Really we’re a fun, rock ’n’ roll band,” said Beau Jennings, front man and founder of the band Cheyenne.
It’s not really that simple. The touring quintet combines the quiet melodrama of Jennings’ knack for storytelling with the polish of a well-rounded crew of working musicians he picked up in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Josh Harper joins the band on guitar, his big rolling style punching up Jennings’ moody vocals. Elliot Walker provides a solid bass backing, Heath Fisher steps in behind the drums, and the band is joined on tour by Ben King. Jennings honed his skills in the West where he released an album, I Am Haunted, I Am Alive, and a series of smaller releases, with a rotating list of backing musicians. Cheyenne’s early work was haunting, pared down, and taught Jennings how to tell a story.
“I started off wanting to write characters, stories, sketches. A lot of people do that, to varying degrees of success. I was writing about things I hadn’t experienced,” Jennings said. “I decided that they needed to come from a more honest place.”
The West still infuses his music, with expansive themes and just a hint of country western in his voice. Cheyenne’s relocation to New York two years ago was a turning point. Jennings solidified his band and the group started writing together, putting Jennings’ big themes to bigger music.
In the end it’s new classic Americana, more Dylan than most of today’s breathy, moody songsters, with a decidedly West coast feel. Jennings croons like Jeff Tweedy and has the deep tone of Pedro The Lion’s David Bazan, tells stories like Tom Waits and looks up to Woody Guthrie and The Boss.
In December the band released The Whale, a collaborative effort that takes Jennings’ sensibilities to a new place, then set off on a five-week supporting tour March 5.
“This is our first tour of this length. It has been an awesome experience,” Jennings said. “People can come to our live shows and just expect to have a good time.”
That includes a full set of songs from The Whale, including the title track which Jennings calls the show’s main event.
“We should really be promoting the album but we’re also playing a new song called “Bad Times,” and that’s just really fun to do,” he said with a laugh.
Really, Cheyenne just wants to be straight with you, they’re here to rock, and be your friend.
“We’ve been telling people at shows, get up as close as you can, we want to be your friend, and we’re here to have fun,” Jennings explained.
Last week Cheyenne made their South by Southwest debut, and early next month their tour will bring them to Murfreesboro for an afternoon show on the Knoll at MTSU April 4, with an evening performance at Wall Street. Check them out online at myspace.com/cheyenne.