25 October 2013 | moderniste
Groundbreaking, Excellent Music Series
I got hooked into this series while looking for a Fitz and the Tantrum's video on YouTube. I noticed that they had performed a cover of Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile" and immediately thought that this must be a great video. The singer Fitz from FATT has many of the same great qualities as Daryl Hall in both his voice and his approach to perfectly done blue-eyed soul.
I ended up watching a "Live at Daryl's House" marathon, and in the process was introduced to a lot of bands I'd either never heard before or ever heard of at all, Neon Trees being an early favorite. Neon Tree's version of "Adult Education" with Daryl and their iconoclastic lead singer trading off verses was great, and the Trees members were grinning nonstop. Daryl has a real expert's eye when it comes to choosing who will share the stage with him and his crack-on band. His guests all have the same comment: that they really admire him and his amazing career, that he was a down-to-earth guy and that doing his show was a lot of fun.
You get the sense that Daryl is doing this for the sheer love of music. He has an excellent rapport with his band and never comes across as a diva--they seem to really respect him and like working with him. He looks like he is having a great time in every single episode, like it never gets old for him and his enthusiasm is infectious. Even a known grumpy curmudgeon like Todd Rundgren manages to have a good time. And he's very gracious and disarming when he accepts the inevitable praise from his guests as they dive into his deep catalogue of some of pop music's most classic and enduring gems.
The vignettes that fill in around the musical numbers are well-filmed and the show has an overall high production value. He uses the same formula for each show: the guest(s) are interviewed as they drive up to his upstate NY compound, he shows them around his gorgeous collection of pristine Revolutionary War residence and outbuildings, they settle into the live studio and banter back and forth while working on songs, then they cook something, have dinner, and do some more songs, ending with a closing interview. By the way, I've come to really like the food/cooking angle. Rather than being an awkward add-on, the food is interesting and the guests become more relaxed and "into it" with the promise of a gourmet dinner. It it one more revealing facet of Daryl's personality: he's an earnest, intelligent and tasteful aesthete who makes the viewer want his relaxed, casually sophisticated lifestyle. None of this feels overly scripted, canned or phoned in, like what happens to most reality series, and after 60+ episodes, Daryl Hall still looks like he's thrilled with the discovery of new bands and old friends.
That's what's kept him so young; keeping up with all the new bands. (And let me say that he looks INCREDIBLE for a guy in his mid-60s. Wow.) It would be so easy for him to live in his storied past and become a nostalgia act--most guys with his fame and age do just that, But Daryl Hall has more adventuresome musical taste than most teenage hipsters, and I really appreciate him for introducing me to so many great artists. Conversely, his "vintage" guests are like a who's who of what young fans and musicians alike need to know.
My favorite episodes were with Joe Walsh, Sharon Jones (Dap Kings), Neon Trees, Dirty Heads, Nick Lowe and the aforementioned Fitz and the Tantrums. With 60+ episodes, there's plenty for music lovers of all kinds to choose.