What do you get when you cross a heartland rocker with a horror writer? A full-length musical, of course. “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” is a collaboration between John Mellencamp and Stephen King that features an all-star cast of singers on the soundtrack album, which Speakeasy premieres today in its entirety.
Set at a cabin by a lake in rural Mississippi, the musical tells the story of two sets of brothers riven by jealousy a generation apart in the same family. The elder brothers came to a tragic end in a dispute over a woman each loved. Can the younger siblings learn from their forebears’ untimely end before they meet a similar fate?
Mellencamp approached King with the idea for the musical, which is rooted in the true story of two brothers who had gotten into a fatal fight decades earlier in a cabin on land Mellencamp owns in Indiana. King was interested right away.
“I liked the idea of a cabin that’s haunted by the ghosts of people that had
a terrible thing happen there,” King said in the libretto for the musical. “And
because it was so awful, their spirits stayed there, and then the whole chain of
events starts to repeat itself.”
King wrote the book and Mellencamp wrote the songs and recruited producer T Bone Burnett as the musical director for tunes sung by the likes of Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, Taj Mahal, Neko Case and real-life estranged brothers Dave and Phil Alvin, who hadn’t spoken to each other in years before they came together to sing several sounds on the soundtrack.
“Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” made its stage debut last year in Atlanta. The soundtrack album is out June 4 on Concord Music Group/Hear Music. What do you think of the musical? Leave your thoughts in the comments.