Josh & Gab rage against bullying with new album, 'I'm Not a Bully!'

Local duo combats a serious social ill with a new musical comedy CD

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"Nine O'Clock Behind the Jack Rabbit" is the kind of song title that can set the mind reeling.

What would you do behind the Jack Rabbit at 9 o'clock? It certainly doesn't sound like wholesome amusement park activity. And, as a point of clarity, how would you even get behind the Jack Rabbit?

In the pop-rock song by Josh & Gab, it's going to be the scene of a school picnic fight between a bully and the song's narrator, who sings, "I'm not one for fighting, and I don't have a plan/because I bruise really easily and I have tiny hands."

The song, says Josh Verbanets, "immortalizes a true story about my friend Steve getting in a fight at Kennywood Park when we were kids."

"Nine O'Clock Behind the Jack Rabbit," however, has a surprise happy ending in which the kids end up becoming friends and even ride partners.

It wouldn't work as a song for Meeting of Important People -- Mr. Verbanets' noted power-pop band -- but it's perfect for Josh & Gab, an anti-bullying musical comedy team for kids that pairs him with comedian Gab Bonesso. (See

"Gab and I have been friends for years, and we started doing little songs and comedy bits together -- until one caught the attention of Montour school district last year," he says. "They commissioned us to create a live rock 'n' roll comedy program for their elementary schools, all with an anti-bullying theme. The show was a huge success, and it took off beyond our wildest dreams."

It's become a full-time job that has taken them to more than 60 schools, community events and WQED television. They are also official programmers and educators with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

By popular demand, the next step is a new six-song debut album called "I'm Not a Bully!" on the New Jersey label Music Is Family. They were co-written with Casey Hanner of pop-rock band Donora and produced by her bother Jake.

"The songs," Mr. Verbanets says, "are a weird mix of garage-rock and anti-bullying lyrics, a celebration of being young and using creativity to get through the tough times."

The title song is a hard-rock tune about finding positive outlets for your aggression that ironically sports a riff similar to Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold." "Everybody Clap Hands" is a bright power-pop duet, about getting along on the playground and school bus. And "I'm a Leader" is a cute little shuffle that wouldn't be out of place with the purple dinosaur.

If you want to be the first kid on the block with a copy, the Josh & Gab CD release shows are at the Children's Museum on Saturday at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Also on Saturday, the two will take part in Cure Rock, a benefit for the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC at Stage AE at 7 p.m. with Juliet Simms (of NBC's "The Voice"), The Red Western, Neighbors and Joy Ike. Admission is $25 advance, $30 day of show;

lifestyle - music

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