click to enlarge Mark Deutsch plays his one-of-kind, patented Bazantar, Thursday night, Nov. 7, at the Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space.
Mark Deutsch plays his one-of-kind, patented Bazantar, Thursday night, Nov. 7, at the Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space.

I’ve heard more songs about the dark and dreary days of November than any other time on the calendar. But that shall not refrain us from enjoying these moments any old way we can, so off into the depths of forbidding November we go.

First, let’s pay our respects to a recently departed musician, as Ben Pope, popularly known as Whiskey Ben, passed away on Oct. 13 at the age of 48 from a heart attack after a gig with his longtime musical cohort, Lil’ Higgy. Ben, from Raymond, Illinois, was a kind and caring guy, always good and ready with the guitar to jam whatever, whenever and wherever. He played with several bands that dealt within the blues, including Lil’ Higgy and the House Reckers, Home by 11, Murder of Crowes, FUBAR Blues Band, Kicked to the Curb and plenty of others. I had the pleasure of playing with him a few times and he was always right there. You are missed, Whiskey Ben, and always will be. Look for a tribute to our friend down the road.

Thursday evening from 7 to 9, the Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space presents Mark Deutsch, an extraordinary musician of the highest caliber. He began his professional career at age 12, studied as a classical double bass player and then delved deeply into Indian sitar music with world-renowned masters. His musical discoveries took him to a place where he was unable to perform the sounds in his head on any known instrument so he invented one. Mark acquired a U.S. patent in 1999 for his Bazantar, described on his website as a “six-string, acoustic bass fitted with an additional 29 sympathetic strings and four drone strings” considered “a remarkable instrument that weaves a mesmerizing soundscape of resonance and evokes all the power of Western classical music with the depth and nuance of Eastern traditions.” If this sounds like the thing for you, come on out for Mark’s incredibly interesting show.



Then while you’re downtown on Thursday night, roll on into the Buzz Bomb Brewing Company when Square of the Roots hits the floor to celebrate the birthday of Josh Flanders, one of the brewery founders. This combo of son and father, Brian Steinhauer and Mike Steinhauer, along with Ryan Pulver, Mike Taft and Steve Correll, creates the most wonderful sounds squarely in the roots genre using real-time, old-school instruments to make really good original and cover song music. So get yourself on down there and have you some fun.

Saturday night at Frankie’s Brewhaus from 7:30-11 p.m., check out Ella Gibson and her good friend and fellow singing songwriter up from Nashville, Tennessee, Bailee Rainwater. When Ella and Bailee met on Instagram while exchanging pleasantries and promoting their music, they quickly became fast friends cheering each other on in this business of music. Bailee, originally from a small town in Southern Illinois, graduated from Nashville’s famed music college, Belmont University, then immersed herself into the Music City scene. Ella, a 13 year-old guitar-playing, singing performer from Rochester, plays out locally whenever she can do so. Here’s a good opportunity to catch a couple of fresh faces as they enter into the tower of song with hopeful hearts and talent galore on the path to stardom along the road to making dreams come true.

We sure hope to see some of you folks out at our Sangamon Songs: A Musical Play this weekend at the UIS Studio Theatre on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.) in the PAC building on the UIS campus. And we’ll see everyone next week right here for more of November. 

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