Joe Grushecky "East of Eden"

Pittsburgh's reigning king of rock offers up a new batch of songs mixed with a few chestnuts.

Why do we Pittsburghers love Joe Grushecky the way we do? He’s a great songwriter, singer and guitarist, he’s got a huge heart, a genuine work ethic both as a school teacher and working musician, and he’s a man with a social conscience that rivals Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Plus he’s one of yinz – a Pittsburgher to the core. 

For his latest album, released on his own Schoolhouse Records, Grushecky mixes original songs and covers of older material. For his new songs he traverses a wide range of subject matter and broaches new musical territory. The most original track “When Castro Came Down From the Hills” finds Grushecky mining the Cuban revolution for thematic inspiration. The music rises in 6/8 time and features piano, percussion, and horn arrangements that match the heat of the lyrics.

“Prices Going Up” is a catchy blue collar rocker that underscores the struggle to keep ahead of the bills. Many of the songs linger on the passage of time. “Changing of the Guard” and the self-effacing “Still Look Good (For Sixty)” recognize that time waits for no one and no one is exempt from its effects. And still Grushecky is willing to defy time by continuing to do what he’s  always done on “I Was Born To Rock. “The First Day of School” is a sweet ballad that finds him reminiscing a on his own past as he welcomes a new crop of students to his class.

Grushecky’s a cappella cover of “John the Revelator,” with its biblical theme, rolls seamlessly into the title track. “Somewhere East of Eden” recounts the tribulations of an Iraq War veteran as he tries to work back into Western Pennsylvania life while battling the effects of post-traumatic-syndrome. It’s another song about a search for redemption and peace.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)