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Peter Wolf & the Midnight Travelers at City Winery

Mike Perciaccante By

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Peter Wolf & the Midnight Travelers
City Winery
New York, NY
September 8, 2016

Peter Wolf was born Peter Blankfield on March 7, 1946 in the Bronx, NY. According to Wolf he grew up in the Belmont section of the borough which also spawned Dion DiMucci better known simply as Dion. When one hears Wolf sing, Dion's influence is clearly audible.

As a singer and musician, Wolf is best known as the lead vocalist for the J. Geils Band from 1967 to 1983 and for his thirty-plus year solo career. During the J. Geils Band's career, along with bassist Danny Klein and harp player extraordinaire Richard Salwitz (aka Magic Dick), organist Seth Justman and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and, of course guitarist J. Geils, the band scored numerous hit albums—Bloodshot (Atlantic Records, 1973), Blow Your Face Out (Atlantic Records, 1976), the live double record release, Love Stinks (EMI Records, 1980) and Freeze Frame (EMI Records, 1981), to name but a few. During the band's career, Wolf lent his signature vocals to many Billboard hits including but not limited to: "(Ain't Nothin' But A) House Party," "Southside Shuffle," "Give It to Me," "First I Look at the Purse," "Looking for a Love," "Love-Itis," "Just Can't Wait," "Love Stinks," "Come Back," "Angel In Blue," "Freeze-Frame" and the number 1 smash "Centerfold."

In 1983, after a dispute regarding the musical direction of the follow-up to Freeze Frame, Wolf had left the group to pursue a solo career. Wolf's first solo album, Lights Out (EMI Records, 1984) featured the eponymously titled single which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1987, Wolf released his next solo album, Come As You Are (EMI Records). The title track was a Top-15 hit on the Pop Charts and a number 1 hit on the Mainstream Rock Charts. Over the years he has continued to release albums. Up To No Good was released by MCA Records in 1990. Long Line (Reprise Records) was released in 1996. Wolf's next two solo albums, Fool's Parade (Mercury Records, 1998) and Sleepless (Artemis Records, 2002) received critical praise. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine listed Sleepless as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time. His 2010 album Midnight Souvenirs (Verve) was recognized as Album of the Year at the Boston Music Awards. In April 2016, Wolf released his eighth solo album, the critically acclaimed A Cure for Loneliness (Concord Records).

During the ensuing decades, Wolf and the J. Geils band have gotten together to tour (as the group still has a rabid fan-base). An interesting and ironic fact is that the only original band member who does not join these tours is J. Geils.

On Thursday, September 8, 2016, Wolf and his band the Midnight Travelers (which also features Duke Levine who also handles the lead guitar duties for the J. Geils Band) began a three-night sold out engagement at New York's intimate City Winery. The 70-year-old singer led his band on a tour de force excursion through the landscape of American music. Appearing on stage at the stoke of 9pm, looking dapper in a very cool leopard print jacket over a black shirt and pants while sporting a pair of dark sunglasses, Wolf danced, moved, grooved and sang with the energy, skill, ease and enthusiasm of a much younger man. The set mixed blues, pop, funk, soul, bluegrass, country and good old fashioned rock 'n' roll.

Though the performance concentrated on songs from his current release ("Wasting Time," "Long Line," "Some Other Time, Some Other Place," "Peace of Mind," "It Was Always So Easy (To Find an Unhappy Woman)" and a bluegrass arrangement of "Love Stinks" which was introduced by "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again." Other solo offering played included "Lights Out" and "Nothing But The Wheel" (which Wolf explained was recorded with Mick Jagger), "I Don't Wanna Know" and the beautiful "It's Too Late For Me" which Wolf announced was a tribute to the late Merle Haggard (on which Haggard duetted with Wolf on the Midnight Souvenirs CD).

Of course, Wolf did not ignore his history with the J. Geils Band. He and the Midnight Travelers took the audience on a trip down memory lane. During the course of the evening the deep cut "Cry One More Time," "Start All Over Again" and "The Usual Place" found their way into the set. Toward the end of the show, the crowd leapt to it collective feet the second the opening notes of "Homework" rang out. They danced and sang along with Wolf to "Give It to Me," "Lookin' For A Love," "I Need You Tonight" and a performance-ending blistering version of "Must of Got Lost."

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