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Ryan Bingham follows the "Roadhouse Sun"

By Andrew W. Griffin, June 2009

There's a hardscrabble folk-rock vibe on "Roadhouse Sun," the new Lost Highway album from Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses. When asked Bingham about that sound and the equally tough songs, he replied that it comes from what he knows, what's comfortable.

The songs are stories. With the Dead Horses backing him up, Bingham is allowed to create some beautiful music, as is evidenced on songs like the dreamy Bluebird and straight-to-the-heart Tell My Mother I Miss Her So. "Songwriting is a way of getting things off my chest," Bingham says.

Fresh off the road for a few weeks, Bingham, 28, is back at his home in Topanga Canyon, a place in the Los Angeles area that has been home to hippies and rock-n-rollers for years and now counts New Mexico native Bingham as a resident. Interestingly, on his new album, he features a new song called Roadhouse Blues on "Roadhouse Sun." It's rumored that Jim Morrison of The Doors wrote his Roadhouse Blues about Topanga Canyon.

"Roadhouse Sun" his follow-up to his debut "Mescalito," Bingham assembled the Dead Horses again - guitarist Corby Schaub, bassist Elijah Ford and drummer Matt Smith - and had former Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford (Elijah's dad) back to produce at The Compound, a recording studio in Long Beach, Cal. "He's great," Bingham says of Marc Ford, noting how he met him a few years ago in L.A. and discovered they both had a lot in common.

Ryan Bingham Dylan's Hard Rain Live at KVET FM Austin

Two songs on "Roadhouse Sun" have clear Bob Dylan influences. The first is Dylan's Hard Rain, the first single. Bingham said political and social issues - much like the issues Dylan witnessed as a young man in the early 1960's and sang about on A Hard Rain's A-Gonna-Fall. "I'm not a political analyst," Bingham says, noting that issues from the rising unemployment rate to gay marriage were running through his mind when he wrote Dylan's Hard Rain."I think everybody should have equal rights, no matter who you are," Bingham says.

The other Dylan influence comes through on Wishing Well. In fact, he sounds like Dylan circa 1989's "Oh Mercy" album.

Bingham says he went through the same process he went through on "Mescalito" when it came time to write songs that became "Roadhouse Sun." Most of them, he says, are about things he has experienced, people he has met or experiences he has had in his life.

Asked about the addition of "The Dead Horses" in the name of the group, Bingham said there were plans to include it on "Mescalito," but the record label wasn't sure at the time if there was another Dead Horses band out there or not. As it turned out, there wasn't, thus the official name - Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses. And asked if he misses the rodeo circuit he once rode as a bull rider back in Texas, Bingham laughs and says, "Yeah, until I see my friends get hurt."

Andrew W. Griffin is a freelance writer in Oklahoma City and operates RedDirtReport.com.