In the fall of 2019, after months of touring, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, celebrated with a jubilant live recording at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY and big plans for the following year. The pandemic changed everything, globally and close to home. Larry, after performing at New York’s Beacon Theatre woke up on March 16th in Woodstock coughing and feverish. After a diagnosis of Covid, he was left to quarantine alone in Woodstock while Teresa was stuck quarantined and worrying in New York City. After a harrowing couple of weeks Larry’s fever broke. “For the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling to stay alive,” Larry told Rolling Stone magazine.
Fast forward to Autumn 2022: Larry and Teresa rejoin their audience “live and in person,” planning the rollout of Live at Levon’s! The album is a souvenir for fans of the duo’s powerful live shows, featuring unreleased new songs, old favorites that allow the band to stretch out, plus some unexpected cover tunes.
As accomplished as they are in the studio, onstage is where it all comes together for Larry & Teresa. “I’ll never forget the first time I experienced this as a child and knew my lot in life was set,” says Teresa. “The only reason I am a singer is because of the indefinable spark that happens with the giving and receiving of your most intimate selves, back and forth, between the artist on stage and the audience there in the room. The only reason. If I can’t see the audience because of lighting, it almost becomes even more spiritual, because it’s all just feeling them — us together in the moment. And each performance/audience has its own personality. If you can drop the thinking and just ‘be’ with them and this sharing of your most intimate selves, there’s no describing the transcendence. Recording is only an excuse to get to bring the material to a live audience.”
Larry adds, “This thing that Teresa and I do, though born on the back porch in Tennessee, was honed for public consumption during the wonderful years we spent making music in Levon’s barn. There’s magic between those wooden walls, a comfortable environment where there’s no distance between performer and audience. Any event in there is a complete communal experience where there’s no hierarchy, no pressure or attempt at inhibition, just a great place to enjoy all the benefits of music making. When the idea came up for us to do a live record there was no question as to what the venue should be.”
Joining Larry and Teresa are longtime friends and stellar musicians: on bass, tuba and harmony vocals is Jesse Murphy a gifted improviser who also provides a rock-solid foundation. Justin Guip has held the drummer’s chair with Larry & Teresa since their earliest shows and has recorded and mixed all their albums since their self-titled debut. Special guest, Levon Helm alumnus and member of The Weight Band, Brian Mitchell rounds out the group on keyboards, accordion, and harmonica.
Larry, Teresa and band have a reputation for their pure musicality and it’s on full display throughout Live at Levon’s! with warmth, joy and spontaneity jumping from the grooves. No matter which genre they’re swimming in, this band knows how to rock, swing and shred without overpowering the songs. Larry, a world class guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, has revealed himself as a songwriting force, while Teresa’s vocal performances offer up her trademark fragility and ferocity, as she interprets each lyric with emotional nuance and raw honesty.
In Larry and Teresa’s Amazon series It Was the Music, when asked about performing onstage, R&B legend William Bell reflects: “When they come to see a show, take ‘em to another place.” Live at Levon’s! does just that. Larry and Teresa hope that you enjoy the journey.