Peter Wolf has played Milwaukee countless times over the past few decades with and without the J. Geils Band, a band he fronted and sang with for about 17 years. But if his memory is correct, he’s only played Summerfest once before – in the early ’70s.
This year, the singer-songwriter is looking forward to returning to Summerfest as a solo artist with his own band. In anticipation of his performance on Thursday, June 29, we talked with Wolf about his return, his favorite memory of the late John Geils and more.
How do you feel about playing during Summerfest’s 50th anniversary?
I’m really honored to do it. We played one of the earliest Summerfests when I was with the J Geils Band. It was with B.B. King. [Note: the year was 1972]. So it’s nice to get back. And I’ve always loved playing Milwaukee, so I’m looking forward to it.
What do you recall of that first time playing Summerfest?
It was a really great crowd. And it was great to share the stage with an idol of mine, B.B. King.
Anything else you remember besides the performance?
I remember talking with B.B. King. I remember drinking a lot of beer and having a lot of fun. That’s what a great festival is all about.
What’s your favorite non-performance thing to do in Milwaukee?
I’d go to this very famous beer restaurant. I believe Karl Ratzsch was the name of it. And drink lots of beer.
What should people expect from your Summerfest set?
Well, it’s a great band and I’m picking out some songs that come from my solo career and some of my Geils songs. So it should be a nice mix.
What’s the thing you cherished most about your time playing with John Geils?
That we had a great many years together hitting the highways and byways. We made some music, on the road and in the studio. We were together for 17 years with no personnel changes. Pretty nice amount of time.
What are your future recording plans?
The latest album I have is called A Cure for Loneliness. It came out last year.
I imagine it’ll be interesting coming to Summerfest as a solo artist versus as a member in a band.
Yes, I’m looking forward to it for that reason because I’ve got some great artists behind me. Top-shelf. So I’m looking forward to kicking it high, as they say.