Ryan Bingham at Marathon, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ryan Bingham received a warm welcome in Nashville on October 9th at the recently opened Marathon Music Works, an old industrial space revamped into a room about twice the size of The Cannery Ballroom with the stage exactly where it needs to be; right in the middle of the eastern wall, with a great view and sound from just about anywhere.

Ryan is out on tour with a Nashvillian band in support of Tomorrowland on his own imprint Axster Bingham Records, which is an even bigger turn in tone from the T-Bone Burnett produced Junky Star.

It can be said that Ryan was anxious for the show with the new band, having left on his twitter page, “NASHVILLE! Just got in & ready for the show at Marathon Music Works tomorrow. Come party with us! Tuesday Funday!!!” @RyanBingham.

As far as the band goes, they sounded big; there would be something to his set that a fan of The Black Crowes, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, The Wallflowers or anything in that vicinity would like.

Ryan Bingham in Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

Even though he got an Oscar for “The Weary Kind,” Ryan avoided that like Jack White avoids, “Fell In Love With A Girl.”

The set was heavy on the new album starting out with the new single, “Guess Who’s Knocking.”  The good size crowd was into the set early on, but, if there was a “Honky Tonk Women” for Ryan, it would be “Hard Times” from the 2007 Lost Highway release Mescalito.

In fact, it seemed like Mescalito hung heavy in the room, since it appeared that the Nashville crowd made it known that it is the favorite so far, with the crowd almost drowning out Ryan in a sing-along to “Hard Times” as well as “Southside of Heaven.”  In fact although the set continued to build in enthusiasm, for the crowd “Hard Times” was the peak coming in at song number three in the set.

It would have been more appropriate if “Hard Times” had been the closer.

It was interesting to see what was in the set. It was either brand new or before 2008 except for “Hallelujah” off of Junky Star.

Ryan made reference to living in Houston at one time, which gives that link to the Texas-Red Dirt scene  as well as remembering living in a van down by the river before going into a solo number as part of the encore.

Ryan Bingham, photo – Brad Hardisty

Ryan’s voice really is John Kay from Steppenwolf, but with the poetics of modern day Hayes Carll and Justin Townes Earle coming to mind with the rock band sensibilities now of The Wallflowers.

Ryan is probably the strongest of the new crowd of writers, he could be the one that continues to grow crowds of followers and be around ten years from now. The challenge may be that while he continues to broaden his approach with albums like Tomorrowland is to come up with an album in the future that connects as well as Mescalito did.

Ryan Bingham with La Santa Cecilia in Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

All around it was a strong show that included a rendition of “Boracho Station” with members of opening act, La Santa Cecilia, featuring Jose Carlos on accordion and singer Marisoul, with her strong thick voice was a good mix with Ryan. It would be interesting see a future recorded duet.

After a couple of acoustic numbers, the rest of the band came out to finish off the crowd with another strong cut from Mescalito, “Bread and Water.”

La Santa Cecilia in Nashville, photo – Brad Hardisty

La Santa Cecilia  opened up mixing Spanish with English as much as they mixed Conjunto and Tejano with Jazz and the nineties rock classic, “Tainted Love.”

I don’t think Nashville has seen quite anything like them. They would be an interesting group in East L.A.; they were mind opening in Nashville.  Marisoul had a great voice with traditional conjunto and bossa nova inflections and the depth of Roberta Flack, “Tainted Love” was like an Alfa Romeo taco truck driving through Gwen Stefani’s teenage bedroom in Anaheim.

If No Doubt was a conjunto band, they might be La Santa Cecilia. La Santa Cecilia, named after the patron saint of musicians, basically took everything they like having grown up on the West Coast and rolled it into an “everything but the kitchen sink” burrito.

Three members of La Santa Cecilia after the opening set, photo – Brad Hardisty

They kept the crowd captivated with the mainly acoustic instrument interplay and the strong vocals, everything even a bluegrasser could love. Hopefully, La Santa Cecilia will be back sooner than later.

Ryan Bingham set list:

  1. Guess Who’s Knocking
  2. Heart of Rhythm
  3. Hard Times
  4. Sunrise
  5. Keep It Together
  6. Heard’Em Say
  7. Southside of Heaven
  8. Beg For Broken Legs
  9. Western Shore
  10. Dollar A day
  11. Day Is Done
  12. Never Far Behind


  1. Boracho Station (Ryan acoustic w/ members of La Santa Cecilia)
  2. Tell My Mother I Miss Her So
  3. Hallelujah
  4. Ever Wonder Why
  5. Sunshine
  6. Bread and Water

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com