David Stefanelli. Drummer, percussionist, guitarist, and music producer.

STORIES


Stories.

Peter Wolf (Part 2)

Turns out that my statement to Peter that we should get the band on the road and “just do it” would have a deeper impact than I expected. Years later Peter would bring it up several times “Young David, remember when you told me to get the band on the road and to just do it?” We ended up forming Peter Wolf And The Houseparty 5, and continued on to several years of touring and finally recording together on Peter’s Warner Brothers release “Long Line”. Here is more of the story.

Bleachers

Once that first show for the motorcycle dealership was cancelled Peter indeed took the band by the horns and allowed us to be booked at some local gigs. Most of us in the band had been playing in different groups at all kinds of local venues on the North Shore of Boston. Beverly, Danvers, Salem, etc. All these cities and towns had great clubs that bands frequented. One place that was particularly hot at the time was a rock club called Bleachers located in downtown Salem, Massachusetts. This place had a decent stage, lights, and sound system, plus we all knew the owners. We told Pete about this place and he agreed after checking it out that we do a first trial show there. An impromptu show. More rumored than advertised. Of course the folks running the place agreed and we booked the gig.

Get Ready

We continued getting together and rehearsing. Pete kept testing all the time with his stage signals to stop short, break it down, five stabs here, ten stabs there. We were as tight as any band could be. This was a bit of a gift we had together. Not everyone could follow these quick changes and as smooth as we did. Main rule with all of this is DO NOT take your eyes and ears off Wolf.

We learned so many songs. Everything sounded great. Getting the set together was indeed a task. Peter would take out his stack of cards like those you would have recipes on only each card would have its own song title on it. He would sit on the floor at rehearsal and line them up in the way he felt the set should go. He would beckon “Ok let’s do a bit of Sanctuary into So Sharp”. We would do a couple seconds of each and he would signal to stop and maybe make a set change. Then he would say “Now let’s try Thick As Thieves into Lights Out.” Same thing. We would slowly build what was always an amazing set on what he and we felt would be the best song order.

Our First Soundcheck

For this first show at Bleachers, we assembled a small crew of mostly our friends that were also in the business. Tony Lentini was running sound, Zeus Fiasconaro as guitar tech, Bobby Burgess helping on drums.

We did soundcheck which was nothing like we had ever witnessed or had been a part of before. Peter basically went through the entire set! And the set of songs was HUGE! He would have Tony check his monitors in between and get them as hot as he could without feedback. We would continue on and check this and that. Hard work but it really paid off.

Showtime!

There was indeed electricity and nervous fidgeting in the tiny area devoted to being our dressing room behind the stage at Bleachers. Pete, as he did before all the shows we did over the years we were together, would disappear after soundcheck to only appear in the dressing room 20-30 minutes before we were to go on. He always grabbed a hotel room nearby to do what he had to do before a show. It didn’t matter if we were at a small club or the Boston Garden, Peter Wolf never treated these shows differently. Nor did we.

Needless to say word got out that Peter Wolf and his new live band were going to do a show at Bleachers. The place was electrified and packed to the ceiling. As usual Peter came bounding into the dressing room 20 minutes before we were to go on lead by his assistant at the time named Peter Wassyng. Wolf was dressed in his stage gear and looked the coolest. He had on his trademark tiger skin shoes that looked like something you would wear on a funky street corner in NYC as you were jiving and having fun with your buds. Thin as a rail, his funky chapeau tilted just right atop his head and exploding with energy. “Yabo yabo all together now! We gonna hit it and do some damage here! We worked it hard. Y’all ready? Let’s bring it in here.” Pete commanded. We all got into a huddle with each of us putting one hand into the center circle as Peter would do before every show. “Everybody have fun tonight. We all deserve a great show. We been working so hard. You all sound great! Everyone look at each other. Keep it tight. Make sure we play to the room. Oooh yeah! Ready? Let’s GO!” Wolf decreed the charge.

Wolf’s assistant would be the Master Of Ceremonies and do the introduction. I’m not totally sure if we were called The House Party 5 as of yet but Wolf would have his assistant go to the stage ten minutes before we were to go on and announce “Ten minutes to showtime folks! Good to see you all here! Ten minutes to showtime!”. It’s all about the show for Wolf. This little Apollo Theater trick would really elevate the excitement in the room. People were ready!

Lights went down and the band took the stage alone without Peter. No messing around or any time lags with this and that. We got right up onstage and immediately started the intro vamp to Wolf's song from one of his solo albums titled "99 Worlds". Wassyng took the mic and announced “Are you ready? Here he is! The Woofa Goofa Mama Toofa…PETER WOLF!” Wolf came BOUNDING out on stage to the explosive reaction of the crowd. And this was not the Peter Wolf in rehearsal. This was the Peter Wolf we saw at J. Geils shows back a few. He was amazing. His voice was right on and his stage antics had the cocky confidence and energy of a teenager. He was dancing, jumping, slipping, sliding, and working the crowd like no other could. We, the band, were killing it! It was like being behind a jet engine as the plane powered up for takeoff. The set moved along and we went through it all. We moved right in sync with Peter.

As I looked at my set list that was always taped to my bass drum, I anticipated the time for us to play “Musta Got Lost”. I knew the rap Wolf did as the intro on the live version of the song but we never went over anything at rehearsal. I had no idea what was coming. Then he started. “OK this next song is about LOVE!” The crowd went NUTS. Peter would rap a new story as the intro. All improvised mind you. I followed right along accompanying him with my pings, booms, bangs, and swishes as his famous story of Raputa The Beauta unfolded. Peter signaled the end of the intro rap with his classic “I believe I musta…I musta…I musta...I Musta Got Lost!” I counted the song in. It was flawless. We were flawless. Then it happened. I had seen him do it live at a J. Geils show but would he do it here? During the middle breakdown in the song it’s just Wolf singing with the drumbeat behind him. Like a freaking frog on acid he squated down and leaned back a bit on the mic stand using it like a pole vault stick, and sprang himself WAY UP in the air, then down into the squatting position again as he continued leap frogging around in a complete circle. WHILE SINGING!

We ended that first show at Bleachers with several encores. It took a lot for Peter to end his shows. He loved performing. It was not odd for us to do 3 hour shows and 5 encores. He and we indeed accomplished what we had set out to do. Our first show together was in the books. It was a great one. And we were ready for a lot more.

{End Of Part 2}

Read Part 3 - First Leg Of The Tour


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