Little Feat 50th Anniversary
Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
149 Westchester Avenue
Port Chester, NY, 10573
Doors 6:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
This year marks Little Feat’s Fiftieth (Golden) Anniversary and yes, they remain a golden and possibly the last example of what used to be the norm in American music: a fusion of a broad span of styles and genres into something utterly distinctive. Feat took California rock, funk, folk, jazz, country, rockabilly, and New Orleans swamp boogie and more, stirred it into a rich gumbo, and has been leading people in joyful dance ever since.
And it all began because in 1969 Frank Zappa was smart enough to fire Lowell George from the Mothers of Invention and tell him to start a band of his own. Lowell first settled on keyboard wizard Bill Payne, then added drummer Richie Hayward and bassist Roy Estrada (also a Zappa vet). They were quickly signed by Warner Bros., and began working on the first of 12 albums with that venerable company.
The name was part of the legend. A member of the Mothers happened to mention Lowell’s small feet to him “with an expletive,” said Paul Barrere. “Lowell deleted the expletive and the name was born with Feat instead of Feet, just like the Beatles. Neat, huh?”
The first album, Little Feat, featured the instant-classic tune “Willin’,” and the follow-up Sailin’ Shoes added “Easy to Slip,” “Trouble,” “Tripe Face Boogie,” “Cold Cold Cold” and the title track to their repertoire. Estrada departed, and the band signed up Paul Barrere, Sam Clayton (percussion) and Kenny Gradney (bass), and the new guys are still around.
1973’s Dixie Chicken gave them the title track and “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” as good a blues as any rock band’s ever written. The hits kept coming: the title track from Feats Don’t Fail Me Now (1974) and The Last Record Album (1975), which included “Rock and Roll Doctor,” “All That You Dream,” and “Oh, Atlanta” – another Southern-based winner (pretty good for a bunch of guys from L.A.!) In 1977, Time Loves a Hero delivered the classic title song, and their career to that point was summed up with the live Waiting for Columbus, truly one of the best live albums rock has ever heard.
Success is hard. It cost Feat their founder, Lowell George, who passed in 1979. And it cost them, temporarily, their joy; shortly after, they disbanded. In 1986, Barrere and Payne met up in a chance jam session, and found that they could still find that inspiration. They added Bob Dylan’s guitarist Fred Tackett to the lineup and toured for quite a while, but in 2010 the big C claimed Richie Hayward. They looked around and realized that Gabe Ford, Richie’s drum tech (and Robben’s nephew), fit right in. And that’s the Little Feat of today: Payne, Barrere, Tackett, Gradney, Clayton & Ford, for your listening pleasure.
In the early part of the new millennium, Feat started their own Hot Tomato Records and began to share their rich archives with their fans, producing the double CD collections of rarities Raw Tomatos and Ripe Tomatos from both fan and band tapes.
Join the Band, in many ways a summing up of all that preceded it, came in 2009, with re-recordings of their classic songs bringing together a vast slew of musical friends on vocals backed by Feat – Dave Matthews on “Fat Man,” Jimmy Buffett on “Champion of the World,” Emmylou Harris on “Sailin’ Shoes.” Bill Payne said it was about locating their influences. In some ways, it documents the way they’ve influenced the musicians who listen to them. And it certainly documents a musical career.
Their latest work is Rooster Rag, by critical consensus their best studio album in twenty years, featuring four songs co-written by Payne and the Grateful Dead’s legendary lyricist Robert Hunter, four breakout songs by Fred Tackett, and a superb collaboration between Paul Barrere and the late Stephen Bruton,
Fifty years down the road, they’ve been up and they’ve been down and they know where they belong – standing or sitting behind their instruments, playing for you. And anything’s possible, because the end is not in sight.
Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
Multi-instrumentalist-singer-songwriter Larry Campbell and singer-guitarist Teresa Williams’ acclaimed eponymous 2015 debut, released after seven years of playing in Levon Helm’s band – and frequent guesting with Phil Lesh, Little Feat, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, brought to the stage the crackling creative energy of a decades-long offstage union. A whirlwind of touring and promo followed, and when the dust cleared, the duo was ready to do it all again. Which brings us to Contraband Love, a riskier slice of Americana.
Larry, who produced Contraband Love, says, “I wanted this record to be a progression, bigger than the first one. That’s all I knew. I wanted the songwriting to be deeper, the arrangements more interesting, the performances more dynamic. Specifically how to get there, I didn’t know. I did know the songs were different. The subject matter was darker than anything else I’ve written.”
“More painful!” Teresa says, and laughs.
“Yeah,” Larry says with a smile. “I’m proud of our debut, but I felt like the songs were lighter than what I’m capable of doing. As a songwriter, I aspire to a sense of uniqueness: this is a great song and it could only have been written by me. I want to get there. It’s a journey, a goal, a pursuit. The mechanics of that pursuit are figuring out what you need to do to surpass your last body of work.”
Although it was not his conscious intent, three of the eight tunes Campbell penned for Contraband Love deal either obliquely or directly with various emotions surrounding addiction. For the blues rocking “Three Days in A Row,” he authoritatively delves into the crucial first seventy-two hours directly following an addict going cold turkey in an effort to get clean. “I was thinking about the things I’ve quit in my life,” he says. “The last time was cigarettes. I remembered the dreams I had in withdrawal.” Vintage-sounding country nugget “Save Me from Myself” (featuring Little Feat’s Bill Payne on piano) explores a troubled soul’s heartrending knowledge that they are hard to love. “I’ve certainly felt both sides of that situation,” Larry says, “and observed it many times.” Delicate waltz “Contraband Love,” a captivating vocal showcase for Teresa, takes on the other side of the story, when a parent (or spouse, or friend, etc.) realizes their only recourse for dealing with an addict is merely to stand “with arms wide open.” Of this remarkable piece, Larry says, “That melody would not leave me alone. It’s one of the more unique songs I’ve ever written.”
“Larry’s writing this stuff,” Teresa says, “and we’re naming off all the people in our lives who are currently going through this (addiction and loss) with a loved one, not to mention the family members and friends we’ve lost in the past from this affliction. That may have driven him. One of my oldest, most intimate friends – a functioning substance abuser since he was a teenager – died on the street in New York while we were in the studio. We dedicated the album to him.”
“The stuff of loss resonates,” Larry says.
Musically, Contraband Love revisits the Americana textures of the duo’s debut, deftly channeling Memphis, Chicago, the Delta, and Appalachia with equal assurance. Larry’s world-famous guitar work – scorching here, funky there, stellar always – punctuates the proceedings with riveting emotion, often like a third voice weighing in on a myriad of emotional states.
The barnburner leadoff single, “Hit and Run Driver,” is a harrowing-but-rocking survivor’s tale, showcasing longtime drummer and engineer/mixer Justin Guip.
To leaven out the darker tunes, Larry and Teresa added a recording of the reassuring Carl Perkins country classic “Turn Around,” with old friend and mentor Levon Helm, captured on drums shortly before his passing. Jaunty folk blues “My Sweetie Went Away,” features new bass player Jesse Murphy doubling on tuba for a distinctly New Orleans feel; traditional gutbucket country blues “Delta Slide,” is spiced with irresistible, harmonized yodeling.
“Stylistically, there’s a lot of different things going on,” Larry says. “So the sequencing was difficult. But I think I got it right.”
Indeed. Contraband Love stands as a new, bolder chapter in a story that arose triumphantly joyous from loss. “When Levon died,” Teresa says, “that put Larry into high gear. He’d already had his head set about making a record, but then it felt like a train took off! We just said, ‘life is short.’”
Another motivator for creating Contraband Love was the experience of taking the Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams show out on the road, as a duo, with a band, and opening for Jackson Browne (who loaned them his band). “It felt fabulous and fantastic,” Larry says. “After I met Teresa (in the mid 80s), I’d be out with Bob Dylan [Larry toured with the Nobel laureate for eight years] and something was missing. I gotta gig, and it’s what I always wanted, but it’s not my stuff, and it’s not with the person I want to be with. And then, when we got a taste of being a performing duo at the Rambles with Levon, the idea that we could expand on that was completely alluring.
“So virtually everything we’ve done musically since I left Dylan’s band, we’ve been asked to do together: Levon, Phil and Friends, Jorma and Jack, Little Feat; we’ve done it all as a unit, a duo, and it’s great. It’s rewarding on a lot of levels. The way I see it, when Teresa and I are together, doing our material for people who come to see us, then everything I ever wanted out of life is pretty well complete.”
$45/$55/$65/$85 (ADVANCE) $50/$60/$70/$90 (DAY OF SHOW)
This event will have a reserved seated Orchestra, Loge, and Balcony. Standing room is in the rear of the orchestra behind the last row of seats.
18 & over unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
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