Local musician Jennings creates documentary about Will Rogers
Mark Friedel Staff Reporter
The Will Rogers Museum will host a fundraiser from 7-10 p.m. on Saturday to raise money for the completion of local musican Beau Jennings’ documentary entitled “The Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers”
The project includes two parts-a documentary on Rogers and Jennings, as well as, a full-length record written and performed by Jennings and inspired by Rogers’ life.
Jennings said the accompanying record was recorded at various locations where significant events in Roger’s life occurred, including Oklahoma, Arkansas, New York, Hollywood and Alaska.
The goal was to trace the life of Will Rogers across the U.S. The experience took Jennings, notable musicians and filmmakers just over two years to accomplish.
“The idea came to me when I was living in New York playing in a band,” he said. “I was home visiting my folks in Oklahoma and saw a book on their coffee table about Will Rogers. I borrowed it to read and thought this is great material for song writing.”
Jennings, a true-blue Woody Guthrie fan, was inspired by the fact that Guthrie’s two biggest fans were Jesus and Will Rogers.
“There was a producer named Alan Lomax from the 40s who would record folk music artists such as Guthrie and instead of recording them in a studio, he would travel to their homes,” said Jennings. “I kind of married that idea to this record about Will. It was a very special experience.”
Jennings said it was hard to grow up in the Claremore area and not know something about Will Rogers, but he said he thinks that Rogers has faded into the past, “lost to history.”
“Hopefully with this project, people can rediscover who Will Rogers was and what made him such an enternainer.”
“The Verdigris” was named for the river that runs through both Jennings’ hometown and Rogers’. In the trailor for the film, Jennings performs a song while standing on a boat, floating on Oologah Lake. The location was determined to be the original site of Rogers’ boyhood home.
Two of the film’s trailers will be shown during the fundraiser event Saturday evening at the Will Rogers Memorial. Jennings said the film is nearly complete; however, final editing does need to be finished.
“I have experienced a lot of support throughout the process. It’s a unique project in the sense that I’m a relatively young Will Rogers fan and “The Verdigris” is recorded in a way that’s a little different from other documentaries.”
Jennings said he wants to thank everyone who supported the film, including Oklahoma filmmaker Bradley Beesley, who followed Jennings across the U.S., Aviation Cinemas team (The Texas Theatre) and the Will Rogers Memorial and Museum.
For more information on “The Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers” visit theverdigrisfilm.com. To learn more about Beau Jennings visit beaujennings.com