Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers are playing at this city's Convention Center, which happens to be on the beach end of Sixth Avenue.

And while the Wallflowers will later play "6th Avenue Heartache," one of their breakthrough hits, what Dylan's confessing to is something of a Sixth Avenue headache. Recently dubbed "Sexiest Rock Star" by People magazine, the skinny, blue-eyed 27-year-old is ensconced in the back of his tour bus in a windbreaker and knit cap, musing on the irony of a never-ending tour essentially built on a single album, the quadruple-platinum "Bringing Down the Horse."

"It's kind of like a Broadway play at this point," says Dylan, whose roadshow comes to the Patriot Center tonight. "We get up and do the play and then we go to the dressing room. I sit on the bus during the rides and think, How am I going to do it? If I have to sing "One Headlight" one more time, I might have to put a bullet in myself or something!'

"But then I remember what it was like when I was a kid watching a group and for me it had to be the first time they were playing the song -- that's how it felt. You see the excitement and what it's all about to these people -- I surprise myself every night that I can get interested again."

Well, Jakob Dylan could always radically reinvent his material, like that singer-songwriter fellow who bears the same last name.

"Yeah, you could do that," Dylan says with a chuckle, "but I'm not a big believer in sabotaging yourself. I'm working on one record; when you're Neil Young and want to play Cinnamon Girl' a little different, go for it. I don't believe in throwing people curveballs by suddenly doing One Headlight' as a waltz!"

Tellingly, Dylan doesn't invoke his father as a model, something he has steadfastly refused to do since his recording debut five years ago.

Jakob is the youngest of four children born to Bob Dylan and Sara Lowndes, who divorced publicly and bitterly when Jakob was 8. He grew up in Beverly Hills, Calif., where celebrity parentage is so common it's hardly an issue.

"I never talked about anything with my friends other than what we were doing on the playground," says Dylan. "If you were 12 years old and your dad was Michael Landon, that was more interesting to them than my dad at the time. I saw the parents watch me, but the kids weren't looking at me -- I was aware of that."

Dylan grew up with the music of his time -- a Clash concert at age 12 remains a watershed event -- and he grew surrounded by musicmaking, often going on tour with his father. But even though he picked up guitar in his early teens, he seemed to be avoiding the inevitable with a brief sojourn as an art student at the Parsons School of Design in New York.

"I was 18 and graduating high school and everybody was going to college. I was just trying to fit in, doing what I thought I was supposed to do," Dylan admits. "I had real lousy grades, I was never academically involved at all, but since I thought I had to go to college, my only chance was an art college. . . . As soon as I got there, I knew it was the wrong choice. I wasn't like the other kids that wanted to do it day and night; I didn't have that need."

Within a few weeks, Dylan had dropped out, though it was a few more weeks before he told his parents. By then, he'd decided to go back to Los Angeles, to commit to music and to confront his ambition -- and his legacy -- by starting to write songs and sing them. Up to that point, Jakob Dylan was just a guitar player, a role that neatly allowed his to avoid the pressures of being linked to, much less compared with, the most influential songwriter of the second half of the 20th century.

"In the back of my mind, I always knew I was going to end up gravitating to songwriting," Dylan says, pointing out that he didn't have the dedication to be a great guitar player. "And I didn't want to be just an okay guitar player."

His late blooming, Dylan insists, "wasn't necessarily because of who I was and what I thought expectations were. I felt I could sing a melody and put some words together. I had friends who couldn't do that. I didn't know how good I was, and I wasn't that interested in how good I was, I just knew I could do it."

Dylan formed a group, intentionally neglecting to mention his lineage to musicians and club owners alike and later firmly refusing to exploit it. That proved somewhat of a problem when the Wallflowers ended their small-club residency by signing with Virgin Records, releasing their debut album called simply "The Wallflowers" in 1992. It sold 40,000 copies.

Yet Dylan looks at that album as "nothing but positive. I didn't know that many people and I thought that was a good amount of records to sell. If it wasn't me in the group, that 40,000 would be a great start, not a commercial disaster."

And a public relations one, as well, when Dylan not only rejected Virgin's thinly veiled plans to exploit the familial connection, but wouldn't cooperate with media interested only in that connection.

"For me personally, it was a little overwhelming," Dylan admits. "I didn't even know how to do my damn job yet and people were asking me all this crap that I really didn't want to talk about, so the whole thing was just a mess. There was no story except that so-and-so . . . had a kid in a band. That was the only scoop and it was nothing I could really talk about. People assumed there was a problem between me and my dad, but I don't like to really talk about anything except my band."

In fact, Dylan suggests the first album's spectacular lack of success may have been a conversation-starter in certain select circles. "When I came along and looked like I failed, it must have really scared the hell out of a lot of {celebrity} sons out there who thought, Well, he just signed up and he ain't selling records, maybe this is over!' "

This is said with a certain amount of merriment and wonder, Dylan's normal responses to music business issues. For instance, the Wallflowers' Virgin album has now sold another half a million copies since their Interscope album's release in May 1996. Dylan also likes to point out that the single "6th Avenue Heartache" was available in 1992 but was rejected by Virgin.

"No one was interested in recording it," he says. "It was exactly the same, I didn't change a thing. They didn't hear anything interesting about it, even as a track for the record -- forget about it as being a potential standout!"

Another music biz irony: Jakob Dylan knows quadruple platinum (4 million) after 18 months, while Dad's best seller, "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits," released 30 years ago, is at 2.5 million. Of course, had MTV been around at the time of "Don't Look Back," Bob, too, might be an idol as well as an icon.

Even Jakob Dylan sees the irony in this. There was a time recently when it looked as though MTV and VH1 had been video-jacked by Jakob and Jewel. You could turn to either at any hour of the day and there they'd be, particularly the Wallflowers' irresistibly catchy "One Headlight," which perfectly frames Dylan's piercing blue eyes and aquiline beauty.

"It gets to be ridiculous," he concedes. "I don't want to discourage it because obviously it's been very important in my career, but I'm a consumer, too, and when my face kept popping up, I'd just {flip the channel}. Same thing with the radio -- I got to a point where I'd come on and I'm hitting the button, too!"

Oddly, Jakob Dylan doesn't consider himself a born performer. "A lot of people love to be looked at, to jump around the stage with the lights on them and that's enough for them to get off -- that's not really where it's at for me," says Dylan. "I turn on the TV and see Marilyn Manson and think: I'm screwing up, I don't do any of this. Are the kids going to want to come back and see me if I don't do something like this?

"I bank on people wanting to see someone come out with no shenanigans and just play music."

Now, of course, he's People's "Sexiest Rock Star."

"Isn't that something? I always knew." Dylan says this with a hearty laugh.

"You can't do much about it, it's only worth as much as you think about it and I don't think about it very much. Obviously it's a generous compliment, it's nice and I'm flattered . . . "

And temporarily speechless.

Here's another funny thing. For a lot of people, particularly those under the age of 25, Dylanesque now means Jakob-like, not Bob-ish. It's not a changing of the guard so much as a changing of the reference point.

"I got a letter yesterday from a kid in junior high telling me how inspiring the record was and he wrote that when people asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said the next Jakob Dylan," says Jakob Dylan. "Well, that's kind of taking a new spin."

Late last month, father and son shared a stage for the first time at a private concert for a California computer giant. So, did they play together?

"Oh, no!" Dylan smiles.

Has Jakob ever publicly performed one of Bob's songs?

"Noooo . . . "

Of course, Bob has never performed one of Jakob's songs, either.

As for the shared bill -- "Our show was like it always is and his show was like it always is" -- it was something of a non-event.

"People act like it was a big deal, as if there was this big unsaid rift between us that we would never play together. The truth was we'd never been asked to play together. Nobody's ever asked me to play with George Jones or Joe Strummer, either. If they ask, I'm there. If the offer's right, the time is right, I'd be there."

And if they worked together, would the multiplatinum newcomer be willing to extend a little career advice to the veteran? "Oh, I really doubt it," says Jakob Dylan. "We'll see who's got the career to talk about." CAPTION: "In the back of my mind, I always knew I was going to end up gravitating to songwriting," Jakob Dylan says. CAPTION: Family chord: The Wallflowers' Jakob Dylan has become a musical sensation.