Universal Mayer Hawthorne's most recent release, How Do You Do, is hard to…
- Posted on Jul 1st 2011 4:00PM by Chris Epting
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That was back in the fall of 2007. Today, more than 40 episodes later, the free monthly webcast, 'Live From Daryl's House,' has turned into a genuine, blue-eyed success. Captivating music lovers of all ages, Hall has managed to pull in a startling range of both veteran and newer performers to sing with him, hang out, eat interesting food and add whatever they can to the cozy, intimate environs of Hall's tasteful country home. Rob Thomas, Train's Pat Monahan, Jose Feliciano, Smokey Robinson, the Doors' Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, Toots Hibbert, Nick Lowe and K.T. Tunstall are among many others have already appeared with Hall.
It has not just received rave reviews -- the show even provided Chicago superstation WGN American with a 75 percent ratings bump after premiering on television last New Year's Eve. It also just won the MTV Early O Music Award for Best Performance Series.
As Hall explains to Spinner, this is more than just a side project for him. Plain and simple, it's his future. And he now has big plans for what started out as just a "little idea."
Did you have any idea 'Live From Daryl's House' would take off the way it has?
I was hoping it would, to tell you the truth, because I was looking for something to expand upon my own invention. I mean, John [Oates] and I are really proud of our music and we play live a lot, but I wanted to be me. I'm not "half" of something. I wanted to show the world what I can do on my own. And I look at this as a new career, really. And I'll tell you, its success has surprised me. I wasn't sure how good I'd be at it [laughs].
Who decides who you'll play with for each episode? Is that completely your call?
A lot of it has to do with my connections. I have this unusual position of being sort of in the center of inter-generational things. I have people like Smokey Robinson on, who I idolized when I was a kid, and then I have kids on that wanted to be me! So I'm sort of this monkey in the middle and I use that to sort of work within generations and I think that's one of the interesting things about the show is that I can flow between these two sides. In fact, there's a show that hasn't aired yet, that I just did. I had Booker T. Jones on from Booker T. and the MGs. With him I had Mayer Hawthorne on, he's a new soul singer, a guy in his 20s. And with me in the middle, we had three generations of soul music going there. It was just magical.
In addition to all the work that goes into each episode, are you having as much fun as it looks like you are?
It's incredibly creative. I love it. It's like making an album, every episode. It is so fulfilling, I cannot even really tell you how fulfilling it is. It's just incredible.
Food plays a big part in the show. Sometimes the culinary experience almost seems to rival the musical experience.
I'm a foodie. I travel the world, and I think I've eaten every kind of food there is [laughs]. I feel that food and music -- and food and a party, first of all, because this is sort of a party -- it's just inevitable that good food would be involved. So I thought, why don't we formalize that and actually have chefs come on and show what they do? There's some education that goes along with it. Eventually, maybe there will be a cookbook that comes out of it. Who knows?
Your two episodes with Todd Rundgren really showcased the musical bond you guys share.
It's so easy to work with Todd. It's sort of like working with John. I've known him forever and we have a very effortless communication. We know each other really well, we love each other's music, there are a lot of similarities in our music, so it's a great match.
You've always been a torchbearer for classic 1960s and 1970 R & B groups, like the Spinners, the Stylistics, the Delfonics. What happened to that genre of music? Does it still exist like it did before?
I got to tell ya man, there is a new movement, and I've had some of the guys and girls on the show, that are part of what I call "new" soul or "neo" soul. And the music is alive and well. Sharon Jones is an example of it. I just had Mayer Hawthorne on, and he is stone-Delfonics, man. It is out there, I promise you.
So in a sense, your show is helping breathe life into music forms that might need some attention and giving up-and-coming artists a shot.
I'm certainly in a go-to place that can help take it to the larger world. But these neo-soul groups are happening -- the style is thriving. All these people are mining the same stuff that I did. They're doing it in a new way, taking all the raw elements of it, the chords and the melodies. I say it's like putting on a vintage Hawaiian shirt. You're not going to wear it the same way someone did in 1948. It's like that -- taking vintage soul music and putting it into slightly different context, which I find very stimulating.
Tragically, your long-time musical collaborator T-Bone Wolk died last year. How has it been, coping with that tremendous loss?
He was a close friend and in some ways, my closest musical collaborator. I can't even describe what his loss means to me. He is definitely always in the room with me. It's a funny thing; I'm finishing a solo record right now that I started four days before T-Bone died. We did four tracks really fast, and the night of the fourth day is when he bit the dust. And I've been working on these tracks, literally playing guitar with him, so I'm still working with T-Bone. He's not gone from my life and I don't think he ever will be. I think of him a lot. Every single day. We reference him constantly in the band now. You just can't even describe it when somebody that important to you goes away.
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