The Gospel According to Peter Wolf

By A.J. Wachtel
May 2011

Understanding the wit and wisdom of Peter Wolf is a long-term and very complicated project. Brimming with energy, very charismatic and always the most interesting person in the room onstage or off; any room, anywhere, anytime. For decades, Wolf has kept re-inventing himself and remaining relevant. With the recent release of Midnight Souvenirs, his legacy continues to reach out to new audiences, and it again proves his importance past and present to the international music scene. Check out the gospel according to Peter.

A.J. : You and filmmaker David Lynch (Eraserhead, The Elephant Man) were roommates at the Museum School in Boston. Who was more surreal between the two of you? Where did you two used to hang out back then?

Peter Wolf : David might say that it was me. I think I would have to agree.

Of course we spent a lot of time discussing music and painting and we would hang out at dive bars Ė and do things like in the middle of the night decide to have some drinks. Since Boston closed up early, we would drive down to NYC for one drink and drive right back ... guess you can say we were night time crazies!

A.J. : Midnight Souvenirs was named one of Rolling Stone's Best Albums of 2010. Has its success reached your expectations? What about its being feted by the Boston Music Awards too? Do you appreciate the local award any differently than the national award?

Peter Wolf : Artistically yes, but when I finish a project there is always something that inspires a continuum like with love ... itís hard to say goodbye.

Well, I am a great believer that Boston has some of the finest musical talent Ė in comparing it to other cities, I think Boston has the finest. Unfortunately when many rock bands were coming up, like the J. Geils band, there werenít any major labels or studios in Boston to help create a real music scene.

I appreciate awards except if I was given one for the worst dressed.

A.J. : You recently celebrated Kid Rock's 40th birthday. What's he like and what do you two talk about?

Peter :When Kid Rock, Rev Run and I hit the road, it's like Vegas -- it all stays behind closed doors!

A.J. : Your latest CD is your 7th solo album and your first in 8 years since Sleepless in 2002. Why did it take so long between projects?

Peter :Iím a slow thinker.

A.J. : Your love for country music is evident throughout this great CD especially in your duets with Merle Haggard ("It's Too Late For Me") and Shelby Lynne ("Tragedy"). Many moons ago you told me that the country scene in Boston was never fully appreciated. Twenty-five years later, what are your thoughts on why country and country and western never had huge local followings?

Peter :Well the country music I am speaking of is what I call traditional or classic country music. Most of the current country is really just pop. Classic country actually did have a big following many years ago in Boston (the classic country). I used to go see Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Buck Owens and they would all play Symphony Hall because they had such large followings and great appreciation back then.

A.J. : On Midnight Souvenirs did you use any local musicians, which is a normal practice for you?

Peter :Yes, Iíve used some of Bostonís finest on the CD.

A.J. : You once said to me you can judge a city's music scene by looking at how strong their folk scene is because, for one reason, it is very inexpensive to just go out on the street without a lot of expensive equipment and just get heard. Is this still a good way to get a good idea?

Peter :I think so. I find myself prowling the streets quite a lot.

A.J. : After you played at Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, you went across the street and joined a J. Geils tribute band and jumped onstage for "Aint Nothin' But A Party." How cool was that? You know itís stories like that which really make you a very special artist.

Peter Ė Well, I enjoy going out clubbing and I enjoy seeing new bands. It was such a surprise to be walking towards the parking lot and hear ďAint Nothiní But A House Party,Ē so I figured why not jump in and take it to the bridge, and kick it high.

A.J. : What about D.K's Full House Geils tribute band? They do a great job keeping the legacy alive. Have you checked them out?

Peter :No.

A.J. : Rosy Rosenblatt tells an interesting story he says you might remember. In the late '80's, on a Monday night he was sitting in the green room with George Earring Mayweather between sets when you, Junior Wells and Van Morrison came upstairs to visit. And later, Junior jumped on stage and played but when Van climbed aboard and played harp through an extra vocal mic, George went nuts and kept trying to take the mic away from him causing something of a stir in the club. What do you remember about this incident?

Peter :The story is all mixed up. It was Junior Wells, Van Morrison and myself cruisin' for a night out on the town. We were having a real Saturday night fish fry.

A.J. : Any chance we might ever expect a surprise show from you at a local club under an assumed name or you just donít do stuff like that anymore?

Peter :I still do it all the time under the name Michael Feinstein.

A.J. : So the J. Geils Band didnít get elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame again. This certainly doesnít help the Rock and Roll Hall of Fameís credibility much. Is it a big deal to you?

Peter :Itís nice to be honored but we were nominated 3 times and I assume one day we might make it but until then, you just do what you got to do.

A.J. : You sang a few songs at the memorial concert for Billy Ruane. Care to tell The Noise and The Boston Blues Society readers an untold story about him that you still enjoy remembering?

Peter :Like in NY "there are a million stories in a naked city" and there are a million memorable stories about Billy.

A.J. : I saw you at the wake for Charlie McKenzie who discovered and managed Boston and I found out he used to live with Tim Collins, who once managed Aerosmith. Does this fact tend to make you believe in pre-destination a little more and do you have a good story about that apartment you'd care to share?

Peter :Too foggy to remember

A.J. : What's the next mountain you intend to climb? What's in the future for Peter Wolf?

Peter :Gettin' my green teeth shined.

A.J. : Do you ever see you and Seth writing songs together again in the future?

Peter :Never can tell.

For additional information on Peter Wolf check out

This interview is also available at

<- back to Features