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John Oates’ Newest Album Explores America’s Musical Roots

Feb 08, 2018 04:00PM ● By Brian Saucedo
By Cate Reynolds

John Oates is best recognized as one half of the musical duo Hall & Oates. Known for hits like “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” and “You Make My Dreams Come True,” Hall & Oates’ success during the 1970s and 1980s earned them several Grammy nominations, American Music Awards, and eventually an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Though he continues to tour with Daryl Hall, Oates has achieved yet another successful musical career as a solo artist. His upcoming album Arkansas, which was inspired by his idol Mississippi John Hurt, explores the roots of popular American music. 

“I wanted to showcase some of the music that was the first popular music in America. These were the records that were the first hits when the phonograph record was created. This album is essentially a snapshot of early popular American music.” – John Oates

To give this album the sound he wanted, Oates assembled the Good Road Band, featuring a collection of talented Americana musicians. With the help of artists like Sam Bush, Russ Pahl, Guthrie Trapp, Steve Mackey, and Nat Smith, Oates puts his own twist on the popular American music of the 1930s and 1940s. 

John Oates kicked off part one of his Arkansas tour in early January, which will visit small venues across the country. Experience this music legend Sunday, February 18th, 7:30 p.m. at Rams Head On Stage. Tickets are $46.50.


You are one half of Hall & Oates, one of the most successful rock duos of all time. Can you tell me how you and Daryl Hall came together, and how Hall & Oates began?

We were both individual musicians making records in the late-’60s, but we didn’t know each other. I was doing a lot of traditional blues stuff and Daryl was doing some doo-wop. We met in the late-’60s as friends and got together in the early-’70s, and that’s how it all began. 


You’ve won numerous American Music Awards, Grammy nominations, and been inducted to both the American Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Did you ever think your music career would become so successful? What has been the most rewarding part of being such a successful artist?

The most rewarding part is that I’m still here, I’m alive, I can still play and sing, and that people still care about my music. The awards are great because it means the public has acknowledged the hard work, but I just love what I do. 

No, I never thought I’d be this successful. I just thought if I did my best and wrote the best music I could, that I could hopefully keep going as a musician. Success is never the goal, it’s just a byproduct of hard work. 


You began your solo career in 1999. How has your life as a solo musician differed from your time as part of Hall & Oates

When I started my solo career, I kind of just tried it here and there. I eventually moved to Nashville and got more serious about it and became more successful, and I started to become accepted by the Americana crowd here. My solo career has really blossomed. The best part is that what I do in Nashville is different than what I do with Daryl, and I love that I can do both.  


Your new album Arkansas is set to release in early February. Can you tell me about this project? How does this album differ from previous projects?

This album is basically the logical extension of work I’ve done in the past. This album is very roots oriented and features great songs of the 1930s and 1940s along with a couple original songs.
I wanted to showcase some of the music that was the first popular music in America. These were the records that were the first hits when the phonograph record was created. This album is essentially a snapshot of early popular American music. 


Arkansas
features The Good Road Band, which includes artists like Sam Bush, Russ Pahl, Guthrie Trapp, Steve Mackey, and Nat Smith. Could you tell me how The Good Road Band came together? What was the best part about working with so many talented musicians?

I’ve worked with all these artists in different configurations. They’re all friends of mine, but I never put them all in one room. I started the project as a tribute to Mississippi John Hurt, who is a huge idol of mine, but wasn’t happy with what I was doing on my own. I decided to put together this unique band and it was amazing. I just thought “Ok, this is the sound I want.” We basically recorded the entire album live in studio together and it’s really as authentic as it gets. 


You just recently kicked off your 2018 tour in support of Arkansas. What about this tour are you most looking forward to? 

This tour is just an introduction to Arkansas. I’m playing all small venues where people can really experience the music up close and personal. I want people to hear the music, talk about it, and get excited. This tour is all about intimacy and turning people on to the new music, and then I’ll probably follow it up with a bigger tour later on.