Meet the Band: Joe Grushecky (vocals, guitar), Art Nardini (bass), Joffo Simmons (drums), Joey Pelesky (keyboards), Danny Gochnour (guitar), Johnny Grushecky (guitar)
The Cleveland Connection: Heartland singer-guitarist Joe Grushecky hails from Pittsburgh, but he owes a debt to Cleveland. He started playing here in the '70s and has plenty of fond memories. "The first time I played in Cleveland, I played at the Agora with Ian Hunter," says Grushecky, who regularly performs with his friend Bruce Springsteen every time the Boss comes to Pittsburgh. "I did some really good shows in Cleveland, and we were signed to Cleveland International. We came out of the bar scene in Pittsburgh, but we played quite a bit at the Agora. If it wasn't for Cleveland International, my life would have been much different."
A Band Effort: Grushecky and bassist Art Nardini have been together since 1976. The rest of the band members arrived during different eras, but Grushecky says the group is more cohesive than ever. "We do have [the E Street Band's] Ed Manion join us sometimes on the horns," he says. "He's been playing with us ever since Bruce's tour ended. He moved to Pittsburgh about four or five years ago. He gave the band a bit of a different sound. It's been fun. It's been a shot in the arm. The band is better than it's ever been."
Why You Should Hear Them: With last year's Somewhere East of Eden, Grushecky delivers a terrific collection of tunes that showcase his tough, gruff vocals and gritty guitar playing. "I started recording as much as I could prior to making that album," he says. "It's unlike me. I recorded a lot of songs until I came upon the title track. I was reading an article about how the vets were having a hard time returning from Iraq and I was reading that biblical book. Eden was supposed to be in Iraq. I started writing around that particular idea and I just picked the ones that fit my vision." He says he put it together like a vinyl release and it had a "side one" and a "side two." "Side one is intense," he says. "I eased up on side two. We got a good response from the record. My older fans say it's one of the best."
Where You Can Hear Them: grushecky.com
Where You Can See Them: Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Palace Theatre in Lorain.