ACOUSTIC TROUBADOUR: John Oates, best known as being half of the hugely successful blue-eyed soul duo Hall &Oates, will perform a solo acoustic show in San Juan Capistrano on Oct. 15, 2008.
John Oates' sophomore solo release, "1000 Miles of Life," was released Sept. 23, 2008 and is a strong follow-up to 2002's "Phunk Shui." While fans of the blue-eyed Philadelphia soul that have made him and Daryl Hall the most successful duo in history with 10 No. 1 albums and more than 20 top 40 hits will welcome tracks such as heartfelt "Spinning Down" and blues-tinged rocker "Carved in Stone. There is an authentic Americana-styled tone that runs across the disc.
Indeed, one of the highlights on the album is the beautiful "I Found Love," which features the sound of banjo, mandolin and other bluegrass sounds positioned around Oates' superb voice. Oates wrote the song for his wife Aimee back in 1993, but put it aside when he realized it had a country sound and wouldn't work on a Hall & Oates project.
"I knew it needed a special treatment," Oates said of the song in a recent interview. Oates lives on a ranch outside of Aspen, Colo., with his wife and their 12-year-old son Tanner.
"So I got Bela Fleck on banjo, Jerry Douglas on dobro and Sam Bush on mandolin. They're the crème de la crème of that bluegrass world. And to have them all playing together on that one song was one of those moments where I felt like 'Wow,' I've put myself in this position where I can play with one of the greatest group of players in the world on a song to me that is very personal and very important, and to have them surround that song with the beauty of their playing – you know, you just don't get moments like that. It is a very special thing for a musician."
Oates is thrilled to perform with his three-member acoustic combo at the Coach House on Oct. 15. He is only playing a handful of these intimate dates in connection with the release of "1000 Miles of Life."
"It's more like an evening with (John Oates)," explained Oates, noting he has performed with Hall at a number of shows in Orange County over the years, but never at the Coach House.
"I don't really put a time limit on it. I have a general idea of what I'm going to do and then I take it from there. You never know. People call out a song; after all, doing what I do and writing songs for 30 years, I have a lot of songs that are not only hits when you talk about Hall & Oates but other songs that were album tracks. This show gives me an opportunity to reach into the catalog and pull out things that normally don't get played anymore at a Hall & Oates show, and of course I have a new album, so I do a lot of songs from the new album."
While Oates is currently focused on his solo album and related acoustic shows, he and Hall continue to make music together as well. On Nov. 25, Shout! Factory will release a deluxe DVD/2-CD combo (also available on Blu-ray) "Live At The Troubadour" chronicling the duo's performances at the historic Los Angeles venue in May 2008 featuring well-known hits ("Rich Girl," "Kiss on My List," "Out of Touch"), as well as live versions of more recent songs like "Getaway Car."
Another notable release of interest to fans is a remastered reissue of "Along the Red Ledge." Released in September 1978, "Along the Red Ledge" featured the duo working with a number of players such as Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, singer-songwriter-producer Todd Rundgren and former Beatles guitarist George Harrison.
It was a mutual interest in auto racing that paved the way for Harrison to come play slide guitar on the song "The Last Time."
"During the Long Beach Grand Prix we were recording and I was down there with George (in Long Beach) watching the race and hanging out with him," Oates recalled. "I asked him because we recorded that album in Los Angeles; I asked him if he would sit in and play on a song. He said, 'Oh sure' and he came down and played, and it was great. He was a complete gentleman."
In addition, an ever-growing number of young musicians (notably Gym Class Heroes, Finger Eleven and KT Tunstall) have been heralding the duo's music this decade.
This writer admits to being confused as to why Hall & Oates have not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; I shared that view with Oates toward the end of our conversation.
"There is a lot of politics involved," Oates said. "There are a lot of personalities involved. I personally feel we deserve it and that goes without saying. But we're not in a position to dictate that kind of thing.
"You know, Daryl and I were voted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame about four years ago and we were also won the BMI Icon Award (on May 20, 2008, as part of the 56th annual Pop Awards), both of which are awards for songwriting. And for us, personally, I find it satisfying to be in that category and to be among the people in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
"For me, it's all about the songs and all about the songwriting and that's how we started and I think that's essence of what Daryl and I do individually and collectively, so I'm proud of that. If the day comes and we get voted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, that will be amazing; I'll be there with bells on. But until that happens I won't lose any sleep over it."