For Daryl Hall, 65, the most creative option turned out to be simply staying at home.
In 2007, the most vocal half of hit duo Hall & Oates launched a free monthly video program online, "Live From Daryl's House." A casual affair, the award-winning show simply spotlights Hall and invited guests (young and old) lounging about and playing songs.
"My guitar player and I were talking and said, 'Why don't we just sit on the front porch, play songs and let the people come to us?'" Hall told the Sun-Times during a recent tour stop. "I have this large area in my house. I thought we'd just take it inside and do it there. We started it on the Internet without going through networks or labels or gatekeepers of any kind. We had friends holding the cameras. We didn't know what we were doing. But then we got some guests, we got a director, more than one camera -- it developed very organically. It's not about a performance. We've tried to keep that spirit, anyway. It's about what happens when musicians hang out and don't do their act. That's where music is really at its core, where the good stuff happens."
'LIVE FROM DARYL'S HOUSE'
Featuring Daryl Hall with Sharon Jones, Allen Stone and chef Tony Luke
• 8 p.m. April 16
• Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield
• Tickets, $27-$87; (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com
In the same span of time, Hall & Oates' music enjoyed a pop culture referential renaissance, from the song "You Make My Dreams" scoring a lively daydream sequence in the film "(500) Days of Summer" to the persistent name-checking of H&O by like-minded rock 'n' soul-styled duos like Chromeo (who themselves have appeared on "Live From Daryl's House").
Hall & Oates enjoyed a successful box set release, they appeared on "American Idol," and beloved indie-pop duo The Bird & the Bee recorded an entire album of H&O covers ("Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates"). Separately, John Oates has toured and been out jamming with the likes of Umphrey's McGee and moe., and Hall's got a new solo album ("Laughing Down Crying").
Hall credits it all to the easy exposure of a simple podcast.
"In the old days, you'd have to wait a year or two to put out a new album, work to get your single played on radio, all of that," Hall said. "This [show] is the perfect example of the alternative to doing all that and still getting to people. This allows me to basically put out a new album every month. ...
"It's a new world, really. You've got to be flexible and ready to jump in different directions. As an artist, that's what you want to do anyway. The Internet just makes it easier to think that way and try things. I talk to all the people who come on the show, and you hear what they're all saying. We just had Allen Stone on [the February episode]; he's doing it completely without a record deal. It's all about developing a tribe. The tribe follows you, buys online, comes to the shows. It grows and grows. It allows young artists to do all the things John and I did, but instead of having a record company pay for it and persuade program directors to play the songs it's a homemade thing. I'm not saying there's not a healthy old-school way of doing it -- Lady Gaga did it the old way -- there are just so many other creative options."
"Live From Daryl's House" has featured a wide range of guests, from fellow vets such as Booker T. Jones, Todd Rundgren, Jose Feliciano and Smokey Robinson to younger and rising stars such as Cee Lo Green, Mayer Hawthorne, Neon Trees and Fitz & the Tantrums, plus a lot of Chicago-area acts, including Patrick Stump, Plain White T's and the band Company of Thieves.
"Oh yeah, Genevieve," Hall said, almost wistfully, speaking of Company of Thieves singer Genevieve Schatz. "She's amazing. The little girl with the big voice."
"Live From Daryl's House" aired its 50th episode earlier this year and is celebrating by taking Hall's house on the road. The Chicago show will feature another big female voice: Sharon Jones, of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.
There's also a food component to the webcast, which also will be part of the tour. In Chicago, Philadelphia chef Tony Luke will be making cheesesteaks.