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« on: April 19, 2006, 05:57:28 PM »

“I cried a million tears; filled an ocean with my sorrow
And if I had my way, I’d be up to see you tomorrow
And I know if you saw me now, you would be much perplexed
And I know if you saw me now, your mind would be contorted
But I love you.

– Daniel Johnston, “Mind Contorted”

Unrequited love is a major theme in the music of Daniel Johnston, a Texas singer-songwriter who is known as much for his erratic behavior over the years as his wonderfully ebullient pop songs. Countless articles and a recent full-length film documentary have recounted his personal demons. Throughout his life, Johnston has channeled his swirling emotions and desires into his music, which bears the mark of his daily struggle. Johnston’s prolific catalogue of songs is one of extremes; it is heavily weighted in both the depths of dejection and ecstatic joy. Recurring characters make appearances: Captain America, the Beatles, Joe the Boxer, and the Devil.

Somewhere among these sprawling episodes, a narrative was lurking. The recurring episodes told a story about a boy who loved a girl, but everyone knows love can be an earth-shattering emotion, both hellish and heavenly—maybe even literally. In Daniel Johnston’s music, Heaven and Hell are very real places.

The supernatural is a realm quite suited to rock music and live performance. As longtime fans of Johnston’s work, Infernal Bridegroom Productions approached Johnston for the opportunity to set his music to stage and tell his passionate, supernatural love story. “I thought it sounded like a cool idea,” says Johnston, “and then I saw some videos of IBP shows, and my heart jumped for joy, because the shows were really entertaining and really put together well.” With Johnston’s blessing, IBP applied for, and was awarded, a prestigious MAP Fund grant by the Rockefeller Foundation to develop the production. After over a year of development, with Johnston supplying his songs and concepts and IBP founder Jason Nodler arranging the story and providing additional text, Johnston’s hidden narrative is ready to be told. And a tale born of rock music naturally demands the appropriate vessel: a rock opera. Its title, taken from one of Johnston’s songs: Speeding Motorcycle.

Speeding Motorcycle is directed by Jason Nodler and performed by the IBP company and orchestra, with new musical arrangements by IBP artistic director Anthony Barilla (with input from Johnston), and choreography and additional staging by Tamarie Cooper. Included in the show are the well-known Johnston songs “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievances,” “Rock N Roll EGA,” “Mind Contorted,” “True Love Will Find You in the End,” “Impossible Love,” the title song, and the previously unrecorded, unreleased Johnston song “Loving Feelings.”

More about Daniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston was born in 1961 and grew up listening to the Beatles, Queen, and Elvis Costello. According to his family-run website (www.hihowareyou.com), Johnston’s song writing started early. “When I was a kid, probably nine, I used to bang around on the piano, making up horror movie themes,” he says. “When I got a bit older, I’d be mowing my lawn and I’d make up songs and sing them. No one could hear me ‘cause of the lawn mower.”

As a teenager, Johnston began recording songs on cassettes and attending art classes (in addition to writing music, Johnston is also a visual artist and many of his sketches have made it onto the covers of his albums). Despite difficult bouts with mental illness, Johnston continued to record his cassettes, including the now much-loved Yip/Jump Music, and Hi, How Are You? Although the recording quality was lo-fi to say the least, Johnston’s songs overflowed with honesty and emotions captured right on the surface.

Eventually settling in Austin, Johnston’s cult status exploded when he was featured on an MTV special about the city’s music scene in the mid 1980s. As interest in him grew, the independent Homestead label reissued many of his homemade cassettes on CD. At the same time well-known artists including Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo began to talk up the artist, at times including covers of his songs on their albums. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain became known for wearing Daniel Johnston T-shirts.

After signing to Atlantic Records, Johnston’s popularity grew as his music appeared in film and TV soundtracks including Kids and My So-Called Life. In 1994 he recorded the album Fun for Atlantic Records.

In 2001, Johnston’s first record in seven years was released on Gammon Records. Returning to the type of earnest songwriting that made him famous, “Rejected Unknown” was selected by Mojo for its 1000 Ultimate CD Guide in the winter of 2002.

Now in his mid 40s and living with family in Waller, Texas, Johnston continues to draw and write music. In September of 2004 Gammon released the benefit album The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered, a recording of 18 of some of Johnston’s best songs covered by such recording artists as Tom Waits, Beck, Eels, Bright Eyes, TV on the Radio, Mercury Rev, Sparklehorse and the Flaming Lips. This month, Johnston releases his new album, Welcome to My World; and Jeff Feuerzeig’s full-length film documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, opens. The film won the “Best Documentary Directing” prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. This year, an exhibition of Johnston’s artwork was featured at New York’s prestigious Whitney Bienniale.

For more information about Daniel Johnston, check out www.hihowareyou.com.

More about Jason Nodler
Jason Nodler is the founder and former artistic director of Infernal Bridegroom Productions. His original plays include In the Under Thunderloo, King Ubu Is King and Meatbar, each of which was premiered by IBP. Nodler directed 24 productions for IBP, including plays by Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Büchner, Maria Irene Fornes, Sarah Kane, Wallace Shawn and Sam Shepard. He worked closely with Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks on the development of ****ing A, which IBP premiered in 2000 under the playwright’s direction. And he directed the theatrical premiere of The Kinks’ A Soap Opera with IBP in 2003. He received several Houston Press “Best of Houston” awards, including Best New Play and Best Director. Since his IBP jersey was retired in 2003, Nodler has directed plays in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Providence and New York. IBP couldn’t be more delighted to have him back directing Speeding Motorcycle.

More about Tony Barilla
Anthony Barilla is the artistic director of IBP. He has created music for PushPush Theater (Atlanta, GA), Gypsy Baby Theater (Austin, TX), Quantum Theater (Pittsburgh, PA), Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre, pop band The Misfires and Public Radio International's This American Life. He is currently co-writing an opera with playwright Lindsay Kayser.

More about Tamarie Cooper
Tamarie Cooper is a founding company member and associate artistic director of Infernal Bridegroom Productions. She recently presented Tamalalia 10, the final installment in her original series of theater, dance, music, food and fashion shows. An HSPVA graduate, Ms. Cooper was named "Best Actress" (critics' and readers' choice) for her work in IBP's Marie and Bruce, in Houston Press's 1999 "Best of Houston" issue, as well as being singled out as one of the "Top Ten Theater Makers Under Thirty" in the country by national trade magazine Stage Directions. She has acted, choreographed, designed, directed, and/or danced in over 40 IBP shows.

Speeding Motorcycle opens Thursday, May 25, 8pm. Tickets, 5.99

(Special preview party and performance Wednesday, May 24: Party starts at 6:30; performance at 8pm. Keg beer and snacks will be provided. Tickets, $35.)

Remaining performances Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm, May 26 through June 17. Tickets, $15

All performances at the Axiom, 2524 McKinney. For reservations, call 713-522-8443 or purchase tickets online at www.infernalbridegroom.com.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2006, 08:24:51 AM by hulgetta » Logged
Harley Man
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2006, 06:41:12 PM »

the previously unrecorded, unreleased Johnston song “Loving Feelings.”

This song is going to blow you guys away.  Really hope to see some of you at the show.
Henry Long
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2006, 04:42:12 PM »

Where is  Axiom ?
Where is the IBP?

"Although there's a darkness, love balances chaos."-HL
Harley Man
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2006, 06:33:05 PM »

IBP and the Axiom are in Houston, Texas.  The Axiom used to be a punk club and now it's IBP's theater.  Daniel's played there several times over the years, with and without the Nitemares.

We're in rehearsals now and it's going great.  Such a blessing to live with these songs this way.  The biggest challenge, of course, is choosing from the incredible catalogue.  There are at least 70 songs I feel like have to be in there and another 50 I wish were in there, but we're trying to get it down to a manageable length.

We couldn't be more excited and Daniel's excited about it too.  Really hope some of you can make it.
Harley Man
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2006, 04:30:40 PM »

Rock opera on pitchfork:

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