Ben Vaughn

Texas Road Trip

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So how do you pay tribute to Doug Sahm without playing any Doug Sahm songs? Ben Vaughn, the Philadelphia native and well-known musical omnivore, has figured out how to do that and do it with style on his 2014 album Texas Road Trip. Vaughn is an avowed fan of the legendary Texas groover Sahm, especially his work with the Sir Douglas Quintet, and for Texas Road Trip, he wrote a set of songs he thought would sound right played in the Sir Doug manner. Sensibly, Vaughn decided to go to the source and headed to Austin, Texas to record the tunes, with a band anchored by three former Sahm associates -- organ and squeezebox man Augie Meyers (who was Doug's cohort in the SDQ as well as the Texas Tornados), fiddler Alvin Crow, and bassist Speedy Sparks -- as well as Lone Star journeyman John X. Reed on guitar and former LeRoi Brothers and Fabulous Thunderbirds drummer Mike Buck. While the songs on Texas Road Trip are very Ben Vaughn material, shot through with his trademark humor and regular-guy perspective (especially "Miss Me When I'm Gone" and "Seven Days Without Love"), the melodies genuinely do lend themselves to Sahm-style arrangements, and you couldn't ask for a better man to help bring them to life than Meyers, whose trademark organ sound and Tejano-style accordion is all over this album like melted cheese on an enchilada. Meanwhile, Sparks and Buck are a killer rhythm section, full of fire but just as effective when the tempo slows on "Texas Rain" and "Heavy Machinery," and the guitar work from Vaughn and Reed fits this music like a glove. Vaughn never sounds like he's pretending to be Doug Sahm on Texas Road Trip, but he clearly understands what made his music so great, and he bends a bit of that magic his own way, and the result is a small triumph and a whole lot of fun.

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