Ryan Bingham is the real deal.
In a world full of imitators, Bingham has come on the country music scene with nothing but a big voice full of power, emotion and rawness, and a treasure trove of songs he's written about experiences that are poignant enough to break your heart. In Bingham's case, his lean arsenal is more than enough; his musical cup is overflowing with talent.
"We have been playing quite a bit the past few years and it's really made a difference," he said. "I used to wonder if there would be anybody there at all to hear my music."
Bingham was a rodeo rider in New Mexico and Texas not too many years ago when he bought himself a cheap guitar book and an even cheaper guitar and taught himself to play. He soon discovered the music business could be as unyielding as the 2,000-pound bulls he rode. Still, he drove from town to town hauling a box full of self-produced CDs.
|» Where: The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria|
|» When: 7:30 p.m. Friday|
|» Info: $25; 202-397-SEAT; ticketmaster.com|
"It was totally just trial and error," said Bingham. "I would write the songs in the back seat of the truck, go to the rodeo, talk to the bar owner, and then get my guitar out and play."
Americana, alt-country, some songs that could be classified as rock -- whatever crosses his mind at the moment, Bingham plays and he does it with the emotion born of a childhood listening to everyone from Bob Dylan -- with whom he'll soon tour -- to Rolling Stones blast from a honky-tonk jukebox.
"I think there were all kinds of elements in my music," he said of the classification. "People aren't really sure what kind of music I'm playing so they put it in [country] sometimes."
Now touring behind his latest album, "Tomorrowland," Bingham said he is inspired by the upbeat, tone of his new songs that allow him to move from "acoustic kind of folk and into rock with electric guitar."
"I approach every night like a blank canvas," he said of his concerts. "Then I see what happens."