Iconic Americana singers and performers Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams will bring their signature sound to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 16. Well-known for their seven years performing alongside music legend Levon Helm, formerly of The Band, the duo recently released their debut, self-titled album.
“We’ll mostly do songs from our record and a few that we do for the fun of it,” Campbell says. “Our intent is to have a good time doing it, and hopefully that will be infectious to the audience.
“It’s great that you can appreciate and perform all these different genres that has a name now,” Campbell says about the evolution and introduction of the Americana genre, and of his work with Williams.
The duo have performed on the East End before, most recently at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett this past summer. Though they don’t often have time to explore an area—“They put you in the bus and point you to the door of the venue,” laughs Williams about the hectic travel schedule of performing artists—they have vacationed on the North Fork, describing the area as “just lovely.”
“I always loved this part of Long Island,” Campbell continues. “It has a great vibe.”
The duo met in New York in the 1980s. Williams had moved to the area from her native Tennessee and was playing country music at the Bottom Line club, where Campbell was playing pedal steel guitar. They immediately hit it off, as Campbell was enamored with Williams’ authenticity. “When Teresa was up there, the country scene was a fad,” he says. “To me, [hearing her] was refreshing… When someone like her does what she does, it’s always going to be compelling.”
“I thought I was moving to New York to do Shakespeare and then, as I’ve quipped, I like to eat,” says Campbell. “So I ended up doing what my father taught me in the living room.”
They were soon married, but pursued separate musical careers, uniting in Woodstock, NY when Helm asked them to perform in his Midnight Rambles Band. “It was the greatest musical years of both of our lives. No doubt about it,” Campbell says. “Music utopia,” adds Williams.
“There wasn’t a lot of rehearsing,” Campbell says of the Midnight Rambles. “We’d all sit in Levon’s kitchen before the show and throw around ideas of songs and maybe run through a framework for the songs. It was such a comfortable place to perform. There was no feeling that you had to have everything perfect. You just go out there and play it. And the magic was everyone was there because they were having a great time doing it.”
They performed with the Rambles until Helm’s 2012 death following his long battle with cancer. “Levon gave Teresa and I a real opportunity to shape and mold this thing that we do now,” Campbell says.
“When he passed, we had already started our record,” Williams says. Helm is featured on a few of the tracks. They released the album in June 2015. “This is by far the biggest accomplishment of my career,” Campbell says, citing the ownership, creativity and freedom to create your own works. Teresa wholeheartedly agrees.
Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams come to Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, on Saturday, January 16, at 8 p.m. For tickets and more info, visit whbpac.org or call 631-288-1500.