Earlier this week Daryl Hall announced that he would resume filming new episodes of Live From Daryl’s House in 2018. The award-winning show has been on hiatus since 2016. The series is a showcase for remarkable collaborations between the soul singer and guest artists. A look back at the best episodes of Live From Daryl’s House reveals how amazing the initial run of the series was.
What is Live From Daryl’s House?
Live From Daryl’s House features Daryl Hall and a guest artist or band. Initially streamed as an online series filmed in Hall’s New York home, the show eventually made its way to basic cable. The series unfortunately switched locations to a club in Pawling, NY. Even though the music on the series continued to be interesting, the show lost some of its intimacy.
The list of guests on Live From Daryl’s House has always been impressive. He has hosted a litany of rock ‘n roll hall of famers and up-and-coming indie artists over the show’s 82 episodes.
The series has found a way to bridge different worlds of music. The inclusion of soul, rock, pop, and blues music into the series has provided an amazing array of interesting contemporary music.
The Best Episodes Of Live From Daryl’s House:
Fitz and The Tantrums – This is the first episode of the series that I ever watched. I liked Fitz and The Tantrums. I was unfamiliar with the depth of the Hall & Oates catalog. After this episode I was hooked and dove into the Philadelphia duo’s work.
At the time Fitz and The Tantrums were touring off their debut record – Pickin’ Up The Pieces. The album is more soulful than their current Top 40 pop sound and the band’s delegates found common ground with Hall’s music. They dug deep into his discography. It was the first time that I had every heard “Perkiomen” and “Girl I Love You.” The two songs prompted me to buy the comprehensive Hall & Oates box set Do What You Want, Be Who You Are. That compilation led me to become a huge fan of their entire career.
Smokey Robinson – This was the most magical episode of Live From Daryl’s House. Two of the greatest songwriters of all-time met for a classic crossover that included “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” “Tears Of A Clown,” and “Going To A Go-Go.”
The most outstanding part of the episode came as the band transitioned from Hall’s hit, “Sara Smile,” to Robinson’s own “Ooh Baby Baby.” Robinson was reluctant to sing his own classic, but gradually obliged after Hall surprised him with the song. Everyone in the room was fixated on Robinson’s reaction as he realized that he had to sing the piece.
That one sequence provided a glimpse at two artists that audiences would be lost to time under normal circumstances. It is the best example of why there should be more shows like Live From Daryl’s House.
Chiddy Bang – As great as the Smokey Robinson episode was, the Chiddy Bang is a favorite. The episode featured the most Philly moment on the show by far. Then-Philadelphia Rap duo Chiddy Bang dropped by for a few songs, including their single “Ray Charles.”
As the episode went on, Frank Stallone dropped by for a performance of “Take You Back.” Stallone is the brother of Sylvester Stallone and was a member of Valentine (the street corner group who sang the same tune on Rocky). Chiddy Bang added freestyle rap to the end of the track, creating a great generational crossover.
It also revealed what could have been. Hall turned down the opportunity to provide music for Rocky, a move that he later came to regret.
Sharon Jones – I was fortunate enough to watch Jones perform four months before her death in 2016. She opened for Trombone Shorty and Hall & Oates in Camden, NJ. Chubby Checker later dropped by for “The Twist,” making the night one of the most memorable concerts that I have ever seen.
Even as her health was declining, Jones was an inspirational force on stage. I will always remember how amazing she and the Dap-Kings were.
The episode featured the songs “Hot Fun In The Summertime,” “100 Days,” and “Uncanny.” Jones and Allen Stone later performed at an episode of the series that was filmed at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
Nick Waterhouse – This was one of my favorite episodes of Live From Daryl’s House. Waterhouse is a throwback artist who sings 1950’s-style rhythm & blues. The episode featured selections from his fantastic debut album, Time’s All Gone.
As much as I enjoyed songs like “Say I Wanna Know” and “If You Want Trouble,” Waterhouse & Co. performed the Ray Charles classic “Hit The Road Jack.” Every musician in the room had a huge smile on their face as they played one of the most fun covers from the series.
As the show went from its experimental online stage to television-level filming, the level of production increased dramatically. The Nick Waterhouse show featured some of the best camera work of the series.
Kandace Springs – A great aspect of shows like Live From Daryl’s House is the opportunity for discovery. A star of Hall’s magnitude can help a younger artist by exposing them to a bigger audience. One of the brightest up-and-coming musicians featured on the series is Kandace Springs.
The smooth-voiced soul singer from Nashville meshed well with Hall. Highlights from the episode include her songs “Meet Me In The Sky” and “Love Got In The Way.”
She dropped a fun story about her first conversation with Prince. Springs also detailed working as a valet at the same lounge that she performed as a singer.
CeeLo Green – Green is one of the biggest recent pop stars to have appeared on Live From Daryl’s House. The episode aired in 2012, two years after Green’s successful album The Lady Killer. The band played Green’s hits like “Crazy,” “F**k You,” and “Bright Lights Big City.”
There are times on the series when Hall’s band falls into a groove that I could listen to on an endless loop. This episode has one of those moments. The band (particularly bass player Klyde Jones) unleashed an extra funky jam that was amazing.
A unique aspect of the series is listening to different renditions of Hall & Oates tracks. “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” might be the best Hall & Oates live song. The track has also been the most flexible songs played on the show. It even received a rare acoustic performance with British artist Rumer.
Joe Walsh – On the surface there is not much in common between Joe Walsh and Daryl Hall. The Eagles musician is one of the greatest guitar players ever. Hall is one of the best soul singers of his generation. Their talents helped them pace the charts, albeit with two different styles. One is synonymous with classic rock. The other is a huge pop star.
The episode showed how well the pair adapted to each other’s music. Walsh unleashed amazing guitar work on “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Life’s Been Good.” During “Life’s Been Good” Hall cracked a smile during the lyric “Everybody’s so different. I haven’t changed.” It was a great little moment that showed the mutual respect between the two artists.
Mayer Hawthorne, Booker T. Jones – This is the all-time best episode of Live From Daryl’s House. Technically a double episode, scheduling conflicts provided a chance for Hawthorne and Jones to sit in with Hall’s band at the same time. This led to magic in the studio.
Hawthorne is an R&B singer from Michigan. Jones is a legendary session musician from Stax Records house band. Jones wrote the Eddie Floyd hit “Never Found A Girl” while he worked for the Stax label. Hall turned into a little kid when he had the chance to perform the classic with the man who wrote it.
Even though they came from different backgrounds and generations, the group of musicians gelled. Hawthorne particularly sang his heart out on Hall & Oates’s “Private Eyes” and “You Make My Dreams,” but the entire session was amazing. Hall returned the favor with a brilliant contribution to Hawthorne’s “No Strings.”
Hall’s band is at its peak when they can cut loose on a long jam. This was certainly the case for Jones’s “Green Onions.” They also blew the roof of Hall’s home with a killer version of “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).” Of all the tunes performed on the series, this cut of the Hall & Oates classic is the best song performed on Live From Daryl’s House.
Jose Feliciano – There is no better choice for a Christmas special than Jose Feliciano. The singer contributed his Christmas staple “Feliz Navidad.” The musicians also joined up for covers of The Door’s “Light My Fire” and James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”
Hall & Oates music is so pop-friendly that a stripped-down format is a departure from their signature sound. The episode brought out the acoustic talents of Hall and his band, a neat glimpse at their range as musicians. An old episode of Live From Daryl’s House, Jose Felicano forced me to respect these abilities.
T-Bone Wolk – Bassist Tom “T-Bone” Wolk passed away in 2010 after having played with Hall & Oates since 1981. Outside of longtime saxophone player Charlie DeChant (who has played with them since 1976), the Hall & Oates band has featured a revolving cast of musicians.
After his death the show produced an episode that featured current and former Hall & Oates band members like G.E. Smith (Wolk and Smith also played on the Saturday Night Live house band from 1986 to 1992). John Oates made a rare appearance on the series.
The episode was emotional from beginning to end, peaking with an ensemble performance of The Band’s classic “The Weight.” The show’s production staff added Wolk’s vocals from a previous performance of the song, creating a unique Hall & Oates band reunion on Live From Daryl’s House.