Photos by Ebet Roberts
Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams have been touring the country since the release of Surrender to Love, their first CD as a duo. With this performance, they concluded a residency at NYC’s City Winery before hundreds of enthusiastic fans. Surprisingly, they began with the Reverend Gary Davis raver “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” which often closes the show and showcases Williams’ sweetly energetic style and Campbell’s astonishing guitar skills.
The couple has developed a bantering interaction onstage reminiscent of Johnny and June Carter Cash that reveals their story and personalities without seeming too scripted, and they employed it while running through a selection of songs from the new CD, including the title track, an original, “Ain’t Nobody for Me,” and the Louvin Brothers’ plaintive “You’re Running Wild.” They were ably assisted by Jeff Hill on bass and Justin Guip on drums.
Many of the songs would be familiar to fans who heard the couple during their years at Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, but on this night they also had a secret weapon: Little Feat keyboard wizard Bill Payne. Taking advantage of this asset, the set included “Bluegrass Pines,” written by Payne and Robert Hunter, and some Little Feat classics: a blistering “Atlanta,” “Dixie Chicken,” and a gorgeous version of “Willin’” on which Payne’s piano and Campbell’s fiddle could make you cry. Throughout, the organ/guitar duels between the two men were frequent and dazzling, never more so than on the instrumental “Texas Crapshooter.” The show was shorter than anticipated due to an after-party scheduled for the room, but the band returned for a brief but spirited encore, “Deep Elem Blues.”