What are your favorite live albums? Larry Campbell hems and haws a little…he and Teresa Williams, his wife and stage partner are in rehearsal for two nights of live recording (8 p.m. Friday, September 20 and Saturday, September 21) at Levon Helm’s Barn, so it seems like an apt question.
He gets a little time to think about it.
Campbell, multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter says that they are doing a live recording “because there are a bunch of tunes we do in our live show that we would probably never put on a studio record. Our goal is sometime in the coming year, get another studio record done. We figured we should get a decent recording of these tunes we do in the live show.”
Williams, guitarist and sweet, soaring-voiced singer, agrees. “We enjoy doing the songs. It’s really liberating. Some stuff you probably wouldn’t put on a studio record. I keep coming up with things…oh remember that song…we probably won’t have time for them all…”
“How about Buck Owens Live at Carnegie Hall?” says Larry, coming up with a favorite.
Teresa laughs when I tell her about it. “He introduced me to that one. I grew up with Buck Owens as the wall paper…”
Both are comfortable with, and respectful of making the live album at Levon’s, where they performed for years with Helm and the Midnight Ramble Band.
“It’s a full circle thing,” says Teresa. “It’s weighted with Levon’s relationship and his influence and his ability to pull the best out of musicians. That barn, he made that to be a sandbox of creativity for musicians, to feel uninhibited to try stuff and see what you get. We get the residual benefit of that.”
Larry agrees. “It’s very much a living room feeling for both of us. The barn is the perfect place to capture the kind of synergy that gets created between performer and audience. It’s where we feel like were all in this together. It’s not us up there preaching to you, you’re giving it back to us and if we can capture that, then that will be mission accomplished…”
“One of my favorites is Richard Thompson, anything live with him…,” says Teresa, who had just returned from seeing Play it Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was moved by a short film of Keith Richards. “I’m paraphrasing, but he said ‘I try to keep it simple, I just want to lay down something that touches the heart’…it’s like Confucius for musicians. It was worth going just to watch him and hear him say that.”
Larry says he’ll be playing some fiddle and mandolin, as well as guitars, during the show.
He picks out another favorite live album. “Charlie Pride live at Palomino Club, with Lloyd Green playing pedal steel,” he says and mentions that he might also play some steel guitar on the show.
Keyboardist Brian Mitchell will be joining the band with Campbell and Williams’ regular rhythm section of Justin Guip on drums and Jesse Murphy.
“We’re reworking a couple of tunes that are on our other records, so we’ll probably do a few of those — they come out different when we play them live. The rest will be just stuff we like to play, a couple of Rev. Gary Davis tunes, some more country influenced songs. Not quite sure yet, but we’re rehearsing in the next couple of days and will work that out.”
Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams will be recording live shows at 8 p.m. Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22 at Levon Helm’s Barn, 160 Plochmann Lane, Woodstock. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $70 for reserved seating and $45 for standing room. For tickets, or for more information, see levonhelm.com