Rock Rhythms to Congress: Orleans' John Hall - the journey


Meet John Hall: Singer Songwriter Author Activist

John Hall was studying piano at 5, playing French horn, guitar, bass and drums by 12. He started playing in the clubs of Georgetown and Greenwich Village by 18, recording an album for MGM (Thunderfrog) and then another for Columbia (Action). At 21 he wrote and directed music for a Broadway and Off-Broadway play, the latter receiving the Village Voice’s Obie award in1969. 

Early Years of Musical Mastery:

Numerous NY sessions and club gigs gave way to working with producer John Simon on numerous projects including Seals and Crofts’ album Down Home. Next came a tour with Taj Mahal and a double live album recorded at Fillmore East and West. Woodstock promoter Michael Lang asked John to play guitar on folk legend Karen Dalton’s record In My Own Time, and then to tour with her in Europe. When he came home, John started the band that would become Orleans in January 1972.n 1970, John, along with his wife Johanna, moved to Woodstock and began writing songs. 

Woodstock days:

Joining John in Woodstock NY were drummer Wells Kelly and multi-instrumentalist Larry Hoppen. They were joined that summer by Larry’s brother Lance Hoppen. That quartet recorded the first four albums. The latter contained the Hall-written hits Dance With Me and Still The One, songs that have garnered 9 million terrestrial airplays and hundreds of millions of streams.

The partnership between John and Johanna Hall:

John started writing songs with his wife Johanna. They even wrote a song for Janis Joplin, titled “Half Moon,” which became a B-side hit. The process involved a casual encounter and a subsequent visit to Janis’s house in California.

Writing for the Stars:

John has also co-written songs for Millie Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, Bonnie Raitt, The Tymes, Chaka Khan and Chet Atkins among others. He co-founded the group Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) and helped organize the 1979 No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden. His song Power was its anthem, performed and recorded there by the Doobie Brothers with James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Carly Simon, Nicolette Larson, Phoebe Snow, and many more. That song was also sung by Holly Near, Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger and others

No Nukes and MUSE:

The John Hall Band:

John’s guitar playing was featured on albums by Browne, Raitt, Carly Simon, Little Feat and more. In the 1990s the John Hall Band recorded two LPs: Search Party and All Of The Above, which contained the AOR and MTV staple Crazy (Keep On Fallin’). 

Congressman John Hall in action:

Environmental activism led him to serve on the Ulster County NY legislature, the Saugerties School Board, and the board of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in 2004 and 2005. In 2006 John was elected to the US House of Representatives representing NY-19; he was re-elected in 2008.  He chaired the Subcommittee on Veterans’ Disabilities and authored the Veterans’ Claims Modernization Act of 2008, which passed both House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President George W. Bush who called it “good government.”  He also served on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Back to making music:

Returning to private life in 2011, John continued to perform and record with Orleans and as a solo artist. During the pandemic, John wrote and recorded songs for his latest CD “Reclaiming My Time,” releasing 3 videos and in 2023 the new video of the opening track “I Think Of You.”

John Hall is my special guest this week. If you’d like to know more about him, head for his website here. I hope you’ll take a listen to hear him tell the stories from his incredible journey.

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