Singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham, like millions around the world, is remaining at home with his family due to COVID-19. He traditionally spends his time touring and performing in front of thousands of fans, whether in Montana, Spain or other locations. While he may not be able to play live shows, Bingham is still taking time to entertain fans with his ongoing Cantina Sessions series on Instagram.
Speaking exclusively with PopCulture.com, Bingham detailed his time at home with his wife and their three children. He revealed that he is working on writing some music for the follow-up to 2019's "American Love Song." Bingham also provided the backstory to his unique videos on Instagram where he learns a new song and plays it for viewers. He explained how this daily routine turned into an opportunity to highlight important issues.
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"Well, I feel like I kind of wrote myself into that. It was an accident," Bingham told PopCulture. "I was sitting around and just kind of not being able to go anywhere or play anywhere. I was just kind of wondering what I could do for people, how I could contribute or maybe bring some joy into someone's day. ... I thought, 'Maybe I'll just put a couple of songs up and see if people want to hear them.' And then people just really started getting into it and then I felt kind of obligated to do it every day. And I'm like, 'Oh man, what'd I get myself into?'
"I just really started having fun with it. I just took it as a great opportunity to learn some new songs every day, and then also just share some stuff with some people and hopefully brighten up their day as well by just having something to look forward to. And so I would just wake up in the morning and start listening to songs that I liked and just waited until one came across that I thought would fit for the day."
In his time filming the Cantina Sessions, Bingham has played his original songs while mixing in some classics. He has performed tunes by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard and Tom Petty, among others. And while he enjoyed picking up the guitar and trying to figure out some of his favorite songs, Bingham also found ways to raise money for those in need. For example, he sold Cantina Session t-shirts and donated $78,150 in proceeds to a charitable organization focused on providing food.
"We had the opportunity to do some stuff with No Kid Hungry," Bingham explained. "We raised almost 80,000 bucks for them for the kids, and it just became this whole other thing. It was almost not even about the songs. It was just a way to connect with people every day and let people know that we're thinking of them and all of that stuff. So I really enjoyed it."
Apart from raising money for those in need, Bingham also traveled to Compton, California for a peace walk in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of a now-fired Minneapolis police officer. He joined the Compton Cowboys and hundreds of protesters for a march down the streets. Bingham explained that he has seen racism in action throughout his life and how it impacts minorities, so he wants to bring awareness to others.
"When I was 15, 16 years old, I was living down in Houston, Texas. I used to do rodeo before I ever got into playing music or anything on the road," he said. "My traveling partner was a young Black kid from a neighborhood called Acres Homes in Houston. It was similar to Compton. From my travels with him through some really racist areas of the deep South and those experiences when we were 15, 16 years old, and things I went through with him really just kind of gave me a perspective on a lot of that stuff.
"I got out to California and was still riding horses and looking for people that shared those interests, I naturally met those guys from Compton and we had a lot in common as far as our love for horses," Bingham continued. "It's not necessarily obligation or whatever you're trying to call it. I thought it's important to go to those places. I just want to help out as much as I can and shed some light on that for maybe some young kids from different parts of the world that don't know anything about that. ... if I can do anything to help or bring any kind of awareness to that, I will."