan Tree, a five star resort in Lamai, they perform every Thursday and Saturday evening at the beachside Sands restaurant. If rain is expected, they may locate to The Edge restaurant which has both indoor and covered al fresco seating overlooking the entire resort and beach. An exceptional dining experience, alongside the sophisticated sounds of The Night Sessions. A match made in heaven, and truly an evening to remember.


 Karan Ladd


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