The Ben Vaughn Quintet rocked Free At Noon before their evening World Cafe Live performance - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Collingswood native Ben Vaughn entered XPN’s stage with arms wide open. The professional music personality and host of The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn played guitar, harmonica, and vocals with his quartet. And the energy they brought was nothing short of infectious. 

“You folks can’t see this at home, but the entire audience is fully naked,” Vaughn joked on air. “You should’ve come by.”

Opening with “Seven Days Without Love,” Vaughn walked around the stage, making sure to joke around with the audience and fully display the talent of each of his bandmates. Though their name is the Ben Vaughn Quintet, Vaughn made sure everyone knew he was only part of the talent showing up onstage.

After a high-energy performance of “I’m gonna miss me when I’m gone,” featuring C.C. Crabtree on the saxophone, Vaughn said to the crowd, “I think it’s a little obvious that C.C. has marched with the Mummers” – shoutout to the Greater Overbrook troupe!

Vaughn’s life changed at 6 when his uncle gave him a Duane Eddy record. He’s been an active member of the rock, folk, and blues scene since 1983, when he formed the Ben Vaughn Combo. The Ben Vaughn Combo earned national acclaim with rave reviews from People and Rolling Stone, as well as airtime on MTV. Vaughn began a long stint as a soloist from the late ‘80s into the 1990s, in which he released multiple albums, scored two films, and appeared as a guest on World Cafe and Fresh Air

More recently, Vaughn recorded an album with Deer Tick. “They dragged me out of obscurity like an old blues guy,” he said. “First communication was when they asked me if I was still alive, which is a weird question to ask somebody who’s still alive.”

It’s clear that Vaughn comes alive with an audience. Between bluesy covers he dedicated to Philly icon Jerry Blavat, he made sure to interact with the audience through quips, points, and call-and-response sections. The Ben Vaughn Quintet gave Free at Noon their all, bringing out train whistles and even a gong to add some energy and good vibes to the set. “New Jersey Rock n’ Roll” earned chants and cheers from the crowd. 

Ben Vaughn Quintet | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

But perhaps the best part of the Ben Vaughn Quintet’s appearance happened after Free at Noon went off-air. For a special encore, the band played Buddy Guy’s “I Dig Your Wig,” complete with mic leans, harmonica solos, and Vaughn balancing a guitar upside-down on one hand. They stopped for a freeze frame mid-song to a chorus of cheers, then got right back into it. Ben Vaughn celebrated everyone, pointing to the crowd and his bandmates, making sure each of them got a solo. It’s just as Vaughn put it: “We’re not on the air now, so anything goes.”

See the Ben Vaughn Quintet at World Cafe Live tonight, with Ben Vaughn as lead vocals, guitar and harmonica; Gus Cordovox on accordion, gong, and vocals; C.C. Crabtree on Sax, percussion, occasional train whistle and vocals; Mike Vogelman on bass and vocals; and Seth Baer on drums and vocals. 

The Ben Vaughn Quintet
  • Seven Days Without Love
  • Jerry Lewis In France
  • Miss Me When I'm Gone
  • Too Sensitive For This World
  • Railroad Track
  • New Jersey Rock 'n Roll
  • Sheba
  • I Dig Your Wig
  • Walkin' My Way (Back to Your Heart)
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