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Rock Star Joe Grushecky

 
Tonight’s Guest was Joe Grushecky.  For 40 years, publications such as Billboard, Rolling Stone, Village Voice, No Depression, and countless others have hailed Joe Grushecky as one of Rock and Roll’s most talented Singer-Songwriters.
Joe Grushecky is now into a 44 year career writing and performing.  He has produced at least 15 albums.  He’s done a huge number of interviews, appearances and concerts.  He writes the songs and the lyrics and, along the way, he forged a personal and professional friendship and musical collaboration with Bruce Springsteen.  There is a documentary about his life called, “A Good Life:  The Joe Grushecky Story.”  He does this, all the while, living in the great city of Pittsburgh with his family, maintaining a long career teaching special-needs children, and by making a difference giving back to various charities.  He continues to create mind-blowing, innovative, creative and thoughtful music.
 
While most interviews focus on fame and comparisons between Grushecky’s and Springsteen’s career, we talked about the life, times, and work of a great American artist.  Joe Grushecky has made choices along the way that have allowed him an opportunity few great musicians are able to enjoy after their work is discovered.  He made decisions that speak to his core and have allowed him to live a genuine life:  He keeps his family close, he works in a field that is largely unheralded and the milestones are measured with small, sporadic, almost unnoticeable progress, and he plays his music.  He unabashedly offers his music to the world and he spends a great deal of time giving back to everyday people in the community he loves. 
He is lucky in a way--Grushecky’s  perspective has remained truthful.  His work is real and it is unclouded by the fame machine where prosperity and isolation make it impossible to walk the streets without the disruption of cameras, prying eyes, and fake friends who want something.   Perhaps this is why his lyrics and his music speak so easily, so truthfully, and so personally about life’s rolling dynamic….His perspective is so real, so heartfelt, and so full of rock and roll swag that makes his music raw, authentic, and relevant. 
Joe Grushecky is a true artist, owned by NO One, writing and playing at the highest level, producing music that has stood the test of time and yet evolves and simmers with the ebb and flow of life.  I have been following Grushecky’s work for years and I adore this artist, his music, and his story.  I was so excited to have him on my show-- The Great Pittsburgh Rock and Roller, the worlds finest, Joe Grushecky.
In the 70’s he was in the band The Iron City Houserockers—even then they were called “one of the best bar bands in America,” and “rock’s best kept secret.”  Even then, with this acclaim, he maintained his privacy and autonomy.  I believe this is the true secret to his music.  I asked, “Was it a conscious decision to make choices that kept your life real?  Was this planned from the beginning?” and he answered, “I had a family to support and that was my first priority—I needed to go to work every day to be sure I could take care of them.  I also didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh.  There is just something about the City.  I want to live there, I don’t want to leave.  That being said, I decided I would always play music. Music will always be part of my life.   And I have remained true to that.” 
When I was listening to his music, preparing for the interview, I started to feel like he was a kind of a Rock and Roll version of Country Music—his music is full of stories, feelings, and passages.  He says he writes about what he knows and it comes out clearly in his music.  You can see his life go by in his songs.  His albums and subjects change as time moves on.  When he said he had recently spent some time in Nashville, I wasn’t surprised.  I would imagine the song pitchers and publishing companies would love to get a ‘hold of his catalogue.  I believe we will be hearing Joe Grushecky covers for years to come.
The Nashville connection makes so much sense.  He grew up in a coal mining family—poor but the house was always full of music.  He says “I came by music honestly-- my father played just about everything, my Grandfather played the violin, my Mom was a beautiful singer.  There was always music in the house.  I was always playing something.  We didn’t watch television….we played music and that’s where it comes from.  Then, I was inspired by the Beatles.  I picked up my first guitar at 16.  It just went from there. “
I have heard the rock and roll experts compare Grushecky to Bob Seger and John Mellencamp, John Fogerty and Tom Petty.  People say he was influenced by Creedence Clearwater and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.  He says, “Springsteen “casts a big shadow” on my life, but it’s been a positive thing.  It’s like playing baseball with Mickey Mantle or Roberto Clemente or playing football with Joe Montana.  You work with one of the best and it makes you better.  I think that speaks volumes about your own talent also.”
Grushecky’s song, “Code of Silence,” written with Bruce Springsteen was a big commercial success, winning a Grammy for Best Solo Rock Performance.  It was fun hearing that Joe and Bruce sometimes hang out at various Pittsburgh bars and venues and play unannounced—what a thrill for the local Pittsburgh citizens.  Can you imagine going out for a drink and having these two show up?  That has to add yet another reason why the Pittsburgh hometown is so special. 
 
Joe Grushecky is Pittsburgh loyal to the core.  He said, “There is a soul to this town, it draws you in and you never want to leave it.”  So he brings the talent in—Springsteen shows up sometimes for Pittsburgh benefits when Grushecky is involved:  Fund Raising Concerts for flood victims, autism, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, the Flight 93 Memorial and more— Rock and Roll for the people by the working class sons of two great American towns.
I find Grushecky to be kind of like Sinatra.  I see him as an “I did it my way” kind of a guy.  This independence is reflected in his music.   I saw an interview once where he talked about writing and he said, “You have to write about what you know.”  He said his song, “Beauty Fades” was written to remind people to “love the things that last—look underneath to find what is really important.”  Then he wrote a piece called “Safe at Home” which was a father’s plea or prayer that his son comes safely home from war.  He is a poet and a philosopher, in true rock and roll fashion. 
 
Joe Grushecky will be introducing his new album, “Somewhere East of Eden” at a CD Release Party on October 12, 2013 at the Alter Bar—Strip District, 1620 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA  15222,  412-206-9719.  The show starts about 10:00 PM.  You can buy tickets at http://www.thealtarbar.com/
 
Also, you can see more performances at Joe’s website:  www.joegrushecky.com   @JoeGrushecky
 
Music is a family affair in the Gruscheky household.  Everyone is involved.  His son Johnny Grushecky @Johnny Grushecky plays with his band, his wife works helping to promote and schedule performances.  Of note, Joe’s son is also a full-time musician with his own band and his music can be purchased at ITunes.  Look for The Composure.  Or Visit their website at www.thecomposure.com
To me, his life, his work and his commitment to music and family paint a picture of truth.  His work is a love story-- an image of living a real and true life, unsheltered from artificial insulation and brown nosing want’a be’s.  His carefully chosen life allows him to comment through his music on what is really going on…..There is nothing contrived about a Joe Grushecky piece.  And, I think, this is why people understand and relate to his music.  He gets up and goes to work every morning; he surrounds himself with real people; he helps people with true challenges that others just plain want to avert their eyes and forget.  He writes great music AND he does very important work.  So, to me he has lived a life worth singing about and the place he has chosen to reside gives him an ability to inspire individuals AND the masses.  Well Done, Joe Grushecky.  Well Done.
 
My opinion (and you know I have one J) @SherryFrazier
I once heard Bill Murray say, “For all you people who want to be rich and famous, I recommend that you just try being rich first and see how that goes before you throw the famous part into the mix.  It is so refreshing to talk with such an accomplished, well respected, and connected artist who has not lost sight of what is really important.  He understands and lives the concept, “We only have one life.”  He is filling it to the fullest.  And he is doing it his way.
 When I was preparing for this interview, I started to become very tired of the questions about fame other reporters were asking him.  They were turning the story around--making it seem that he should be more, putting him on the defensive.  It made me furious.  I was thinking as I read these crazy questions from the LALA land people who have bought in to a fake perspective of value and I am thinking---More than what?  He has had a career of over 44 years, turned out at least 15 albums, he raises money for charity, collaborates and performs with buddy Bruce Springsteen, he uses his supernatural gift to help others in important work with forgotten children AND he has a wife he adores, a family he loves dearly and a city he proudly calls Home…..This artist is truly, the real deal.  I have to say, if he was a race car, they would say he is pinging on all cylinders. 
 
I hope everyone will support Joe Grushecky and buy his new album, “Somewhere East of Eden.”
 
I would be remiss if I did not mention the new artists I have been featuring every week on my show.  These 16 year old musicians are like mad scientists—they go in a room for hours to lay down music.  Sometimes they come out to eat but, more often, they come out with big grins, inspired.  They are making it happen.  And I am so proud.  And, so lucky to hear new music being played out on the piano and microphone above my office as I work.  So, yes—one of the musicians is my son, Grant Frazier.  Enjoy!
I’d like to acknowledge the musicians responsible for my intro music titled, “Through the Night.”  Arranged and produced by Ian Gallagher, music and lyrics by Grant Frazier, vocals by Grant Frazier @NotForGranted and the beautiful and talented Erin Taylor.  Guitar work is by Ian Gallagher. @Thomas_Lansky
The show closed with a song called “Drowning in Tears”—music, lyrics, and vocals by a new artist Grant Frazier, and guitar work by Ian Gallagher.

Photographs and Memories

It was a great honor to interview photographer Richard Lee Benson last night.  Richard Lee Benson’s five-decades long career included photographing John Wayne, Bob Hope, Erte, Danny Thomas, Willie Nelson, Santana, Joe DiMaggio, Faye Dunaway, Reggie Jackson, Halston, Dianna Ross, Brooke Shields, Dick Clark, Jack Nicholson, Jose Feliciano, Shaq, Alan Alda, and too many more to name. 
 
Mr. Benson’s career began as a U.S. Army photographer and journalist stationed in the United States and Viet Nam.  He went on to work for Esquire Magazine for a short period before he started his own photography studio in NYC where he had a tremendous opportunity to meet and shoot the high powered and the famous of NYC, the Nation, and the World. 
 
Later, his move to Florida gave him the opportunity to shoot commercial photos and broadcast video for CBS Sports, Bloomberg Communications, MSNBC, and E! Entertainment.  He once interviewed 136 year old Charlie Smith, a former slave and member of the Jesse James Gang. 
 
Benson is now semi-retired but, like all brilliant creative people, just can’t stop working.  He is finishing work on a book containing photos of interesting people he meets while touring the United States.   He is open to opportunity, completely authentic, and still passionate about telling stories through his work.  He is a true artist.
 
The interview made me think of photography on a personal level, what it means to me and to all of us as we travel on this conveyer belt called life:
In our lifetimes, we have never been without photography.  At the personal level, we have photos documenting every important part of our lives---school photos, christening photos, baby photos, wedding photos, anniversary photos, dad sleeping in his chair photos, fishing photos, skiing photos, sports pictures made into magnets on the refrigerator photos. We own every kind of photo for every type of occasion.  And it is perhaps because of a photo’s intimacy and familiarity that make it difficult to call it “art.”  It seems sad that the very accessibility of photography reduces its importance or the perception of its importance.  Until time passes.  And then photographs are the only evidence we have that what our brain remembers is true.  I think photos are wonderful treasures…personal, poignant, and precious.  They recall a place in time.  And they will live on forever.
 
We are lucky to enjoy photos memorializing our lives and the events that surround us during our lifetime.  When I was a kid, there was a marvelous newspaper, The Whidbey Press, with a magnificent editor who was also a photographer.  His name was Wallie Funk.  He had the energy of 10 people and he seemed to be everywhere-- taking shots of people in the crowd at games, players as they ran onto the gym floor or were hauled off the football field, parade participants, jets flying overhead, Flags flying, honors given, Navy Squadron Families greeting loved ones after a 9 month deployment.  His newspaper pages were filled with Town Council meetings, band performances, graduations and Homecomings---everyday life full of everyday people.  He recorded every moment, every emotion and he made us all part of his community.  He made our lives feel important and his magical photos helped us understand those people around us who were different… but the same.  He built a tremendous body of work that lives on in our collective memories, a vast tapestry of Island life—colorful, beautiful, American to the core.  Every week he wove more evidence of our passage through time, illuminating truth, and spotlighting his vision of our little town between the pages of weekly newsprint.  Those pages were our childhood, they were our community.  He celebrated the human spirit and it was through his eye that we graduated to an enlightened understanding of our little town that made us all part of something greater than ourselves--more appreciative, sensitive, and willing to embrace humanity …..He created and punctuated our memories.  He made us notice more, feel stronger, celebrate louder, care more.  And the acknowledgment through his work made us look closer and gave us an appreciation for the simple things we might have missed without his passion to share. He was dedicated to tell his story.  And that is the story we remember.  That is the town we cherish.
 
Bless the artists and the visionaries who make us feel, make us better for having experienced their work.   Thank you, Wallie Funk.
 

Bless the Writers

I had the good fortune to interview Elizabeth English tonight.  I closed my show with the following words for fellow writers:
 
For all you writers out there, I wish you passion, focus, and perspective.
I have never met a successful writer who wrote from their head....it's all in the heart, it's all in that space where you become one with the work and unaware of anything going on around you....you can't hear outside voices, time has no meaning. The only sound is the beat of the story, the timing of the message, the cadence of the characters.....successful writers work. They don't talk, they don't have time to make excuses, they don't look for reasons why not. Because it is the work that drives them. Successful writers don't join blog groups or chat rooms to answer the question "the best thing anyone ever said about your writing?" Because the good writers don't care if people like it or not as long as it tells their story the way they feel the story. A good writer is an artist, a musician of words, a painter of passion, a dancer with reckless abandon and thoughtful dynamics. A good writer writes. A good writer writes. A great writer rewrites.
A successful writer has the good sense to finish and move on to the next work.....putting the work in the hands of the professionals who bridge the gap between creativity and business, people who speak the "other" language and make it sing. Those business people are the sound system for the work, the speakers, the broadcasters, the pit bulls who make success happen. A successful writer knows that it is not enough to have written---if you simply write it, they do not come......You need those guys.
A successful writer has the good sense to maintain their privacy and their "eye" They have the ability to "see" things others don't see, to "feel" things others don't understand. And to encapsulate these delicious creatures into characters that inspire, horrify, teach, make us laugh.....and endure. Sometimes forever.
A successful writer does not bash Hollywood. They do not use the name of the most successful in vain. Because, in the end, the successful writers know it is all about the work. The BUSINESS of Hollywood is all about the people---and in a highly volatile business with a lot of variables and big budgets, people form alliances--they work with people they trust and understand. So, the successful writer is not only over-the-top talented, they are also consistent, pleasant, smart and easy-to-work with.......There is a lot of talk about writers not getting respect. Well, that is not true. The writers who write the best works are not among those complaining about respect---they live in a cocoon of challenge, opportunity, and grace. And they make a good living. We have never been in a time with so many opportunities for good writing. Content is needed everywhere and creativity can never be a commodity. The business needs us. We need only do what we do. Write. Write. Write. And Live with passion so we have something to give back to our work.
I leave tonight sending powerful and positive thoughts to all of you writers, filmmakers and artists. Work! Do your thing. See the forest and walk toward to light.

This Wonderful Life -- A Mom with Boys

After my interview with Brooke de Lench, I shared my own thoughts about football and being a mom on the sidelines:

In the beginning, football was just a little game--play some flag, have some fun, move up to C-League and learn the game. But that was before No Vacation In August became No Vacation At All.....

We never sent our boys out to become gladiators: To get beat up, yelled at, dirty, scabbed and injured. We sent them out to get a jump-start on what we know they have to learn eventually--that life is mostly unfair, talent trumps hard work, the boss does play favorites, you've got to do what you are supposed to do, and, even when you do--that the worst possible thing will happen at the worst possible moment. And you have to learn from all of it and push onward. Everyone survives. In the end, most of the time, no one dies.

We want our boys to learn from football that there will be another game, on another day--so you better be prepared next time. The score will start out zero to zero and, and on any given day, both teams show up, on time, and dressed to play. Either team can win. The team that wins is the team that is best prepared, does their job, wants it most, executes, and calls the best plays. The winning team only finishes after the game is over.

We send our boys out there to learn life lessons, to learn how to deal with adversity, to win with honor, and to lose gracefully. We want our boys to put themselves out there with their whole hearts and, win or lose, become better men. Somehow, we know that under that sweaty, dirty uniform, is the man they will become and we want that guy to drive into manhood with honor, dignity, confidence and experience.

We hope our boys make friends, have some laughs, and have fun. We really hope they have good men for coaches, and learn that in football, like in life, a person gets what they give. We want them to learn that nothing worthwhile is ever given freely--it is earned. And we want them to know that they won't get anything without putting themselves out there--with desire, trying, learning, striving, and mastering the game. Use your words! Ask for what you want! Go after it! Master it! Teach others! Lead!

We want our boys to learn that perseverance is everything. Focus is key. We hope they keep their eyes on the ball and their heart in the game--to the very end, no matter what is happening on the scoreboard. We want them to know that they won't always win, but if they give all they've got, they will have a winning heart. And that is really what we wish for our boys.

Everyone has to stop playing football sometime.....but the heart beats on until the end. So, it is their hearts we have been concentrating on. We focus on their hearts through loss, through adversity, through disappointment, and happiness. And for them--it is through the eyes of a team, that they will learn true appreciation--for the winning AND for the losing. Because after a whole lot of defeat, victory is sweet.

If our boys can celebrate their defeats and take the lessons learned to the next game or to the next phase of their lives--they've won. We want them to own that only a quitter loses every time. May our boys break out the swagger, contain the sorrow, remember the victories, and use it all to fuel their futures. A future with the sweet memory, and the benefit of football.

When they win, let's hope that they cherish the moment and take a second to look around, high five their teammates and feel, really celebrate with joy. Football has taught us that much of what they do on the field and from now on in life will be up to them. They do it alone. We can only support, love, and pray for them. And we will be in the stands, in their hearts, on the sideline, rooting them onward.

By Sherry Frazier, From A letter to my boys.

The Smartest Team

I had an amazing time interviewing Brooke de Lench on Sunday night-- she is Founder and Publisher of MomsTeam; director/producer of The Smartest Team, an hour-long documentary which shows how football programs and athletes can reduce concussions by playing smarter. She flew in a group of doctors, physical therapists, surgeons and coaches to a small town in Oklahoma and reduced the concussion rate on the football team by 75%.  The documentary is running across the nation on PBS and can be purchased on Amazon.com--The Smartest Team....a must see for all football parents, players, coaches, athletic directors and anyone who cares about the great game of football.  This is an incredible group and it was a GREAT SHOW!!

Joe Grushecky

I had Joe Grushecky scheduled on my show last night but we had to cancel the show due to technical difficulties with the radio network.  After my rant, I called Joe and he has graciously agreed to come back so you can hear from the man himself.  I appologize to everyone who was listening--Have you ever been so excited to get an opportunity, looked forward to it and then it didn't happen?  That is exactly where I was last night--not a happy camper.  I was so excited to interview him and had listened to several of his previous interviews and listened to his music--and there was a lot of it.  During a five decade career in the music industry, Joe has put out a lot of good music and he has a lot of stories to tell.....collaborating with Bruce Springsteen and working with giants Steve Van zandt, Ian Hunter, and Steve Cropper.  He is a rock and roll poet--- a true artist.  He is owned by NO ONE, writing and playing at the highest level, producing music that has stood the test of time and yet evolves and simmers with the ebb and flow of life.  I ADORE this artist.  I will be announcing his new interview soon.
 

Karl Mullen on Tonight's Show!

Tonight's Show--Karl Mullen. Multi-talented: Musician--His song "Whiskey from the Field"--recorded by Scottish folk legends The Battlefield Band and acclaimed Irish folk artist Pat Kilbride--received a Grammy nomination. Outsider Artist: Imagry in his paintings is born out of Irish mythology, family, and dreams. Showcased in the PBS syndicated TV series Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations and included frequently in art/design magazines such as Home Accents and Elle Decor. "His images seem to be born of Irish mists...with dreams, boxers, mountains, ghosts, whiskey, cities, and love."
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trianglevariety/2013/08/30/the-new-authors-corner-with-sherry-frazier--queen-of-hoopla

The New Author's Corner--Aug 22 @ 8:30 PM ET

Don't miss this show--Aug 22 @ 8:30 PM ET-William Deane: 33 year CBS/ABC veteran newsman reports on a Kennedy era CIA sponsored program that offered convicted prisoners lifetime clemency if they agreed to conduct dangerous clandestine operations and came back alive. He talks about the criminals and the American victims who were fleeced by criminals with a license to swindle. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trianglevariety/2013/08/23/the-new-authors-corner-with-sherry-frazier--queen-of-hoopla

Don't miss my show!

 
Don't miss this show--Thursday, 15 August, 8:30 ETP: A candid discussion with Dr. Geo Espinosa, Naturopathic Urologist and recognized authority in natural and complementary treatments for benign and malignant urological conditions. Dr. Geo is Director of the Integrative Urology Center at NYU Langone Medical Center and co-founder and Medical Director of XY Wellness. www.XYWellness.com
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trianglevariety/2013/08/16/the-new-authors-corner-with-sherry-frazier--queen-of-hoopla
 
Sherry Frazier, The Queen of Hoopla, will interview Roger Fisher on her show, Author's Corner August 8 at 8:30 PM Eastern Time Zone. Roger Fisher is a founding guitarist of the iconic rock group Heart, globally known through sales of more than 30 million albums. The original line-up of Heart was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
You can listen here:

Queen of Hoopla Radio Show

 
Tune in to my new radio show!
 
Sherry Frazier, Queen of Hoopla. Tune in August 1, 2013 at 8:30 PM Eastern Time Zone:
Show Topic and Guest: Cause related fiction. Attorney Tom Bleakley talks about his 35 year career as a trial lawyer and how it has influenced his life, his writing, his music, and his pursuit of doing the right thing. A discussion about how life and experience drive passion and the pursuit of story telling through fiction and film.
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