BEAU JENNINGS & THE TIGERS
CATALOG NO: CAV014
FORMAT: 12” vinyl / digital
Limited edition of 200 on 180 gram black audiophile vinyl
MUSIC VIDEO: “The Thunderbird”
LISTEN: “The Thunderbird”
RELEASE DATE: 9/6/19
Although he’s released five full-length albums over the years, whether as a solo artist or with the Americana rock act Cheyenne, Beau Jennings says The Thunderbird - his upcoming full-length debut recorded with his new band The Tigers - “feels like the first chapter of a new career.”
“We’ve played together for years,” Jennings says. “And things kept coming together, kept building, we kept looking for and eventually found our sound. This album is the natural result of that.”
In many ways, The Thunderbird is indeed a new beginning for Jennings. He’d previously spent nearly decade creating The Verdigris, an ambitious music and documentary film project inspired by the life of Cherokee cowboy, actor and political humorist Will Rogers. He finished the project, which was released in 2015, with help from filmmaker Bradley Beesley (“Okie Noodling,” “The Fearless Freaks,” “Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo”). “After The Verdigris, it took some time to be able to zoom out and write songs not so laser focused on one topic,” he says. “And even though I was trying not to, I still found themes emerging once the songs came together,” Jennings says. “My loose goal was to capture the pure fun and energy I get from playing with the Tigers and to make a classic summertime rock and roll record. The songs are about people and places I know,” he added. “It allowed me to get out of my own way, so to speak. I got to thinking about the stories of everyday people and the things that happen while they’re just living their lives.”
The result is a surprisingly powerful and substantive rock album informed by the storytelling ethos of artists like Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, and infused with the innovative complexity of acts like the Dire Straits, Dan Auerbach and the Arctic Monkeys .
“All my favorite artists do that — they document the times,” Jennings says. “I wanted the record to be a documentation of where I am and where my community is in this place and time.”
Songwriting for the album began four years ago, but gained momentum about a year ago. “The times are different — a lot of things have changed in the last few years, for a lot of people,” Jennings says. “I felt an urgency to do my best work — to do the things that I can be most helpful doing. For me, one example of that is writing and recording music.”
Indeed, The Thunderbird is a collection of songs and stories that capture everyday human emotion and experiences in powerful ways. He says that while his lyrics are topical and, at times, even heart-rending, he doesn’t consider his songs to be political.
“I wouldn’t call them protest songs, no. They just tell stories of people in complicated situations. That said, I guess there’s also something to the saying that the personal is political,” he says. “In that sense, it’s an honest album. I don’t make judgments, and these songs aren’t about what I think is right or wrong — it’s about what people do to get by.”
“‘OK Death Row Blues,’ yeah, that’s a loaded title I guess,” Jennings admits. “I’d been following the news of several death-row inmates in the state who all had some similarities, and you just kinda write what you’re seeing I guess.” Jennings’ jangly, upbeat guitar, foot-stomps, handclaps and “do-do-doos” are paradoxical to his lyrics, a first-person account of a death-row inmate awaiting lethal injection.
“But then a phone call come / The governor herself / They didn’t have the right drugs / Around on the shelf / ‘Guess you ain’t dyin today’ / My lawyer said through the glass / I guess he wanted to have / Just one more laugh,” Jennings sings.
It rolls along in the buoyant meter of an Irish pub drinking song, yet its message is a uniquely midwestern American one.
Similarly, “Dairy Queen” is a snapshot — a moment in time that simultaneously exemplifies both the restlessness and acquiescence inherent in a small-town teenager’s daily life. “I watched everything unfold in a few minutes,” Jennings says. “I knew I had to tell the story. A couple hours later, I sat down and the song just came out.”
The musician again worked with Beesley on the video for “The Other Side,” a song about a man struggling to connect with his past, his family and his country. “I was in Alabama for work, away from home and my family. I was thinking about some things I’d read recently from people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., amongst others, and couldn’t help but feel their urgency with the news on in the background,” Jennings says. “I quickly wrote and made a demo on my iPhone — in my hotel bathroom, because it had the best acoustics.” He took the demo to his bandmates, who fleshed out the tune for the album.
The album’s title track was the last song written for the album. “We all agreed we needed one more song. It’s like, you know how you hear artists say, ‘We need another single,’” he says, then laughs. “But it happened just like that. I guess the song is about the search for anything, everything, or even sometimes nothing. It came suddenly, but we captured it. Songwriting is like life in that way, I think. The best moments happen when you’re lucky enough to be paying attention.”
“The Thunderbird” single will soon be released as a video directed by Jarod Evans (who also co-produced and engineered The Verdigris album; Evans co-owns Blackwatch Studios in Norman, Oklahoma) and shot by Blake Studdard (owner, Atria Creative).
Jennings will announce the album’s Clerestory AV release date soon. In the meantime, fans can purchase a digital release of The Thunderbird at select live shows.
— Jennifer Chancellor
BEAU JENNINGS & THE TIGERS:
• Beau Jennings: guitars, vocals and harmonica (Cheyenne)
• Chase Kerby: lead guitars, background vocals and piano (Ex-Wives, Defining Times, The City Lives, Chasing Paris, Meg & Dia)
• Eric Nauni: drums (Gentle Ghost, Gang Starr Museum, Doll Steak)
• Rianna Nauni: background vocals (Student Film)
• Dustin Ragland: keys, string arrangement on “Jimmy Houston” (Young Weather, Student Film, and engineering/mixing for artists including Samantha Crain, Lord Buffalo, Tallows, Husbands, Ester Drang, John Calvin Abney)
• Michael Trepagnier: bass (Shares credits with artists on projects with Hanson, Counting Crows, JD McPherson, Coldplay, Bun E. Carlos, Philip Glass, Robyn Hitchcock and more)
• John McCall: bass on “The Other Side” and “Gettin’s Good” (Tony Foster Jr.)
OK Death Row Blues
Back in Town
The Other Side
PRESS FOR BEAU JENNINGS & THE TIGERS:
“Beau Jennings and the Tigers capture what it's like to feel lost in a familiar place.”