- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

"It's funny. Now that we have a record on the charts and we've announced a tour with Todd Rundgren, everyone thinks we're back on the road, but we play an average about two weeks a month," says John Oates of the legendary duo Hall & Oates, who will play Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday.
Although both Daryl Hall and Mr. Oates, not to mention their devoted fans, might think they never left, as far as the rest of us are concerned, Hall & Oates are back and happily so. The pair that pioneered "blue-eyed soul" and gave us classics such as "Sara Smile" "Kiss on My List" and "Maneater" released its first single in five years in May. "Do It for Love" has been spinning on adult-contemporary radio and bouncing around on the adult-contemporary singles charts for Billboard, and Radio and Records all summer.
They just finished recording a new album, which Mr. Oates said should be out around Christmas, and tickets for their 17-city tour with Mr. Rundgren all this month are selling briskly, the promoter said.
"Do you realize we have a hit single and no record label?" Mr. Oates marvels. "It's hard for a lot of contemporary artists to even get on the radio these days. It's pretty amazing we pulled this off. Maybe we can look at it as a sign of good things to come."
That he and Mr. Hall have stayed together for 30 years is quite a feat. "We're two distinct personalities," Mr. Oates says. "But we relate to music in a similar way. Our working relationship wasn't ever predicated on business success. We just started out wanting to get a recording contract so we could work on some songs. Things just evolved from there."
Mr. Oates credits his duo's success primarily to the quality and timelessness of their songs, which, he says, "have a universality of sentiment. It transcends pop."
That timelessness is essential when you find yourself in your 50s playing a song you wrote when you were in your 20s (think world-weary Madonna trying to sell "Like a Virgin" or the married-with-children Bruce Springsteen convincing us he's still "Born to Run").
Having a long career marked by several signature songs, no matter how ageless they are, can be a mixed blessing for a band that spends a lot of time on the road. Playing a 25-year-old song night after night, year after year, can get a little old. But Mr. Oates says songs such as "She's Gone" and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" will always be a part of their set list not only because the fans want them, but also because he and Mr. Hall still love playing them.
"Playing live and having a great band allows that song to evolve and the arrangements to evolve," he said. "The song stays true at its core, but it's allowed room to breathe. We throw in a little more obscure things that seem to work in the set, too. That's what keeps it interesting for us."
For their date at Merriweather, Hall & Oates will share part of their band with Mr. Rundgren, who'll open for the duo, then join them for an extended finale that will feature songs from both their catalogs.

D.C. native Mary Timony, former frontwoman for the lo-fi band Helium, opens for Sonic Youth at the 9:30 Club tonight.
Miss Timony is performing in support of her newest solo album, "The Golden Dove," which debuted in May. The album was favorably reviewed, though its lyrics, with their animal imagery and occasionally eccentric spelling (e.g. "Musik and Charming Melodee"), left many critics writhing ("magic unicorn music" and "wizard rock" were among critics' descriptions).
"I can see where people get that medieval sense from reading the lyrics, but for me it's not about that," Miss Timony sighs. "I think people just need something to define my music with. The songs just represent ideas I may have had at one point that were interesting to me, and most of the images in the lyrics are metaphors for people. Some of them are just ones that I got from old folk songs I sang as a kid."
She adds that even though she loves making her music lyrical, what's most important to her is the music itself: making interesting sounds and seeing how they can fit together.
Although she plays a host of instruments, including bass, piano and synthesizer, Miss Timony will have a full band for her 9:30 Club set. The musicians include a couple of friends from local bands, as well as former bandmates from her D.C. days.
"I'm really excited about the show. It's a huge honor," she says of playing with her friends and touring with Sonic Youth. She adds that her set will include Super 8 and 16-mm film sequences projected on the stage.
"There will be little movies synched up to go with each song. The songs conjure up a lot of images, and I like adding that visual element, giving the audience something to watch."

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