Immensely talented and devastatingly self-destructive, Louisiana singer/songwriter Charles “Butch” Hornsby lived hard and fast. The life of this versatile and volatile artist is captured in Cyril Vetter’s Dirtdobber Blues, a gritty but engrossing story of a man, his demons, and his art.
Much like Hornsby’s life, Dirtdobber Blues consists of short, fast-paced segments. Fictionalized vignettes juxtapose musical accomplishments and personal misadventures to present a truly complex individual. Hornsby’s all-too-familiar vices–sex, alcohol, and rock and roll–and his frustrating narcissism hindered his success in the music business. But amid missed opportunities and heartbreak Vetter celebrates Hornsby’s off-beat humor and profound creativity.
As Hornsby moves from the strawberry fields of Amite, Louisiana, to the bars of Baton Rouge and into the unforgiving arena of the recording industry Vetter provides glimpses into the musician’s inspiration. A tumultuous young love, a stint in Hollywood, and his family’s return to Louisiana piece together the arc of Hornsby’s life, littered with poor decisions, crowned by artistic success, and concluding with the redemptive power of love.
This captivating account of Butch’s life is also told by Hornsby’s music and artwork. A CD with fourteen of his songs and sheet music are included in the book as well as photos of Butch and images his found-object artwork by photographer Philip Gould. Dirtdobber Blues can also be experienced as a multimedia eBook.
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.