Last week, L.A. came out to support their adopted hometown cowboy, Ryan Bingham, at The Regent Theater in downtown. Bingham is touring with a full band in support of his release earlier this year, Fear and Saturday Night. We talked to Bingham last week about the tour, life in L.A. and how it’s been to be a new Father. Ever humble and kind, Ryan Bingham embodies a honesty with his songwriting and performance that is nothing short of moving. He’s able to connect with his audience on a level that goes far beyond stardom and straight down to the heart.
Bingham was all smiles as he walked onto the stage to an adoring crowd. He said, “howdy” and tore into one of his ripping country rock songs. On the floor the crowd literally erupted with hoots and hollers. If you weren’t wearing boots at this show, then you were probably feeling out of place sicne this was 100% down home country fun. He kept the crowd dancing with “Top Shelf Drug,” which is a rambunctious track about being intoxicated with drug of infatuation. He kept smiling, looking almost overwhelmed by the love that the crowd was showering him with, but he continued to say thank you and he continued to give the impassioned performance that they wanted.
One of the most anticipated songs off his Fear and Saturday Night album was his single, “Broken Heart Tattoos.” He told the crowd that, same as him, all the guys in the band had daughters back at home and that this song was one he had written for his daughter before she was born. We watched him play a moving song that was full of pride and love for his daughter. I couldn’t help but get choked up and sing along with him thinking of my own two daughters. “So follow the roads that make you feel old and brand new/ If you remain kind yet aware of the signs then you’ll know that do/ with broken heart tattoos.”
By the time Ryan launched into “Depression,” everyone everywhere, upstairs and downstairs in the Regent was singing. Bingham’s backing band is made up of amazing musicians that bring greater musical depth to his songs. They re-worked “Blue Bird” a track off his Roadhouse Sun LP, into a soaring and rich crescendo. With screaming guitars and driving drums the crowd was in step with band. Throughout the set Bingham stood center stage, showing off his chic cowboy style. His tender eyes were earnest as he sang through a 17-song set of passionate songs that chronicle his life from rodeo rebel to loving Father. But, don’t be mistaken this cowboy is still a rebel. When security grabbed a guy and kicked him out from the venue Bingham said, “Homeboy got kicked out for smoking weed? Are you kidding me? You can’t smoke weed at a concert anymore? Come on now! Come hang out at the bus after and we’ll smoke some weed.” He included two covers — “Dogwood” by country outlaw Terry Allen and “Sweet Virginia” by the Rolling Stones, which he sang with openers Jamestown Revival and a few other friends. He ended the his set with a five-song encore that felt like it could have kept going for 45 minutes. The audience didn’t want it to end either. While screaming and raising beers in the air they showered Bingham with praise. The city of L.A. clearly loves their tender hearted cowboy.
Jamestown Revival, another band that has transplanted to L.A., opened for Bingham. Fronted by two longtime friends from Texas they play earnest indie folk rock. Heavy with harmonies and rich with pop hooks JTR is immediately pleasing to the ears. They tore through a set that never let up with its energy or with its fun. They had some major fans in the audience who screamed their love at every chance they could get. It’s no surprise since frontmen Zach (keys and vocals) and Jonathan (guitar and keys) are very easy on the eyes. They are standout musicians as well. Watching them perform together you can see and feel the depth of the musical connection between these friends. They are in tune with one another and that always makes for incredible music. Their stand-out track from their last release (Utah), was written in a garage in Culver City. To ear piercing screams they played the aptly named song, “California” as the closer to their set.
Gold Star is singer/songwriter Marlon Rabenreither. He started the night with a stripped down acoustic set. His music is tender and at the same time powerful. His voice broke through the noise of people arriving, chatting with friends and having drinks. It was literally impossible to ignore his voice and the music he was playing, not an easy thing to accomplish as the first opener. He is definitely someone I will be checking out more of.
Words & Photography: Anne-Marie Schiefer