I was a junior in high school when I first came across the legend that is Larry Campbell. Bob Dylan had just reemerged onto the music world with the release of his Grammy winning record, Time Out Of Mind, and had been on the road playing his “never ending tour.” Standing next to him from 1997 until 2004 was a slick looking gunslinger named Larry Campbell. I remember always being drawn towards Larry onstage for two reasons: First, and most notable, was his playing. In a band with three guitar players, he stood out consistently on every song. His parts were not only skilled, but also seemed to give each song a unique flavor that captured the direction Dylan was rising towards. Second, I always noticed was how much he looked like he belonged on that stage. Very few people can look like leading men on a stage with Bob Dylan. Larry did and everyone could see it.
Years later, another musical legend named Levon Helm started having a reemergence of his own. Just back from battling lung cancer, Levon was building his voice, his band, and his career. Next to him the whole way was not only Larry Campbell, but this time his wife, Teresa Williams, as well. The three of them, along with a handful of gifted musicians, went on to ride out one of the most celebrated endings to a musical career. For the next few years they played countless shows, released three records, and won three Grammys, a first for Levon. The Levon Helm Band continued this trajectory up until Levon’s death in 2012. Again, the musical footprint Larry and his wife, Teresa, brought to Levon’s music was not only identifiable, but also enlightening. Their presence was an element that changed the flavor of Levon’s presentation helping him become a more potent version of himself!
To say these two individuals are talented would be a huge understatement. Skill alone can only play notes; it is heart, soul, and authenticity that animate a work to life. These two individuals have it in spades. While on tour for their self-titled debut album, I had the privilege to sit and enter into the mystery of their work. One part church, one part The Beatles, and one part the desire to commune with you, give you the wonder that is Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams.
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