John Doe of X finds solo success, too 

click to enlarge Busy schedule: These days, John Doe is acting, touring with various bands and looking forward to a solo gig tonight at the Great American Music Hall. (Courtesy photo) - BUSY SCHEDULE: THESE DAYS, JOHN DOE IS ACTING, TOURING WITH VARIOUS BANDS AND LOOKING FORWARD TO A SOLO GIG TONIGHT AT THE GREAT AMERICAN MUSIC HALL. (COURTESY PHOTO)
  • Busy schedule: These days, John Doe is acting, touring with various bands and looking forward to a solo gig tonight at the Great American Music Hall. (Courtesy photo)
  • Busy schedule: These days, John Doe is acting, touring with various bands and looking forward to a solo gig tonight at the Great American Music Hall. (Courtesy photo)

It’s a banner year for punk legend John Doe. He recently wrapped three tours: one with his original outfit, X, with Exene Cervenka; another with his and Cervenka’s twangy spinoff, the Knitters; plus dates with Jill Sobule, backing their recent duets disc “A Day at the Pass.”

In November, X will visit South America as the personally-requested opening act for Pearl Jam before returning to San Francisco for the annual year-end “X-Mas” concerts.

Tonight, Doe is playing The City stag, backing his exuberant new solo recording, “The Keeper.”

“This is the first time I’ve gotten to play the Great American Music Hall on my own, and I see it as a bit of a career high, you know?” says Doe, 57, who also was guest on “Bright Morning Stars,” the latest album from his opening act, Dead Rock West.

That band’s Cindy Wasserman, in turn, chimed in on “The Keeper,” as did Sobule, Patty Griffin, Don Was, Howe Gelb, Smokey Hormel and Steve Berlin.

“I’ve played there with X and The Knitters, and I can honestly say — and this isn’t kissing anyone’s ass ’cause I’ve already got the gig — the Great American is one of my favorite places to play, anywhere.”

Doe could become a regular, though. One of his daughters resides in Marin, and two others attend college locally.

“So I’ve been living outside of San Rafael, in Fairfax, since January, and I’ve caught a few San Francisco shows,” he says. “I’ve been split from my wife for awhile, and my sweetheart was living in San Francisco, all my kids were there, so moving to the Bay Area was a good thing. And that’s part of the happier, more satisfied slant on this record — it’s a real turn for the better.”

That’s where pleasant “Keeper” cuts like “Little Tiger,” “Sweetheart” and “Don’t Forget How Much I Love You” originated — in the unexpected happiness Doe found four years ago.

“But at that point, I didn’t really care to write songs, because I was just feeling good,” he says. “And after two years of that, you realize, ‘I’ve got to  write something, ’cause that’s what I do, but I don’t want to write some sappy, stupid love song.’ Eventually, I figured it out.”

The part-time actor also plays an evil band manager in the new film “Hated” and a New Orleans bar owner in the upcoming “Zombex.”

“I warn one of the main characters that the s--- is going to hit the fan, and they walk out the door to find zombies stumbling down the street,” he says. “So now I can check zombie movie off my things-to-do list!”

IF YOU GO

John Doe

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. today

Tickets: $20

Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.gamhtickets.com

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Tom Lanham

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