By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The folk and country revival has sparked heated ballyhoo about what exactly makes you country enough to play country music. For some, it seems, if you weren't conceived by George Jones and born on the banks of the Mississippi, you should just stick to rock 'n' roll. Which is kinda laughable, considering that the folks who started this grand debate are Prius-drivin', latte-sippin' hipsters—and the granddad of this thing we call alt-country, Gram Parsons, was a Floridian orange-juice heir.
But there's no shame in craving a little authenticity in your honky-tonk heroes. Growing up the poor and pissed-off son of migrating Southwestern cattle ranchers, Ryan Bingham parlayed his youthful aggressions into bull-riding (which claimed his natural teeth), then music. In person, Bingham is a Converse-wearin' cowboy, a charismatic, gravelly-voiced frontman who exudes potent throw-your-panties-at-the-stage sexiness. He's the same in one-on-one interactions; it'll likely be the only time being called "ma'am" will ever turn you on.
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