Hall and Oates: Daryl’s new cheesesteak, live music from Chris Bergson drive post-pandemic momentum at Daryl’s House

The exterior of Daryl’s House music venue and restaurant in Pawling. Photo by Ian Johnson.

At Daryl’s House in the Hudson Valley, live music and the culinary arts are generating post-pandemic momentum at the venue and restaurant operated by Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates.

The eastern Dutchess County club that opened on Halloween night in 2014 with a historic performance by Hall and Oates has returned to its pre-pandemic offerings after closing in August 2020 because of the global health crisis; and reopening in March.

For starters, the restaurant has a new addition to its menu, courtesy of Daryl and his passion for his hometown of Philadelphia. It’s a new cheesesteak and that makes me very happy. More on that in a moment.

Next up is a robust calendar of live music at Daryl’s House that includes Ian Flanigan of Saugerties, who achieved national fame on NBC television’s “The Voice,” on Aug. 5; Jeffrey Gaines on Aug. 8; Cracker on Aug. 12; Richard Thompson on Aug. 20; and Shawn Mullins on Aug. 26.

But I get ahead of myself a bit here, because New York City guitarist and vocalist Chris Bergson will play Daryl’s House on Saturday. Chris, who maintains a striking command of the blues and will be joined on Saturday by soul singer Ellis Hooks, has a new record out. And as someone who has seen his perform often, I can’t recommend this performance enough. Go see this show! “Live Music on the Porch” featuring Chris Bergson with Ellis Hooks is set for 3 p.m. Saturday, July 24, at Daryl’s House, 130 Route 22, Pawling, New York. Admission is free. Click here for all the details.

Of his new solo album, “All I Got Left,” Chrisbergson.com reads:

“‘All I Got Left’ was the first of the new original songs Bergson wrote as the pandemic raged in his hometown of New York City. With everything closed and no gigs in sight, Bergson workshopped and honed the new material, ultimately sharing the music via a series of live stream concerts from his living room. The music on ‘All I Got Left’ was born out of these concerts, moments of (virtual) connection during a truly frightening and unprecedented time in our collective history.

“‘I started going on long walks around the city to see how people were coping and adapting day-to-day,’ says Bergson, who described an “apocalyptic feeling” that hung over the city.

More on Chris in a moment.

For now, back to Daryl Hall, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Hall and Oates, one of the most successful bands ever, and his new cheesesteak.

Daryl Hall.

I have little use in life for fancy foods, with fancy names, that are typically served in small portions at overpriced restaurants. I like sandwiches, steak, burgers, pasta, and tortillas, lots of bread and, this part is very important, lots and lots of cheese. So yes, cheesesteaks are at the top of my list.

So you can imagine how excited I was, when I learned, after the Halloween 2014 grand opening concert that Hall and Oates played at Daryl’s House, that the menu included one of my top three foods—the Philly Cheesesteak. I am even more excited now because Daryl has introduced a brand new, expanded cheesesteak. I sampled my very first cheesesteak, a succulent, culinary delight—dare I call it a delicacy—while a teenager on a Jersey Shore boardwalk. So my relationship with this food goes back a long way.

There are plenty of reasons to be jealous of Daryl Hall. He’s a rock star beloved by millions whose song catalog with Hall and Oates defined the lives of many music fans, including myself.

The Daryl’s House “Daryl’s Way” Cheesesteak.

But I recently learned that Daryl, in his quest to create the world’s greatest cheesesteak, engaged in “research and experimentation.” Now I’m REALLY jealous of Daryl Hall: rock star by day, cheesesteak researcher by night, or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, I’d say Daryl Hall, between his musical and cheesesteak exploits, is most certainly living the dream, or my dream as it were.

And like myself, it’s obvious that Daryl takes his cheesesteaks very seriously.

So without any further delay, I present for your consideration the cheesesteak served at Daryl’s House, now known as “Daryl’s Way,” an”Authentic Philly Cheesesteak served Daryl’s way.”

“There are so many phony concoctions that call themselves cheesesteaks around, and a Philly native wouldn’t even eat them,” Daryl said in a statement released to Barry On The Beat.

A Philly native would “…actually laugh at them! I invite anyone to try mine…authentic in every way. And PS…have some pizza sauce and cherry peppers on it, the way I like it!”

I’ve always enjoyed the cheesesteaks at Daryl’s House. But you can be sure I’ll be heading out to Pawling soon to indulge my passion for this City of Brotherly Love meal, which in the “Daryl’s Way” version features thinly sliced steak, sauteed onions and provolone cheese.

Daryl’s cheesesteak is served with fries and optional extras include extra cheese, extra sauteed onions, sliced hot cherry peppers and sauce crafted by Vinny Lamorte, proprietor of Vinny’s Deli & Pasta in the Village of Pawling, who has worked with Daryl for years.

Things don’t get much better for me than live music with a zesty cheesesteak. So now that we’ve got the cheesesteak—don’t hold back on the extra cheese, please—let’s talk live music.

Chris Bergson. Photo by Ahron Foster.

I can say with full confidence that I’ve rarely seen a musician as genuine and authentic as Chris Bergson. His singing evokes dry dusty days in the Mississippi Delta and late nights in smoke-filled juke joints and dance halls. Chris wastes no time connecting with his audience and has a knack for ramping up his game with each album he releases.

While Chris can light up a room with his personality, he can ignite it with his guitar playing and his singing. I have seen few musicians who can truly let it rip like Chris does. He does not hold back with anything he does on stage.

The album cover for “All I Got Left” by Chris Bergson. Album cover photo by Ahron Foster.

So now I turn things over to Chris, who was kind enough to answer some questions about his new record. Thanks Chris Bergson, for your thoughtful answers to these questions:

1 – What inspires you as a musician?

I’m drawn to music that is honest, has soul, tells a story and has a serious groove. Some of my biggest influences are Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Skip James, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Mississippi Fred McDowell, B.B. King, Freddie King, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix,  Hubert Sumlin, Levon Helm and The Band. I recently re-watched the Aretha Franklin concert film, “Amazing Grace” and was completely blown away. Aretha’s performances are some of the most incredible, powerful and moving singing I’ve ever heard! It brought me to tears—just the sheer emotional power! 

2 – What inspired your new record, “All I Got Left?” Why take the solo approach?

The record was inspired by living in New York City during the pandemic. It was born during lockdown in 2020 out of necessity—the need to keep writing, playing and creating at home at a time when there were no gigs in sight and I wasn’t able to get together with my band. I started playing live stream concerts solo, “Live From My Living Room,” over Facebook, as a way to still play music and connect with people. I workshopped  the material over these live stream concerts, grateful for these moments of (virtual) connection. 

3 – Can you describe your songwriting process?

I find I usually just need a small kernel of an idea to get started on a new song. It could be a melody, a riff, a chord progression or a lyrical idea. Then I try to see where that first idea wants to go naturally, letting the song unfold. “All I Got Left” was the first of the new songs I wrote this past winter and it paved the way for the rest of the original songs on the album. This song came together very quickly as I think all of these feelings had accumulated over the past year and were just waiting, ready to come out. 

4 – How does NYC inspire you? Does NYC shape your songwriting at all?  

I live in Manhattan and most of what I write is inspired by things I observe walking around the city with its crazy characters, street life and fascinating juxtapositions. I started going on long walks this past year to see how people were coping and adapting day to day. There was this chilling, apocalyptic feeling which hung over the city with so many empty streets and shuttered businesses. These stories and feelings of isolation and loss found their way into the songs on the album. 

5 – What do you find attractive in the blues?

The pure feeling and outpouring of emotion. The power to express your feelings in just a few notes and share that with people. The blues is truly a universal language—it cuts through everything. I’ve toured the world and played with local musicians from West Africa to Russia and even when we didn’t speak the same language, we found common ground jamming the blues. 

6 – Is there a song, written by someone other than yourself, that you love so much you wish you had written it?

Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell,” which I covered on the new album, is one. The lyrics and images Dylan creates are so powerful and evocative and he creates these vivid landscapes. This song also took on a new resonance for me during the pandemic. Its opening line “Seen the arrow on the doorpost / saying this land is condemned” really hit home. 

7 – What was life during the pandemic like for you?

I spent lot of time at home with my wife and daughter and am really grateful for their companionship during this difficult year. I would play guitar every day and work on new songs or play along with some of my favorite records. I’m grateful to have taught a lot of guitar lessons remotely this past year over Skype and Zoom. Teaching virtually definitely opened things up and it was nice to be able to work with students in California and in Europe. I also would try get outside every day to go for a walk, breathe in some fresh air and clear my head. 

8 – What have you learned about yourself as a person during the pandemic?

It was a forced pause and “reset” which helped me re-focus on what things are most important in my life —family, friends and music. I learned that I really missed playing live shows, playing with my band and seeing people.  

9 – Given how the pandemic shut down the live music industry, have you learned anything about your passion for performing live music, in its absence? 

My passion for playing live remains undiminished. If anything, it’s increased, and I appreciate being able to communicate with an audience even more after this long break. That emotional connection you form with your audience playing live is a powerful and very special thing. 

10 – What do you hope people take from listening to your new record? 

Digging into this body of songs and playing and singing them at home really helped me get through this past year. I hope that people will enjoy the music and that these songs will speak to them.

3 thoughts on “Hall and Oates: Daryl’s new cheesesteak, live music from Chris Bergson drive post-pandemic momentum at Daryl’s House

  1.  Great writing! Enjoyed every word. Now my husband can’t wait to try the cheese steak. Your description has his mouth watering!

    I was confused by one statement … “ closing in August 2020 because of the global health crisis; and reopening in March.”

    My experience was that all live music stopped when the state closed down in March 2020. We (the HVBS) have shows that were cancelled, and still need to be rescheduled.

    Lastly, Who did you go see the night you ate that cheesesteak? Enquiring minds want to know.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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