T Bone Burnett Vows to Keep Touring Production of 'Ghost Brothers' Alive


If acclaimed music producer T Bone Burnett has his way, his gothic musical collaboration with Stephen King and John Mellencamp will find more life on the road.

The trio's Ghost Brothers of Darkland County recently completed a 20-city tour across the country that kicked off in Mellencamp's home state of Indiana. It played such cities as Nashville, Tennessee, and Minneapolis, Minnesota (on Halloween night) before wrapping up Nov. 6 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But Burnett, who has already produced an album based on the musical, wants more dates to come from the touring production, which stars actor Bruce Greenwood.

"The production is talking about it and I just heard about some potential dates," Burnett told me in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. "It's my aim to continue it. I'm going to stick with them on it. I love the piece."

King wrote the libretto for Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, while Mellencamp penned the music and Burnett supervised the music.

The story follows the ghosts of a pair of brothers in Mississippi dead after an apparent murder/suicide, and their living nephews who appear to be heading toward a similar fate unless secrets can be revealed to prevent another pair of deaths.

According to Mellencamp's website, the project began when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer told King about a cabin on his land and a story about how one brother accidentally killed the other when they got into a fight over a girl. A short time later, the surviving brother and a girl died in a car crash.

Burnett, who just wrapped up his musical supervisor duties on Joel and Ethan Coen's latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis, told me he was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with King and Mellencamp on such a unique project.

"The whole thing has been very interesting and it's a long way from ending up in its final resting place," Burnett said with a laugh. "I was happy to do it and have an opportunity to work with those guys. They're both very interesting guys."

A CD/DVD version of the Ghost Brothers soundtrack was released in June. The album includes several prominent artists, including Mellencamp, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow and Ryan Bingham – whose song with Burnett "The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart" earned the duo a Best Original Song Oscar in 2010.

The Ghost Brothers soundtrack also includes snippets of dialogue from the musical, featuring the voices of actors Matthew McConaughey, Meg Ryan and Samantha Mathis.