Review: Austin City Limits Drive-By Truckers/Ryan Bingham

Austin City Limits “Drive-By Truckers followed by Ryan Bingham”
Saturday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m.
Additional air dates: Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 13, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

True children of the south, Athens, Georgia’s Drive-By Truckers embody the contradictory cultural impulses of contemporary life below the Mason-Dixon line. Natives Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley formed the band in the mid-90s from the ashes of regional favorite Adam’s House Cat, folding their love of punk, country & western, Southern rock, pop and straightahead rock & roll into a three-guitar, multi-songwriter powerhouse. On seven highly acclaimed albums, including Decoration Day, The Dirty South and the massive Southern Rock Opera, the Truckers survey the modern South with a complex blend of realism-tempered regional pride and compassionate but uncompromising analysis. Both celebrating the accomplishments and dissecting the flaws of Southern culture, the band’s intelligent narratives have garnered them an audience far beyond regional or national borders, resulting in ever-growing record sales, popular tours and multiple appearances at the major music festivals (including several stints at the Austin City Limits Music Festival). In celebration of the group’s latest album Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, the Drive-By Truckers hit studio 6A for a set of smart, passionate rock & roll.

Once again, we’re proud to welcome new, homegrown talent to Studio 6A. Born in Hobbs, New Mexico and raised in rural Texas towns like Spring and Stephenville, singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham struck out on his own as a teenager, making his living as a bullrider on the Texas rodeo circuit. Between gigs he entertained his buddies playing the guitar he’d learned at 17. Influenced by the Bob Dylan, Bob Wills and Southern rock tunes he heard in his uncle’s roadhouse jukebox, Bingham crafted a hardscrabble Americana sound as dusty and visceral as the dirt roads and backlots he inhabited on the circuit. After a weekly residence at a Stephenville bar and a few self-released albums and with the patronage of Texas music legend Joe Ely, Bingham signed with Lost Highway and recorded Mescalito with ex-Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford as producer. Sharp tunes like “Bread and Water” and “Southside of Heaven,” tough production that crosses Townes Van Zandt with the Rolling Stones and Bingham’s soulful, weather-ravaged croon atrracted reams of critical acclaim and fans hungry for an update of the Americana tradition. Bingham and his band the Dead Horses now bring that update to his debut appearance on Austin City Limits.

- Michael Toland

About the Reviewer: Michael Toland is manager of national productions for KLRU and contributes music reviews to several online and print publications.