Cajun House Rocker C.C. Adcock Knows How to Mix It Up

C.C. Adcock is calling from London and he’s pretty stoked.

“I just took Nick Lowe’s ten-year-old son to see Jerry Lee Lewis at the Palladium last night,” Adcock chuckles. “It was so cool. I love Jerry’s whole return-to-the-scene-of-the-crime angle.”

Adcock is referring to the scandal that derailed Lewis’s meteoric career in 1957 when the rock-and-roll pioneer arrived in England with his 13-year-old bride, Myra, who also happened to be the Killer’s cousin.

“It was just so great to watch him and to wonder what must be going through his head now almost 50 years later, to be so welcome in the place where it all went south,” says Adcock, who plays Under the Volcano Wednesday night.

Adcock is in London recording his first solo album since Lafayette Marquis in 2004. Over the past decade, he’s stayed busy recording and touring with Cajun swamp-pop supergroup Lil’ Band O’ Gold; producing Grammy-nominated albums for Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys and Doyle Bramhall II; a Buddy Holly cover by Florence + the Machine; and, most recently, Austin singer-songwriter James McMurtry. Adcock also worked as music supervisor on numerous films and the HBO series True Blood. He calls his recent experience with McMurty both trying and rewarding.

“It took about a year to put all the pieces together on James’s album,” Adcock recalls. “James is this total professional, and he comes in with a song already written. He’s got the hooks and he’s got the licks, so trust me when I say it’s very difficult as a producer to tell a writer of his stature, ‘Hey, I don’t think this song really fits this record,’ stuff like that. But he’s so good and the guys in his band are so good, even though it was kind of tedious you just knew with these cats it wasn’t going to be stale or too nicely painted. It’s more of a pop record than his others, and it honestly took quite a bit of time and thought and effort to figure it out. But seriously, he’s such a pop star and I think he made a great record.”

So just how did McMurtry end up with a single that incorporates a bit of hip-hop on his new album?

“James is so open to trying new things,” Adcock explains. “But he already had that hip-hop beat thing when he brought the song in. Then we just dressed it up and beefed it up. I think it’s a great growth step for him and it’s also a track that is pretty radio-friendly. And let’s face it, more people need to know James.” [McMurtry returns to Houston for two shows at McGonigel's Mucky Duck on Friday, September 24 — ed.]

Adcock is recording in London because he’s getting some pretty high-profile help from some names he doesn’t want to see in print yet. He prefers the mystery. He also loves recording in the UK.

“Back home we know how to make music, but in England they know how to make records,” he laughs. “It’s amazing the way Europeans appreciate music differently than we do. Back home, especially in the South, it’s all about getting people to dance and have a good time and spend some money, you know, pass a good time. They really listen in Europe, and they are quite up on all the nuances of our music and how to reproduce them and record them.”

Adcock’s theory on making records is fairly direct.
“The best way to make a great record is get a great band with great material, get some nice gear and some great performances, then you can have a great record," adds Adcock. "It’s easier to say than do, though.”

We keep hearing about a Cajun renaissance, and as a promoter of south Louisiana music, Adcock finds himself at Ground Zero.

“We’ve had about five Cajun renaissances in my lifetime,” he jests. “But I do see some progress being made right now; it does seem like the page is turning again because we’re seeing zydeco and swamp pop and Cajun styles all coming back into vogue, particularly with younger people. Bands like Feufollet and others are bringing a new sense of life into the old styles, and that seems to be a strong influence in and around Lafayette right now. I honestly think that Lafayette is becoming a record town, a place you can go record with high-level local musicians and top-shelf equipment.”

Adcock laughs when we mention that the first time we saw him at the old Fabulous Satellite Lounge for the release of 2000's House Rocker, his bass player jumped offstage in the middle of a song and punched a heckler in the face.

“Jason [Burns, former member of Jesse Dayton’s Road Kings] has some temper issues now and then,” Adcock jokes. “In Europe, sometimes they get so wasted you can’t tell whether they’re heckling or cheering for you, it’s just so loud and aggressive. But I remember a gig one time in Europe where a guy was heckling him and I saw Jason baiting this drunk to come closer, come closer. Finally, when the guy got close enough, Jason grabbed his collar and pushed his head over onto the neck of his standup bass and used the guy’s head to fret the notes. When he let the guy go, he had these bass-string lines all down the side of his face. Hopefully that won’t happen at Volcano.”

C.C. Adcock and Lafayette Marquis perform 8 p.m. Wednesday at Under the Volcano, 2349 Bissonnet.
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William Michael Smith