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Entertainment News

Sunday, 17 February, 2008 12:48 PM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Ryan Bingham

Photo by Coy Koehler

Lost Highway recording artist Ryan Bingham.

By Bob Doerschuk
© 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 stereo?
"Marshall Tucker Band."

What book is on your nightstand?
"The Dogs of Winter by Kem Nunn."

What's your pet peeve?
"Whiners."

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 charm?
"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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