Live From Daryl’s House Episode 49: Blind Boys of Alabama
Over the three-and-a-half year run of the webcast Livefrom Daryl’s House, soul singer Daryl Hall has celebrated the Christmas seasonwith John Oates and Jose Feliciano. In Episode 49, which aired onDecember 15, Hall brought in the remarkable gospel group Blind Boys of Alabamato commemorate the 2011 holiday season.
The Blind Boys of Alabama are one of the longest-running musical acts incontemporary history. Formed in 1939 by students of the Alabama Institutefor the Negro Blind, the Blind Boys of Alabama released their first record in1948 and have maintained a prolific recording and touring schedule ever since. Over their 72 years, the group has recorded over 60 albums, including the2011 country album Take the High Road, which is the Blind Boy’s firststudio foray outside of gospel music. The original seven-man lineup ofthe Blind Boys of Alabama has been reduced to two over time – Jimmy Carter andClarence Fountain. Of the two, Carter was the only one able to make theshooting of Live From Daryl’s House.
Unlike previous episodes where the musicians have fed off one andproduced unique takes on a song, the instruments faded a bit, letting thevocals take center stage. To complement the soulfulness of the BlindBoys, Hall sang in a myriad of ranges, adding a unique twist to the show. Most guests usually seem thrilled to sing with Hall’s legendary pipes,but for Episode 49 the tables were turned and it was the host who hasenthralled with matching vocals with the guest. Later Hallclaimed he counted the Blind Boys as the musicians he most wanted to copy”before Smokey [Robinson]” and seemed excited to be singing withthem.
Hall’s band and the Blind Boys cut six songs in the episode, the recentlyreleased “Take the High Road,” “Born in Bethlehem,””Midnight Clear,” “Can You Give Me a Drink,” “LastMonth of the Year” and the personal favorite “Go Tell it On theMountain.”
The dinner segment was a particularly enjoyable part of the show. Usually a showcase for a salivating dish that’s accompanied by terrific banter, this dinner was shot over a pre-Christmas feast whileHall discussed the group’s influence over his early years in music. Heeven attributed a song from Hall & Oates’ Home for Christmas as an attempt to mirror the BlindBoys.
Through 49 episodes, Hall has played with some of the true pillars ofpopular music, now adding North America’s foremost gospel group to the list. With acts like Smokey Robinson, Todd Rundgren, Booker T. Jones, NickLowe, and Dave Stewart in the books, Long After Dark has its fingers crossedthat Episode 50 will kick off 2012 with someone just as special.