Jazz Aspen Labor Day: Daryl Hall & John Oates
If You Go …
Who: Daryl Hall & John Oates
Where: Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, Snowmass Town Park
When: Friday, Sept. 1, 6 p.m.
How much: $69.50 and up
“It only took 20 years to get that gig!”
So quipped Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and longtime Woody Creeker John Oates of his much-anticipated and long-overdue headlining spot with Daryl Hall at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience.
Over the past quarter century, Oates has been a regular on Roaring Fork Valley stages from the Wheeler Opera House to Belly Up and Steve’s Guitars. But throughout his tenure here, he’s never played a public concert here with Hall, the musical partner with whom Oates conquered the early MTV era and made countless classics from “She’s Gone” to “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go for That,” “Maneater,” “Out of Touch,” “You Make My Dreams” and so on (the duo made six multi-platinum albums in a row through the 1980s).
Technically, Friday’s show is not Hall and Oates’ first together in Aspen. A few decades back, Hall and Oates played a private show for a friend’s birthday party here at the old Double Diamond. But playing together at Aspen’s biggest pop music festival has been a goal for the duo since the Labor Day fest launched 22 years ago.
“Are you kidding me? I can’t wait,” Oates said.
Oates has hopped on the big Jazz Aspen stage a handful of times before to jam with headliners like Train. But, he said, he’s always hoped to headline this hometown gig with Hall.
“I’ve been trying to do it for 20 years,” he said. “It’s the marquee event in Aspen. To be able to come and headline opening night, it should be a ball.”
In recent years years, Oates has been splitting his time between Woody Creek and Nashville. Earlier this summer, he and his wife, Aimee, put their home up for sale and the property where they’ve long hosted an animal rescue ranch.
“We’ve transitioned to Nashville at this point,” Oates said.
Leaving has been gradual. A hard-core telemark skier for decades, Oates, now 69, has given it up in recent winters. His son moved to Washington, DC., his mother died earlier this year and his father is still in Pennsylvania. Along with visiting family, he’s been touring aggressively with Hall and on his solo projects. Combine all of that with the hassle of traveling from Aspen and leaving the valley just made sense to him.
“For the practicality of touring, traveling in and out of Aspen — especially in the winter — is frustrating, which I endured for 25 years,” he said. “All the signs pointed to making it a little easier with all the traveling I’ve been doing. And I started making a lot of friends in Nashville. It felt like the time to start the next stage in my life.”
We may not be seeing Oates in Highland Bowl anymore, or popping up — as he has for years — for gigs around town and at local fundraisers. But he’s giving Aspen a hell of a farewell, both on the stage today and on the page in a new memoir.
In April he published “Change of Seasons,” which was in many ways a love letter to Aspen.
“I was born in New York,” John Oates writes in the book. “But one day, I would be reborn in Colorado.”
Along with offering a self-portrait of the artist, “Change of Seasons,” details how the move to our mountains transformed the rock great. After the Pennsylvania native’s stratospheric career as a pop star through the ’80s, the book recounts, he went broke, got divorced, had what he’s called a “collapse” in his personal life, and retreated to Aspen to began rebuilding his life.
“I sold everything I owned and I started over,” Oates said. “All I wanted to do was ski and live in the mountains. And I wasn’t hanging out with people that were looking at me as a pop star of a musician. I was just another guy there, skiing powder and hiking. That’s exactly what I wanted and that’s exactly what Aspen gave me.”
Along with engrossing stories about his early days as a musician, his partnership with Hall, how he wrote songs and the shaving of his iconic ’80s mustache, the book celebrates his time on the mountain and in the backcountry, building his home and his collection of farm animals, meeting his wife and navigating his touch-and-go early relationship with neighbor Hunter S. Thompson.
The book ends with Oates’ vivid recollection of skinning up Mount Hayden, grateful and looking ahead.
Oates — who has a journalism degree, has devoured contemporary history books for decades and is a Thomas Jefferson buff — knows how to tell a good story and is more at home on the page in “Change of Season” than most rock star authors of more conventional or ghost-written autobiographies.
It’s his story, not the Hall & Oates story. But, of course, there’s a lot of Daryl in the book.
“It was the biggest challenge, and something that I mulled over for a long time: How am I going to tell my personal story and at the same time address the fact that I spent my entire adult life as a part of this partnership?” Oates said. “At the same time, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a ‘kiss and tell,’ that it wasn’t about sensationalism. It was really about transformation and learning and growing.”
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