Radio in the Relay Shack with Ben Vaughn
May 25th, 2016
It’s doubtful you’ll hear a more eclectic set of songs within an hour than in the weekly radio program The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, featuring the singer/songwriter/composer/producer/radio host-curator. Now, along with its original stations, WXPN in Philadelphia, and WEVL in Memphis, the show is in wider syndication and also available via podcast.
In 2013, I interviewed Ben, whom I have known for many years, for my blog, in which he discusses, among other things, how he constructs the Many Moods. I’ve had great enjoyment recently catching up on some of the shows, which he informs his listeners emanate from the “relay shack,” in “Parts Unknown, USA”. The day before his show airs, he posts a photo on Facebook of four (usually worn) album covers leaning against a record shelf, and then a couple of days after posts the playlist.
Each edition jumps from genre to genre and year to year, with Ben’s wry and knowledgeable commentary interspersed. Some of the recent programs have featured cuts by the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, Nick Lowe, Hoyt Axton, Nina Simone, Nils Lofgren’s ‘70s band Grin, Dolly Parton (before her country career), Earth Opera (with Peter Rowan and David Grisman), Merle Haggard, Gloria Jones (the original, pre-Soft Cell version of “Tainted Love”) and Teegarden & Van Winkle (recorded under hypnosis in 1973).
Ben periodically performs with his various bands, and as part of Pink Slip Daddy, recently released Viva Fabian & More! It’s a tribute to both Fabian and Philly rock’n’roll, bringing back great memories for me of listening to Philadelphia AM radio stations during my frequent visits to that city in the ‘60s, when I was growing up in Scranton. He has long been featured on public radio favorites like Fresh Air with Terry Gross and World Cafe. On the latter, he recently discussed how he created a musical soundtrack for the “International Pop” exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
These activities prove that Ben has an absolutely unique personal brand. Viva Ben Vaughn!