A Bronx boy by origin and at heart, Wolf was on home turf with three of his trusty Midnight Travelers: guitarists Duke Levine, Kevin Barry, and bassist Marty Ballou. Opening in sublimely spirited form, he ranged far and free through his deep canon. Prowling the small stage like the larger ones he strode in the heyday, there were raucous (yes, acoustically raucous) J. Geils pleasers “Love Stinks,” “Give It to Me,””Musta Got Lost,” “Lookin’ For A Love” and John Lee Hooker’s wry ‘n wiry “Homework.” Early solo work “Wasting Time,” and “Thick As Thieves.” And a healthy dose of the gritty, ruminative, maturity that has made his latter day solo work so triumphant (“Tragedy,” “Some Things,” “Growing Pain,” A Lot of Good Ones Gone,” “Nothing But The Wheel,” etc.).
But a big part of this glorious evening was Wolf’s ever-present congeniality and vivid, vibrant storytelling. Knocking ’em back with Shelby Lynne. John Lee Hooker watching Lassie in his underwear. Hanging with Gram Parsons. A long, convoluted tale involving Ahmet Ertegun, fancy cars, booze, and contract signing. Swooning to AM radio. Boasting about writing and performing with soul master Don Covay. (Sadly, Covay passed two nights later). A stompin’ “Higher and Higher” brought the crowd to its feet and the night to grand close.
New York producer (Peter Wolf, Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn) and songwriting legend Kenny White opened with his uniquely crafted, urban edged tunes which immediately drew the audience in. With lyrics like “Hurry up and come so I can tweet about it” and “I learned that looking good has a lot to do with lighting,” night number one of this three show residency kicked off in a very high gear.
– Mike Jurkovic