So, did singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham actually sleep “on the Santa Monica peer with the junkies and the stars”? The lyric, from whence comes the name of Bingham’s dusky, acoustic, raw-emotional album Junky Star, certainly spins a tale.
In fact, Bingham’s backstory is a little bit different: He was born in new Mexico and grew up in Texas. He was a star quarterback first and then a bullrider on the rodeo circuit. He self-released two albums before being signed to Lost Highway in 2007 — his first label album was Mescalito followed by Roadhouse Sun.
(Watch a video for “Southside of Heaven” from Mescalito:)
So there’s a kind of cowboy/Americana theme to Bingham’s career as well as his rough-hewn sound. Apparently it was enough to catch the ear of Hollywood — two of his songs appeared on the 2009 Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart. One of those was the movie’s theme song, “The Weary Kind,” which Bingham wrote (and T Bone Burnett produced) and for which he won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, an Oscar for Best Original Song and Song of the Year at the Americana Music Association awards.
In the midst of all that award collecting, he managed to put out Junky Star with his band, The Dead Horses.
(Watch Bingham perform “Depression” from Junky Star at WNRN radio:)
Bingham plays two Asheville shows on Monday, June 6:
• First, a free in-store performance at Harvest Records at 4 p.m. “He will stop by Harvest Records for a small acoustic set and signing,” reports the record store by way of its newsletter. “Come check it out in an intimate setting, then go to the OP to see him rev it up with the full band!”
• At 8 p.m., Bingham and band will be at The Orange Peel with openers The Americans and Laim Gerner. $20 advance/$22 doors.