It was the summer of 1981. It was a long, arid, endless North Dakota summer. I'd been on my bike all day - not going anywhere, just knocking out the miles on the prairie, watching the clouds of grasshoppers, wishing it'd rain.
I couldn't find a job. Tammy at the Tastee-Freez was turning into a dead issue. My future was stretching out in front of me as long and dry and bleak as the prairie I'd been riding across all day.
I stopped into the Stutsman County Library, and grabbed the latest "Rolling Stone". I flipped to the reviews. They raved - four solid stars - about a band from Pittsburgh and their new album.
"Up there with Springsteen, Petty and
Seger", the review said. High praise, to me. I
pedaled over to Mother's Records and spent the last few bucks from my band's
gig the previous weekend on the only copy of "Blood on the Bricks"
in all of North Dakota. And I rode home, and listened - and as I got
halfway through "It's Friday Night", I realized that these guys
were on my soundtrack for life.
So the Iron City Houserockers - a scrappy little bar band from Pittsburgh that got the sort of critical respect that most of its contemporaries could buy for love or money - became part of my musical life. And I think I was the only person west of Chicago to have ever heard of them.
It's 22 years later. The summer of 2003 is stretching out long and dry and I can't find a job, and Tammy at the Tastee-Freez is on her third marriage somewhere in Montana, and the Houserockers - especially their big four great albums from the late seventies and early eighties - haven't lost one place in my personal soundtrack since then.
And yet, I go on the WorldWide Web, and I can't find any substantive material about the band, anywhere. Sure, Joe Grushecky has a website - the guy's still great, still hangin' with Bruce, still selling out shows in Pittsburgh.
But it seems sad - in a world where you can find fan sites for Bananarama and Seca and every one-hit wonder that ever released a CD, it's a travesty that there's not a single site to pay homage to the greatest band you never heard of. (UPDATE: Naturally, in the two weeks of searching before I put this site up, I found nothing - but the morning after, I encountered this site, Sweating Steel. It's a good site - check it out!)
So here you go. If all it does is fill the gap until these guys they their real due, so be it. And if remains the only Houserockers fan site on the web, I can live with that too.
Like the site? Drop me a line - shotinthedark at mitchberg dot com.