John Oates Embraces Bluesy Roots On New Solo Album Arkansas

“I wanted the players to play, almost like a Dixieland band, where everyone’s just improvising.”

[caption id="attachment_200609" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Photo by Phillip Murphy[/caption] John Oates is best known as half of the multi-platinum duo Hall and Oates. But even though the twosome became a huge success with their monster pop and dance hits of the 1980s, their first two albums were nothing like that, with guitars and keys joined by mandolin, steel and fiddle. Now, on his new album Arkansas, which drops February 2, Oates has returned to the music that initially inspired him, with some hot Nashville players (including mandolinist Sam Bush and steel player Russ Pahl) featured on 10 songs reflecting Oates’ love for the blues and roots music. In addition to two originals, the album features several selections by one of Oates’ favorites, Mississippi John Hurt, as well as versions of the 1924 Emmett Miller classic “Anytime,” and the 1932 Jimmie Rodgers standard, “Miss The Mississippi And You.” American Songwriter spent a few minutes on the phone with the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member discussing his new project. Like so many guitar players, you seem like a blues guy at heart, and you recorded Arkansas because of the influence of one of your favorite bluesmen,…

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