Dean Benner Becomes a “Night Time Man”



By Sandi Durell


If you’re missing country music and that yahoo and hee haw that make your spine tingle, go no further than to Dean Benner’s next performance at Don’t Tell Mama on November 19 at 6 pm. This is Dean’s fourth show since 2011 and in honor of his latest CD release “Night Time Man.”

It’s especially refreshing to get a taste of cabaret in another styling – the country songs that produce the ultimate storytelling. Dean Benner is far from a night time man, hailing originally from a small town in Indiana, but now that he’s loosened up beyond bedtime at 10 pm, he’s treating his audiences to a wide range of country tunes like Merle Haggard’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man” for openers along with Turner Layton/Henry Creamer’s “After You’ve Gone” (originally sung by Bessie Smith, with a Chet Atkins arrangement).

He introduces his songs with au natural patter and information you may, or may not know. . . like Willie Nelson’s “Man With the Blues” – Willie rejected and out of work selling vacuum cleaners and Bibles door to door – wrote this tune giving advice on how to cry all night in 1959.

Contrary to his persona, Dean had fun with JJ Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze” perhaps dreaming what it might actually be like on a motorcycle.

Dean surrounds himself with top musicians who all get their just due soloing on the many songs that make them shine brightly. Richard Danley is music director/arranger on piano, along with Stephen Benson on guitar, Jack Bashkow on reeds, Mike Campenni on Drums, Jonathan Russell on violin/fiddle and Matt Scharfglass on bass. They’ll have you dancing in your seat. The applause meter rises heavily each and every time.

Along with the definitive country tunes, add in some tried and true American Songbook classics like “How Deep is the Ocean” (Irving Berlin) and Gus Kahn/Walter Donaldson’s favorite “Makin’ Whoopee.” Dean features his guest artist Christine Shuler, with whom he duets on songs like “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” (Jimmy Cox), a prelude to the Great Depression, and ”Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” (Roy Turk/Fred Ahlert); Christine shows off her hot mama side on Etta James’ “In The Basement.”

All the tunes are sung country honky tonk style as Dean regales an appreciative audience. Perhaps a cowboy hat might also add just the right touch.

The show is well paced and directed, with thanks to his long time director Linda Amiel Burns.



Don’t Tell Mama – 322 West 46 Street, NYC