Mike Vallely, Joe Grushecky and Greg Ginn (photo by Desiree Grushecky)
When you go to a Bruce Springsteen concert, you expect an appearance by Joe Grushecky.But a Black Flag show?!
The Iron City Houserocker did indeed get on stage with the legendary hardcore band Wednesday night at Altar Bar.
Here’s the connection: Grushecky is a longtime friend of Mike Vallely, the singer and former pro skater standing in for Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, Henry Rollins, etc., in this version of Greg Ginn’s band.
Grushecky met Vallely more than a decade ago at a Houserockers show in Jersey. Vallely was impressed with Grushecky’s lyrics and approached him with some of his own writing.
“I’m like, ‘Here’s this hardcore skating guy and he was writing this poetry that was really good, really streetwise,” Grushecky says. “It seemed right to take that step and write music to it.”
They recorded the EP “Weekend in Pittsburgh” together in 2002, and Vallely also became friends with Joe’s son Johnny.
“He would come into Pittsburgh when he was in town and he would stay at the house and he took Johnny’s band on tour,” Grushecky says. “I went with them, and opened doing some acoustic songs.”
Grushecky is not the consummate Black Flag fan or anything -- (no four-bars tattoo on HIS arm), but he went to check them out Wednesday night.
“I can’t tell you every Black Flag song they played, but they were great. I was aware of them, as much as the Dead Kennedys, the Descendents, all those bands.”
Grushecky was surprised to learn show that Black Flag and SST founder Ginn was an Iron City Houserockers fan back in the day. “He played a lot of the same clubs we did on the East Coast and would hear about us,” Grushecky says.
BF invited Grushecky up for an extended jam on the last encore: “Louie Louie.” Of course, Grushecky knew it, and Black Flag cut it in 1981 with Dez Cadena on vocals.
Grushecky realizes he must have seemed out of the place to some members of the crowd.
“I’m sure the older punkers were amazed, like ‘Geeze, you played with Bruce Springsteen and now you’re playing with Black Flag.’ Opposite end of the spectrum, but music is music.”