Hitless Wonder


Everyone knows the price of fame. Hitless Wonder measures the price of obscurity. What happens when you chase a dream into middle age and, in doing so, risk losing the people you love?

This book recounts the two-week tour that forces Joe Oestreich—singer, songwriter, and bassist of the band Watershed—to decide if he and his longtime bandmates still have a future together. In the mid-‘90s, Watershed’s large Midwest following led to a six-figure deal with Epic Records. But the band never had a hit, and the label dropped them. Seventeen years later, long after their more famous peers have called it quits, Watershed keeps climbing into the Econoline and touring mop bucket bars.

But Joe can’t help but wonder: Are he and his bandmates—approaching forty with wives and kids and mortgages—admirable or pathetic? Successes or failures? The tour tests the bonds of Joe’s friendships and the strength of his marriage, as he’s torn between the lure of the road and the call to finally settle down.


“HITLESS WONDER is a thoroughly enjoyable rock and roll memoir—funny, honest, and full of inside dope. I’m sorry Watershed never made it big, but I’m glad Joe Oestreich wrote this wonderful book about a lifetime devoted to music and friendship, a book about a scrappy band that doesn’t know how to quit.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of ELECTION and THE LEFTOVERS
“Zippos up for Joe Oestreich’s smart, funny, touching, unputdownable HITLESS WONDER—my new favorite memoir and a shoo-in for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
—Will Allison, author of LONG DRIVE HOME and WHAT YOU HAVE LEFT
“Finally, somebody gets it right: the real story of rock and roll is not about limos and paparazzi; it’s about driving all day in a beat-up van to play your ass off in a scroungy dive for gas money, year after year, hoping for that big break. Believe me, Joe Oestreich’s superbly written HITLESS WONDER is the best and most honest memoir about the thwarted desire for rock stardom that you will ever read.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME and KNOCKEMSTIFF
“I love Watershed’s music so much, I used a lyric from one of their songs as the epigraph for my last novel. Joe Oestreich is a musician and a writer of uncommon skill—a virtuoso of language, a teller of tales, a cultural critic, a man eager to show us where he’s been and where he’s heading. The first time I listened to a Watershed CD and then saw them perform live, I couldn’t get their songs out of my head. Now I can’t forget this glorious memoir, HITLESS WONDER—a story of rock and roll, passion, friendship, and the communities that sustain us. I dare say, you won’t be able to either. Get ready to rock!”
—Lee Martin, author of THE BRIGHT FOREVER and BREAK THE SKIN
“This insightful and entertaining story of a band that almost-but-didn’t-quite make it big in the 1990s is equal parts fascinating autobiography and a hilarious and savvy look at the harsh realities of the music industry.  This is not a story of failure, just a different kind of success.”
—Publishers Weekly
“BEST. ROCK. BOOK. EVER. HITLESS WONDER is the truest thing ever written about life in a band. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you will believe in The Power of Rock even as it tries to crush the souls of those who believe in it most. An amazing book. Get it.”
—Lou Brutus, Sirius XM and hardDrive Radio
“To read HITLESS WONDER is to experience rock and roll as played by the unglamorous 99 percent, living with public indifference and not making any money… [Watershed’s] guilt-free swan dive into the record industry’s next-big-thing machinery — a now extinct world of managers, A&R reps and in-studio sushi dinners — is as fascinating as any critically beloved punk band’s more angst-ridden ride.”
—The Washington Post
“[Watershed’s] story is a fascinating tale of Everyband, as recounted by bassist Joe Oestreich in his fantastic new memoir HITLESS WONDER…The book is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking in chronicling Watershed’s many misadventures along the margins of the mainstream.”
—The Raleigh News & Observer
“HITLESS WONDER [is] an excellent memoir that’s funny, painfully honest, and fascinating to anyone who’s seen a really good veteran band plugging away in a bar for just a couple of dozen people watching disinterestedly… [Oestreich] tackles all the existential questions that go with playing in a rock band in a conversational and intelligent manner, addressing what it takes to follow your passion all over the country for what looks like a lost cause.”
—The Toledo Blade

614 Magazine


Bonedo – Das Musikerportal (Germany, Article)

Bonedo – Das Musikerportal (Germany, Podcast Interview)

Carbondale Rocks

Coastal Today

Columbus Alive

The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus (Mississippi) Dispatch

Columbus Monthly

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Cleveland Scene #1

Cleveland Scene #2

Dig Me Out Podcast Part 1 and Part 2

The Digitel Myrtle Beach

The Emerging Writers Network (Interview)

The Emerging Writers Network (Review)

Everyday eBook, a newsletter and website from Random House

Greater Columbus Arts Council

Grand Strand Magazine

Hype Weekly (Manhattan, KS)

The Idaho Statesman

The Journal

Kirkus Reviews

Largehearted Boy

Motor City Rocks

Nashville Tennesseean

NewsTalk Ireland with Sean Moncrieff (select Monday, July 9. Part 3. The Watershed segment starts at the 37:30 mark.)

Nine Bullets

NPR Weekend Edition

The Ohio Book Review

The One You Feed (Podcast Interview)

The Other Paper

Outsight Radio Hours (Phone Interview)

Post Road Magazine

ProSound News

Publishers Weekly

Raleigh News and Observer (Feature Story)

Raleigh News and Observer (Blog Post)

Raleigh Indy Week


TehachapiNews (Bakersfield, CA)

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WMBF News, Myrtle Beach

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