How John Oates spent his summer | AspenTimes.com

How John Oates spent his summer

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen TimesWoody Creeker John Oates is a special guest at Wedesdays New Orleans Traveling Road Show benefit at Belly Up Aspen.

ASPEN So how has local musician John Oates been spending his summer vacation?Playing bluegrass? Check. Sitting in as a hard rocker? Yep. Joining jam-band nation? Uh-huh.Oates, a Woody Creek resident, has mostly had the summer off from his usual gig as half of the soul-pop duo Hall & Oates. So he has taken the opportunity to make numerous guest appearances close to home, in settings where one would not expect to find a star of 80s radio and MTV. Oates appeared as a guest player at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and at several Belly Up gigs.Oates expects to check off a few more musical categories Wednesday at the New Orleans Traveling Road Show. Oates is planning to sit in with George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli and Zibagoo Modeliste three quarters of the legendary funk band the Meters and with Louisiana bluesman Tab Benoit, in addition to playing a short segment of his own.Why say no? said Oates, who has lived in the Aspen area since the early 90s. Ill be there. Ill have a guitar in my hand.Until a few years ago, Oates career had been almost entirely confined to Hall & Oates. He tested his solo wings with the 2003 album Phunk Shui, a handful of concerts without Daryl Hall, and then a series of Behind the Music-like performances that combined Hall & Oates hits, solo material and the stories behind the songs.Those, however, were tiny steps compared to what Oates has been up to more recently. This summer has been his coming out party. He kicked it off making a guest appearance with mandolinist Sam Bush at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The crowd ate up a bluegrass version of the Hall & Oates hit Maneater, and Oates also appeared in a singer-songwriter event in Tellurides Elk Park. At Belly Up, he has sat in with Camp Freddy, a Los Angeles rock supergroup featuring Janes Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro; and jam-band Blues Traveler, in both cases raising the already high energy level a notch.The recent flurry started with going to Nashville to record his solo album 1000 Miles of Life, to be released Sept. 23. Oates was pleased with the warm reception he received in the country music capital; Bush, a big Hall & Oates fan, contributed to the album, as did banjoist Bla Fleck, Blues Travelers John Popper and gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama. Once he had a taste of reaching outside his normal channels, he saw no reason to stop.I started playing a lot, he said. And the more I played, the more I wanted to do. I reached out to people, and they have opened up.Tonights appearance dovetails nicely with the new album. Oates will play Ghost Train, the highlight track from 1000 Miles to Life, which was inspired by New Orleans.Oates says farewell to summer with some more guest appearances. At the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, he is scheduled to join dobroist Jerry Douglas another guest on 1000 Miles to Life for a few songs on Monday and also Colorado bluesman Otis Taylor, who asked Oates to sit in for a version of Hey Joe.Oates continues to raise his profile when summers over. He is producing, and appearing in, a series of singer-songwriter nights through the winter at the Wheeler Opera House.Its my jam summer, Oates said.stewart@aspentimes.com

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