Daryl Hall takes his newest collaboration on tour
Apr 13, 2012 (The Philadelphia Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) --
Back in 2007, when Daryl Hall came up with the idea for his online music show "Live From Daryl's House," he was motivated in part by being able to go to work without leaving home.
"I've been traveling around the world forever," says Hall, the 65-year-old Pottstown, Pa., native who, along with John Oates, made up one of the best-selling duos in music history, with No. 1 hits that included "Kiss on My List," "Private Eyes," and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)."
"But the Internet allows you to turn everything upside down," says Hall, on the phone this week from his house in Dutchess County, N.Y., where "Live From Daryl's House" is filmed. "You don't have to deal with any gatekeepers. It allows you to basically have your own station and do whatever you want to do."
This month, with 55 shows under his belt, the latest of which teams him with Cee-Lo Green of "The Voice" and "F _ You" fame, what Hall wants to do is take "Live From Daryl's House" on the road.
On an eight-date tour, Hall is being joined by funk-soul belter Sharon Jones and his fair-haired protege Allen Stone, in what's being billed as the "Live From Daryl's House: Nu-Soul Revue."
Back when "Live From Daryl's House" was just an idea being batted around with associates such as his longtime bass player Tom "T-bone" Wolk, who died in 2010, what Hall wanted to do most was find a way to play music on his own terms with his own band at his own house.
"T-Bone and I talked about it, and right away we knew it couldn't just be me playing my songs," the singer says of the monthly show. Instead, they thought they'd bring in a mix of little-known and established artists to play their own songs, and Hall's, in a relaxed setting.
Travis McCoy "was the perfect first guest," says Hall. (The Gym Class Heroes singer is such a Hall & Oates mega-fan that he had images of the pop duo tattooed on the back of his hands (yes, one on each hand). "I just watched that show again to edit it for TV" _ in addition to being available free at LiveFromDarylsHouse.com, the show is now in syndication _ "and right from the get-go it was working. The whole idea was ... to show what musicians are like when they're not doing their act. Having fun, hanging out, telling jokes."
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The show also proves Hall to be a savvy career strategist, shrewdly adapting to the digital age while offering exposure to admiring young acts such as L.A. retro-soul band Fitz & the Tantrums or Philadelphia neoclassic pop songwriter Nikki Jean, as well as such old associates as Todd Rundgren, with whom Hall played in Hawaii in a special, far-flung episode of the show.
As music-industry blogger Bob Lefsetz put it, "Daryl Hall's show is not going to go network and eclipse 'Dancing With the Stars,' never mind 'American Idol,' but an ever-growing coterie will become aware of it, allowing his flame to burn ever brighter, allowing him to continue to play music for a living."
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The show specializes in new faces like Stone, 24, a vocalist from Chewelah, Wash. Hall says Stone "is so talented. When I first met him I was like, 'I want to adopt you, because you're basically my son.' It's freaky. I have a bond with him already that's sort of unnatural. He feels the same way."
"My ear is constantly to the ground," Hall says. "That requires a lot of listening, checking out suggestions, finding out what's going on."
One artist he found out about was Jones, the 55-year-old force of nature and former Rikers Island correctional officer who, along with her Brooklyn band the Dap-Kings, has become one of the leading lights of the soul-revival movement of the last decade.
Jones wasn't a huge Hall & Oates fan before she taped a 2010 episode of "LFDH," in which she and Hall sang her own "I Learned the Hard Way" and "Tell Me," as well as Hall & Oates' "Uncanny" and Sly & the Family Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summertime."
"I listened to Hall & Oates coming up in the '80s," says Jones, originally from Augusta, Ga., being interviewed by phone while getting her hair done in New York this week. "I was aware of them, but as far as being a big fan and having their picture hang on the wall, no."
Since working with Hall, Jones has changed her tune. "My manager was like, 'He's a big fan of yours and he loves what we're doing.' So I watched the show and I went up there, and I was so glad I did.
"He was so laid back, so relaxed. I know he's a little bit older than I am, but he's still got it. It's amazing, his voice is so strong. A lot of people get to be that age, in their 60s, they can't sing like that anymore. It's like him and Stevie Wonder to me. They've still got it."
Hall & Oates _ who have no plans to record but still tour _ are often labeled as exemplars of "blue-eyed soul," a term Hall is not fond of. "The premise is that you are an anomaly or some kind of freak of nature if you are a white person that sings soul music," he told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2009. "A soul singer is a soul singer. There is no color involved."
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In contrast to Hall's pop success, Jones struggled for decades to make her mark. "I wanted to be Aretha, the Supremes, Patti LaBelle. Anybody from Motown to Stax, back in the day." Before hooking up with Dap-Kings leader and Daptone record label co-owner Gabriel Roth, she worked as a backup singer and fronted wedding bands, and took other jobs to make ends meet. Those included late 1980s resume highlights as a prison guard at Rikers Island and a pistol-packing employee of Wells Fargo armed security, driving an armored truck and collecting cash from ATMs around New York.
"I won a marksman award, that's how good I was," she says. But after being injured in a car accident, the fiery, 5-foot-tall front woman was unable to keep working. "I took it as an omen," she says. "I was meant to sing."
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When she hears Hall, Jones doesn't hear a soul singer or a pop singer. "He's a singer. And any time you're a real singer like that, you can sing soul, pop, gospel, blues. That's what he's proven to everyone by having all these different people come in and sing with them. He's a great singer."
Hall, whose latest solo album, "Laughing Down Crying," was released on Verve Forecast in September, calls Jones "amazing. She's just a ball of energy, even in rehearsal." On tour, Stone, and Jones will sing together and separately, backed by the "LFDH's" house band.
Hall bristles, however, at the idea that the state of his voice is impressive considering his age. "I have two words: Tony Bennett," he says. "If you can sing, you never lose your voice. If you don't know how to sing, your voice goes away because you sing from your throat. But I could be 95 and still be able to sing, because I sing from my diaphragm."
Why is it so rare, then, for pop singers to sing as well as he does, even after they're old enough to collect Social Security?
"People lose a lot of things," he says. "They lose their vibe. They lose their perspective. They lose their voices. ... A lot of it has to do with fear and rigidity."
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Hall says he's avoided those pitfalls because "I have an active imagination, I move fast. I'm a quick thinker. That allows me to make interesting jumps and leaps."
The leap into the collaborative aspect of "Live From Daryl's House" has helped him find his authentic voice, Hall says.
"I'm a born collaborator. This is what I was born to do, really. I'm quite an eclectic musician. I'm a Philly Soul guy, but I can do a lot of things, I can speak a lot of different musical languages. And this show allows me to be me, and collaborate with all these different musicians. It's so stimulating, I can't describe it."
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