Sometimes a moment can be so perfect, so compelling, so random it swallows you whole.
Time, circumstance and consequence lose meaning. There is no early, no late, no before or after. The moment arrives and consumes you. See ya.
That’s how I felt Friday night at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.
The occasion was The Capitol Sessions, a benefit concert for the voter registration organization HeadCount that paid tribute to legendary bands that performed across decades at The Capitol Theatre, and the songs they performed in that historic venue.
My magic moment came when Lisa Fischer and Larry Campbell stopped the show in its tracks by leading the house band through a dreamy, haunting rendition of ‘Wild Horses,’ the 1971 song by the Rolling Stones, the legendary band that for years featured Fischer as a vocalist.
I honestly don’t know what happened to my soul and spirit during that song. I’m just glad I made it back alive. The ending was cinematic—Lisa sang to Larry, Larry played to Lisa, they both performed for us all and we gave it all back to them. It was overwhelming. I’m still trying to make sense of it.
If you were at the show, you know what I’m talking about. You also know that the urgency, immediacy and relentless fury that underscored the evening’s performances reflected the reason why the concert was held. HeadCount—which has already registered a million voters—is working to register more people to vote as lawmakers across the nation gut voting laws in advance of the 2022 midterm elections, when Republicans hope to take back the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
The Capitol Sessions showcased the righteous manner in which Capitol Theatre owner Peter Shapiro runs his venues. The old Wetlands Preserve in Manhattan, and today’s Brooklyn Bowl and Capitol Theatre have earned loyal, determined fans whose passion for their favorite venues rivals the passion they have for the acts that have played there.
The Capitol Sessions also gave promoter Greg Williamson and his RWE Partners operation another opportunity to go above and beyond for a worthy cause. Greg and his partners with their annual Love Rocks NYC concert have raised millions of dollars for God’s Love We Deliver, which delivers meals to New Yorkers living with severe illness.
And how about Capitol Sessions Music Director Larry Campbell?
Larry, who curated Friday night’s show and steered the ship for a colossal, three-hour performance that picked up momentum with the passing of each hour, showed once again why he’s Larry Campbell. The guy who has worked with Levon Helm, Bob Dylan, Phil Lesh, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne and so many other notable names led thousands in triumph Friday night, and in the process left the audience members feeling like they were the stars of the show.
And what a show it was.
James Casey of the Trey Anastasio Band paid tribute to the Grateful Dead with a sax solo that showed there was plenty shaking on “Shakedown Street.”
“Layla” featured stitching, swirling and seismic guitar solos from Larry, Connor Kennedy and Eric Krasno.
Adam Minkoff’s bass playing competed with Adam Minkoff’s vocals for star turn of the evening. He lit a fuse with “Can’t Find My Way Home.” And Larry followed up by pressing hard on the accelerator during “Dear Mr. Fantasy.”
Amy Helm’s vocal turn on “Brokedown Palace.” The ensemble performance with Amy, Connor and Larry on “Angel from Montgomery.” Larry’s sweet fiddle while Jorma Kaukonen sang and played guitar on “Hesitation Blues.” Grahame Lesh paying tribute to his father Phil while leading “Shakedown Street.” Marco Benevento’s beer-hall piano playing on “Deal.” Jorma and Teresa Williams taking no prisoners on “White Rabbit” and “Sugaree.” Jackson Browne grooving hard on Connor Kennedy’s guitar playing, on Jackson’s songs.
And it was Jackson Browne who landed the one-two punch to close an epic night, of epic music, by an epic cast of characters.
The evening concluded with “Doctor My Eyes” and “Running On Empty,” whose lyric, “People need some reason to believe,” summed up one of the major goals of an evening designed to bring sunlight to these dark days of conflict generated by the shredding of basic voting rights by those seeking power.
But as the encore proved, with each musician joining in and filling the Capitol Theatre stage, we’ll get by with a little help from our friends.
The Capitol Sessions
Dec. 17, 2021
Port Chester, New York
The house band featured Larry Campbell on vocals, guitar, lap steel guitar, fiddle and mandolin; Adam Minkoff on bass, keyboards and vocals; Marco Benevento on keyboards and vocals: and Tony Leone on drums and vocals.
“Samson and Delilah” featuring Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
“Time Has Come Today” featuring Lisa Fischer
“People Get Ready” featuring Lisa Fischer and Jackson Browne
“Only You Know and I Know” featuring Amy Helm, Connor Kennedy and Adam Minkoff
“Angel from Montgomery” featuring Amy Helm, Connor Kennedy and Adam Minkoff
“Mississippi Queen” featuring Adam Minkoff and Karina Rykman
“Out In The Woods” featuring Marco Benevento and Karina Rykman
“Can’t Find My Way Home” featuring Adam Minkoff
“Dear Mr. Fantasy” featuring Larry Campbell
“Piece of My Heart” featuring Elaine Caswell
“Layla” featuring Connor Kennedy, Eric Krasno, Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams and Amy Helm
“Express Yourself’ featuring James Casey
“Shakedown Street” featuring Grahame Lesh, James Casey, Connor Kennedy and Eric Krasno
“Deal” featuring Grahame Lesh and Eric Krasno
“Brokedown Palace” featuring Grahame Lesh, Amy Helm and Connor Kennedy
“Sugaree” featuring Teresa Williams and Jorma Kaukonen
“Hesitation Blues” featuring Jorma Kaukonen and Larry Campbell
“White Rabbit” featuring Teresa Williams and Jorma Kaukonen
“Somebody to Love” featuring Teresa Williams and Jorma Kaukonen
“Wild Horses” featuring Lisa Fischer and Larry Campbell
“Gimme Shelter” featuring Lisa Fischer and Larry Campbell
“Doctor My Eyes” featuring Jackson Browne, Connor Kennedy, Amy Helm and Teresa Williams
“Running On Empty” featuring Jackson Browne, Connor Kennedy and Teresa Williams
Encore: “With A Little Help from My Friends” featuring everybody