John Oates Delivers His Sweet Acoustic Sound to The Paramount


John Oates, half of the legendary duo Hall and Oates, is taking to the road with his An Evening of Songs and Stories solo tour and stopping off at The Paramount in Huntington on April 4th.

Oates is an accomplished guitarist, an instrument he has played since the age of five, singer, composer and record producer. He co-wrote many of the top 10 Hall and Oates songs including Sara Smile, She’s Gone, Out of Touch and You Make My Dreams. Considered the most successful duo in rock history, they released over 20 albums, sold more than 60 million records, and have over 20 Top 40 hits. They have been inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and earned American Music Awards, MTV Awards, and multiple Grammy nominations. Their involvement in the original Live Aid concert and the We Are The World charity record (1985) cemented their place in history. For now, they have decided to go their separate ways to concentrate on solo careers.

Oates’ memoir, Change of Seasons (2017), taken from a compilation of handwritten journals, explores personal and professional experiences through several decades. His first solo album, Phunk Shui, was released in 2002 and followed by seven additional solo albums with an eighth due out this year.

Recognized for humanitarian efforts, he created OATES SONG FEST 7908 (2021) a free streaming concert with all proceeds going to FEEDINGAMERICA.ORG. He released the original song, Pushing A Rock (2022), in honor of Movember, the men’s health initiative and Get Your Smile On (2023) with donations going to Teen Cancer America.

These days Oates and his wife, Aimee, split their time between Aspen, Colorado and Nashville, Tennessee.

Oates took some time from preparing for his upcoming tour to talk all things past, present and future.

Have you spent much time on LI?

I used to live in New York for many years so yes I spent a lot of time on Long Island. I used to go out to the beach and played all over Long Island from My Father’s Place to Nassau Coliseum to you name it. I’m very familiar with Long Island.

In your tour, An Evening of Songs and Stories, where do the stories come from?

They come from a lot of places. I do a storyteller show where I tell about how the songs were written, what inspired some of the ideas for the songs and anecdotes about collaboration with other songwriters. I try to give the audience a sneak peek behind the creative process. I play everything from old songs that were influential to me to some of my new material to some of the Hall and Oates hits and everything in between.

Who is performing with you on this tour?

On percussion is John Michel. He’s originally from Long Island but has lived in Colorado for the past 30 years and we’ve played together for about 30 years and a young cellist named Nathaniel Smith who’s from Mississippi, but lives in Nashville. He and I have been playing together for about 10 years. They’re great guys and amazing musicians.

Do you find it easier or harder to compose with each year that passes?

I think my songwriting has gotten better. I think I found a sweet spot in terms of the style that I want to work in now as a solo artist. I’ve kind of found my own writing voice. The style, the type of things I want to talk about, the subjects I’m talking about, that’s something I’ve evolved into as I’ve gotten older.

Why did you decide to record your 2023 version of Maneater with a Reggae vibe?

When I came up with the idea for the song back in the 80’s, I had just come back from a vacation in Jamaica where the Reggae music and the groove is everywhere and it gets into your blood. I wanted to revisit that Reggae sound now with the new version of the song.

Have you completed your upcoming album?

Yes, the album is complete. We’re going to start releasing one or two tracks and then we’re going to release the album which is very acoustic oriented. The album’s called Reunion and the first single is about finding yourself. It’s about the reunion of finding out who you are, it’s about kind of reuniting with the essential part of your soul and of yourself. It was really inspired by my dad who’s 100 years old and is about to experience his own version of a reunion of sorts. It’s definitely a very emotional and spiritual song.

What are the greatest changes in how you present yourself to the public as you evolve through the years?

I’m at my best when I play small, intimate venues where I can connect with people on a personal level. I always feel like I get lost in playing the big stadium type venues. I don’t feel like I can really communicate the way I’d like to. So, I’ve evolved as a performer to be able to go into these small venues and do very intimate shows where my personality can shine.

Looking back at the beginning of your career in the music business, is there something that jumps out at you as surprising?

Yeah, it’s surprising that people actually cared enough to support an artist through a 50 year career. That’s a miracle! That people are interested in actually hearing what I’m doing now, I do not take this for granted. I work with younger artists and I know how difficult it is for them to get their music out there. After all these years, I’m still able to do it and people still care about it and like it, that’s very important to me.

Your memoir, Change of Seasons, was written from your own personal journals. What motivated you as young man to start writing journals?

When I graduated from College in 1970, I knew that whatever I was going to do from that point on would probably set the course for the rest of my life. I knew that it would have something to do with music but I wasn’t working with Daryl Hall yet, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. I thought it would be interesting to chronicle the decade right after I graduated from college and see what happens and that’s what I did for 10 years.

What final thought would you like to leave with Long Island Press readers?

I’m looking forward to playing The Paramount because that beautiful theater was put together by my x-manager, Brian Doyle, whom I’ve been friends with for over 40 years. I’m looking forward to doing a great show there and I’m sure lots of old friends from the old New York days will show up.

John Oates