Jack Adcock: Words From Friends

by Shannon Bowman

"To me Jack was kind of a human litmus test: I can honestly say that if you didn't like Jack it is probably because you weren’t a good human being." - Tim Anderson


Jack Adcock with Blue Tattoo playing at Virginia Beach Central Library for a benefit for local farm community from October, 2013



Jack & Amy Adcock

When the idea of an arts blog developed at WHRO in late January, my first thought went to local artists that I knew. Jack Adcock was at the top of the list – not just as a musician, craftsman of instruments and painter of folk art, but as a great guy who loved to talk about art and share his ideas. I knew Jack would be perfect as a subject of The Scene since he represented the true spirit of the blog.  He was self-taught, amazingly creative, and always supportive of the arts community. While most of my time with Jack, his wife Amy and their daughter Ruthie, who was a school-mate of my daughter, was spent celebrating birthday parties, Halloween costume parties and general family gatherings, I always knew that there was so much more to Jack than his persona as father, husband and all-around great guy. Jack was an artist at heart. It was in him. Jack was art.


As a consummate journeyman musician, Jack was a member of a wide variety of bands, including 611 (the first band to release a single on the pioneering Shangri-La label), The Bumnotes, Professor Elixir’s Southern Troubadours, The Hyperventilators, Skronkadelic, and numerous iterations of a still-unnamed percussion ensemble that included many other notables of the 1990’s Memphis music scene. He appeared on a number of singles on the Loverly label, albums by Linda Gail Lewis and The Country Rockers, unreleased recordings by Hot Joe and Linda Heck, as well as in soundtrack recordings in films by independent filmmaker Roy Barnes.


His artistic talents went beyond music to painting and creating jewelry. He also created amazing instruments that he used while performing on stage.  But Jack was at home performing for a big audience or in someone's living room.  For him, it was about the music, never about the adulation.


Jack’s death in February was a devastating blow to me and to the community. Our collective community was changed for the better by knowing him. While talking to so many people about Jack and his contribution to the arts, his music and just his general good cheer, I never heard the same story twice about the man who wore so many hats.  So, in lieu of me trying to summarize all of those stories of this kind spirit, I present below below a collection of words written by friends from Memphis to Norfolk about the late great “Black Jack” Adcock. 


James Enck of the Memphis Flyer

"Jack Adcock was a staple, along with his life-long partner Amy, of the Memphis alternative music scene throughout the 1990’s.  Possessed of a restless creative energy, endless curiosity, and a keen sense of humor, Jack was a talented multi-instrumentalist, instrument maker, painter, carver, and jeweler, who leaves behind a rich legacy of prolific creativity in practically every medium imaginable."



Richard Graham

"Most of all, Jack was ALL about music and community, bringing his sharp intellect, sardonic wit, and incredible artistic talents to myriad projects which he always attacked fearlessly. Here was a guy who would carve a GIANTIC African drum out of an antebellum house column, turning a symbol of the racist power structure into a powerful charm of hope, healing, and beauty."




Tim Anderson

"Jack’s enthusiasm was especially infective, particularly for art, which he was always involved in making. Music, painting, jewelry, Jack was a maker. Best, he was an artist smothered in sincerity and learned without pretense. When you talked to him about music and art, even the stuff you may not have really enjoyed, he always made you feel good."



From Rick Nickel

“Jack never had a bad thing to say about anybody! He was kind and had music flowing through his fingertips!”



From Chris Nickel

“I will never look at a washboard the same way, nor will I think about meatballs without hearing his voice as he sang "one meatbaaaaaalll". But more importantly, he was the nicest guy around and his passing was a great loss to his many friends.”


From Joe Dabbs

Jack taught me so much about Memphis Blues, in addition to many types of Root Music. He was a true folk artist, whether making musical instruments from scrap material, or his special decorations for different holidays. Blue Tattoo carries on in the tradition of Jack's love for folk music, and we wouldn't have made it this far without his nurturing spirit.