The Story of Standing Hampton

Capturing the sound and magic from the glory days of classic rock, Standing Hampton performs the best musical nuggets from the 70’s, 80’s and beyond, harnessing the energy and spectacle of rock at its best. Celebrating over 15 years as a group, this Des Moines based sextet (1 girl & 5 guys) deliver an entertaining and visually compelling show, unleashing a flashback of guitars, drums, and synthesizers with soaring vocal melodies. Three members share the lead vocal spotlight to a backdrop of lush harmonies. Combining superior performance skills, a modern light show, and a pro sound system, Standing Hampton captivates an audience and pulls them into the rock show experience. What about the name? (more later)

Now considered a premiere export of the Des Moines music scene, the group had its beginnings in year 2000, drawing from various country bands with former rockers as members. Longing to perform rock classics that he grew up listening to, drummer and vocalist Tony Benson enlisted the vocal and keyboard talents of his wife, Nancy Benson (herself a longtime member of the Iowa music scene), to bring together a group that captured the power of songs from their youth. Guitar phenomenon and vocalist Devon Miller (since retired) and keyboard veteran/guitarist Douglas Dixon were brought aboard to add vocal diversity and stage antics to the mix. The group was immediately overwhelmed by the demand for their brand of classic rock and the positive response of their audiences, a trend that has continued for over a decade and a half as they continue to wow crowds in the Midwest. In recent years the additions of Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Tommy Walker on lead guitar and high octane vocals, and Anthony Cravero on bass has helped solidify the unit into a rock and roll machine. Most recently, American Idol contestant, Gabe Brown, brings a harder edge to vocals, co-fronting the band with Nancy. But what about the name? (more later)

Entering their 17th year as a driving force in the Iowa music scene, Standing Hampton has expanded and updated their repertoire and talent pool and proudly present a six piece power pop and rock ensemble that draws on even more vocal and performance firepower and flair to deliver a show above and beyond expectations.

The dynamic Benson duo, husband and wife Tony and Nancy originally cut their teeth on the music scene of southern Iowa, performing in a variety of rock bands in high school and college during the 80’s, later entertaining on the road across the country. Tony began playing guitar at age ten and has been drumming for over 35 years; he propels Standing Hampton with his articulate and dynamic grooves, all the while belting out classic rock melodies and harmony. He’s also an accomplished guitarist, songwriter, producer and engineer for the group in concert and on record.

In the tradition of the great female artists of the rock era, Nancy Benson has the talent, range and soul to bring classic rock to life. Like milestone artists Heart, Pat Benatar, and male rockers from Journey and Kansas, Nancy captures the spirit of their energy with her accomplished vocal delivery and stage appeal. On stage and in the studio, she delivers genuine, heartfelt performances that captivate the listener. When not taking the center spotlight, Nancy adds keyboard textures to the Standing Hampton sound.

On keyboards, guitar, and vocals, Douglas Dixon brings to the party his unique synthesizer talents and electric six string strangling, adding classic ingredients to their classic rock sound. His mother took him to piano lessons at the age of four and he hasn’t been the same since. Formerly a Curb recording artist in the 80’s with pop-rocksters “AirKraft”, this road warrior frequently performed over 300 gigs a year! He also acts as producer/engineer/ song and jingle writer at his recording studio Mind’s Ear Music and with the group.

The multi-talented Tommy Walker starting playing bass and singing in Oklahoma bands at the age of 10, later playing drums in an 80’s hair metal group in high school. Tommy’s musical journey took him to the prestigious US Air Force “Tops in Blue” band, touring North America and Europe. After serving in Desert Shield/Storm, he came to Iowa, wowing the country scene as lead guitarist with Sweetwater, and Uncle Tater. Equally fluent on guitar, bass, drums, and vocals - in rock, funk, and country (what can’t he play?), he deftly handles guitar and vocal chores in the new Standing Hampton lineup.

Anthony Cravero drives a funky groove on bass and adds vocals, bringing a wealth of experiences that range from singing, bass and guitar gigs in musical theater and opera to local rock units “Treblehook” and the “Andy Anderson Band”. His first group “The Storm” enjoyed major airplay on Quad Cities radio. He’s played guitar since age 11, and picked up the bass soon after, eventually graduating from Bradley U. in music education. He can also play the fiddle, banjo, piano and saw! When he’s not rocking with the group he teaches music/choir at a Des Moines area middle school.

Gabe Brown has his roots, heart, and soul embedded in classic rock. Singing before actually beginning to talk, he’s a soul with a song forever playing in his head. Gabe can find something he likes in pretty much any song he hears, and will file that away and use it to add his own nuance to his explosive performances. Starting with piano at the young age of seven, and working his way through drum, guitar, and bass lessons, Gabe found his niche in singing, being able to harmonize and pick out melodies effortlessly. He started with school, Church, and College choirs, but realized he had the ability to sing like his rock heroes during a Battle of the Bands with his buddies. From there he hasn't looked back. Singing became his calling card. He performed in a 70's Soul Review at the Sonneheim Theatre in Fairfield, and from there took a shot at the traveling bus tour for American Idol where you might have watched him belting out the Stones classic "Gimme Shelter" and handing out cookies to Randy, Mariah, Nicki, and Keith. Gabe’s audition resulted in the celebrity judges unanimously giving him a ticket to Hollywood. After Idol, Gabe became engrossed in developing his own band, Helforstout, and played many gigs through out the Midwest. He’s currently the newest member of Standing Hampton, and can't wait to add his unique flair and enthusiasm to the band. For Gabe, where there is music there is life worth living.

Oh yes … about the name ……Standing Hampton? Thought you’d never ask. Let’s just say it’s the title of a classic rock album by Sammy Hagar, and British slang for something else.