In a fairly shabby common room within a college that no longer exists there was a juke box whose contents were seldom, if ever, rotated. Money being tight for students in the late 70’s it’s probably fair to argue that choosing an EP on the old wurlitzer was a little more of a thrifty option than selecting a straight 45. One of the EPs available was a beautiful 4 track selection by Hall and Oates. There is always something about ‘She’s Gone’ that thrilled me then but perhaps the extra bottom end from the old record machine just drove the point home. Somehow that Hall and Oates EP could delay anything…usually a swift return to study….and even sliced between the most hideous hits from the era it would resolutely proclaim to anyone who was listening, ‘we’re from Philly and we make this music because we love it.’
It was in that context I first went to see Hall and Oates. By this time a further ten years or so had passed and I was keen to see was the new Concert Hall in Glasgow looked and sounded like as we were booked to play a little later in the year. We went, Mrs R and I, to see Daryll and John and their splendid combo of musicians. It didn’t disappoint.
Apart from the brilliant tv show, ‘Live From Daryll’s House,’ which has featured some great Americana acts I had no expectation that my radio life would ever cross paths with Daryll or John. That all changed a few weeks ago when new Nashvillian, Mr Oates released his latest solo album, ‘Arkansas.’ It turned out that we would be in Music City at exactly the same time as John’s album was coming out and the final night of his tour came to town. Like all things Hall and Oates, it was perfect timing.
I spent an hour or so with John talking about his new life in the south and the music of the south inspiring him in his new direction. We shared mutual joy at the draw of the landscape which opens up as you drive south-west to Memphis and encounter the majesty of the Mississippi as it separates the two states of Tennessee and Arkansas. We talked about Mississippi John Hurt, the great players John encounters in his new home town – including mandolin legend Sam Bush – and why all of this is really a home coming to the music he was making before that fateful meeting with his old partner, Daryll Hall.
What you won’t hear in the interview is how wonderful all of this was live as it wasn’t until three days later that we went down to 3rd and Lindsley to watch, at close quarters, John Oates and a hand picked selection of great pickers play a spell binding gig.
So this Tuesday night on Another Country you can hear all of that conversation, more selections from the south from Elvis Presley, Sonny James, Ashley Monroe and new acts Mattiel and Cicada Rhythm. Join me from five past nine this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland FM….I think there’s some football match on the other side…can’t quite remember who’s playing though.