Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers 

Saturday, April 15, at Wilbert's.

Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers' newest disc, True Companion, winds down with a feel-good cover of the Standells' barroom classic "Dirty Water." Grushecky himself has been kicking around the area long enough to remember when the Cuyahoga was so dirty, it was flammable. Granted, he's talking about the Three Rivers of his hometown -- with Donnie Iris, he's one of two guys who are roughly the Pittsburgh equivalent of Michael Stanley.

When you've been doing this for 30 years and you're not a household name, you'll have good days and bad days. And some of the better tracks from the Houserockers' latest sound as if they caught Grushecky on bad days. The disc is plenty upbeat, but shot through with a desolate version of the blues. And he doesn't mind; the game's been good to him, as the life-affirming "A Long Way to Go" recalls: The singer-guitarist slugged his way through Steel City strip joints, bars, and frat parties before Steve Popovich from Cleveland International Records signed the then-Iron City Houserockers. That paved the way for 1979's Love's So Tough, which drew positive notices in Rolling Stone. The Houserockers never quite broke out, but they have a loyal national following, and they're popular in the right circles. Bruce Springsteen, the king of blue-collar rock, produced 1995's American Babylon, leaving a permanent tinge of Jersey in the boy from the 'Burgh.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Previews

Latest in Livewire

More by D.X. Ferris

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Ryan Sickler @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Dec. 9
  • Sebastian Maniscalco @ Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse

    • Thu., Dec. 9
  • Lil Rel @ Improv Comedy Club & Restaurant

    • Thu., Dec. 9

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation