New Jersey Stage
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
An Evening with PETER WOLF, the Voice of the J. Geils Band, Comes to The Newton Theatre
Peter also had a heart for music. His father was a musician and music always filled his house. When Peter was 14 he left home in the Bronx and went to live in Manhattan to pursue his art. During this period, Peter frequented Birdland, the renowned jazz capital of the world, as well as the acclaimed Five Spot and Village Vangard. There he saw jazz greats Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus.
Peter attended high school in Harlem, near the legendary Apollo Theater, which he attended religiously and developed a love of soul music. He saw an endless list of soul and jazz legends such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Billy Stewart, Dinah Washington and Ray Charles, all of whom had a profound affect on his musical development and, later, his stage persona.
One night, Peter attended a loft party where the band that was performing, had a little too much to drink and the singer couldn't remember the lyrics to a song. Though he had drunk several glasses of wine himself, Peter jumped in and helped the band finish the song. Performing at this party was a revelation for Peter. The experience was so powerful that he became completely consumed with the idea of joining this band. After much persistence, Peter became a member and, eventually, the band's lead singer. They all dropped out of art school to devote themselves completely to the band. They called themselves the Hallucinations and became one of the most popular young groups in New England.
In 1967, several members of the Hallucinations began to pursue other artistic interests, leaving Peter bandless. In his search for new musicians to play with, Peter attended an open mike night at a Boston coffeehouse where he met J. Geils, and other musicians and they decided to form a new band, which became the J. Geils Band.
In 1968 the band was signed to Atlantic Records when Mario Medious, a hip, south side Chicago, fast-talking promotion man for Atlantic Records, heard the J. Geils Band from the back room. He assumed they were a south side Chicago blues band and went backstage to introduce himself. To his surprise, Mario found five young, white musicians from Boston. Instantaneously impressed, he called his boss, Jerry Wexler, then co-owner and Vice President of Atlantic Records.
Seth Justman, a young Boston University student and musician from Washington, DC, after much persistence, became the final member of the J. Geils Band. Seth and Peter cultivated a strong friendship, and shared many musical interests and became the band's song writing team.
The J. Geils Band established a reputation for their exciting live performances and built a large following in New England. This grassroots enthusiasm reached the ear of legendary rock promoter Bill Graham, and he invited them, sight unseen, to perform at his famed concert hall Fillmore East. After the band received five encores, Bill immediately booked them again and asked them to appear at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. This started the band's long journey outside of Boston and began to expose them to a national audience.
In 1970, the band released their first recording The J. Geils Band. They toured non-stop, building a fan base in every city they played. Soon, they appeared on television for the first time on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.
In 1978 the band signed to a new record label, EMI America. The company provided hope and energy for the financially distressed and road weary band. They recorded a series of albums, each one further expanding their popularity. Their first release on EMI America was Sanctuary in 1978, followed by Love Stinks in 1980.
In the new decade, the fast-paced lifestyle began to exhaust some of the group's members. Ironically, in 1981, during the making of what later became their greatest commercial success, Freeze Frame, some of the members expressed a desire to leave the band. But with the release of Freeze Frame, the advent of MTV, and a worldwide tour with the Rolling Stones, the J. Geils Band finally achieved international acclaim and became known as one of America's great rock 'n' roll bands. During their own headlining tour, one of their opening acts was U2, who were just beginning to gain recognition.
For the first time in more than 12 years, the band was finally out of debt and filling arenas and stadiums as headliners. Just when they seemed to achieve everything they had worked so hard for, artistic differences between Peter and Seth became more divisive. The tension continued to build and the band rejected many of Peter's songs. They felt his material was too roots and R&B-based and wanted to move in the Pop direction that Seth was leaning towards. Ultimately, the band decided to continue without Peter's involvement. After 17 years with no personnel changes, Peter was gone and Seth became the band's new lead singer.
Peter turned the materials he had written for the J. Geils Band into his first solo effort Lights Out, which was released in 1984. Peter continues recording and touring and has even reunited with the J. Geils Band over the years, including an end of the century tour in 1999.
In 2005, the J. Geils Band reunited again for a special charity event hosted by the Cam Neely Cancer Foundation, Denis Leary's Firefighters Association of New England and Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's Disease Research Foundation.
Tickets for Peter Wolf are $39.00 for Premium seating, $34.00 for the Orchestra and $29.00 for the Balcony. Tickets for this performance will go on sale on Friday, September 13th at 11:00 am. Purchase tickets by visiting www.thenewtontheatre.com or contact the Box Office at 973-383-3700.
The historic Newton Theatre, located at 234 Spring Street in Newton, NJ, was founded in 1924. Revitalized and fully renovated, Sussex County's premier entertainment venue reopened in 2011 as a 605 seat capacity live performing arts center. With it's rich history and diverse programming The Newton Theatre is essential to the buoyancy of New Jersey's Skylands region. More information about The Newton Theatre may be found by calling 973-383-3700 or by visiting its website at www.TheNewtonTheatre.com.