Over his decades in the music business, Daryl Hall has had many titles, from accomplished Philadelphia session musician to '80s hit-maker as part of the hugely popular duo Hall and Oates, but over the last five years, Hall has earned himself another title: Internet sensation.
In late 2007, Hall premiered the web series "Live From Daryl's House," where he's played host to everyone from Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump to reggae legends Toots and the Maytals, jamming with his guests on his songs and theirs as well as sharing food, stories and all-around good vibes.
Hall is now taking the show on the road with the Live From Daryl's House Nu-Soul Revue, which kicks off April 11 at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair and will come to the Music Box at the Borgata in Atlantic City on April 14. Along with Hall and his band, the tour will feature two stand-out guests from the web series: sensational singer Sharon Jones of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and up-and-coming soul man Allen Stone.
Hall recently talked with us about the series, the tour and getting the chance to dig deep into his back catalog.
What inspired you to take the show on the road with the Live From Daryl's House Tour?
Well, you know, I've already done one with Todd Rundgren at the Borgata, so this is not the very first one, so we sort of know what we're going to do, but having said that it's really a challenge to take what happens on the internet show and take it into an audience environment, and it has to do with the way we set ourselves up on stage, instead of being across the stage we sort of set ourselves in a semi-circle so we sort of work off each other, and there's a lot of conversation and starting and stopping, and very loose kind of things and involving the audience and a lot of talking to the audience as if they were in the room at my house.
And then, we add my friend Tony Luke, he's doing a food segment on the big screen, so we sort of have our food segment and we really try and keep the feeling of what happens at my house in the room and make the audience feel like they're part of it.
It's got to be interesting to recreate that vibe, because such a big part of the show is the intimacy of you inviting these acts into your home and what results, so taking that to a live music venue has to be a challenge.
It is a challenge, but you know, I'm the kind of person, I like to be real with the audience anyway, so I just talk to people, engage them. I know on the Todd show sometimes a couple of people came up and danced and stuff and it's that whole idea of breaking down the fourth wall between the audience and what's happening on stage.
And you've got to be excited to be hitting the road with Sharon Jones and Allen Stone, who were both great guest for the show when they were on.
It's the best combination, because first of all I love both of these people. Allen is a new acquaintance because he just came to the house about a month and a half ago, really, I hadn't met him before, really, and he is such a kindred spirit to me, I feel like I should adopt him or something, he's like my son or nephew, this guy is exactly coming from the same place as me.
And Sharon is also coming from the same kind of tradition as I do. And it's a great soul revue, it's this combination of old school and new school and I can't think of a better combination of artists than the three of us.
It sounds like a really exciting bill. I loved the episode that Sharon was on with you guys, I'm a longtime Dap-Kings fan, so hearing you and your band do your take on what the Dap-Kings do was really exciting, and it must have felt for you a bit like going back to your session musician days.
Absolutely. Well, all of these shows that I do, I feel the element of that, because not only am I singing along with the songs, but I'm accompanying people with my band on these songs for the first time, so I think that my experience as a studio musician and the whole band's experiences that way is an important part of what we create with the sound of all our guest.
Talking a bit about the Allen Stone episode, it's really cool how some of these guests shine light on the deep cuts in your catalog, like when you did "Ennui on the Mountain" with Allen or "Girl I Love You" with Fitz and the Tantrums. That has to be rewarding for you, digging up these gems and giving them new life.
Yeah, when I talk to the artist, I always say, "Dig deep into the catalog. You know, we've been doing ‘No Can Do' and ‘Kiss on My List' and all those songs and great, but we've been doing them a lot on the show so get creative, go deep into the albums, pick anything," and so people have been doing that. They pick out "Sacred Songs" pieces and "Ennui on the Mountain," all kinds of strange things, I never know what they're going to say, I'm always surprised and it's great, I love it, man.
I know you said a lot of folks ask to play the hits, and it has be rewarding to do "No Can Do" with Booker T. Jones or hearing Smokey Robinson sing "Sara Smile" with you.
Yeah, I mean, it's amazing, I just had Cee Lo Green on and he said, "Please let me do ‘No Can Do,'" and man, we did the funkiest version of "No Can Do" so I mean, yeah, that's the thing, these songs, they can stretch and change and you can do ‘No Can Do' a dozen times on my show and it's going to come out 12 different ways.
Now, I've read that you have a number of homes, but are most of the episodes shot in upstate New York?
Yeah, my main house here is in Dutchess County, upstate New York.
How does it feel that the show is in its fifth year now?
We've done 53 shows, it's amazing, I can't believe it.
And going back to the beginning, can you tell me a bit about what inspired you to start this series going?
Well, you know, it was really one of those things that you could do it. The internet allowed something like this to happen. If I had tried, in fact I did, in the early days, try to take this concept to television, they didn't want to hear about it, it was too weird for them. They said, "there's no contest, it's not a talent show."
Television people are, as we all know, the most conservative non-thinkers in the world, and you sort of have to show them what it is, and the internet allowed me to just do whatever I wanted to do, really, and I had come up with idea years ago, but when T-Bone (Wolk) and I were first starting to think about it, we said, "What should we do? Maybe we just sit on the front porch, play some songs and see what happens," and that idea developed into, "OK, we'll play in the barn, we'll play in my big room," and then, "We'll add a guest to it," and then, "We'll add some food to it," so it all happened very organically without any real master plan and we just said, "What happens when people get together? Food, wine, laughing, jokes, war stories, all these things," and that's how the show really developed.
And that's the beauty of the internet, you don't really have to ask anybody's permission. If you have the space and the talent, you can put anything up online and let the audience come to you that way.
That was the idea, you know? And I'm lucky enough to have a sponsor, because one element you left out is money (laughs).
That's true, that's an important one.
And I know you said you've got Cee-Lo, who else do you have coming up?
I've got Butch Walker, new singer, really, really cool, actually he's not that new but he's really good. I've got the Dirty Heads on Thursday, Jason Mraz is coming on next month, that's all I can think of right now.
That's awesome and it's a diverse group of folks right there.
Oh yeah, as always.
That has to be exciting for you as a musician, knowing one day you're playing with Cee Lo and then the Dirty Heads and then Jason Mraz, and that's got to keep you flexible and agile as a singer and a musician.
It's the best, this is the best thing I've ever done in my life. To me, everything I did up to here was by the numbers. You write songs, make records, have hits, I mean I'm talking about a successful career, but go on the road, do all of this other stuff, have a career, and this changes the whole game, this is the most interesting possible career that I could have created for myself, it never stops changing and you don't know what's going to happen, it's just an amazing experience.
The Live From Daryl's House Nu-Soul Revue, 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11 at the Wellmont Theatre, 5 Seymour St., Montclair. Tickets $45 to $95. Visit www.wellmonttheatre.com.
Also: Music Box at the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa, One Borgata Way, Atlantic City, on April 14. $65-$75. Visit www.theborgata.com/.
For more on "Live From Daryl's House," visit www.livefromdarylshouse.com.