Granati Brothers, Donnie Iris keep it in the family
Having taken Pittsburgh’s spirited rock sensibility to the nation in their glory years, the Granati Brothers continue making their own joyful noise throughout the region.
Next stop is the Lamp Theatre, Irwin, on Sept. 14, where they reunite for a night with their musical brother from a different mother — Donnie Iris. Fans counting on it being a memorable evening very unlikely will not be disappointed.
“I’ve known them for years. We have a great time performing,” says Iris, still in the midst of his celebratory 75th birthday year.
“I’ll do ‘The Rapper,’ ‘Love Is Like a Rock’ and ‘Ah Leah!’ ”
About a year after “The Rapper,” Iris moved into a Patterson Township, Beaver County, residence one block from the Granati compound. “We became great friends for many years, hanging out, listening to music, writing and recording songs, drinking Rolling Rock ponies, et cetera,” recalls Hermie Granati. “Within a few years, the Jaggerz had recorded one of my songs for an RCA release, then Donnie hired me into the band. It was like getting called up to the major leagues. He has been a great mentor and positive vibe for me, and has been to others over the years.”
The Donnie phenomenon
“One of the greatest things for me was watching people discover the Donnie phenomenon that I had already known and witnessed for years,” Hermie Granati adds. “I Iove him like a brother, but then, who doesn’t? He’s a joy to be on stage with.”
The Granati Brothers’ (at one time also known as G-Force) classic rock music and rich harmonies have been compared to the Beatles, Jellyfish, Queen and Supertramp, among others. They opened for Van Halen in 78 sold-out concerts in the 1980s.
David Granati was nominated for player of the year by Guitar Player Magazine in 1981. The band’s albums on AM Records include “G-Force” and “Propaganda.”
They have also performed or recorded with Bruce Springsteen, J. Geils, Ian Hunter, the Doobie Brothers, Sammy Haggar, Nazareth, Heart, Peter Frampton, Boston, Blue Oyster Cult, Def Leppard, Black Foot, Molly Hatchet, Head East, Southside Johnny, the Fabulous Poodles, Gentle Giant, Dionne Warwick, Donnie Iris and more.
The Granatis signed with Atlantic Records in 1986 and recorded an album entitled “Enter.”
The brothers headlined thousands of shows at colleges, showcase clubs and theaters in the 1980’s through the mid 1990’s. The band re-united in 2002-2003 to record “G —The Continuing Adventures of the Granati Brothers.”
“Look for a full-length DVD soon, full of new music, gems from the archives, war stories and recipes,” David Granati says.
What does he hope people take from his music? “Quite simply, the joy of a beautiful melody, butt-kicking track, killer solo. There is always a spiritual message and not too political,” he says. “I work with a number of young artists at my For Those About to Rock Academy. It is a constant reminder as to why I started and how exciting it was to learn and experience the rock-and-roll lifestyle. I’m so blessed to perform, teach and produce equally, so I don’t burn out on any one aspect.”
Reason to be grateful
At this point in his career, Hermie Granati says, “I’m very thankful to God just to be doing it.”
“I’ve had so many wonderful experiences with so many wonderful people. That being said, I still look forward to conquering more mountains,” he adds.
He believes the Granatis have “done a few unique things over the years,” but as to if they can be described as pioneers of sorts, he says, “Maybe. We’ve definitely been around long enough!” “When I see the people out there reflecting and reciprocating the joy and celebration of life, love and music that we do, it’s a feeling that I can’t describe. But it’s enormous in its intensity.”
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.