Benjamin Wagner

Benjamin Wagner

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Benjamin Wagner has been working the New York club scene for over ten years, self-releasing ten LPs along the way. Famed “Idiot’s Delight” host Vince Scelsa described him as “extraordinary.” R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe dubbed him a “future superstar.” VH1 News called his songs, “Timeless.” The New York Press, says “He’s Ryan Adams without the ‘tude, Pete Yorn without the hair, John Denver without the glasses, Dave Matthews without the dance moves.”

“My father worked for the EPA, so I moved around like the stereotypical army ‘brat’,” Wagner says. Born in Iowa City, Iowa, Wagner lived in Washington D.C., Indianapolis, and Chicago, before his tenth birthday. After his parents divorce, Wagner, his brother and mother moved to Philadelphia. Growing up in the 80s, he vividly recalls getting his first transistor radio and listening, transfixed, to top forty radio stations in Chicago and Philly, loving everything from Hall and Oates to Phil Collins. But like James Joyce’s Stephen Daedalus, Wagner finally had his defining, life-changing musical epiphany.

“My big brother brought R.E.M.’s Reckoning home from college which immediately woke me up and snapped me out of my Phil Collins stupor,” Wagner laughs. “Hearing ‘So. Central Rain’ for the first time changed everything.”

Reveling in bands like the Replacements and the Pixies (Wagner even does a “twisted” cover of the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man”), the young songwriter strapped on a Martin acoustic and began playing in bands in high school and later, at Syracuse University. There, Wagner fronted the funky — and popular — local alt.pop band Smoky Junglefrog, opening for majors like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Samples and Dada. Following the bands’ demise, Wagner moved to New York City and began playing a wide array of clubs like the Mercury Lounge, Arlene Grocery and Brownie’s.

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