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Highlights: Couple Takes Center Stage, Performing Americana Music

  • Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams will be playing their Americana music at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, Vt., on April 21, 2018, at 8 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2018

Levon Helm exited the stage in South Pomfret for medical treatment at least twice on that sweaty night in late August of 2011, leaving the weight of his eponymous band’s show on the shoulders of Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams.

During each break, the married couple revved up the audience at the Suicide Six ski area with vocal, instrumental and spiritual energy reminiscent of Johnny and June Carter Cash in their prime — not for the first time during the tour that served as the real last waltz for Helm, the Texas-native icon of roots music who would die of cancer less than eight months after that Upper Valley show on the eve of Tropical Storm Irene.

“We had to do that a lot toward the end,” Campbell recalled last week during a conference call from his car, driving from their upstate New York home to a guitar camp in Ohio. “On the one hand it was hard to see him struggle like that. At the same time, every show, every minute, was wonderful. We were doing what Teresa calls ‘music utopia,’ isn’t that it?”

“Or ‘music nirvana,’ ” Williams interjected from Tennessee, where she was looking after her aging parents. “I cherished every moment of that gig. Levon hadn’t always taken care of himself over the years, had burned through quite a few lives already, his nine cat lives.

“You knew it was precious.”

This Saturday night at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, Campbell and Williams return to the Upper Valley to play and sing up their own mighty storm of Americana music, with a center-stage presence they started building during the 2011 tour.

“All those years with Levon, we developed a pretty safe space to learn how to work together as a team,” Campbell said. “The more we did it, the more we subconsciously understood who we are, what defines us. Then we grew more confident.”

Before the Helm years, Campbell, now 63, harnessed his skills at fiddle, mandolin, bouzouki, lap steel, banjo and guitar into regular gigs in the early and mid-1980s as a sideman for the likes of Paul Simon, Judy Collins, B.B. King, Willie Nelson and Rosanne Cash.

From 1997 to 2005, he played guitar for Bob Dylan’s touring band, then joined Williams in Helm’s eponymous band, which between tours became legendary for the Midnight Rambles jam sessions staged at Helm’s studio in upstate New York, and for Helm’s albums Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt.

Williams, who is now in her 50s, got her start mixing acting (she portrayed Sara Carter in PBS’ American Experience series about the Carter family of country singers) with backup singing for, among others, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris, Hot Tuna, Jackson Browne, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.

Between projects after Helm’s death in 2012, the couple finally collaborated on a duet recording, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, that came out in 2015 catching the eyes and ears of old friend Jackson Browne.

“We’d sung some backgrounds with him at Levon’s barn, and I think that left an impression,” Williams recalled.

“And after our record came out, he said he thought we would be a great opening act for his tour.”

So did Shawn Colvin, inviting the couple on the road for the 20th-anniversary celebration of her megahit album A Few Small Repairs for much of 2017.

They opened many of those shows, including a crowd-pleasing turn at the Lebanon Opera House last November, further solidifying their confidence as an out-front duo.

“Being out there just the two of us is fun and challenging in different ways,” Williams said. “Your relationship with the audience is a little different.

“It’s like starting a new business. It’s like something that 20-year-olds should be doing.”

To Sharon resident and longtime Nashville producer Jim Rooney, with whom Campbell recorded for the Woodstock Mountain Revue team of Americana musicians in the late 1970s, “I keep thinking of Larry as sort of a kid. He doesn’t seem to change.

“He’s so versatile. He was a great utility player, as we called him. He could add a lot of different colors and textures.”

Rooney also watched from afar while Campbell flowered as a producer between gigs, and bloomed onstage with Williams, whom he married in 1988.

“They’re a very sturdy couple,” Rooney said. “I’m happy for all of their success.”

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams play the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction on Saturday night at 8.

To order tickets ($25 to $30), visit bit.ly/LarryTeresaAprl21. For an example of the couple’s onstage magic, visit youtube.com/watch?v=wroDU0KAcxQ.

Best Bets

Whether you think you’re funny or you just need a laugh , Norwich comedian Kevin McTaggart is inviting you to the first of his three monthly open-mic sessions tonight at 8, at Collen Doyle’s Woolen Mill Comedy Club in Bridgewater. To learn more, visit the Woolen Mill page on Facebook.

If you missed A Fantastic Woman during its brief tenure at the Nugget in March and still want to see the Academy Award-winning foreign film for 2017 on the big screen, you’re in luck: It’s showing twice at Dartmouth College’s Loew Auditorium in Hanover this weekend. Friday night at 7 and Saturday afternoon at 5, you can catch thespian newcomer Daniela Vega’s alternately poignant and potent performance as a transgender woman bucking literal and societal winds while mourning the sudden death of her male lover. For tickets ($5 to $8), visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422. To learn more about the movie, type the title into the search engine at imdb.com.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, with its mix of stellar musicianship and Monty Python-esque humor, returns to Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center on Friday night at 8, at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover. For tickets ($17 to $40) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

The roots ensemble Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards performs at Alumni Hall in Haverhill on Saturday night at 7:30. To reserve tickets ($20 to $22) and learn more, visit courtstreetarts.org or call 603-989-5500.

Saxophonists Fred Haas and Michael Zsoldos play a free concert on the theme of “Locking Horns” on Sunday afternoon at 1 at Dartmouth College’s Rollins Chapel. To learn more, visit hop.dartmouth.edu.

Violinist Elizabeth Chang and pianist Hiromi Fukuda perform a benefit concert for the Upper Valley Music Center on Sunday afternoon at 4, at the center’s headquarters in downtown Lebanon. For tickets ($35) and more information, visit uvmusic.org or call 603-448-1642. Before the performance, from 1 to 2, the musicians will conduct a master class for UVMC students, which observers are welcome to attend for free.

The Saint Michael’s College Chorale celebrates classic Broadway musicals at the Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon, on Sunday night at 7:30. Admission is by donation to the center’s scholarship fund. To learn more, visit sevenstarsarts.org.

Looking Ahead

Tickets go on sale on Friday at noon for guitar maestro Pat Metheny’s fall tour-opening concert at the Lebanon Opera House on Sept. 26. Scheduled to join Metheny on the tour are his jazz-fusion group’s veteran drummer Antonio Sanchez, and bassist Linda May Han Oh and pianist Gwilym Simcock. If you can’t post up in person at the opera-house box office in City Hall on Friday, you can reserve seats by visiting lebanonoperahouse.org or calling 603-448-0400.

Theater/Performance Art

Mixing song, dance and video projections, Anthony Hudson performs two shows of Looking for Tiger Lily, his send-up of Native American stereotypes, tonight at 7 and at 9:30 at Dartmouth College’s Bentley Theater. For tickets ($25) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Music

Camerata New England cellist Linda Galvan, pianist Evelyn Zuckerman, violinists Omar Chen Guey and Andrew Eng and violist Peter Sulski perform piano quintets of Shostakovich, Dvorak and Elgar at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph on Friday night at 7:30. Tickets cost $37 in advance and $40 at the door for adults, and $10 for students at all times. To reserve seats, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

The Deadgrass quintet celebrates the music of Jerry Garcia at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover on Friday night at 9. For tickets ($12 to $15) and more information, visit skinnypancake.com or call 603-277-9115.

Soprano Susan Berlenbach and bass Alex Ager sing during the Kearsarge Chorale’s “Fresh and Fearless” concert on Sunday afternoon at 3, at Colby-Sawyer College’s Sawyer Center Theater in New London. For tickets ($5 to $15) to the 3 p.m. show, visit kearsargechorale.org.

Israeli pianist-composer Inon Barnatan performs works of Schubert, Rachmaninoff and Avner Dorman on Wednesday night at 7, at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover. For tickets ($25 to $40) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-727-3304. On Tuesday afternoon at 4:30, Barnatan will preview the performance during a master class, open to the public, in the Hopkins Center’s Faulkner Recital Hall.

Film

CATV is challenging aspiring filmmakers to compete in its contest to make a short film in 48 hours. Today is the deadline to register by visiting the Get Involved section at catv8.org.

The 2018 Freedom and Unity Youth Film Contest is accepting submissions through this Saturday. The contest, featuring cash prizes in the categories of Arts & Culture, Personal Stories and Vermont History & Contemporary Issues, is open to filmmakers ages 10 to 30. To learn more, visit freedomandunitytv.org.

Bar and Club Circuit

The Out on a Limb quartet plays a set of Americana at Windsor Station tonight from 7 to 10.

Randy Miller and Roger Kahle host their weekly session of traditional Irish music at the Salt hill Pub in Hanover tonight between 6 and 9. And on Saturday night at 9, guitarist Ted Mortimer and accordionist Steve Pixley join forces at the venue.

Fiddler Roger Burridge and piper Anthony Santoro share their weekly session of traditional Irish music at the Salt hill Pub in downtown Lebanon on Tuesday night from 6 to 9.

Roger Kahle joins Randy Miller at Newport’s Salt hill Pub on Wednesday night at 6, for their weekly live session of traditional Irish music.

The Party Crashers rock the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night starting at 9.

Kerry Rosenthal leads her Americana trio Rose Hip Jam into The Public House in Quechee on Saturday night at 7.

Saxophonist Mike Parker and guitarist Ted Mortimer play Windsor Station on Tuesday night at 6.

Pianist Sonny Saul performs jazz at the On the River Inn in Woodstock on Saturday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 9.

The Milo White Band plays Americana music at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover on Saturday night starting at 8.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 on Thursday nights. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

Al Carruth and EJ Tretter host the Sunapee Community Coffeehouse’s monthly open mic on Friday night at 7, at the Methodist Church in Sunapee Harbor. Storytellers as well as singers are welcome.

Woodstock-based troubadour Jim Yeager hosts open mics on the following nights over the coming week: at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock on Monday at 7:30; at the Public House in Quechee on Tuesday at 6; and on Wednesday from 8 to midnight at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

Joe Stallsmith leads his weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass on Monday night at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads a weekly acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

Tom Masterson hosts the weekly open mic at Bradford’s Colatina Exit on Tuesday nights at 8.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment-related news and announcements also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.



UPDATE: Organizers on Friday announced this show has been postponed.