Unless you've been following his recent career, the sound you hear on John Oates' newest album Arkansas is probably not the sound you’d expect. It's gritty, bluesy, and stripped down — a far cry from the polished pop Hall & Oates made famous. But Oates says people really shouldn't be too surprised.
"I was playing guitar for about 10 years before I met Daryl Hall and we embarked on our collaboration and our partnership, which of course led to all the pop songs and the big hits," he says. "But before I met him I was pretty much a folk blues musician."
Oates still tours with Hall and is proud of the work they did together — it earned them a spot in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. But these days you’re more likely to find Oates performing with The Good Road Band, exploring the early days of American popular music.
"What I ended up doing on this album was creating a bit of a snapshot of what music was like in the 1920s and the 1930s," he explains, "when American popular music was kind of in its infancy."
Oates and The Good Road Band perform Jan. 12 at the Weill Center in Sheboygan, Wis.