Whether they’re playing an evening of sophisticated music at a local jazz spot or serving as entertainment for a park full of families, Peter Lamb and the Wolves always come with tunes that will please the crowd. At a recent Friday night show at Mordecai Historic Park, the band played everything from jazz standards to original tunes to the “Spider-Man” theme.
“We have a book full of stuff,” sax-playing, smart-alecky frontman Lamb says after the Mordecai Park show. “And when we’re in front of an audience such as this, we do tend to gravitate towards stuff that’s kid-friendly – you know, ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Bye, Bye, Blackbird.’ There aren’t a lot of obscenities.”
“I’m not taking down my pants or anything,” Lamb continues, as his bandmates erupt in laughter. “But, you know, we can also raunch it up a little bit. And we do a lot of tango music. We do a lot of stuff that’s very sexy … We do whatever the hell I think is cool, and we just add it to our book. And, then, when we play somewhere – when it’s just a Peter Lamb and the Wolves show and it’s adults, it’s a much different show than what we do in front of children.”
San Francisco-born Raleigh resident Lamb and his Durham-based cohorts – keyboardist/vocalist Mark Wells, bassist Peter Kimosh, drummer Stephen Coffman and trumpeter Al Strong, who is currently taking a sabbatical from the band (Paul Rogers, Lamb’s little brother, has been filling in for him) – have certainly amassed a fan base thanks to their all-inclusive style of entertaining audiences.
It’s these same fans who also helped finance their latest album, “Humble Pie.” The band will celebrate the release of the album by doing two sets Thursday at Motorco Music Hall in Durham.
After going out of pocket for the band’s self-titled, debut 2010 album, Lamb launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the $12,500 they needed to record.
“I mean, you’re really, like, putting yourself out there as an artist of the community and you’re kind of like, ‘All right, we wanna make more music and record an album for you guys,’” says Coffman. “And you’re kind of relying on: are people gonna chip in, and do people want this to happen, basically, because people are using their hard-earned money to support the band. You know, it’s a nerve-racking thing.”
Just how nerve-racking was it? “We did, what – a 30-day Kickstarter?” asks Wells.
“Yeah,” answers Lamb. “And it wasn’t until two days before the end that we had it. Those 30 days were stressful as hell.”
In the end, not only did the band succeed in raising its $12,500 goal, but they got a little more that Lamb says will go into further raising the quintet’s profile. “In the summertime, we’ll have enough money to hopefully buy tickets to go to Europe and expose those Europeans to some Wolves,” Lamb says.
Even though the album is named after the downtown Raleigh spot where they played their maiden gig on the night of President Obama’s first inauguration (they continue to do a biweekly residency at Humble Pie), Lamb and the Wolves recorded “Pie” at Marsh Woodwinds, where they also recorded their first album. Apart from the fact that they can always play the downtown Raleigh music shop since Lamb and Dave Tilley, their engineer, work there (“[Lamb] gets the employee discount for the room,” jokes Coffman), Marsh just feels like home for the boys.
“We can perform and record in front of an audience, which just really, I think, gives us a lot of energy,” says Lamb. Adds Wells, “People are comfortable there, too, and they love the space. They feel good when they come to see us, and it’s really a cool place.”
Lamb and the Wolves already have another album they’re ready to release, which was originally an exclusive “bootleg” album given out to generous Kickstarter backers. (That album includes guest appearances from Maceo Parker as well as members from The Old Ceremony, The Mint Julep Jazz Band and other local bands.) But right now, they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished with “Pie.”
“I think it’s cool to have an album that actually makes us something, you know, and will pay for plane tickets so we can go do this and spread the music,” says Lamb. “It’s kind of like a venereal disease or something.” And once again, laughter from the band.