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The Houserockers

Critically Acclaimed Blue Collar Rock

The critically acclaimed band Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers have been performing and recording heartland blue collar rock-n-roll for over thirty years.  Signed by legendary music promoter Steve Popovich, the Houserockers have released 20 albums and have performed at thousands of appearances at concert halls and clubs in America and Europe since 1977.  

Greil Marcus called the Iron City Houserockers "the best rock band in the country" writing in The Village Voice in July 1980.  David Fircke of the Rolling Stone wrote "Joe Grushecky's lyrical muscle knocked the romantic stuffing out of pop's generally sentimental portrait of working-class life".  The Houserockers sound is blue-collar R&B bar rock in the style of the E-Street Band, South Side Johnny, and J Geils.  Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers have appeared with Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Dion, and many others. They have seen on CNN, the CBS News, Entertainment Tonight, Solid Gold, MTV, and Entertainment Tonight.

Bruce Springsteen is a believer in the music of Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers.  He produced their American Babylon” CD, he has co-written songs with Joe Gruschecky, has appeared on several of their recordings, and has performed as a member of the band at several concerts,  Together Joe and Bruce wrote the Grammy award winning song “Code of Silence” that Bruce recorded on The Essential Bruce Springsteen CD.  In an article in the New York Daily News Springsteen said "Joe's a tremendous musician and writer."

Iron City Houserockers

The band was formed in 1976 by guitarist/song writer Joe Grushecky from Irwin, Pa, who was working as a special education teacher and bassist Art Nardini, a University of Pittsburgh student.  Both were working class Pittsburghers. Joe Grushecky's father was a coal miner and auto-body man.  Art's father was an auto mechanic.  Joe’s coal miner Ukrainian grandfather had been a musician and Joe’s father, a bluegrass fiddle, mandolin, and guitarist played professionally before he raised a family.  Together Joe & Art recruited Marc Reisman on harmonica, Gil Synder on keyboards, Ed Britt on guitars, and drummer Ned Ranking.  

Naming themselves Brick Alley they played original songs along with vintage R&B and Rock.  Not wanting to play Top 40 cover songs it took them some time to find regular gigs.  Playing songs about steel workers they slowly developed a devoted a fanbase at the Gazabo on West Liberty Avenue and the Decade in Oakland.  They packed the Decade every weekend.  In pursuit of a record contract, the band made several demo recordings of their original tunes.

MCA Signs the Iron City Houserockers

In 1977 Joe Grushecky heard about the launch of Cleveland International Records and sent a demo tape of his band to Steve Popovich.  Steve Popovich, a Pittsburgh area native, was the force behind the 40 million selling Meatloaf "Bat Out of Hell" album and had been an exec at Epic and Columbia before founding Cleveland International.  After receiving a call from Steve, Joe Grushecky and the band made several trips to Cleveland to record.  Steve Popovich and Marty Mooney, calling themselves the Slimmer Twins, financed the Houserockers recording sessions for their first album. Popovich landed the band a four album distribution deal with MCA Records.  He announced the band’s MCA signing with an ad in Billboard calling them the Iron City Bluesbusters.  The band insisted that they be known as a rock band and the name was changed to the Iron City House Rockers. 

MCA released the Iron City Houserockers first album “Love’s So Tough” in 1979.  John McGahan, program director of WDVE added the title song "Love's So Tough" to the DVE playlist launching airplay on major stations around the country.  Rolling Stone gave it a four star review.  Mark Deming of Allmusic.com wrote “Love's So Tough burns with a passion and fire that makes clear the Iron City Houserockers were true believers in the power of rock & roll.”

Have A Good Time and Get Out Alive

Steve Van Zandt, Ian Hunter, and Mick Ronson co-produced with the Slimmer Twins the Houserockers second album “Have a Good Time but Get out Alive!”  Rolling Stone hailed the album a "New American Classic". AllMusic.com proclaims it “A masterpiece of hard-bitten Rust Belt rock”.   It is listed as one of the top eight Essential Heartland Rock records along with the likes of Bob Seger's "Night Moves," John Cougar Mellencamp's "Scarecrow". It features many of the Houserockers' signature tunes including "Pumping Iron", "Junior's Bar", and "Have A Good Time".  As described by Allmusic.com the album is illustrated with vivid sweaty stories about desperate guys on the wrong side of the tracks.

Blood on the Bricks

Their third album “Blood on the Bricks” released on MCA in 1983 was produced by Steve Cropper (of Booker T. and the M.G.'s and the Blues Brothers)  The Houserockers went on a national tour highlighted by an appearance on the Solid Gold TV show. After that album they dropped "Iron City" from their name becoming the "Houserockers" to have a less regional image.  Marc Reisman and Ned Rankin left the band.  Ron “Bird” Foster, formerly of the Roy Buchanan band and the Silencers joined them on drums.  

"Cracking Under Pressure" was the Iron City Houserockers' fourth album on MCA.  After a major shake up in the MCA management, the band was dropped from MCA Records only two days after the album was released, Six months later in 1984 later the original band played their final gig at the Decade and disbanded. 

Brick Alley Band

After the break up Joe Grushecky returned to teaching special education full time. He has been teaching ever since.  Joe spent the years from 1983 to 1988 playing around Pittsburgh with Art Nardini in Joey G. and the Brick Alley Band and writing songs.  He wrote the single “Goodbye Steeltown” about the demise of Pittsburgh’s steel industry.  He co-wrote the single “Radio Ears” with Hermie Granati that was heard on WDVE,

Joe Grushcky and the Houserockers

Since reforming in 1988, as Joe Gruschecky and the Houserockers, they have persevered releasing 12 albums on the Rounder, Razor & Tie, Rhino, and Schoolhouse Record labels.  Joe Grushecky released three solo albums on School House records: Fingerprints (2002), Outtakes and Demos (2006), and A Good Life (2006).

In 1988 the band reformed as “Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers” with Gruschecky, Art Nardini, Joffo Simmons on drums, guitarist Bill Toms, Joe Pelesky on keyboards, and Donnie Marsico on vocals.  Signing with Rounder records they released “Swimming With the Sharks” in 1988. It was produced by Bob Corbin. They followed that with "Rock And Real" on Rounder in 1989.  They released “End of the Century” on Razor & Tie in 1992 that was produced by Grushecky and Rick Witkowski.

Collaboration with the Boss

Joe Gurshecky began collaborating Bruce Springsteen in 1995. Their first effort with the Razor & Tie release    "American Babylon".  Steve Van Zandt took Bruce to hear Joe play at Big Man's West in Red Bank, N.J in 1980. Bruce and Joe have been friends since.  Springsteen produced the album, co-wrote two songs, and sang and played guitar on several tracks.   To launch the CD Bruce joined the Houserockers as lead guitarist for eight shows including the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Tramps in New York, and for two shows at Fat City in Pittsburgh. To promote the album internationally the band tour Europe in 2006 performing in Spain, Italy, the U.K. and the Netherlands.  Allmusic.com praises the album writing “delivered with such earnestness and spirit makes American Babylon a worthy contender and an enjoyable listen for fans of Mellencamp, Seger, and, especially, Springsteen.”

Houserockers Live

In 1999 the Houserockers recorded the live album ‘Down the Road Apiece Live” featuring Bruce Springsteen on guitar and vocals and Marc Reisman rejoining the band on harp.  Released on Schoolhouse Records it was recorded at Nick's Fat City and Rosebud and was produced and engineer by Rick Witkowski. Allmusic.com raves about the album saying: “Grushecky remains one of rock music's greatest treasures. ..If you were to pick one record to explain to future generations what rock & roll was about, Down the Road Apiece Live would be the one to choose.”

Grushecky Solo Recordings

In 2002 Joe Grushecky released his first solo album “Fingerprints” on Schoolhouse Records,  It featured an all-star band of Pittsburgh rockers with of B.E. Taylor, Rick Witkowski, Herman Granati, Donnie Marsico, Bill Toms, and Ed Brown. The Houserockers returned in 2004 with the Schooolhouse release True Companion.  Produced by Rick Witkowski it included original member Mark Reisman on vocals and harp.

During 2006 Joe Grushecky released two solo albums. The compilation disk Outtakes and Demos 1975-2003, 2006 and "A Good Life".  On "A Good Life: Joe sings about his comfort with his roles roles as a father, husband, special education teacher, songwriter and performer. He's happy with the life he's built himself, but he's still hungry for more.  Joe and Springsteen open the CD with a recording of the "Code of Silence". The title song of "A Good Life" is an upbeat rumination on life. Joe sits back and takes stock of where his life has led him and likes what he sees. He's got two kids, a beautiful wife, and leading a good life.  Bruce again lends his voice and guitar to this track as well as a searing solo in "Searching For My Soul."

Houserockers Another Thin Line

Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers released East Carson Street on Schoolhouse Records in 2009. Guitarist Danny Danny Gochnour replaced Bill Toms who left to form his own band.  Included on the album is "Another Thin Line" the first song Grushecky and Springsteen collaborated on in the late 1990s.  Bruce sings and plays guitar on the cut. Rick Witkowski produced and engineered the album.

Documentary Film on Grushecky

In 2009 film makers Steve Caniff and Jim Justice created the documentary "A Good Life -The Joe Grushecky Story" about Joe Grushecky's decades-long rock career and his day job as a special-ed teacher.  It features concert footaage and interviews with Grushecky, Springsteen, Steve Popovich, Steve Cropper, and Joe's co-workers in his day job as a teacher. The film was shown at festivals throughout the U.S.

Playing for Charity

Throughout their 30 year career Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers have generously donated their time and talent to many charity events.   In 1982 they appeared at the Steel Workers Benefit concert to aid thousands of unemployed workers.  They brought Springsteen to Pittsburgh for the Floodaid show at the Benedum Theater in 2004. In 2005 Joe Gruschecky appeared the the Katrina Relief concert held at the Civic Arena.  They have performed annually since 2000 at the Light of Day Concerts at the Paramount Theater and the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey to aid Parkinson's research.  Springsteen has appeared with Grushecky & the Houserockers at seven of the eleven Light of Day concerts. They have also performed at Light of Day concerts in Toronto, Niagara Falls, and the House of Blues in Los Angeles.

Members

The original members of the Iron City Houserockers were

Joe Grushecky - rhythm guitar, vocals

Eddie Britt - lead guitar 

Art Nardini - bass 

Gil Snyder – keyboards, accordion 

Ned Rankin - drums 

Marc Reisman - harmonica

The  currnet members of Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers are

Joe Grushecky - rhythm guitar, vocals

Art Nardini - bass 

Joffo Simmons - Drums

Joe Pelesky -Keyboards & Vocals

Danny Gochnour -Guitar

Johnny Grushecky - Guitar

Rick Witkowski -Guitar

Iron City Houserockers
Houserockers Music

A Good Life -The Joe Grushecky Story

Houserockers Video Channel

American Classic
Houserockers with Ron Foster

Grushechy and the Houserockers 2010 with Bruce
Joe Grushechy and Art Nardini
Joe Grushecky and Springsteen
Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers
True Companion
Joe Grushecky

A Good Life
Light of Day Concert 2011