The blue-eyed soulster talks about his bittersweet year.
In 2007, Daryl Hall got the smart idea to invite some of his musical heroes—as well as newer artists he dug—to his sprawling property in upstate New York to hang out, cook up some food and jam on a bunch of tunes with him and his band, and then throw each episode on the Internet for free. Since then, his monthly web series Live from Daryl’s House has become an online hit, and has counted among its dozens of guests Smokey Robinson, Sharon Jones, Chromeo, KT Tunstall, Plain White T’s and, of course, Hall’s longtime cohort John Oates. On New Year’s Eve, LFDH makes the leap to television for a two-hour special on WGN America that’ll feature highlights from all the episodes, including plenty of previously unseen footage. We caught up with Daryl to talk about this exciting development.
I suppose this has been a bittersweet year for you—the series has been really successful, but there was also the passing of [long-time Hall & Oates bassist/band leader] T-Bone [Wolk].
Yeah. You know, what can you say? It’s all part of the nature of life, and the first half of this year was tough. But you just try to move on.
You’ve obviously embraced the Internet with this series—do you plan to keep it a Web thing going forward, or are you open to a TV version? Is this New Year’s Eve special a one-time-only thing?
It’s definitely not a one-time-only thing. My plan is that I’ve been talking with Tribune Broadcasting and the first show they decided would launch this whole relationship is the New Year’s Eve show, with the idea in mind that over the next year, we’re talking about a weekly show, possibly and probably on Saturday nights. I’m pretty sure the Philly station [Phl17] is interested in doing this. So we’re talking about toward the middle or end of . That doesn’t mean I’m leaving the Internet—I’m going to be doing both, basically.
It seems from watching the show that the camaraderie and friendship you share with your guests is just as rewarding for you as collaborating with them musically.
Definitely. I think that’s the most fun of it—the hanging-out thing. A lot of these people I’ve known, like Todd [Rundgren] and Smokey Robinson. But most of the people, especially the new people, I don’t know them. They’re like blind dates [laughs]. And I get to be friends with these people, which is great.
Do you find that some of the younger artists, especially the ones who’ve been fans of yours their whole lives, are nervous to come on the show and hang out?
Some artists are nervous—most of them are, to tell you the truth, and they have different ways of exhibiting that. Some of them are boisterous, some are really quiet. You never know. Imagine walking into somebody’s house and you don’t know any of the people, you know? It’s an intimidating feeling. But we all try to make it comfortable, there’s a lot of laughter, and I think we do a pretty good job of making people feel at home.
Which gives you more of a thrill—playing with some of the musical legends who inspired you to make music, or playing with the younger artists who you’ve inspired?
Well, if it’s somebody like Smokey, anybody who knows me from the old days in Philly knows how I feel about Smokey—he’s a god to me. So for me to have Smokey over to my house to play songs with him, and sit around and talk and eat and tell stories, that was a pretty awesome feeling. I would say more intense than meeting a new band for the first time, which is a great feeling but not on that level.
Would you be up for having, say, a thrash-metal band come on the show?
[laughs] Absolutely! The more outside-the-norm, the better.
When you’re in Philly, do you ever swing by the old apartment on Quince Street you shared with John in the early days?
Sometimes—I’ve had various people that I care about in my life, where we walk past and I show them the place and say, “This is where we started, right here.” It has a special place in my heart.
Can you imagine doing the show at that place?
[Laughs] It would have to be Live from Daryl’s House with just one other person. That place was small. Live from Daryl’s Closet, maybe!
Live from Daryl’s House: A New Year’s Eve Special airs Dec. 31 at 11 p.m. on WGN America.
PW's Music Issue 2014