The first time Johnny Palazzotto met musician C.C. Adcock, the Lafayette rocker was 15 and couldn’t get into The Chimes in Baton Rouge to gig with Marcia Ball.
Palazzotto marveled as Adcock jammed on the street, connecting with the band via a long guitar cable running through the bar’s window. Last month, their paths crossed again as Adcock received a 2014 Slim Harpo Music Award.
The SHMA named Adcock its 2014 Pioneer, which honors musicians the foundation feels carry blues music forward.
“C.C. Adcock is a personal favorite of mine,” says Palazzotto, who started the awards with family members of Harpo (a Baton Rouge blues legend whose real name was James Moore). When it came time to pick a recipient Adcock was chosen because, “he has recorded, performed and been instrumental in getting Slim Harpo’s music recognized and used commercially.”
In his three-decade-long career Adcock — ax and vocal man for Lil’ Band O’ Gold and The Lafayette Marquis — has done his pioneering part delivering South Louisiana-inflected blues to the world. Though he’s only released two solo albums — a self-titled release in 1994 (later re-released as House Rocker) and Lafayette Marquis in 2004 — Adcock possesses an incredible résumé. Aside from touring with Bo Diddley, Buckwheat Zydeco and Lil’ Buck Sinegal, he’s produced music by or appeared with The Mamou Playboys, Robert Plant, Florence + The Machine, Nick Cave, Neko Case, Doyle Bramhall, Lucinda Williams, Ani Difranco and Joan Baez. His music has also been used in films such as Blaze, Heaven’s Prisoners and Black Snake Moan.
For Adcock the award is a bold addition to this list of accomplishments, as he is a lifelong disciple of Harpo.
“I just love his music and have lifted so much from his records,” admits Adcock. “His songs have always been a staple of my live set. I even made it my business to go out and play and start bands with all the cats that Slim worked with. … For my tastes, musically and sonically, those records are perfection.”
When in the studio, Adcock notes he uses Harpo’s music as a reference point and as inspiration for his records. It could be argued that Harpo created the blueprint for Adcock’s music and all the music he touches.
“For me, Slim Harpo and those records are the beginning and the end,” says Adcock. “To date, I’ve never heard any other trump them. They were amongst the first to consistently cross over with white audiences. And they did so because, even though they might be considered blues artists, when you hear those records you don’t hear a specific genre, you only hear instantly memorable songs that are impossible to sit still to and that pull hard on your heart. … It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’re into, you can relate to it.”
Though 10 years have passed since the release of Lafayette Marquis, Adcock has not been taking it easy. Lil’ Band O’ Gold has gigged extensively and backed Plant on tour. Adcock continues to add impressive producing credits to his name and has ventured deeper into Hollywood. After his work on HBO’s True Blood — not only did he help with the music, his “Y’all’d Think She’d Be Good 2 Me” opens the very first episode of the show — he’s served as a composer or supervisor on numerous soundtracks. Still, he continues to haunt Downtown Lafayette where he says he enjoys too many plate lunches. “I’m honored to be receiving this Slim Harpo award, but like I told ’em, I’m not that slim anymore, just ’po!”
Adcock’s fans will not have to wait another decade for him to contribute more to the blues lexicon in his new role as a pioneer. Despite working projects for others, he says he will continue the tradition of releasing an album in a year ending in 4.
“I am back at work, in earnest, making my next solo record,” says Adcock. “I figure, the music business is so funny these days, and the world ain’t exactly waiting with bated breath for me to drop another one. So I can afford to take my time and let things percolate. I’m on the 10-year installment plan. Keeps me from having to have to expose everyone and myself to too many different ridiculous hairdos on my album covers and promo kits. We’re gonna have something worth waiting for though. It’ll be out later this year, right on time.”