What did it take to get the J. Geils Band into this picture? That is, get them back together after, essentially, a decade apart? The band played a charity benefit for the Cam Neely Foundation at the Regattabar in 2005 and had a surprise appearance at bassist Danny Klein's 60th birthday party at Scullers Jazz Club in 2006. Their last "tour," however, consisted of multiple gigs in Detroit and Mansfield's Tweeter Center during the summer of 1999. There was also a benefit for the families of six Worcester firefighters killed on duty, held at the Orpheum at that year's end. This upcoming gig will, in part, benefit the International House of Blues Foundation.
"I got a call from Don Law, who I've known for many, many years," says frontman Peter Wolf. "And he asks [us]. He was trying to think of something historical and important for a venue that brought so much music to Boston. Don and I go back to the old Tea Party days."
That's the spot where Avalon was, where Citi was, where the Metro was, where the 15 Lansdowne Street club was, where Boston-Boston was, and where the House of Blues is now. Wolf's pre-Geils band, the Hallucinations, played it when it was the Tea Party (from 1969 to 1971), as did an early edition of the J. Geils Band. Before that, Wolf says, it was a club called Moondial that had music and underground films by the likes of Andy Warhol.
Wolf had not been anticipating a reunion of any sort. "I was in the midst of finishing a solo recording due out end of March," he says, "so I had to give it some thought, but this was an interesting request to pursue. I called around and everyone seemed pretty amenable to doing it." Part of the reason for doing it this time, was the last time, "we all agreed it was going to be a moment in time that had a beginning, middle, and end. Other bands got together for a reunion tour. J. Geils, as a band, is different. It's a total commitment of body and mind, of rock and roll — you have to give to it what it requires."
"Don felt it was something that was meaningful," adds Wolf. "For me, someone who goes out to see a lot of new bands, it's disheartening to hear about another club or venue closing and it's very rare you hear something opening these days. As a person that enjoys the few independent places in town, I think there is room enough for many places to be active." Wolf has played a few House of Blues gigs in other cities and found them "respectful of the artist."
As to this gig, he says, they'll do "whatever it takes. We'll be doing our thing, try to rock as hard as we always could." Before shows, Wolf says, "We'd all clasp hands and say, 'Let's rock this down — let's have nothin' but a house party.' "