GCC alum presents commemorative album to alma mater

GCC alum presents commemorative album to alma mater

By Paul Paterra


GREENSBURG – Johnathan Pushkar’s face was absolutely beaming as he returned to Greensburg Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School June 9.

There were many reasons for the 2014 GCC alumnus to feel that way. He was back home for a few days, and while he was home he presented his alma mater with a commemorative framed vinyl copy of his new album – “Compositions.”

“It definitely is an interesting feeling,” Pushkar said. “It’s hard to put into words.”

While he may have had problems putting his feelings into words that day, Pushkar has not had a hard time putting his musical passion into words.

He wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 11 songs on “Compositions.”

Pushkar, 25, a North Huntingdon native, has lived in Nashville, Tenn. since he attended Belmont University.

“I just kind of planted my roots there and stayed,” Pushkar said. “I wanted to do something in the music business, so I took the adventure. I went to Nashville and I stayed.”

His passion for music began when he was a student at Greensburg Central Catholic, where he played in the jazz band. He also played drums in his early teens in a local Beatles tribute band called the Abbey Roadsters – ala Ringo Starr.

“Just getting to exercise those muscles and getting to grow as a young man and as a musician, it was really here that I knew it was the path I wanted to take,” Pushkar said.

That’s why he felt it was so important to present the commemorative vinyl to his alma mater.

Pushkar recalled sitting in biology class during his sophomore year when an idea for a song called “Smile” popped into his head.

“It was one of those moments where I started writing down the words, I’m humming the melody in my iPod touch on the way home. I got home and wrote it and the whole thing came together just like that,” Pushkar said. “That was the first time that I thought maybe this could be something someday. I really learned to believe in myself and developed thick skin and was able to figure out the kind of force I want to be in the world, both academically and of course musically.

“Smile” appears on Pushkar’s first album, “Straighten Up,” which was released in 2019.

Joette Salandro, Pushkar’s music teacher at GCC, said she saw Pushkar’s creativity, enthusiasm and passion for music when he was her student.

 “It’s wonderful,” Salandro said. “That’s why you teach. To see your students move on and fulfill their dreams. He certainly is doing that.”  

Pushkar describes his music as “very rooted in ‘50s and ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll.”

“I like to say if you made a perfect triangle of Buddy Holly, the Beach Boys and Beatles and Tom Petty, I’d land somewhere in the middle,” Pushkar said, adding that he plays a 12-string guitar, which is his go-to instrument for the album.

The song Pushkar did not write or co-write on “Compositions” is called “Junior’s Farm,”  a remake of a song by Paul McCartney and Wings.

The McCartney connection does not end there. Geoff Britton, McCartney’s drummer, is featured on four songs on the album, including “Junior’s Farm.”

“He’s only recorded it twice, once with Paul McCartney and once with me,” Pushkar said. “It’s a very cool club to be in.”

The video for “Junior’s Farm” includes rare archival photos of Paul McCartney and Wings in Nashville.

Another song on the album, “Any Second Now,” features drummer Sandy Gennaro, who formerly played with Cyndi Lauper, Joan Jett and the Monkees.

“Compositions” is available online anywhere music is sold and at johnathanpushkar.com.

While home, Pushkar played at the Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh.

His future plans include a third album with more samplings of the music that has influenced him.

“It’s just awesome to be back,” Pushkar said. “I try to get back to Pennsylvania two or three times a year. It’s always great to reconnect. But it’s not every day you get an awesome reason like this to come back to the old stomping grounds. I hope someday there is a kid who was like me and gets to see that album and I hope it inspires another kid just like me down the line. ”



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