Since its release, Crazy Heart has showered Santa Barbara with an abundance of musical riches. Scott Cooper’s oddly life-affirming film about a down-on-his-luck country musician earned Jeff Bridges an Academy Award for the 2009 film, but it also acted as a catalyst for Bridges’s long-simmering musical career. (He released his self-titled debut earlier this year via Blue Note Records.) Locally, the flick — and its award-winning soundtrack — found Bridges popping up on stages all over S.B.: first at last year’s benefit concert for the Santa Barbara Birth Center, then the Solstice kickoff party in Alameda Park, and, most recently, at Sings Like Hell’s 200th concert shindig.
This Saturday, November 19, the beloved concert series brings another Crazy Heart alum to its stage in Ryan Bingham. While the young singer/songwriter has gained plenty of acclaim in recent years, it was his work alongside T Bone Burnett for Heart’s theme song, “The Weary Kind,” that officially catapulted him to folk-rock sensation (and garnered him both an Oscar and a Grammy). Armed with a deep, gravelly, and whiskey-soaked voice, Bingham’s sound is nearly impossible to forget. And whether he’s playing with his backing band, The Dead Horses, or solo (as he’ll be at the Lobero this weekend), the effect is downright intoxicating.
On his 2010 release, Junky Star, Bingham plays to his strong points, delivering pointed and introspective Americana ballads with the weary swagger of a singer twice his senior. (Think Tom Waits with a wider range.) Tracks like “Depression” and “Hallelujah” are immediate standouts that fall in line with labelmate Ryan Adams’s more rootsy offerings, but delivered by Bingham, they take on a somber, history-rich quality that few can effectively pull off. And backed by an adept team of musicians — drummer Matthew Smith, guitarist Corby Schaub, and bassist Elijah Ford — we have no doubt his will be Sings Like Hell’s can’t-miss of the season.
Ryan Bingham plays the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) this Saturday, November 19, at 8 p.m. with Carolyn Mark. For tickets and info, call 963-0761 or visit singslikehell.org.