Ryan Bingham Packs Holy Mountain
Yours, mine, & our song wrangler tests new songs solo acoustic
By Nina Hernandez,
2:15PM, Wed. Nov. 12, 2014
“I don’t have much of a plan,” admitted Ryan Bingham a song into his early solo set at Holy Mountain Tuesday night. “I was just going to come up here and play some songs.”
Packing the modest Seventh Street bar, the mass of bodies felt like the lounge scene in Lucille Ball’s Yours, Mine & Ours – except instead of Irish coffee, you were far more likely to lose an eyelash in somebody’s Shiner Bock. Strapped with only his acoustic guitar and a harmonica hanging from his neck, the Academy Award-winning song wrangler relayed the tortured story of “The Poet” and tapped into the working man spirit with “Dollar A Day,” his gravel voice cutting through the room.
The outlaw’s profile exploded in 2009 when he snagged an Oscar for the theme to Jeff Bridges’ Crazy Heart, but even the year before when he opened for Joe Ely at Gruene Hall, the dedication of his followers bordered on mania. They commandeered the front of the short stage, sang every word to every song, and mostly filed out before the Lubbock statesman could don his guitar.
“Well, should we take a shot of whiskey now or later?” he wondered last night. “Now and later? I like your style!”
Floor vibrating underfoot, he hollered, “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So.” Swigging his Corona, the former rodeo hand introduced a new ballad, “Broken Heart Tattoos,” polishing it off with a sentimental harmonica riff. After a shot of tequila from the bar, he revealed how he learned his first Spanish song on the guitar, threatening to pop a string on his “border version” of “Malagueña” (which is Cuban, not mariachi, but point taken).
“Dylan’s Hard Rain,” from 2009’s Road House Sun, exposed every groove in his whiskey-soaked voice. Though the title of Texas’ Dylan was claimed a generation ago by either Butch Hancock or Townes Van Zandt (depending on who you’re drinking with), Bingham’s Bard worship flourished in the winding verses. Maybe he didn’t have a plan sitting down, but the connection between songwriter and audience made the evening feel entirely scripted.