If C.C. Adcock were celebrating the Fourth of July in the United States he would “drink a fifth and go fishing.” Instead, the singer and guitarist is playing Wellington with his American swamp pop supergroup Lil’ Band O’ Gold. “You’re the expat,” Adcock told Amanda Witherell. “We’ll expect you there with apple pie, hot dogs, hamburgers, and bottle rockets.”
Talking to Adcock you get the feeling he’s all about having a good time. Raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, he still lives there with fellow band member, saxophonist Dickie Landry, in “a little compound we call Disgraceland. If those walls could talk they’d be subpoenaed.”
Adcock’s oeuvre is more a product of circumstance, verve, and talent, than rolling like a rock star. In addition to fronting and forming Lil’ Band O’ Gold, the 40-year old singer-songwriter has two solo albums (if you watched the first two seasons of True Blood, you’ve heard his songs), has scored a film for William Friedkin, and recorded and produced the likes of Robert Plant, Nick Cave, Neko Case, and Steve Earle.
He describes his hometown as a hub city wedged between New Orleans and Texas, surrounded by little Cajun enclaves, where “butchers and bus drivers are excellent musicians” and “country comes to town on a Friday night.” Adcock often heads out of town to roam with Creole cowboys from one juke joint to another into the beating heart of swamp pop, music formed when Cajuns met rock and roll in the 1950s, with “a beat that makes you want to rub your belt buckle with someone else’s.”
Adcock started strumming the guitar when kids were still allowed to play in bars. “I don’t remember at what point there was no looking back,” he says. “I was so fortunate to play with so many of the unsung heroes. Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana, guys that played with Elvis, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, the people who were really responsible for creating rock and roll. I just happened to grow up in a part of the world where they were still hanging around,” he says. “I’m still tripping on that.”
The one he can’t stop talking about is Warren Storm, the 75-year old singer and drummer for Lil’ Band O’ Gold and the reason the group was formed.
“Warren was always the greatest singer in our hometown. On the radio on the school bus I’d hear Warren next to Rod Stewart,” he recalls. With Steve Riley, accordionist for the band, he used to go to a bar called the Four Seasons Lodge where Storm regularly held the stage. “’7 Letters is one of my faves. We were listening to him and making him play it and getting drunk and bugging him. At some point we thought if we started a band with him we could make him play it as many times as we want.”
The band that coalesced includes sax players Dickie Landry and Pat Breaux, pianist Dave Egan, singer and multi-instrumentalist Tommy McLain, guitarist Lil’ Buck Sinegal, bassist Dave Ranson, and Richard Comeaux on pedal steel. The list of songs these guys have written and bands they’ve fronted or backed makes one wonder what they haven’t done. Adcock says as soon as they got together they knew they’d want to write some original tunes and venture beyond the Lafayette town line.
However, “it was a stretch” wrangling fresh material out of some of the old timers.
Their first two albums are a mix of new and old, with vocals so forceful from Storm it’s hard to believe his first hit was way back in 1958. Their latest, Plays Fats was “a reward for being so accommodating. We let Warren do Fats Dominoes tunes for a few days and blow off some steam.” Recorded in 2011 on the heels of The Promised Land, it was only just released and features all Fats Domino covers, with vocal assists from Robert Plant and Lucinda Williams.
This is the band’s second tour of Australia and New Zealand and when asked what it’s like to play such regional music so far from home, Adcock says, “The one thing we have in common with this part of the world is people like to have a good time after they finish working, come out and have a drink and a dance.”
He has “very fond memories of Wellington. It’s a really soulful place,” he says. “We fell in with some covey of quail that kept me up to the wee hours. I’m hoping they come around again. We’ll have some fun.”
Wear your belt buckle and bring some bottle rockets.