Beau Jennings
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Beau Jennings

| Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

| SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
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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. - Pop Matters


Artists’ inspiration can be found in obvious places — politics, religion, love and loss — but few find it as early as Oklahoma native Beau Jennings. On a whim, a third-grade Jennings wrote a report on Will Rogers, not out of fandom, but a visit to Claremore’s Will Rogers Memorial Museum.

A few years ago, a songwriting exercise with his band, Cheyenne, led him to an exploration of his Sooner- State roots, reawakening his dormant love for Rogers.

“I got really into Oklahoma history and even more into Oklahoma mythology, the real epic heroes and villains from Oklahoma history: Woody (Guthrie), Timothy McVeigh, the Trail of Tears, all that. Will rose to the top in my mind as my favorite and most deserving of recognition, but he’s fading from our collective memory.”

Slowly, the idea of documenting an exploration of Jennings’ inspiration on film took shape. In support, he’s recruited filmmaker Bradley Beesley (“Okie Noodling”) and a host of producers for “The Verdigris.” Named for the river that runs through both Jennings’ and Rogers’ hometown, the documentary will include interviews with people whose lives were affected by Rogers, as well as Jennings performing Rogers-inspired songs in locales made famous by his life.

“There’s a fellow in Alaska I’ve spoken to a few times whose grandfather was the last person to ever see Will alive, aside from Wiley Post,” Jennings said. “His grandfather was the one who actually witnessed their plane crash in Alaska, and ran back to town to town to get help. He has been eager to talk about his grandpa, and the stories he grew up hearing about Will and Wiley, who seem to have had an impact on him.”

Although addressing biographical aspects of Rogers, “The Verdigris” is very much Jennings’ story.

“I started with a comprehensive idea of touching on all the major events of Will’s life, but it got boring. Instead of singing about specifics in this case, I learned it would be better to look for themes and emotional foundations,” Jennings said. “Will strikes a chord with me and reminds me of so many things I love and miss about home, and the film (and companion album) are tools I’m hoping to use; there’s an intuition I have that a real story is here to be told.”

Will Rogers is fading from our collective memory. - OK Gazette


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 - Sonic Boomers


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 - Sonic Boomers


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. - Pop Matters


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. - Pop Matters


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. - Jersey Beat


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. - Jersey Beat


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. - Heave Media


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. - Heave Media


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.
- It's Hard To Find A Friend


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.
- It's Hard To Find A Friend


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. - CNET


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. - CNET


“I’ve always loved Will Rogers, and he always just seemed like the patron saint of where I’m from,” said Beau Jennings in a statement about his upcoming record. “The Verdigris River flows from his hometown to mine (Inola, Oklahoma), and I couldn’t help but see that as a kind of opportunity to grab whatever he sent floating downstream.” So, in lieu of the album about New York City he’d planned to record, Beau found himself traveling around the country to the various places Will Rogers had spent his life.

The result of the singer-songwriter’s cross-country journey is The Verdigris, his sophomore record. Below is “A Little Bit Higher Now” from the record, about Will’s first crack at fame.

In Beau’s words: “Will Rogers first found fame performing on the rooftop of the New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square during the 1920’s. The song is about trying to get back to that place, both literally and figuratively. It was one of the simplest songs to write on the album, and I felt like it captured the kind of hopeful, almost gospel-like feel I get when I think about Will’s life.” - Southern Living


Discography

Sweet Action EP - 2013 (Self Released)

Six Stories EP - 2010 (Self Released)

Holy Tulsa Thunder LP - 2008 (A Silence Production)

with Cheyenne:

The Whale - 2007 (Self Released)

The Land Rush EP 2007 (Clerestory AV)

I Am Haunted, I Am Alive 2005 (The Record Machine

Photos

Bio

Beau Jennings wanted to make a record about New York. Originally from Oklahoma,


Jennings had made a name for himself as a songwriter with a gift for making records 


that married lush, brooding music with honest and insightful lyrics. Jennings was living 


in Brooklyn when he sat down to write his second record, with every honest intention to 


make an album that fully encapsulated his experience in Gotham. 


Yet despite his best effort to stay on topic, Jennings found himself drawn to memories of 


growing up in the small town of Inola, OK; not far from Oologah, OK, the birthplace of the 


world famous Oklahoman (and Jennings’ boyhood hero) Will Rogers. “I’ve always loved 


Will Rogers and he always just seemed like the patron saint of where I’m from. You grow 


up with God and the Bible in Oklahoma but Will is kinda mixed up in there too,” Jennings 


notes. “The Verdigris River flows from his hometown to mine, and I couldn’t help but see 


that as a kind of opportunity to grab whatever he sent floating downstream”.


Once Jennings succumbed to the undeniable pull of the muses the songs came quickly; 


as did ideas for ways to properly document them. Inspired by the field recordings Alan 


Lomax made for the Library of Congress in the 1930’s, Jennings decided to travel to 


places Will Rogers had been during his life. There he would record on site the songs 


as they pertained to each location. There was Rogers’ birthplace in Oklahoma (now 


covered by Oologah Lake); there was Times Square in New York City where Rogers 


first became famous; there was the North Slope of Alaska, where Rogers died in a plane 


crash. From abandoned radio stations in Los Angeles to demolished homes in Arkansas, 


Jennings chased Rogers’s ghost across the country. 


Jennings and his guitar rode planes, trains, cars, and ATV’s to the locations. He also 


brought along a film crew to document the journey. Director and friend Bradley Beesley 


had already made several critically acclaimed Oklahoma-centric documentary films 


(Okie Noodling and The Flaming Lips - The Fearless Freaks) and was the natural choice 


to help capture Jennings’ quest for Will Rogers on film. 


With Beesley’s guidance, Jennings created the feature length documentary film The 


Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers. With the field recordings providing the soundtrack 


for the film, Jennings wanted also to create a studio album simply called The Verdigris, 


allowing him to explore the sonic space that the spirit of Will Rogers seemed to be 


creating in his mind. At Blackwatch Studios in Oklahoma, Jennings teamed with trusted 


producer and friend Jarod Evans (The Flaming Lips, Broncho) to oversee the process, 


which took place concurrent with filming. 


(over)


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Most songs performed in the film itself are solo affairs on the acoustic guitar or piano. 


Yet the studio provided an opportunity for exploration, and while most of the basic 


tracking was performed by Jennings and Evans a few friends stopped by to lend a 


hand. Sufjan Stevens provided backing vocals and banjo to the haunting “First Line of a 


Dream” and “Scattered Lights”. Composer/songwriter Alan Vest (Starlight Mints) brought 


an Aaron Copland-esque string score to the tender “I’m Not Askin” as well as epic album 


closer “Me & Wiley”. 


The resultant songs are cloaked in heavy atmosphere, conjuring a world part 


remembered and part imagined. The Verdigris is an album about trying to understand, 


process, and ultimately connect with a long lost source of inspiration. It’s the only true 


album completely based on the life of Will Rogers, and yet it stretches beyond that as 


love letter to Jennings’ home state and ultimately to the idea of embracing one’s roots as 


a way of growing up.

Band Members