Daryl Hall is making quite a cottage TV industry out of his love for old houses.
His late 1700s farmhouse in Millerton, N.Y., is the home base for the music show Live From Daryl’s House, which he and his manager, Jonathan Wolfson, created as a Web series six years ago. It’s now carried on MTV Networks-owned Palladia and VH1; Rural Media Group’s RFD-TV and FamilyNet; and on local TV stations via syndication. Hall said he's expecting to start production on what would be a full sixth season of the show this fall.
A circa 1780 sea captain’s house he owns in Connecticut will be the subject of his next show, on Scripps Networks Interactive’s DIY Network — Daryl’s Restoration Over-Hall.
“I’ve always had this passion for old houses,” Hall said in a recent interview.
He, of course, is better known as a musician — the taller half of Hall & Oates, the duo with the most top hits in music history, according to Billboard. His songs with partner John Oates from the 1970s and ’80s include She’s Gone, Sara Smile, Private Eyes, Maneater, I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do), Out of Touch and Rich Girl.
Perhaps you caught them performing for 30,000 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 5, either in person or on AXS TV.
DIY contacted Hall after picking up on his passion for antique architecture and asked what kind of show he’d like to do. The network has had success creating shows around other celebrities, such as actor Bronson Pinchot (who also restores old homes) and 1990s rapperVanilla Ice.
“I said I want to do a show where I would restore an antique house, in a very authentic way, more or less to its original state, with some additions added on for convenience,” Hall said in a phone interview from Charleston, S.C., where he lives about half the year.
He already had a house he wanted to start working on, in northern Fairfield County in Connecticut. That made it easy.
Kathleen Finch, general manager at DIY, loves the Over-Hall concept. And not only because Hall can draw a crowd or that he’s writing the new show’s theme song and incidental music -- though that is a cool plus. "Rarely do we have an opportunity to have talent do that."
“It’s going to make for a great project to follow,” she said. “And it’s just a great story of one of the things that resonates so well on our air, which is: people bringing back important homes.” She described the Connecticut house as “spectacular.”
She noted that another DIY program, Rehab Addict, about a woman who lovingly restores older homes and sells them, is one of the top draws on a network that in 2012 saw its primetime audience in the target 25-54 age demographic rise 22% over 2011. DIY is enjoying another 9% rise in that demo so far in 2013, according to Nielsen.
Over-Hall plans are still being finalized. But the basic outline is Hall will bring in a team of contractors he has worked with over the years, and will bring in competing crews, too. He and Wolfson are executive producers, as they are on Daryl’s House.
Hall also plans to involve experts from the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston. “These guys are extraordinary,” he said after meeting recently with college officials. “They’re really the best at what they do”
I asked him whether this was a renaissance moment for him, with the success of Daryl's House, with the show's having brought new, younger listeners to his concerts and with the new Over-Hall project expanding his TV reach.
"Over the past six years, with the whole experience of Daryl's House, combined with the complete demise of the record industry, I’m looking for different ways," he said. "My way of thinking about it is one thing leads to another and they all affect each other, all the things that I do. It’s an alternative to just the old way of doing it. Where you try to get on the radio, play all the gigs, and you have to worry about program directors and how many records you sell or don’t sell, and that seems to be some standard that you can judge things from, in my opinion wrongly. It’s another way of putting my creativity and my music and my other passions out there, and they all mix together. And it’s really in some ways more fulfilling than just doing things the old way.
“I can do a lot of things – if you want to call that renaissance, I don’t know," he said. "But I’m a person who has talents in a number of areas, so I try to make the most of them.”
He doesn't plan to include a food segment, such as is in Daryl's House. But he does want to include conversation about historic-home preservation in conversations on the show, such as happen around the dinner table at Daryl's House, where the musicians talk about their experiences, their musical likes and dislikes and influences. (Such as in this clip of an episode featuring Butch Walker.)
"It's an important issue," he said. "We have this legacy -- all these old houses that are in America. People are either letting them go, they get torn down because of highways and things like that. They are neglected. And what's even worse, people don't know what they have and they don't know how to restore them properly, and they wind up sort of ruining them architecturally. I think there are a lot of explanations and what I'll call philosophies involved in what this show is all about, and I want to somehow set up teams that will allow that conversation to go on."
The show’s premiere date will depend on when the project is completed, Finch said. "This is a documentary, so we're following what's going on with the build." That might push the start date into early 2014.
Hall and Oates photo, credit Mick Rock. All photos courtesy Daryl Hall.