Joe Grushecky on his Pittsburgh Key to the City, Wonder Bar show, and Springsteen collab

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It's not everyday a rocker with the Key to the City of Pittsburgh plays Asbury Park.

This weekend, it's happening. Joe Grushecky, a Pittsburgh native, received his key on Dec. 28, 2021 from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. He and his band, the Houserockers, play a sold-out show Saturday, July 9 at the city's Wonder Bar. On Sunday, July 10, Grushecky does a solo show at the nearby Langosta Lounge.

“I was pretty proud of that,” Grushecky said of getting the key. “I think the guy who got it before that was Clemente, so I'm in good company.”

The family of the late Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente received his Key to the City on Sept. 21, 2021.

“The mayor is a fan of mine and he understood what I was writing about,” Grushecky said. “I used the city of Pittsburgh, maybe in the way Bruce (Springsteen) used Asbury Park, as a fairly unique town that has it's own vibe. I just wrote about the people and the places, and the struggles of the people of Pittsburgh became the colors for my songs.”

Cited in the key's proclamation were Grushecky's work as a special needs educator and charity concerts he and the Houserockers played, which raised more than $100,000 for the victims of the 2019 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre that killed 11 Jewish worshipers.

Grushecky and the Houserockers band were also bestowed a day in Pittsburgh: March 31.

As for Asbury Park, Grushecky has had connections to the Jersey Shore for decades. He and the former Iron City Houserockers broke through in the mid '70s on Cleveland International Records, the same label of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

He also collaborated with Springsteen on the 1995 Houserockers comeback album, “American Babylon.” The Boss co-wrote “Homestead” and “Dark and Bloody Ground” on the album, and he produced and played on it. He also joined the band for a short promo tour.

Since then, Grushecky and Springsteen have collaborated both on stage and in the studio. The 25th anniversary release of “American Babylon” features the original tracks, demos and a live set of the Houserockers with Springsteen on lead guitar from a '95 show at Nick’s Fat City in Pittsburgh.

“When Bruce stepped in and helped us, it gave us a new lease on life,” Grushecky said “It really did.”

Go: Joe Gruskecky and the Houserockers, 8 p.m. Saturday, July 9, Wonder Bar, Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park. Sold out. wonderbarasburypark.com. Also, Joe Grushecky solo, 8 p.m. Sunday, July 10, Langosta Lounge, Boardwalk, Asbury Park. Free. www.langostalounge.com.

More:Orange Loop Rock Fest in A.C. scores with Stone Temple Pilots revival, Bamboozle tease

More:Bruce Springsteen T-shirts to help Fulfill foodbank fight hunger

Southside Johnny's A.P. key

On the topic of keys to the city, only one Asbury Park musician has received the Key to the City of Asbury Park. Southside Johnny Lyon, a Neptune native, was so honored in July of 1978.

A key on a kite might have detected lightning in the area last weekend. The Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes annual Fourth of July weekend show, Saturday, July 2 at the Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, was rescheduled for Sept. 4, Labor Day weekend, because of “potential for lightning and high winds in the area,” according to the Pony's social media and Southside's rep.

A storm did touch down nearby in Long Branch and downed power lines there on Saturday.

Tickets will be honored on the new date. Visit www. stoneponyonline.com for more information.

AP Music Foundation free shows

Who's up for some free music?

Shows presented by the Asbury Park Music Foundation at Music Mondays at Springwood Park; Asbury Park Live on the boardwalk at 1st Avenue; and the Asbury Park Concert Band series, 7 p.m. on Thursdays through Aug. 25 at Bradley Park, are underway.

The Music Mondays at Springwood shows begin at 6 p.m. and Asbury Park Live at 7 p.m. Visit asburyparkmusiclives.org for more information and check out the schedules below:

Music Mondays at Springwood Park

JT Bowen with Sharon Lasher, July 11; Ray, Goodman & Brown with Joquin Anderson, July 18; Gentlemen of Soul with Asbury’s Got Talent, July 25; August schedule TBA

Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise
Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise

Asbury Park Live

The Extensions and Yawn Mower, July 6; Des and the Swagmatics and Daughter Vision, July 13; Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise and 8DayzStr8, July 20; Dark City Strings and The Foes of Fern, Aug. 3; Alexander Simone & Whodat? LiveCrew and Pamela Flores, Aug. 10; Sonic Blume and Dano, Aug. 17; The Shady Street Show Band and Alexis Keegan, Aug. 24; Sean Tobin & the Boardwalk Fire and Jackson Pines, Aug. 31

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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; cjordan@app.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Joe Grushecky, Houserockers band to play Wonder Bar, Langosta Lounge