Alt-country tunesmith Ryan Bingham isn’t quite sure why his show business path has taken its unusual turns. His laconic 2010 composition “The Weary Kind,” sung by Jeff Bridges’ sad-sack troubadour character Bad Blake in the film “Crazy Heart,” won him an Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy and Critics’ Choice Award. Yet the New Mexico native worked on the grueling rodeo circuit as a bull rider before tracking his official Lost Highway Records debut “Mescalito” in 2007. No longer signed to a major label, today he records on Axster Bingham, the company he launched with his wife Anna Axster, who also directs his videos. In 2019, he released the cactus-prickly twangfest “American Love Song.” He also continues to be offered roles in offbeat projects like the film “Hostiles” and TV’s “Yellowstone.”
So you’re in Los Angeles, but not really, right?
We live up in Topanga Canyon, outside the city, and we really don’t spend too much time down in Hollywood. We’ve got a couple of little kids now, so we stick pretty close to home. I may have an Oscar, but I’m not out there working the red carpets. It’s just not in me to do that. I would feel very uncomfortable.
It seems like you’ve discovered life off the mainstream with Axster Bingham.
Yes. And we couldn’t be happier. It’s been working well for us. With Anna taking care of all this label and band stuff, that’s something I don’t ever have to worry about anymore, I can just concentrate on writing songs and hitting the road. So neither one of us has an ulterior agenda. It’s really just what’s best for the family. And that really lets you sleep better at night.
It’s kind of a return to the small-town values you were brought up with, no?
Yeah. And that was being trampled out of me for a while there. And we really wanted to get back to that. If you’re out in this business long enough, you see how people really treat each other, and it’s pretty s———. So we just want to treat people the way we would like to be treated. And that applies to the tour business, too.
One thing Anna and I have both noticed from people we’ve dealt with is, they’re always appreciative of the details, like you just returning their calls, or even just following up on things. If your merch order is wrong and you got the wrong T-shirt size, we’ll call you back and make sure it’s right. And we always send thank-you notes. It’s the little stuff that matters.
IF YOU GO
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m.March 29
Tickets: $35 to $40 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly,com