“In a better world, Joe Grushecky would live in a mansion down the road from Springsteen’s. Instead, this enormous talent spends his days teaching some of western Pennsylvania’s most troubled children….Who do you know who has made back-to-back great albums more than 20 years ago, and is doing the same thing now. There’s Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Neil Young, Springsteen, maybe a few more. He’s on that level.” – Jimmy Guterman, Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen
Joe Grushecky’s music has stood the test time. For over thirty publications such as Billboard, Rolling Stone, Village Voice, No Depression, and countless others have hailed him as one of rock & roll’s most talented singer-songwriters.
Joe’s first band, the Iron City Houserockers, were signed to Cleveland International by A&R legend Steve Popovich also responsible for signing Meatloaf and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. ICH released their debut album, “Love’s So Tough” in 1979 and began to garner critical acclaim:
• In Rolling Stone, Greil Marcus wrote “their debut album is strong, passionate and a little desperate. This is hard rock with force…. I hope they’re around for a long, long time.”Mick Ronson, Ian Hunter, and Steve Van Zandt handled the production reins on the ICH follow-up effort, “Have A Good Time But Get Out Alive,” which was released in 1980 and received rave reviews including:
• Rolling Stone praised the ICH and called their sophomore release, “a new American classic.”Two other ICH albums were released before the band split. In 1981, legendary guitarist and Rock Hall of Famer, Steve Cropper, produced “Blood on the Bricks”. “Cracking Under Pressure” followed in 1983. With the break up of the Iron City Houserockers, Grushecky returned to Pittsburgh where he took a day job as a special education teacher, a position he still holds. Joe spent the years from 1983 to 1989 honing his songwriting craft and in 1984, Grushecky released a fiery single, “Good Bye Steeltown”. It would take another five more years for him to fully re-emerge with his first solo post ICH album, 1989’s” “Rock And Real” which was followed with “Swimming With the Sharks”, both on Rounder Records, and then “End Of The Century” on Razor & Tie. In 1995, Joe began his collaboration with another hard-rocking storyteller, Bruce Springsteen. The first fruits of their labor, “American Babylon”, was a Grushecky cum Houserockers album produced by Springsteen featuring two co-written songs as well as guest vocal and guitar contributions; Bruce wound up doing stint as the Houserockers’ lead guitarist on a tour which celebrated the album’s release. “Coming Home”, released in 1998, featured more collaborative compositions including “1945”, a poignant ballad recounting the real life World War II experiences of Grushecky’s parents. In 1999, Joe released “Down The Road Apiece Live”, his first live release. In No Depression, Fred Mills praised the Houserockers for “rousingly blowing through anthem after anthem” and called it the kind of roots-Americana classicism that few can nowadays only dream of. On “Fingerprints”, released in 2002, Joe explored his skills as a singer and songwriter utilizing a variety of backing musicians. This was followed in 2004 with Grushecky and the Houserockers getting together again for the very autobiographical “True Companion.” “A Good Life” (2006) included a blistering version of the Grammy Award winning Joe and Bruce co-write, “Code of Silence”. The title track was used in ad campaigns for KDKA TV and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 2009 release, “East Carson Street”, got rave reviews. It includes a seething duet with Bruce Springsteen on “Another Thin Line,” which is also a Springsteen/Grushecky songwriting collaboration. “We’re Not Dead Yet, Live in Pittsburgh” (2012), Joe’s 14th LP, carried on his tradition of delivering honest and passionate music. Blurt Magazine said this of the band’s live performances. “Grushecky and the Houserockers performed like they thought they were damn rock stars and, on that night, they were indeed the greatest rock ‘n’ roll outfit on the planet” As if all of this was not enough, Joe’s 13 years of participation as a performer and executive board member of the Light of Day Foundation has helped raise over one million dollars worldwide to combat Parkinson’s Disease at the 40+ annual Light of Day Concerts in the United States, Europe and Canada.
In a world where truth is rare and nothing seems genuine anymore, some things remains constant…There are still real people making real music out there. And Joe Grushecky is still making it.