October 15, 2004
Southern Rock Opera
First it was the Drive-by Truckers,
now it's Green Day. Soon, it'll be ... Daniel Johnston?
Fresh on the heels of the Discovered Covered tribute album ('Phases
& Stages,' October 8, 2004, Music), Houston's Infernal
Bridegroom Productions recently received a $15,000 grant from the
Rockefeller Foundation's Multi-Arts Production Fund to produce a rock
opera based on the work of the eccentric Rejected Unknown genius.
"[Daniel's] always wanted to do it, and we feel like we could do it
right," says IBP artistic director Anthony Barilla. The idea
sprang to life when a member of Johnston's band, the Nightmares,
who also plays with the company broached the idea after a show at IBP
home base the Axiom last year, and Johnston agreed. "We've always had a
strong connection to the local music scene," says Barilla. This is, in
fact, familiar territory for the award-winning alternative theatre
group, which has previously staged the Kinks' A Soap Opera
and several original musicals, more so because Barilla grew up a
Johnston and Glass Eye fan in Austin, inspired that "he had a DIY
thing but it wasn't punk rock." Johnston will collaborate with the IBP
orchestra, and has already started writing the music, though Barilla
won't even guess at the final product and what form it will take. "He's
in the riffing stage," says the director, who expects the work to
premiere in late 2005.