C.C Adcock tells us about playing at Lily Allen's wedding and why you should eat, love and make some music if you plan on going to Louisiana
With a combined 295 years of music industry experience between them, the members of swamp-pop supergroup Lil’ Band O’ Gold have shared studios and stages with everyone from Slim Harpo and Bo Diddley to Phillip Glass and Bob Dylan. The band was formed in 1999 when guitarist C.C. Adcock and Cajun “accordion prince” Steve Riley enlisted some of their heroes—golden-voiced drummer Warren Storm, legendary crooner turned preacher Tommy McLain, conceptual artist and saxophone player Dickie Landry and piano-man David Egan (who has penned songs for the likes of Irma Thomas and Solomon Burke) to play with them in the local clubs around Lafayette, LA – a debut album followed in 2000.
In 2005 when the band reassembled in the studio to record a second offering Adcock’s great friend Tarka Cordell (son of legendary producer Denny Cordell), who produced the guitarist’s first solo record, saw the potential for a movie and spent six months over two consecutive springs with director Matthew Wilkinson shooting the band in the studio and on the road. The Promised Land premiered at SXSW in 2009 and the accompanying soundtrack has finally made an appearance in the UK through Room 609 records. Prior to the band’s appearance at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on the 14th June we caught up with Adcock to chat about the birth of rock n’ roll, crawfish and “clown oil”.
Dazed Digital: Can you explain what swamp-pop is?
Lil' Band O' Gold: Swamp Pop is just a South Louisiana take on that original shot of rock n' roll that grew out of 50s rhythm & blues. Where we're from everyone speaks French and we have all of this traditional Cajun & Creole dance music that's been around and developing for generations. Actually, the term "Swamp-Pop" was first coined in the 70s by an Englishman, John Broven, in his book South To Louisiana to describe this unique brand of rock n' roll.
DD: Describe the birth of Lil’ Band O’ Gold.
Lil' Band O' Gold: Steve Riley and I were lookin' to do something together where we could just play all of our favorite jukebox whiskey drinkin' songs—all night long. South Louisiana is one of the last places left where you can just go around and knock on your hero’s doors, hang out and even start a band with ‘em. So that's what Steve & I did - we just invited the best from around town and all of the cats that had had the big Swamp Pop hits down here - kind of a "Coon-ass Buena Vista Social Club".
DD: You recorded the album in the La Louisianne studios in Lafayette – how did that location influence the sound?
Lil' Band O' Gold: La Lou is a cool old neighborhood studio in Lafayette. Some good records were made there. I mean it's not like what came out of Stax or Sun, but the quality of the sound is close and it's where all the cats in our band cut their hits through the years so it's home. And, because it's an old room that still has lots of old vintage gear in it, everything just sounds right. And when we did want to dial in the sound of a specific era, we sort of could.
DD: Both the filmmakers Tarka Cordell and Matthew Wilkinson are English – why do you think LBOG's Swamp Pop style attracted them?
In the late 60s & 70s it was English record collectors like John Broven and record labels like Flyright & Ace that raided all the vaults of all of the great little regional record labels and studios down South and compiled all of the best tracks and re-released them with hipster liner notes and cool out-takes. Ironically, it's from a lot of those UK imports that came out in the 80s that I first learned and started digging on cats in my own backyard that are now in LBOG with me. So it makes sense that Tarka and Matthew would come around and take stock in it all - and from that British perspective - to help write the next chapter.
DD: What has been your highlight of the years in the band so far?
Lil' Band O' Gold: We were in New Orleans and we were recording some tracks with Robert Plant for a Fats Domino tribute record - and to raise some money for rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. We were playing a show at the legendary Tipitina’s and Plant was going to be doing a mini-set of his Louisiana faves, some R&B and swamped-up Zep classics. When we show up for sound check, in the middle of the afternoon, Fats Domino himself is just hanging around the empty bar, all alone, having a few cold beers! We quickly get set up and start breaking into Fats tunes. He seems to be enjoying it, so I get a roadie to put a long cord on a mic and bring it out to Fats at the bar, in front of the stage.
Sure enough, he starts singing along and its goosebumps and tears and pure magic! After every song he would thank the band for "keeping his music alive" and then try and hand back the microphone. The roadies would just act like they didn’t notice and we'd break into another of his classics - and he's come in singing again! It went on like this and with him singing and goofing around with us for an hour or so - like a dozen songs! Unbelievable! To get to play with one of the great architects of rock n' roll and to get to see my heroes jam with their hero it was a trip and the greatest treat of all.
DD: You’re playing Lily Allen’s wedding this weekend – what’s the British pop connection?
Lil' Band O' Gold: That all goes back to Tarka (Cordell), who’s little bother Sam is marrying Miss Allen. She got hip to us through the mix tapes her fiancé would make her. Also Plant and Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe have all worked with cats in LBOG or sat in with us. LBOG saxman Dickie Landry played on The Big Pink's last record last year with Milo, Tarka’s other little brother. Dickie also once brought Mick Jagger to see Clifton Chenier, at a church dance in Compton. When Dickie told ol' Clifton who he was bringing to the dance, Clifton said "Sure man, they wrote a nice article on me" - Rolling Stone! Then, apparently all the Creoles at this Catholic church hall dance rushed the table where Cliff and Mick were sitting between sets and started just reaching all over Mick to get Clifton's autograph!
DD: Can you recommend three things to do in Louisiana?
Lil' Band O' Gold: Eat. Love. Make some music - or at least get out on the floor and have a dance. - On the eating front, get yourself a few pounds of boiled crawfish at Cajun Clawz down in Abbeville and stop in at The Maurice City Bar and get yourself a cocktail—a Crown & Seven or “Clown Oil” as we like to call it. A cheese burger at Judice Inn when you drive back through Lafayette and even though it's cliché, stop in for beignets and cafe au lait at Café Du Monde. Music - it's everywhere—coming out of every window and down every alleyway. You'll have to work out the love on your own – but once you start dancin’ it ain't gonna take long.
Text by Rebecca Guinness