Peter Wolf waited seven years between solo albums — a long time for the J. Geils Band frontman and his fans, but the results show he hasn't been idle.
The recently released "Midnight Souvenirs," Wolf's first outing since "Sleepless" in 2002, features guest appearances by Merle Haggard, Neko Case and Shelby Lynne, as well as a tribute to the late Willy DeVille called "The Night Comes Down." Wolf, who produced the album, says the idea was to cover a wide variety of styles but still acknowledge where he comes from.
"It's been a lot of hard work, but it's seeming worthwhile," says Wolf, 64, who was born Peter Blankfield in New York and started as a radio DJ before going into music. "There's a lot of meat and potatoes, some songs on there that are great, emotionally close to me.
"It's heart-felt type of music; it's just country, honky-tonk, hillbilly, R&B, blues, rock — it all kind of gets whisked around, because I love it all. It's got the Woofa Goofa Mama Twofer seal of excitement."
"Midnight Souvenirs" has given Wolf an opportunity to "get out on the highways and byways" again as a solo artist after playing a handful of shows with Geils in 2009. The group is not exactly over — it will play Fenway Park on Aug. 14 with fellow Boston rockers Aerosmith — but Wolf makes no secret about his creative priority.
"The Geils shows are exciting," he acknowledges. "They are a part of my love that I love and that I treat with great respect. But the (solo work) also is another part of my life that I also treat with great respect.
"As a musician I feel honored and value that I have different pallets and different things to choose from. It's the totality of it all that makes it exciting for me and keeps me going and motivates me and still keeps me a hard-driving man."
Peter Wolf performs Monday, May 17, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are sold out. Call 313-961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.
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