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Award winner Ryan Bingham charts an indepdendent path

For Journal Register Newspapers

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Ryan Bingham is his own man now. At least as a recording artist.

For his fourth album, "Tomorrowland," the Americana singer-songwriter -- who won Academy, Golden Globe, Grammy and other awards for his song "The Weary Kind" from the "Crazy Heart" film soundtrack -- has established his own label, Axster Bingham Records, after previously working with the major label-distributed Lost Highway Records. Leaving that safety net was a bit daunting, Bingham acknowledges, but he felt like it was a necessary move right now.

"My (Lost Highway) contact was coming to an end; they had the option for another record, but they let me out so we could do our own thing," says the New Mexico-born Bingham, 31. "That was really cool of them. And I just felt like these days, with social media and stuff like that, you have a real opportunity if you have the right kind of fan base.

"We've been touring the last 10 years pretty solid, and I felt like I had enough of a fan base to try this on my own. As long as you have a way to let people know when we have new music coming out and we're gonna be on tour, we can get by. And so far it's been a really great thing, really liberating and cool to do. And the fans have been really supportive of it."

Bingham tested those folks a bit with "Tomorrowland," which he notes is "just really electric guitar-driven," moreso than its predecessors. "I've always been a fan of that kind of music," Bingham says, and he's pleased that showing more of that side hasn't seemed to chase many people away.

"I think initially some fans were kind of shocked, but at the end of the day it seems like people kind of come and appreciate the whole mix of music I do," he says. "I feel lucky the fans have been open to me experimenting and playing old songs, new songs, some stripped-down acoustic and real folky, some full-out electric guitars with rock 'n' roll effects.

"Y'know, I just write the kind of songs I write, and I can only write about what I know about and things I've been through and put the kind of music behind the songs that I'm inspired to put there, no matter what direction. I just appreciate that people want to hear 'em."

Ryan Bingham performs Saturday, March 23, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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