Mercury winner to make sweet music with free Sunderland gig

Ben Ottewell
Ben Ottewell
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A Mercury Prize winning musician is heading to Sunderland this weekend.

Ben Ottewell scooped the prestigious award as part of Gomez, whose band’s debut album Bring It On was honoured in 1998.

I’m just delighted that this is happening. Ben has one of the most unique, recognizable and soulful voices you will ever hear. Also, having spoken to him he’s such a lovely amiable person. It makes such a difference.

Dave Harper

He will perform a free gig at Pop Recs in Stockton Road at 1.30pm on Saturday.

The coffee shop aims to be a centre for culture and music, hosting regular performances by local artists and a young songwriters’ group each Saturday, and Ben is looking forward to seeing it for himself: “It sounds great,” he said.

“I heard about it through Sue Collier, who has booked me to play a couple of times. It’s great to get people involved in music and anything that does that is fantastic.

“The power of music to bring people together is amazing.”

With schools increasingly putting the focus on exam results, it was important to give young people an alternative creative outlet, said Ben.

“I don’t think young people are getting the opportunity to express themselves,” he said.

Ben will perform at Pop Recs ahead of a sell-out show Whitley Bay Playhouse with Frank Turner, who officially opened the store in its new Stockton Road home in November.

Pop Rec’s Dave Harper is looking forward to welcoming Ben to Sunderland: “He’s a top guy who knows all about Pop Recs and what we are and where we want to be in the future,” he said.

“Ben is up here supporting Frank Turner and really wanted to come and play for us. We’ve been trying to get in touch for a while and then the planets aligned.

“I’m just delighted that this is happening. Ben has one of the most unique, recognizable and soulful voices you will ever hear. Also, having spoken to him he’s such a lovely amiable person. It makes such a difference.”

Saturday’s show will be totally free of charge but donations are welcome.