John Oates, one half of the most successful music duo of all time, Hall & Oates, just released a new solo album entitled Arkansas. According to Oates, “It’s like Dixieland, dipped in bluegrass, and salted with Delta blues.” Just a couple days after the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl, this mustachioed master of music brought his new tunes to the City of Brotherly Love, delivering an impassioned performance that resulted in the majority of the crowd buying copies of Arkansas.
Following a sold-out show in New York City, Oates and The Good Road Band took to the stage at World Cafe Live, playing several songs from Arkansas. In between numbers, Oates provided background on why he wanted to record this album and his thoughts on particular songs.
The first half of the concert was performed acoustically. Then Oates asked the crowd, “Is it OK if I take five minutes to go backstage? I’m not feeling very well. But if you give me five minutes, we’ll come back out here and rock. Sound good?!” Everyone applauded their approval, and I thought it was remarkable how good Oates sounded. Had he not said he was under the weather, I would have had no idea that this was the case.
For the second half of the show, Oates wielded a beautiful 1967 Gibson guitar, which he played deftly. At one point Oates stood up from his stool and said, “Holy shit! I just realized I’m the same height sitting on a stool as I am standing up. Thanks Mom and Dad!” Everyone laughed. Since his parents were already a topic of discussion, Oates informed the audience that his father was in attendance and crowd applauded.
From the outset, Oates told the crowd, “Don’t get too excited. Tonight is about my new album. Daryl and I will be back for Hoagie Nation, and that’s when you’ll get all the hits.” While this was mostly true, he threw the casual fans a couple bones with “Maneater,” performed in a reggae style, which Oates explained is how he originally envisioned it, and “You Make My Dreams,” also done in a different style than the original. Having seen Hall & Oates numerous times, I appreciated these new interpretations of timeless classics.
After the concert, I had the opportunity to stop backstage and briefly meet with John. Knowing that he wasn’t feeling well, I didn’t take up too much of his time. He expressed his gratitude for my writing and spreading the word about his music, and I thanked him for a wonderful performance and for taking the time to meet with me.
If you have the chance to see John Oates live, I encourage you to do so. Seeing him in an intimate atmosphere, performing songs that helped lay the foundation for his musical journey, is a wonderful experience that’s not to be missed.