Pumpin’ Some Pittsburgh Labor Day Love with The Iron City Houserockers

Sep 5, 2016 | 8427 Views | 1 Comment

There’s no city in America that defined labor quite like beautiful, hardscrabble Pittsburgh. Our workers produced the big, hard, heavy, clanging things that made the world go 'round: iron, steel, aluminum, glass, massive rotors, giant generators. Nobody worked as hard as Pittsburghers. And nobody wrote and sang about the working class lives and loves of Pittsburghers quite like the fabulous Iron City Houserockers. The band's early lineup included founder, guitarist and vocalist Joe Grushecky, bass player Art Nardini, drummer Ned Rankin, guitarist Eddie Britt, keyboardist Gil Snyder, guitarist Gary Scalese, and harmonica player Marc Reisman. These guys... Read More »

Roaring Down Thunder Road: Darlin’, You Know Just What I’m Here For

Aug 25, 2016 | 12384 Views | 3 Comments

I took a road trip with "Born to Run" yesterday. It's the 41st anniversary of Bruce's groundbreaking album, and there's no better way to experience it than by blasting it in your car, with the windows open and the wind blowing back your hair. Cars and tunnels and backstreets and highways are just as central to the LP's cast of characters as the losers and loners and tramps. My trip to the South Hills of Pittsburgh lasted the entire length of the album. From Rt. 22 East and the harmonica opening of "Thunder Road," right down to... Read More »

Love Amid the Rubble: Ronnie Lane’s Tender Ode to His Dad, Saint Stan

Jun 19, 2016 | 11304 Views | 1 Comment

I heard your footsteps at the front door, and that old familiar love song. ‘Cause you knew you'd find me waiting there, at the top of the stairs. Those lyrics weren’t written by a heartsick bloke waiting for his lover to come home. They were composed by an artist recalling his boyhood days in a working-class London neighborhood, waiting for his tireless dad to return from his Sunday morning trudge to the local junk market. You were sorting through the odds and ends, You was looking for a bargain. Ronnie Lane, the artist once described by Mojo writer Wayne Pernu... Read More »

You Score an Ounce, Olé — Paul, Pot, and the Petition of ’67

Jun 18, 2016 | 11934 Views | 3 Comments

Even if Bob Dylan hadn't introduced The Beatles to marijuana at New York's Delmonico Hotel, the boys would have lit up soon enough. From that August 1964 night onward, "let's have a laugh" quickly became their code phrase for "let's have a toke." And laugh they did. At least until the infamous Sgt. Norman Pilcher and his drug-sniffing dogs Yogi and BooBoo came snooping around their London abodes. The cop and his canines found 12 grams of cannabis in a binocular case in John and Yoko's apartment in October 1968, and a few months later discovered a... Read More »

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

May 30, 2016 | 11218 Views | 2 Comments

“What did you do in the war, Daddy?” That’s a question most kids eventually get around to asking when they learn their fathers served in the armed forces. Almost all of my childhood friends had dads who served in either World War II or the Korean War. In those days it wasn’t uncommon for veterans to keep their war stories to themselves, especially those who fought in battle or witnessed atrocities. The men who went to war back then were of a generation steeped, for better or worse, in silent suffering. They shared a collective stiff-upper-lip consciousness.... Read More »