Multi-instrumentalist-vocalist Larry Campbell and singer-guitarist Teresa Williams have rocked many a venue, as both center stage performers and invaluable assets to world-class acts. A shortlist of artists who’ve benefited from their talents reads like a Who’s Who of Music Icons: Bob Dylan (Larry spent eight years on the Never Ending Tour), Paul Simon, Little Feat, Hot Tuna, Phil Lesh, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples, and, for one miraculous seven-year stretch, Levon Helm.
Now, with an eponymous debut album, the couple brings it all back home. Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams may have been simmering awhile, but the timing is perfect; the eleven tracks, produced by Campbell, distill everything into a potent, infectious blend of Americana style and timeless soul, offered with a relaxed generosity that can only come from rich experience.
Larry became the unflappable leader of the shape-shifting Midnight Ramble Band, earning three Grammys for producing Levon’s final three CDs; Teresa, as an indispensable band member, frequently brought the house down. Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams is an extension of that time, featuring eight originals and three covers honed on the carpet of Levon’s barn, under the gaze of grateful fans.
For Teresa, singing in the church-like space at the Midnight Rambles was full circle for her childhood discovery of the magic between an audience and an artist. “I didn’t know anything about making records. I just knew connection to an audience was everything. While standing onstage Saturday nights at Levon’s – musically true north – in that intimate space, I realized: this was my dream, and I’m in it.”
When performing at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio, Teresa took on Reverend Gary Davis’ “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning,” infusing the apocalyptic gospel tune with show-stopping, pew-jumping fervor. Her roots as a seventh-generation Mississippi Delta cotton-farm girl rose to the surface.
With Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, this duo not only brings a lot to the table, they bring the table itself – plus the house, the still, the church, the marriage bed, the sawdust-covered floor, and abiding, unconditional love, all carried in two voices harmonizing across hills, hollers, porches, and fire escapes. Those close harmonies ride atop music made in a mountain refuge, far from the madding crowd, connected to a spirit that lives on in song.