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.