Sunday, 17 February, 2008 12:48 PM
CMA New Artist Spotlight: Ryan
by Coy Koehler
Highway recording artist Ryan Bingham.
2008 CMA Close Up News Service
For a moment, set aside
the vivid lyrics and raw, road-dusted feeling of Ryan Bingham's
music throughout Mescalito. Listen, if you can, to just the sound
of his voice as it rasps through the desert-dry vistas that unfold
on "Southside of Heaven," cracks beneath the weight of
heartbreak on "Bread & Water" and drags like a broken-down
wagon in the heavy heat of "Ever Wonder Why." And those
who don't speak Spanish don't need to understand the meaning of
the words that open "Boracho's Station."
That worn and weary timbre
is all Bingham needs to tell a compelling tale. But this surprisingly
young artist has plenty to say as a writer too.
His images - buzzards,
truck stops, trains, one-eyed dogs, tired old horses, shifty gamblers,
prairie dawns - conjure the empty spaces and crossroad towns he
knew while growing up in West Texas, just north of the Rio Grande.
Those were restless years, during which his family moved constantly,
seeking solid ground in rising tides of misfortune that eventually
swept Bingham off to fend with fate on his own in his mid teens.
He did what had to be
done, from riding bulls in rodeos to playing music for tips. A weekly
bar gig in Stephenville motivated him to release a self-produced
album, Wishbone Saloon, in 2005. This low-budget collection spread
word through the Lone Star State and eventually to Lost Highway
Records. Produced by Marc Ford, Mescalito proves that the line of
hard-living troubadours, defined by forgotten balladeers long ago
and sustained by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, has
yet to reach its end.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
What CD is on your
"Marshall Tucker Band."
What book is on your
"The Dogs of Winter by Kem Nunn."
What's your pet peeve?
What moment in your
life would you relive if you could?
"Learning to swim."
What actor would
portray you in a biopic about your life?
"Bubba Daniels or Reece Fulbright."
Do you have a lucky
"Mojo tooth and a black cat bone."
If you wrote an autobiography,
what would the title be?
"Not All Who Wander Are Lost (from J.R.R. Tolkien)."
When they look back
on your life in 50 years, what do you hope people say about you?
"He sure was loud for a scrawny little fellow."
On the Web: www.binghammusic.com
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