Don’t Call Him Country

Ryan Bingham may have won acclaim in the genre, but this singer/songwriter is pure Americana

Jeff Bridges may have won everyone over with his performance in Crazy Heart (2009). But the tale of a country musician’s heartbreak wouldn’t have been possible without the stellar musicianship of Ryan Bingham, who wrote the movie’s theme, “The Weary Kind,” with T-Bone Burnett. Despite such an accomplishment, the Academy Award- and Grammy-winning recording artist who grew up in Texas and lives in L.A. has flown mostly under the radar. Even after his time in the Hollywood spotlight, it was back to doing what he does best: rocking out a little bit of Americana with his band the Dead Horses. Expect to see just that on Nov. 26. But in the meantime, he’s busy writing his fourth album, which should debut next summer. The 30-year-old with the raspy voice of a traveled troubadour will ride into town for his final show of the year, a special family-filled Thanksgiving weekend performance. We caught up with Bingham to shoot straight about what life’s been like since winning big.

Now that you have an Oscar, do you feel more pressure to succeed?

That thing was kind of being in the right place at the right time. It takes a lot of stuff to come together for that to happen. I’m happy where I am on more of an independent-indie level. I don’t have many expectations of being commercial or anything like that.

Has your life changed since that moment?

Not much. It’s funny, you know, it does when all that stuff is going on—everything gets real hectic and all these interviews and press stuff. But then once it’s over, it’s back to your normal life and where you were before that. It’s not really as drastic as many people think.

After collaborating with T-Bone Burnett, can it get any better? Will you work together again?

Yeah, definitely. We’ve kind of all kept in touch since then and done some more projects and just kind of recorded stuff on the side so yeah, it’s been a really cool opportunity meeting those guys and working with them. Definitely going to do some more stuff in the future.

You sing vocals on “What A Little Bit of Love Can Do” on Jeff Bridges’ new album. Any chance he’ll appear on your next record?

Yeah, if he’d be down for it. I’m sure he’s been really interested in making more music and writing more songs. But [I] guess we’ll kind of see when we get there.

What can people expect if they come to your show at the Silverton?

It’s definitely a lot louder than people anticipate. We’re not really a country band, we kind of seem to be a lot more rock ’n’ roll. People have this misconception of us being this polished country band [laughs]. But whenever we play it’s electric and fairly loud. Get ready for that.

Are you a fan of Vegas?

Yeah, man. My sister lived there for a few years. I’ve come through a couple of times visiting her before I ever played there. So I got to kind of hang out a bit, not really on the tourist level. But it was kinda cool.

Any reason the show is over Thanksgiving?

All the guys in the band are all real close, so we thought it would be cool to get a bunch of our family and friends to fly out for the show and kind of spend the whole weekend there in Vegas.

Any parting words?

Come out and make a weekend out of it. We’ve got a lot of friends coming in and hopefully have a real good crowd. Probably hit the dice tables afterward.

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