In Daryl’s House
Sitting down with a rock and roll legend
Daryl Hall is a rock-and-roll legend. He is most famous as part of the duo Hall & Oates, who have sold more albums than any duo in history. Their songs include “Rich Girl,” “Private Eyes,” and “Man-eater.” While playing with friends in the 18th-century house he renovated in Sherman, Hall got the idea for a TV show that would allow people to watch as he and others rocked out and chatted between songs. “Why not just play music at my house and let people see what musicians are really like, when they are relaxed, and among friends,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee explained to me. “Live From Daryl’s House” was born, starting online then to television. That morphed into bringing those performances from his actual house to Daryl’s House Club—a live-music venue, club, and restaurant in Pawling, New York, in the space previously occupied by the Towne Crier. I sat down with Hall in the club.
You are a rock star. Why did you want to open a restaurant? Haha. I wanted people to be part of a “Live From Daryl’s House” experience.
So you didn’t want to have people at the house? Exactly. I said no to so many people, so I said why not. They can eat the same food and see the bands I would have to my house. It’s great.
What has been the hardest part? I’ve never run a restaurant. My dealing with the public has been, ahh, abstract. Now I see people up close. People want stuff now and they want it their way. It’s matching my vision with what they want. It’s fun and challenging.
Do you cook? Yes, I can cook. I came up with lots of the items on the menu. My hand is in everything.
You are into home renovation. My TV partner and guitar tech Joe is a carpenter, house builder—as I am. We both did this with the help of a contractor and crew. We completely tore the place apart. It’s my baby.
Tell me about some of menu items that are named after people. Amanda is my wife, so she gets the bouillabaisse. Daryl gets the salad [tomato, red onion, capers, roasted peppers, Sicilian anchovies, and extra virgin olive oil]. John Rzeznick. He’s a Goo Goo Doll, and he’s from Buffalo, so he gets the spicy wings. Joe Walsh. Well, he’s Joe Walsh. He made a chicken dish on the show so I put it on the menu.
How about The Vaughn—the cocktail? The Vaughn? Oh, yeah. His name is Mike Vaughn. He came up with the drink [saké and vodka]. That’s all I can say about that.
What do you want to do musically here? I’d like to do here as I do on the show “Live From Daryl’s House.” I want veteran performers. I want my kind of music. I want to support and highlight new bands. We are tying to emphasize local things on the off days then national bands on the weekend.
How much does your involvement here influence big names coming? It definitely plays a part. Trying to get people to come from all over the world is tough. You need to call in favors, but people want to do it. They want to hang out with me and play with my band.
How often do you get up on the stage? Usually when I am in the audience, I get excited and jump up on stage. I will do it more. Just jump on the stage with an acoustic guitar.
Any changes or new things? I want to make the bar into a soul bar. Hang soul memorabilia, play Sixties and Seventies R&B. Really get that magical soul feeling.
Where is John Oates and is he coming back to Daryl’s House? He lives in Nashville and Aspen. He is dying to come back.
Are you going to do gospel brunch? I started singing gospel when I was a kid. People would really like it. It is very soul-oriented.
Is there anything about this place that surprises you? It’s always surprising. That is the reason to do anything—to be surprised. I might see a band that does cover songs and people go berserk. I have had folk artists who come and captivate the room—like the Village in the early Sixties. It has the ability to be a lot of different things.
What is your favorite part of the club? The food is my favorite part. It’s all my favorite food. It’s very homey. I made the menu to feel like home cooking.
Favorite dish? My wife’s bouillabaisse. Of course.
What do you drink? I’m a bourbon guy. Straight up or with some soda. Right now I’m into W.L. Weller bourbon.
Do you have a favorite table? I sit in that corner over there. Nobody bothers me at all. I don’t know if they are scared of me. I sit up there and hang out. It’s all very cool. But I feel most comfortable right here on stage.
How would you describe this place architecturally? The houses that I have renovated—1770s houses mainly. This is in those styles—colonial, exposed beams, the whole thing. I’m a big fan of handmade and of bringing things back to the way they were. I am into craft and quality.
Why do you live in Sherman? My sister lived in Sherman. There was an abandoned house next to her and that is the house that I bought and renovated. I have wanted it since the 1980s.
I think that’s it. Ok. Nice talking with you.