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John Oates Delivers Songs and Stories with a Smile, Some Tears and a Few Laughs in Franklin

by Rich and Laura Lynch

John Oates presented An Evening of Songs and Stories to an appreciative crowd at the Franklin Theater in Tennessee on Friday, February 16th, 2024. On this occasion John was fronting a four-piece band that included guitarist Guthrie Trapp on electric while Oates strummed an acoustic accompanied by support on drums and cello.

John Oates was flying solo at the Songwriter Series in Franklin.

According to his website, "John Oates is one half of the best-selling duo of all time, Hall & Oates, as well as an accomplished solo artist. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The American Songwriters Hall of Fame, recipient of the prestigious BMI Icon Award as well as numerous American Music, MTV awards, and multiple Grammy nominations. John and his wife Aimee reside in Nashville, Tennessee and Aspen Colorado."

Even with all of these accolades under his belt during a half century in the industry - Oates most recently has found himself in the glaring media spotlight due to a very public legal battle with his partner in Hall & Oates. But, that didn't stop him from putting on a fine show in Franklin. Only the weather could do that.

"Thanks for coming back and welcome," said John greeting the sold-out Franklin Theatre and acknowledging the fans for coming to the make-up show for the one cancelled by last month's widespread "snowmageddon" that paralyzed the region for over a week.

Of course, Oates has made his bread and butter crafting pop and rock songs that lean heavily on R&B and the mythical Philly soul sound. But, since landing in Nashville he has situated himself firmly in the Americana movement. Perhaps to drive that point home he opened with three numbers named for American states beginning with the compelling "When Carolina Comes Around" which was a song he co-wrote with Jim Lauderdale.

Next, he talked about playing a show in "Arkansas" and wanting to capture a moment of a night where the focus was music and looking at the moon. Sticking with the theme "Lose It in Louisiana" was a tasteful tune inspired by the consequences of drinking too much.

Guthrie Trapp - the "mayor of East Nashville" - is always a pleasure to watch.

John mentioned that he had a bunch of new songs with quite a few of them that were penned during the pandemic. He introduced the story of "Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee" by saying sometimes duos that have played a lifetime together don't really like each other - a joke that received some stunted laughter when the audience realized he was subtly alluding to his current conflicts with Hall. Ironically, due to physical disabilities that came as they got older the pair described in the tale discovered just how much they really needed each other despite their differences.

Oates said that his new material should be coming out in the spring. He shared that his wife came from a farming community that was now being suburbanized. That got him to thinking about the concept of owning land as told in "This Land Is Mine". Circling back to the universal subject of struggle the quality quartet played "Pushin' A Rock" followed by the hopeful "Get Your Smile On" which Oates wrote for Teen Cancer America an organization that he supports.

After a short break John with his talented team returned to pay tribute to his past and great songwriting. A new track "Reunion" was dedicated to John's 100-year-old father that found the performer moved to tears at its completion needing a moment to take a pause and mouth the word "wow" to his partner Trapp on guitar. Oates also took us back to the 1970's and 1980's with tunes from the Hall & Oates catalog including "She's Gone" that was cut short since the Franklin crowd was unusually inept during the sing along portion that provided a moment of awkward laughter on stage. A stripped down "Out of Touch" restored the groove with a dose of nostalgia for the old days.

They covered John Prine's "Long Monday" and would close out the concert with a pair of signature tracks - "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong and "Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson - to wrap up an intelligent and diversified night of music. The attentive audience at the Franklin Theater appeared to enjoy the hits along with the lesser-known compositions that were presented in an acoustic format. The cello served as a subtle bass paired with delicate drums and sound effects while Guthrie added flair with his fluid guitar playing. As promised Oates delivered An Evening of Songs and Stories that made for an engaging evening of music.

The Franklin Theater is located in the heart of historic downtown Franklin and is known as an advocate for the arts. In addition to movies, they host a wide range of programs and performances from well-known artists such as John Oates. His concert was billed as a Songwriters Series Show which the Franklin Theater will be presenting more of in the coming months. Please check their website for a full list of upcoming events.

John Oates and his four-piece were fabulous in Franklin.

Related Links: For more information on JOHN OATES and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - John Oates | Guthrie Trapp | Teen Cancer America | Franklin Theatre


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