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Dirtdobber Blues

A Novel

by Cyril E. Vetter

176 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 13 color photos

ebook available

Fiction | Music

  Hardcover / 9780807138304 / March 2011

Immensely talented and devastatingly self-destructive, singer/songwriter Charles "Butch" Hornsby lived hard and fast. One of the most versatile artists ever to emerge from South Louisiana, Hornsby touched and frustrated his friends in equal measure. Dirtdobber Blues, a fictionalized account of Hornsby's life written by his close friend Cyril Vetter, provides the gritty but engrossing story of this man, his demons, and his art.

Much like Hornsby's life, Dirtdobber Blues consists of short, fast-paced segments. These vignettes juxtapose musical accomplishments and personal misadventures to paint the portrait of a truly complex individual. His all-too-familiar vices--sex, alcohol, and rock and roll--and his capricious temperament affected his ability to find success in the music business. Vetter celebrates all that is Hornsby including his off-beat humor, frustrating narcissism, and profound creativity.

In addition to Vetter's lively and captivating account of Butch's life, the book includes Hornsby's sheet music and a CD with fourteen of his songs. Photos of Butch and images of his found-object artwork by photographer Philip Gould are also included.

Through the music, images, and text, Hornsby moves from the strawberry fields of Amite, Louisiana, to the bars of Baton Rouge and into the unforgiving arena of the recording industry. Along the way, Vetter provides glimpses into the musician's inspiration--a tumultuous young love, a stint in Hollywood, his family's return to Louisiana--and pieces together the arc of Hornsby's life, littered with poor decisions, crowned by artistic success, and concluding with the redemptive power of love.

Over the past five decades Cyril E. Vetter's career has included work in music, broadcasting, and publishing. He is the author of Fonville Winans' Louisiana: Politics, People, and Places and The Louisiana Houses of A. Hays Town.

Review of Dirtdobber Blues

"Reminiscent of Beat-era texts like Kerouac's On the Road, the narration in Dirtdobber Blues serves in part to show the meandering and high-seeking Hornsby at his most authentic—spontaneous and carefree, but at a cost: "The year 1969 folded into 1970 in a grass/tobacco/beer/gin/Jack Daniels/pizza/musical instrument/hamburger/donut haze. 'Man, I can't do another Christmas in this sumbitch,' Butch said. 'Last year liked to kill me.'"

Advance Praise for Dirtdobber Blues

“Once again, my lifelong friend Cyril Vetter has created a multilayered experience, combining art, music, and a powerful and deeply moving human story. Dirtdobber Blues is a sui generis novel that is a must read, must listen, and must see all rolled into one.”—James Carville

“Lover and supporter of all things Louisiana, Cyril Vetter has seemingly done it all in a cultural sense: recording artist, songwriter, record man, author, filmmaker, and newspaper, radio, and TV station owner. Now he is pushing new frontiers with this multimedia novel based on the life of the talented yet flawed folk-rock singer/artist Butch Hornsby, another hidden treasure from the Deep South. At once, Dirtdobber Blues is a feast for the eyes, ears, and mind.”—John Broven, author of Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneers

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