Texas singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham and his band the Dead Horses rode into The Linda in Albany last week only to find a full house audience busting at the seams. It was was standing-room-only for those who came late to see the Academy Award winning songwriter, who took home the Oscar earlier this year for “The Weary Kind,” the theme song from the film, “Crazy Heart,” starring Jeff Bridges in his Oscar-winning role.
Still not yet 30 years old, Bingham has come a long way fast since his bull-riding rodeo days. Heck, he’s come a long way since 2008, when he made his Nippertown debut at Valentine’s in front of a rather small crowd. With three CDs under his belt and now living in Venice Beach, the Holly-weird vibe hasn’t corrupted him yet. He and his bandmates still come off all Texas-gritty and down to earth on stage. Launching his dynamic set with “The Wandering,” Bingham accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, as he wailed on the harmonica dangling around his neck, ala Bob Dylan.
With Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” as the third song into his set, some of Bingham’s roots were showing. And there was some Steve Earle in his alt-country approach there, too.
Not surprisingly, toward the end of his performance, Bingham’s “The Weary Kind” garnered the most enthusiastic applause as the evening, followed by “Sunshine” and “Bread and Water.”
But the real surprise of the night was opening act, the Rustlanders. Their high-energy set was passionately played, evoking the early Allman Brothers sound, with the Duane Allman role reprised by lead guitarist Jason Tutwiler Jr. and Gregg Allman’s Hammond B3 attack expertly handled by the band’s co-leader, John Rattle. But the Pennsylvania-based Rustlanders are no cover band, and the Allman Brothers are only reference point.
Showcasing tunes from a yet-to-be-released album – their self-titled debut is already four years old – they have clearly evolved, fine-tuning their music and approach. John’s brother and co-leader, Chris Rattle sat in the drum chair, bassist Cory Drake held down the bottom end, and Jason McIntyre shared guitar and vocal duties throughout their set.
With three distinct vocalists in the fold, the Rustlanders kept building momentum and exploded with a monster jam on “Show A Lil.” Anyone who loves roots-Americana, alt-country or southern-rock had a glimpse of Nirvana that night – and it wasn’t all about the highly touted headliner, either.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk