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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ryan Bingham

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"Bingham talks and sings with a whiskey-and-cigarette throat that screams hard living. Hard in a way that can make a 25-year-old sound like a 50-year-old Tom Waits." - Texas Music Magazine

"Ryan Bingham is the best songwriter and singer of songs to come along in a long time. He comes right out of the dirt truth of the real human story and makes flat out from-the-heart music...I think Ryan is the legitimate heir to the hard traveling deep knowing likes of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams...Ryan Bingham is a whole other deal. The real one."
- Terry Allen

Last night I went to see Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses in concert over at Warehouse Live.

I have been interested in Bingham's music since hearing him do an on-air performance on Larry Winters' Spare Change show on KPFT last year. This was the first time that I have had an opportunity to hear him in concert...and I believe the first time he has headlined a show in Houston.

There was a full lineup of three opening acts before Ryan and his band took the stage. First up was LL Cooper, followed by Austin Collins and finally The Rustlanders. I arrived towards the end of LL Cooper's set. I thought all of the opening acts sounded pretty good with the exception of the sub par sound system. The system in the "Studio" room at the club was often just blaring loud (louder does not always equal better) with no real balance or mix and rendered most of the vocals unintelligible. The sound got better throughout the night, however, and was definitely improved by the time Bingham and band took the stage.

When Ryan and the Dead Horses finally did start to play the crowd had grown to near capacity and was ready for some hard driving music...and that's exactly what Ryan and the band delivered. They played what can probably best be described as a rowdy set of blues-drenched roadhouse rock with tons of raw energy. Ryan's distinctively raspy voice was well complimented by the smoking guitar and mandolin playing of Corby Schaub, the heavy and hard rocking bass of Elijah Ford, and the strong and steady beats of Matt Smith on drums. Ryan also offered up some surprisingly blazing "slide guitar" playing of his own.

This was one of the most "high energy" performances that I have ever seen. Ryan's voice and music may not be to some critics' liking but his live show is so wildly energetic and just plain old fun that it should win over most of the "doubters".

The set consisted of several songs from his Mescalito cd, a number of new songs from a forthcoming album along with a few well chosen covers. Some of the highlights included: "Sunshine", "Ghost of Travelin Jones", "Boracho Station", "Hard Times", a rocking version of Charlie Daniels' "Sweet Louisiana", "Bread and Water" (complete with a revised and more positive reference to the city of Houston), "Southside of Heaven" (Ryan's "hit" song) and the rousing and well-chosen finale of Townes Van Zandt's "White Freight Liner Blues".

You can check out more of Ryan Bingham's music here and here.

A video of "Southside of Heaven" can be found here.



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