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Clip: Swamp-pop star provides shelter for displaced musicians

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  • Carl Zimring
    Swamp-pop star provides shelter for displaced musicians September 30, 2005 BY DAVE
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30 1:59 PM
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      <http://www.suntimes.com/output/entertainment/cst-ftr-adcock30.html>

      Swamp-pop star provides shelter for displaced musicians

      September 30, 2005

      BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter

      Swamp-pop legend Charles "C.C." Adcock apologized for talking so long. In
      the most normal of times, the Lafayette, La., native has a lot on his mind.
      But these are not the most normal of times for Adcock.

      He is the guitarist for Li'l Band o' Gold, and his Cowboy Stew Blues Revue
      includes Lil' Buck Senegal, longtime guitarist for the late Clifton
      Chenier. Adcock's most recent record, "Lafayette Marquis" (Yep Roc),
      features the last production from legendary producer Jack Nitzsche (Neil
      Young, Rolling Stones, Phil Spector).

      Adcock has been on the road as opening act for Lucinda Williams while
      keeping an eye on his beloved southwest Louisiana. Adcock (accompanied by
      Lafayette accordion and fiddle player Cedric Watson) and Williams appear in
      a sold-out show Saturday night at the Vic Theatre.

      "People need to hear this music now more than ever," Adcock said earlier
      this week before a show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. "A lot
      of Lucinda's songs are set to a Louisiana backdrop, and between my little
      thing and her thing people have been re-enacting Jazz Fest and all that."

      In the scattered days following Hurricane Katrina, Adcock's "Disgraceland"
      loft complex in downtown Lafayette served as a home for displaced New
      Orleans musicians. Adcock has taken in members of the Iguanas, Susan
      Cowsill, Ani DiFranco and Mike Napolitano, the producer of "Lafayette
      Marquis." They have played music, shared stories and eaten gumbo (without
      tomatoes, a Lafayette tradition) into the early hours of the morning. One
      night they sang the new Lil' Band o' Gold cover of the Bobby Charles love
      song "Please Don't Let Me Go to New Orleans." Lafayette (population 110,00)
      is 130 miles west of New Orleans.

      "Disgraceland" was created years ago by Adcock, and his Lil' Band of Gold
      horn player/visual artist Dickie Landry. Landry's resume ranges from 1950s
      Lafayette soul bands to his avant-garde work with Laurie Anderson, Talking
      Heads and others. "By two weeks out the place was filled with friends of
      friends of friends," Adcock said. "That's cool. You try to comfort people.
      Life goes on, and Lafayette was rocking. Dickie was cooking etouffee. We
      were frying fish. When Ani [DiFranco] was around, it was lovely to hear her
      play. Frankly, I only knew her socially. It's been a long time since
      someone played guitar like that in my house -- especially a girl. There
      were an extra 100,000 people in town, and most of them are planning to stay
      there. There was a lot of strange energy around."

      Strange energy is sure to fill the stage on Saturday. Adcock's Cajun-tinged
      "Runaway Life" takes on new life since the time he wrote it for "Lafayette
      Marquis."

      "That was originally a Creole poem we wrote about a runaway slave trying to
      cross the Mississippi River to rebuild his life in southwest Louisiana,"
      Adcock explained. "He is hallucinating as he comes closer to his death in
      the swamp. But that is one of those songs that doesn't take too much
      tricking around with, in that there's so many people who feel like runaways
      right now. When I've been singing that song I've definitely been thinking
      about those people."

      Adcock then sang from the song:

      "... Running through the cypress shadows/just to save my life/I'm a man
      whose been through hell/ yeah, we know it well/I'm ready for my final day
      with the devil/ooh yeah its a runaway life/oh yeah gotta run tonight/misery
      is a runaway's life/goin' down down down/ drown in Atchafalaya. ..."

      Adcock, 33, began calling his New Orleans friends on the Saturday before
      the hurricane hit (Aug. 29). He said, "I won't name names, but I got a lot
      of, 'I've been out all night, I need some sleep, can you call back in an
      hour?' That's New Orleans for you. Alex Chilton's girlfriend was at my
      house. Alex decided to stick around, then had strange stories of trying to
      get out of town yet trying to be inconspicuous so he wouldn't get caught up
      in the [crime] that was going down in the streets of New Orleans. But it
      was great for people to see our little corner of the world. It was great to
      see someone like Ani out at El Sido's [in Lafayette] listening to Keith
      Franco's zydeco on a Saturday night. She was dancing all night. It kept
      people preoccupied."

      As early as the Thursday following Hurricane Katrina, Adcock, DiFranco and
      Napolitano drove back into New Orleans to retrieve records, tapes and hard
      drives. Adcock has been writing songs since Katrina and Rita, but he needs
      time to process his thoughts.

      In the meantime, he will try to focus on "Lafayette Marquis," one of the
      best roots-rock records of last year. The roadhouse beat of Adcock's
      "Stealin' All Day" is an appropriate signoff for Nitzsche, whose last rock
      production was in 1979 with Graham Parker's "Squeezing Out Sparks."
      Nitzsche, who died in 2000, was nominated for an Oscar for his 1975 score
      for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The Chicago native was a fan of
      Adcock's only other solo record, a 1994 self-titled debut for Island
      Records. "Stealin' All Day" was recorded in 1997.

      "Jack's process of producing was not the most economical and efficient,"
      Adcock explained. "But it was certainly grand and wonderful. It wasn't the
      way people produce things today, like sitting down for a couple of hours to
      figure out what reverb to use. He wanted to get inside your head and inside
      your life. We became very close and slightly entangled in each other's
      lives.

      "He dug 'Stealin' All Day.' Jack understood roots music and he liked simple
      things, which sounds funny to say about a man whose work is so complex. He
      had a firm handle on Wagner and orchestral things [Nitzsche did the choral
      arrangement for the Stones' 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'], but he
      loved Johnny 'Guitar' Watson and Howlin' Wolf. It was the last song he ever
      produced, although he did other things on me I haven't released."


      LUCINDA WILLIAMS, C.C. ADCOCK

      When: 8 p.m. Saturday
      Where: Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield
      Tickets: Sold out
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