It's been a great season for concerts, including Bob Weir guesting at Sir Paul's Fenway concert last weekend. A review I read talks about the blessings bestowed on us this summer by certified rock royalty, such as Sir Paul. Be that as it may ... and I can't imagine why I'd ever bad-mouth Paul McCartney ... one of the great things about great music is that it's ecumenical, democratic, expressive of the human spirit. It isn't only dispensed by royalty. And we were very glad after a foray into arena rock to get back to seeing the best artists of our generation in small venues.
Which brings me to seeing Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams at the Bull Run. How could such an incredible act not be adored by the millions? The Sawtelle Room at the Bull Run was two thirds full of enthusiasts, but come on! Oh well, one of the charming things about seeing an act like Larry and Teresa at a club in Shirley MA is that there's absolutely no pressure. We all showed up on a Friday night and had a great time.
Picked up Sarah and Dave at West Concord and drove out there on a steamer of a mid-summer, New England night. Ordered some great food and beer, talked with our table-mates, some of whom we'd met before at great Bull Run concerts (this was our 35th at the Bull Run by my count), and mellowed out in the air conditioning. We stepped outside for a bit and Justin Guip was blabbing on his cell phone, Jesse Murphy (guest bassist) was doing some homework, listening to his ear buds on the bridge, and Larry in his black get-up was in his car texting and presumably roasting. I went inside and headed to the bathroom, but Teresa jumped in front of me on her way to the lady's ... I almost followed her in.
They came on a bit late, as most acts do, though the room was more than primed for them. No late arrivals here, we were all ready for the night. They opened with a few numbers off their record (strange that they'd release a record last year and only tour for it now?!?) and ended up doing most of the numbers we'd expect from them in a short set, with a double encore. For some reason, the sound wasn't great for the first few numbers, but then they got it straightened out with a bit of advice from the band.
As a listener pointed out, "Larry, the room's full of Deadheads heah!" A guy at our table recognized Dave's t-shirt from when Larry and Teresa played with Phil & Friends a few years ago. The biggest whoops of the night were reserved for the "Dead" songs: Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way), Deep Ellum Blues, Big River (an absolutely crackling version), and an encore of a song actually written by the Dead, their incredible a capella cover of Attics Of My Life.
But there was more for the Deadhead and music fan to go nuts over, such as Teresa belting out Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning, a tidy and precious rendition of Julie Miller's Midnight Highway (both of which we'd seen them do with Phil), and their top-of-the-heap (and it's a big heap) cover of the Louvin's You're Running Wild. This was great stuff and the thing that had me riveted was watching Larry pick the country blues on his acoustic and his Telecaster while Guip and Teresa hammered and wailed behind him. Again, how come the place was not full to see this stuff??
For me, the song of the night was Larry's If You Loved Me At All. He's written some of the best stuff ever, and this was done perfectly. Teresa has that twang (Larry: "I married Elly May Clampett, without the oil wells"), and Larry has that perfect, American, honest, gritty quality to his singing and playing. He did a solo bit, where he picked out the tricky melody of Blind Mary from 18th century Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan on his small acoustic, and then Duke Ellington's Caravan.
Another shorter than anticipated night at the Bull Run ... we'd all made it there on a Friday and were ready to go all night. But the band wasn't; an act at this rank on the pecking order has to do a lot of traveling. Larry and Teresa absorbed the accolades and tried to deal with the many requests (I shouted out for When I Go Away and the two looked at me like, "Thanks for the request but we're not ready to do that tonight," so I shouted out for Mountains Of the Moon, which made Teresa laugh (an obscure Dead song we'd seen them do with Phil)).
After the encore of Attics and Deep Ellum they signed for the crowds but we escaped into the steamy night and had a relatively quick ride back to Quincy and then to Woburn, making it home in time to go to bed by midnight.