Sept. 29--A cute young woman approaches with a smile, prompting our narrator, Joe Grushecky, to do what men of a certain age do in that situation.
He sucks in his gut, stands a bit taller and tries to muster some charm.
But his ego is instantly deflated as she holds out a piece of paper and asks the singer to sign an autograph for her grandmother, one of his biggest fans.
It's all there for you to hear on "Still Look Good (For 60)," an amusing track off the Pittsburgh rocker's solid new album, "Somewhere East of Eden," which arrives next week.
"People have been saying that's one of their favorite tracks off the record, or CD or LP or whatever you call it these days," Grushecky said.
With lyrics lamenting uncontrollable ear hair, and kids who get bored with stories of the good ol' days, you might assume it's an autobiographical song from the 60-ish Grushecky, but he said he mainly wrote it as a 60th birthday present a few years ago for his buddy Bruce.
"It's just a fun little song," Grushecky said. "What else can you get a guy for his 60th birthday?"
And Springsteen's reaction?
"He got a good chuckle out of it," Grushecky said. "I mean, if you take it in the right way ..."
It's a compliment. Grushecky makes that point in "Still Look Good" by tweaking his pronunciation so "Sixty" sounds an awful lot like "sexy."
Unlike prior efforts from both artists, there aren't any Grushecky-Springsteen collaborations on "Somewhere East of Eden." Though it's easy to imagine The Boss giving his stamp of approval for the album's poignant title track inspired by one of Grushecky's favorite books, John Steinbeck's "East of Eden," and an article he read about an Iraqi war veteran struggling to find meaningful employment following his tour of duty.
Released on the Warner Bros. Nashville label, "Somewhere East of Eden" mixes vintage-sounding Grushecky bar-rock ("I Was Born to Rock"; the WDVE-FM featured "I Can Hear the Devil Knocking"), with more adventurous cuts (the six-minute "When Castro Came Down From The Hills," seasoned by Cuban horns; a cover of The Drifters' "Save The Last Dance for Me").
Local listeners will relate to "Magnolia" referencing an Ohio town with a single stoplight, and "Changing of the Guard," a roll-with-the-punches romp with a guy who never stops rooting for a baseball team that had been losers for 20 years.
Signing with a well-known national label means relinquishing some of the freedoms of an independent artist, but that's good business sense for Grushecky at this stage of his career.
"There's only so far I can go as an indie artist," he said. "I'd like to see this album reaching more people."
But that all begins at home. Grushecky will perform 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on WYEP-FM (91.3) and then Oct. 11 on the WDVE Morning Show. Oct. 12 is his CD release party at Altar Bar in the Strip, backed by his venerable band, The Houserockers, which includes son Johnny Grushecky.
"We're playing as good as ever, so come out and see us and support us," Grushecky said.
ROCKING THOSE BURBS
The 10th "Rockin' The Suburbs" music festival will take place Saturday in the field across from Ba'Runi Bar & Grill in Harmony Township.
Twenty local acts representing rock, metal, punk, Americana, and hip-hop will offer nonstop entertainment from two stages.
I'm planning a big preview story for our Weekend section Thursday, though festival founder Brad Meredith is pushing for front-page coverage. He turned to Facebook, and asked Rockin' the Suburbs participants and supporters to post comments attentioned my way, explaining why this event means so much to the Beaver Valley.
Some of those comments:
"Rockin' the Suburbs is front-page worthy because it's a family friendly event that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and showcases the best musicians the county has to offer," Christopher D. Baker.
"Because it's the biggest, most popular event created in Beaver County that has nothing to do with the sheriff or fracking," Zig Daniels.
"It's great to have a showcase for Beaver County talent," Corey Gray.
"RTS brings music lovers of all ages together, oftentimes blossoming new friendships, collaboration and unbiased support for the general scene," Shawn Hickman.
Tickets are $8, and gates open at noon.
I'll tell you more in Thursday's paper -- wherever the story lands -- though for now, here's the lineup in order of performance: Driftwood Shotgun, White Light Spectrum, Anna James Band, Ozo Remedy, The East Enders, Samson Covatch, JFK, The Stevie J. Band, New Shores Burn, Gypsy Grin, Super Ego Star, A. Lee, The Brighton Boys, Ill Willis, Tripshod, G-Ru, The Hawkeyes, The Delaneys, The Sparrows, 50 Caliber Dream.
'HUNGER' FOR WIN
Antoine Burton will try to end Beaver County's nine-year reality TV championship drought in Tuesday's final episode of The CW's "Capture."
Burton, a 21-year-old, former Ambridge High football player and now Hopewell Township resident, is part of the Green Team, one of the three remaining duos in the "Hunger Games"-resembling show where teams try to capture each other in the California wilderness.
The winning team nets $250,000.
I'm cheering for Burton, and his teammate, a former Indiana University of Pennsylvania roommate Kareem Dawson.
Our last local reality TV champ was Amber Brkich, on 2004's "Survivor: All-Stars."
I still keep handy my 2004 copies of TV Guide and People showing Brkich and future hubby/"Survivor" savior Rob Mariano on the cover.
Some of my 20-something co-workers don't remember them.
I sat on Snooki's and The Situation's beds last week.
I haven't developed any rashes so far.
You, too, can poke around the MTV "Jersey Shore" house on your next visit to Seaside Heights, N.J.
Ten bucks gets you a guided tour and all the photo ops you can handle inside the as-seen-on-TV house. Everything's still there. The Pacino poster, the duck phone, the Smush Room.
Though the hot tub and Astroturf-adorned balcony are kept off limits due to structural damage from Hurricane Sandy. A more recent fire destroyed one end of the Seaside Heights boardwalk, but there's still a very long section that's perfectly fine, loaded with all the greasy foods and tacky games you could hope for from a Jersey shore excursion.
I felt good pumping money into their local economy as businesses there continue to rebuild.
I emptied my wallet at the Shore Store, the iconic T-shirt shop where the "Jersey Shore" cast worked during filming. The Shore Store is actually connected to the house where they lived; though MTV producers didn't want viewers to see that' preferring the cast walk through public streets where action, hijinxs and trouble often ensued.
(Scott Tady is entertainment editor for The Times and reachable at email@example.com)
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