Former CNS student returns to CNY with national rock band for benefit

Josh Burke

Hundreds of fans came out for a popular punk rock band as the lead guitarist returned to his former high school in Central New York.

Josh Burke joined The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus back in 2011 and returned to his old stomping grounds for one night only.

"Tonight we are playing at the North Syracuse Junior High School auditorium, it's a full benefit show all the proceeds go to the school and the NSJHS tech crew. I'm just here to rock out and have fun," said Burke before the show. "It feels great to be back, born and raised here, good to be home."

Josh met the band at Lost Horizon three years ago and was a fan well before joining the group in 2011.

"I listened to Red Jumpsuit when I was a kid growing up and to be a part of it is just something special. I got involved with our singer Ronnie, we wrote a bunch of songs together and then fast forward a year later he needs a guitar player, he called me," said Burke with a grin.

While attending CNS, Burke did not take advantage of extracurricular music programs.

"That's kind of the regret I had is not having any formal training at the school. I could have skipped out on a couple of other classes which are completely useless to me now and gone and played an instrument instead...but I don't know, I was ignorant."

After finding out their original venue had canceled on them, the band had a bit of local help finding an alternative in a tight timeframe. RJA reached out to John Nadler, head of the theater technical department at North Syracuse Junior High School.

"He basically put this whole thing together with his crew. The kids are great. A lot of them came back from college to help out," said Burke.

One of those students was Matt Catalfamo, who now studies engineering at Clarkson University.

"Working on a national act is something that I've dreamed about doing and this is the first time I've been able to run lights for a big name," said Catalfamo.

More than 850 fans attended the concert which raised over $10,000 in support of the schools' theater program.

Tomorrow the group will play the Montague Music Hall in Rochester.