Detroit, for the J. Geils Band, "has been and still is our second home" according to frontman Peter Wolf.
Now, however, the Boston-based group, which recorded all or part of its three live albums in the Motor City, is taking its Detroit ties on the road.
The group, which reactivated in 1999 after a 14-year split, is touring this fall and into 2015 as special guest on Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band's Ride Out Tour of North America. Geils has 16 dates booked with Seger so far -- starting Nov. 22 in Bangor, Maine, and including Dec. 9 in Grand Rapids and Jan. 20 in Toledo -- and Wolf is confident each will be "a good, solid evening of rockin' and rollin'."
"We had planned to do a November run on our own, and then we got an offer from the Seger camp," says Wolf, 68, who was born Peter Blankfield in New York and worked as a radio personality before co-founding the Geils band in 1967. "We're old friends of Bob's and have played shows from back in the early days, so it just seemed like a great package. I mean, we're coming from the same place. Our musical roots are the same."
The experiencing of opening for Seger will not be foreign to Wolf, either, as he and his own band have done the honors before at the Centrum in Worcester, Mass., and Wolf remembers that, "I looked on the side of the stage and there was bob, watching the entire show. And at the end of the show he grabbed me and lifted me up and said, 'My God, you haven't missed a beat!'
"It was just great to open up for him, and I think that sorta helped when we were offered this tour."
Wolf and company -- including remaining founding members Seth Justman, Danny Klein and Magic Dick Salwitz -- view the Seger slot as more than just touring with an old friend, however. The singer says the group -- best known nationwide for hits such as "Give It To Me," "Must Of Got Lost,"Free Frame" and the chart-topping "Centerfold" -- will have "an opportunity to play cities we haven't played in a long time, so people who may not have seen us or haven't seen us in awhile can revisit and rediscover or discover the band." And while he felt some Geils shows with Bon Jovi last year didn't work -- "For me, the matchup musically didn't make much sense," he notes -- Wolf is confident touring with Seger will create even more oppotunities for the Geils crew.
"I think, musically, we're as strong as it ever was, or even steps ahead," says Wolf. "It's advanced, and it's grown not unlike the way the Allman Brothers made changes or the Eagles have made changes or the (Rolling) Stones through the years have made changes, and each change has given it a new dimension that adds to the equation, not detract."
The biggest change, of course, has been the acrimonious departure of guitarist John "J." Geils in 2012, which led to an ongoing lawsuit over the trademark and use of the J. Geils Band name. While sidestepping the legalities, Wolf only says that Geils "was incredibly at odds with the band, and his hostile actions sort of made it clear that he couldn't remain part of the band. That was unfortunate, but we just had to move on."
Fans, of course, are hoping that moving on will include new Geils music, which Wolf acknowledges has "come up in conversation" with the other band members. "Time will tell," says Wolf, who's planning to release a new solo album in 2015. "Right now we're focusing on these shows with (Seger) so...yeah, time will tell."
The J. Geils Band and the Howling Diablos
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14-15
The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.
Tickets are sold out.
Call 313-961-5451 or visit www.livenation.com.
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