Peter Wolf

Alt Rock

Tue, Oct 5

Peter Wolf sang hits for J. Geils like “Centerfold,” “Freeze Frame” and “Love Stinks,” before going solo in the early 1980s and had hits like “Lights Out,” and “Come As You Are.” A true fan of all eras of R&B, Wolf is equally at home with funk, soul, hip-hop and blues.

Sound Observations With Peter Wolf

By David Moye

Sometimes, writing a song is like giving birth to kids: It’s beautiful when they arrive, but eventually they start walking on their own.

That’s why some performers feel that a new album is merely a blueprint for live performances – and they expect the songs to change as they get played more and more.

But Peter Wolf is not one of those performers. At least not regarding the songs on his latest record, “Midnight Souvenirs.”

The album was released in April and folks who attend his Oct. 6 concert at Anthology can expect the songs to still have the same vibe they have on record.

“Emotionally and mood-wise, there is not much difference between the record and the live versions,” Wolf said. “Since the album was cut live, it’s close to what it sounds like in concert.”

Wolf is, of course, best known for his work as the lead vocalist for the J. Geils Band, a group that in the 1970s and early 1980s was considered a contender for the title “America’s Rolling Stones.”

After leaving the band, he went on to a solo career that is impressive in its breadth. Wolf worked with pioneering hip-hop producer Michael Jonzun, as well as Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana and Aimee Mann.

His philosophy as a musician is to be a fan first.

“I choose accomplished musicians who can do what I want,” he said. “Then we have the musicians get together and we rehearse until it sounds good.”

If Wolf ever gets around to writing an autobiography, it better have lots of pictures, because, from a very young age, he decided he was going to do both music AND painting.

In fact, David Lynch was his art school roommate and Norman Rockwell used to baby-sit him as a child.

However, he doesn’t know if the visual arts have ever affected his music.

“Really, painting and music are two ways of remaining creative,” he said. “And they’re both challenging. I’m not really into dividing the left and right brain. I enjoy both of them.

“It’s really like cooking. Some people enjoy doing it all. All the prep work – buying the food, preparing it and then eating it.”

The new album is a great meal in itself. Besides having the bluesy edge that has been a major part of Wolf’s music, there is also a touch of country, thanks to duets with Shelby Lynne on a song called “Tragedy,” and Merle Haggard on a ballad called “It’s Too Late For Me.”

He plans to do the duets in concert, but without Lynne or Haggard.

“I do them in the show as songs,” he said. “They started as songs and only became duets by my choice.”

Still, he admits that his live version of “It’s Too Late For Me” was definitely influenced by Haggard’s performance on CD.

“Merle Haggard has very unique phrasing,” he said. “To me, he’s up there, as important a singer as Sinatra; the way he takes a certain note and bends it. I had to use that.”


“Wolf put on a show that touched upon his roots as a blues artist, hit some of the high notes during his tenure in the J. Giles Band and ultimately focused on new material from his superb new solo album.” -Pittsburgh Tribune

Bookmark and Share