On Sunday, October 28, Baton Rouge Gallery's Sundays@4 series welcomes Louisiana-based author Rien Fertel for a reading from his new manuscript, Southern Rock Opera, which delves into the titular album from acclaimed band The Drive-By Truckers.
The Drive-By Truckers' Southern Rock Opera takes listeners on a road trip through the American South, with stops along mean old highways and soul-sucking swamps, iconic recording studios and doomed chartered jets, and even Heaven and Hell. Along the way, the Truckers attempt to untangle the mess that is southern history by exploring the contradictory, dualistic nature of the region.
"It's a short read about a band (the Drive-By Truckers), an album (Southern Rock Opera), a place (the 1970s South)," says Fertel, "and so much more (including: the night Jimmy Carter saw a UFO, how the word schnapps led to the bloodiest band brawl ever, the time I watched a musician die on stage, and the retired roadie who threatened to kill me if I wrote some of the things I wrote in this book)."
Like twin paths intersecting and diverging before meeting again, the opera's libretto focuses on the lives of two bands: the fictional Betamax Guillotine, a stand-in for the Truckers themselves, and Southern rock gods Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rien Fertel takes us for a ride along the Truckers' winding road through the opera's Southlands, a region filled with youthful rockstar aspirations, fatal crashes, the wreckage of one band gone too soon, and the ambitions of another wrestling with the great hope and tragedy that is America.
Copies of the book will be available following the reading. As with all Sundays@4 events, this special presentation is open to the public and free to attend.