Home Live Review Live Review: Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams and Shawn Mullins @ The Miracle Theatre — 3/31/23

Live Review: Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams and Shawn Mullins @ The Miracle Theatre — 3/31/23

Live Review: Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams and Shawn Mullins @ The Miracle Theatre — 3/31/23

Teresa Williams and Larry Campbell (Photo by Mark Seliger)

“Music,” declared Teresa Williams at The Miracle Theatre on Friday night, “changes your chemistry, and makes you happier!” She and her partner, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, had just finished their opening number, “Let Us Get Together,” with audience singing along and clapping. 

For nearly 10 years, the pair played with the late Levon Helm, who played drums for The Band before embarking on his solo career. In those last years of his life, before succumbing to cancer, Helm became famous for the Midnight Rambles held on his Woodstock, New York farm. The Rambles were known for their intimate, lively atmosphere, and Campbell and Williams brought that with them to DC.

A native of California who moved to New York City to pursue music, Campbell has been a central figure in contemporary roots music for decades. Before working with Levon, he toured with Bob Dylan for eight years, from 1997 to 2004. He’s played with and produced albums for everyone from Cyndi Lauper to the Backstreet Boys, Little Feat, Dar Williams, and Rosanne Cash.

Among those artists he’s worked with are Julie Miller and her husband, Buddy, who they’ve known for decades. Julie gave them the song “I Love You,” which they’re going to record on their next album. Early in the set at The Miracle Theatre in DC on March 31, Larry and Teresa performed their own “Surrender to Love.” “Surrender to Love,” Larry claimed, were “the first words Teresa ever spoke to me.” Teresa eyeballed Larry, and he added, “She keeps saying she don’t remember that.” I can relate to Larry, as I have trouble understanding how my ex can stand not being with me! 

Watch Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams perform “Surrender to Love” live at Music City Roots via YouTube:

Stemming from his love affair with southern music, Larry said, “I was a quest to find my own personal Ellie Mae Clampett,” and, with Teresa, he found her. When she brought Larry home to meet her family in west Tennessee, they were somewhat skeptical of him as a long-haired hippy.  He won them over with his knowledge of country and folk tunes, like they first the pair ever sang together, the Louvin Brothers’ “Running Wild.”

The set contained a mix of originals — “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Angel of Darkness” — and covers. “A Little Better,” as Larry explained, is about his love for the English comedy duo Laurel & Hardy. “Dirt Farmer” was one they used to play with Levon. “When I Stop Lovin’ You,” written with William Bell, the first soul singer to be signed to Atlantic Records and the composer of classics like “Born Under A Bad Sign,” demonstrated the couple’s range. “Darlin’ Be Home Soon” was part of John Sebastian’s impromptu Woodstock set. They closed their set with the classic blues number “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.”

After an intermission, Shawn Mullins took the stage, opening with “The Great Unknown.” “Light You Up,” he told the audience, “came from a dream. Songs come from weird places.” I’m not sure how weird this is; if songs came from, say, Milwaukee, now that would be odd! His wife, Amy, helped him on writing “Old Man Worry.” 

Watch Shawn Mullins perform “Old Man Worry” live for Eddie Owen Presents on YouTube:

Shawn engaged with the crowd, even inviting them to request songs. After “Turn Rocks, Oregon” and “California,” he fulfilled the request for “Joshua.” He talked for a bit, then about how his older brother taught him to play, and about his visit to the Jimmy Rodgers Museum in Meridian, Mississippi.  The set continued with “Ballad of Billy Joe  McKay,” “Tannin’ Bed Song,” and a cover of James McMurty’s “Where Johnny.” 

Larry joined Shawn on “Pre-Apocalyptic Blues,” then Teresa came out for “House of the Rising Sun.” For their encore, Larry and Teresa performed “Beautiful Wreck,” off the first album, and they all closed with Shawn’s best-known song, “Lullaby.”


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