At first blush, it's a bit tough to recall a more diverse crowd than the one that gathered for New Mexico troubadour Ryan Bingham's workman-like show at In The Venue. But hey, who doesn't like a working man? Right?
There were guys in cowboy hats alongside mohawk-wearing punksters, heavily made-up girls next to hippie chicks and even a few hipsters scattered amongst the densely packed dance floor. They were all eager to see the former bull rider turned country singer. As a country stylist, Bingham is far more indebted to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard than Toby Keith or Tim McGraw. The band even veers into rock 'n' roll grooves - with occasional nods to early Zeppelin and radio-friendly '70s rock. Dressed in a flannel shirt and work boots, Bingham did not disappoint and kept the crowd moving with rocking - albeit occasionally plodding - backup from his band The Dead Horses. Relying exclusively on his originals, Bingham focused on rendering his self-penned timeless country laments - hard living, the woes of the working man and the vagaries of travelling. And much to the delight of the roughly 1,200 person audience, he leaned heavily on his 2010 release "Junky Star," with songs including "Strange Feeling In The Air," "The Wandering," and "Hallelujah." The well-lubricated crowd greeted these numbers with whoops of recognition and sang along. Other highlights included "Hard Times," from 2007's "Mescalito," and "Mr. Dylan's Hard Rain" from Bingham's second album "Roadhouse Sun." The somewhat stoic Bingham addressed the audience sparingly and moved briskly through the 13-song, 70-minute set. Despite some flashy solos from guitarist Corby Schaub and steady grooves from bassist Elijah Ford and drummer Matthew Smith, the band never really glided or took off - save for a real spark displayed during "Bluebird." The crowd didn't seem to mind as many audience members danced or moved their heads. By the time Bingham encored with fan-favorite, "Sunrise," the crowed seemed satiated with the performer. And like the troubadour he is, Bingham seemed pleased but not overjoyed with the reaction. Hey, it's his job, right?
Scott Murphy can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter at 'murphyinfo.'