After spending several years in Brooklyn fronting the americana rock band Cheyenne, singer and songwriter Beau Jennings was in search of a new backing band upon returning to his home in Oklahoma. The Tigers - based out of Norman and a wrecking crew of some of the best musicians in the state - were already known as the go-to backing band for songwriters from the area and were a perfect match for Jennings' new songs. After one rehearsal and several beers, Beau Jennings & The Tigers performed a hastily assembled set at the Okie Noodling Tournament and soon realized they were a match for each other. At times channeling the energy of early Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, other times the more modern Wilco, Beau Jennings & The Tigers set out to begin work on their debut recording, the Sweet Action EP.
Initial tracking began at The Honey Jar Studios in Brooklyn, NY with Devin Greenwood (Norah Jones, Amos Lee) at the helm. On songs like 'Readin' To My Baby', 'A Full Moon', and 'Song for Wynn', a bigger, broader sound for Jennings' songs began to emerge, contrasting with the more intensely personal nature of the lyrics. There were no fictional storytelling songs this time around, only reflections on real life situations: "I guess it's a funny way to go about it, pairing these big sounding songs with lyrics that are probably better suited for quiet acoustic stuff, but I try not fight what seems to be coming in" says Jennings. Rounding out the Tigers' debut recording were 'Sweet Action' and 'Quicktrip', balancing the rock n' roll with lush, acoustic keyboard driven instrumentation reminiscent of Jennings' early recordings with Cheyenne. Tracking later moved back to the familiar Blackwatch Studios in Norman with both Jarod Evans and Chad Copelin handling final tracking and mixing duties.
The songs on 'Sweet Action' were written in between periods of writing songs for Jennings' other ongoing project, The Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers. "I've written all the songs I can about Will Rogers at this point, and it was time to focus a little bit on some of the others songs I'd been writing on the side." With The Verdigris album and documentary film not scheduled for release until sometime late in 2013, Jennings is happy to focus on working with the Tigers until then. "All these different projects seem to inform each other I think. The Verdigris has been a tedious and painstaking process and I know the results will show it was all worth the effort, but I also have a musical side that needs to turn it up and make a lot of noise with the band."
Beau Jennings - vocals, guitar, piano
Ryan Lindsey - piano, background vocals
Jeff Shoop - bass
James McAlister - drums
Sweet Action EP - 2013 (Self Released)
Six Stories EP - 2010 (Self Released)
Holy Tulsa Thunder LP - 2008 (A Silence Production)
The Whale - 2007 (Self Released)
The Land Rush EP 2007 (Clerestory AV)
I Am Haunted, I Am Alive 2005 (The Record Machine
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Music comes at us from all directions. Sometimes a short review will catch your eye and lead to an o...Music comes at us from all directions. Sometimes a short review will catch your eye and lead to an overwhelming discovery. Other times a new band seems promising, and then one of its members takes off on their own. That’s Beau Jennings. The Oklahoma native has a name that sounds like he should come from that state, but his music is as big as America. He made two albums with Cheyenne, and both are striking collections of personal perceptions. But it’s Jennings’ solo debut that makes you think here’s someone who is creeping right up to the edge of greatness, and with any luck could easily cross over. This isn’t roots music, unless you consider the entire cosmos the backyard. It’s more like the singer-songwriter has his head tuned into a prairie radio capable of receiving every kind of American music there is. Jennings’ job is to distill it down to his own creation--and he does. There’s always been a scene in his part of Oklahoma, which is where The Holy Tulsa Thunder was recorded, and while it might range from J.J. Cale to the Flaming Lips, that’s not as wide as you first might think. Artists from this area don’t have as much to compare themselves to, so coloring outside the lines is easier because there aren’t as many lines. And if every great album has one song that reflects its highest mark, here it’s “In My Veins Again.” It’s like a midnight ride across an empty landscape, the moon and stars so bright they feel like floodlights and fill the heart with hope, even if delusion is riding shotgun: “I told her I loved her/it was on the first date/she didn’t believe me/it wasn’t true anyway/sometimes you say what you think/might help get you in/or what makes you feel in your veins again.” Like life, there are no easy answers on this album. But that doesn’t stop the questions from being asked by someone who means it. No Beau, no show. - Bill Bentley
"Alt-Country" Side Project Of Cheyenne Frontman Does What It Says On The Tin.
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The frontman of Cheyenne, Beau Jennings, has released this crop of tunes as a solo album because the...The frontman of Cheyenne, Beau Jennings, has released this crop of tunes as a solo album because they allegedly did not fit with the sound of his main project. In honesty there is little difference between these songs and Cheyenne songs. In execution they have perhaps a more southern boogie/Americana feel sounding at times like Neil Young channeling Lynyrd Skynyrd. Jennings’ voice has the timbre of Jeff Tweedy. Overall, this is a fine collection if alt-country is your thing. There are some fine examples of said genre included on this recording. Take “Girl From Oklahoma” for instance, a song that was born in the country but has gotten used to living in the city. It looks back to a time when things were simpler, when fun could be found by hunting down a “strange old bar” and having a few drinks. The claim on the press notes is that this is a drinking album and this is quite true. A bottle of sour mash, a sunny day, and this record would make fine bar-fellows indeed.
Beau Jennings and The Holy Tulsa Thunder
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Alt-country is all kinds of popular these days and as such there are a plethora of fancy-pants New Y...Alt-country is all kinds of popular these days and as such there are a plethora of fancy-pants New Yorkers jumping on the bandwagon making music these days that isn’t quite country music and as such can be enjoyed by a gaggle of indie rockers. At first sight, Beau Jennings is one more of those fellas - a fancy lad Brooklynite who is so down-home that he still rocks a beard and has pictures taken with his dog and while canoeing. A deeper look reveals a much more impressive picture of an Oklahoma native with a penchant for J Mascis like vocals over pleasant harmonies with just the right amount of piano. On his first solo album without his regular band Cheyenne, Jennings starts off very strongly both musically and lyrically with ‘Holy Tulsa Thunder’ and the pace only picks up ambling along quite nicely for the next few songs, peaking with the fourth track, ‘The Opolis’. Jennings songs tell stories at times and are poetic musings at other times. The highlight of the album, ‘San Juan Capistrano’ is probably the best example of the latter with lyrics like “And now my richest gain can only count for loss/I can’t stop shaking through the Stations of the Cross/I tip the bottle up I watch the spirits flow/They flow through San Juan Capistrano”. The album is terrifically pleasant with hints of all sorts of other alt-country and singer songwriter type bands and although there are a handful of weaker songs (musically more than lyrically) it really is a terrific rookie solo release.
Holy Tulsa Thunder, Batman!
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It's happened many times before. A strong front man of a band announces that he's making a solo albu...It's happened many times before. A strong front man of a band announces that he's making a solo album. Some of these times it's a permanent transition, while other times it's a necessary move for the band to continue forward. Thome Yorke did it; Stephen Malkmus did it, so why shouldn't Beau Jennings do it? The front man of the New York group indie Cheyenne, Jennings decided it was time to diverge from his group to strike out on his own solo work. The result is Holy Tulsa Thunder, an ode to his days in Oklahoma created with studio musicians with ties to Tulsa, Jennings's hometown. Holy Tulsa Thunder's story is based off of the band's days spent at the local Tulsa attraction Bell's Amusement Park, a run-down classic theme park with wooden roller coasters and cotton candy at every stand.
Each track on Holy Tulsa Thunder is short but sweet, the longest being about four minutes. This doesn't allow much time for Jennings to develop a sound of his own. The title track and first song "Holy Tulsa Thunder" sounds more like his work in Cheyenne, calling upon influences from Wilco combined with a southern flair. Most tracks don't deviate too far from the formula Jennings uses for Cheyenne, but he does add certain panache to make Holy Tulsa Thunder a bit different than Cheyenne's album The Whale. "The Opolis," a song based about a music venue in Tulsa, is a little more bluegrass than Cheyenne usually is with a nice bass beat to make those not from Oklahoma feel the energy of the local music venue.
As entertaining as Holy Tulsa Thunder is, it feels as though Jennings is taking his favorite bands and vamping off of them to create his solo album. "Eastern Clouds" sounds as though it could come right off of Wilco's Sky Blue Sky, and the following track "In My Veins Again" fits easily into Ryan Adams's Heartbreaker. Despite the musical similarities, Jennings's voice makes his sound unique enough to add variation between his work and the work of his influences. The way he sounds on "In Time for Spring" is so attractive that it's similarities to anything else are thrown out the window for Jennings's sincere words to a woman that he's lost.
Holy Tulsa Thunder is a fun album, but just can't compete to Cheyenne's The Whale. It's still worth a spin, so don't entirely dismiss it. Maybe just listen to Cheyenne before you make a purchase.
Give Me Whatever's Left, Whatever The Workers Found
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I suppose there is no shortage of them, those that call themselves singer-songwriter's, and certainl...I suppose there is no shortage of them, those that call themselves singer-songwriter's, and certainly shortage of them which would list their myspace genres as "Rock/Country/Folk," but this shouldn't stop us from enjoying the ones that excel at their craft, familiar though it may be, right?
Beau Jennings is a pretty special one in this field. He exists somewhere between the dustbowl americana Josh Ritter taps for inspiration and the 50's rock n' roll which fills the jukebox of your local inland interstate diner. While this still may not sound like anything terribly original I'd encourage you to give Tulsa Sound or The Opolis a listen and not find yourself hunting the repeat button. Those of you who preferred Bright Eye's matured, world-traveler, folk-rock direction on Cassadaga to his earlier more angst-ridden offerings, for example, will likely find Mr. Jennings' work quite satisfying.
There's a cast of notable players including James McCalister and Jeff Shoop (Sufjan), Ryan Lindsey (Starlight Mints), and production by Chad Copelin (The Umbrellas, Bishop Allen). If you're still not sold give the track below a listen and call me in the morning.
Beau Jennings and The Holy Tulsa Thunder
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There seem to be two hipster Nebraskas: the Conor Oberst scene (heartfelt, slightly precious), and t...There seem to be two hipster Nebraskas: the Conor Oberst scene (heartfelt, slightly precious), and the seminal lo-fi Springsteen disc, which has inspired a generation of bleak moods and raw tone. Jennings rightly aligns himself with the latter: This is a Brooklyn alt-folk suffused with old Midwest.
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