Texas Road Trip (Munster)
Reviewed by Scott Schinder, Fri., Aug. 15, 2014
Philadelphia-bred singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, and TV soundtrack ace Ben Vaughn does his best work in classicist mode, applying a deep affinity for vintage rock, pop, blues, and country to his own witty, eloquent tunes. That's the case with this tribute to the percolating, Tex-Mex beat of Doug Sahm's Sir Douglas Quintet. Rather than attempting to improve on perfection by covering SDQ material, Vaughn gathers a passel of Sahm cohorts, including peerless organist Augie Meyers, local legends Alvin Crow and John X. Reed, and the late-model Quintet rhythm section of bassist Speedy Sparks and drummer Mike Buck, in applying the departed icon's infectious vibe to 10 Vaughn originals. In less expert hands, Texas Road Trip might have been fanboy indulgence, but Vaughn and his hand-picked compadres get the sound and spirit right, infusing "Miss Me When I'm Gone," "Fire in the Hole," and "Seven Days Without Love" with a rollicking uplift that matches Vaughn's alternately goofy and heartfelt lyrics. Plenty of Sahm's R&B roots to dig into on the soulful stroll "I'll Stand Alone." Less a tourist excursion than a spiritual pilgrimage, Texas Road Trip showcases the strength of Vaughn's songwriting skills as well as the ongoing resonance of Sahm's expansive musical vision.