Push To Start - Meet The Band!


Brenda Johnston

Acoustic Guitar, Flute


My musical interest stems from my father who earned his living playing music. He organized a family band which included 4 of my brothers and sisters. The band was called the American Colony. Since I was the youngest, I never had the opportunity to be part of the band except on rare occasions, such as when at the age of 7 I sang “He’s so Fine” at the Backroom Lounge in Winchester. Because of the family band, our home was very focused on music. I thought the American Colony needed a flute player so I joined the elementary school band when I was 9 and continued playing flute in the junior high and high school bands – Unfortunately, learning to play the flute never earned me a slot in the family’s band. I also sang in choirs throughout junior high and high school. My father showed me a few chords on the guitar but I am basically self taught.

A friend invited me to join a folk group in 1999 called the folksingers five. This group changed a lot over the years eventually becoming Shenandoah Foxfire, Frog Eye and now Push to Start. I absolutely love playing with this band!

I play an Armstrong flute which I purchased for $60.00 out of the Valley Trader in 1990. I also play a Martin and a Larrivee guitar.

Musicians I admire: Joni Mitchell, Lorena McKenitt, Alison Krauss, Jewel, Eva Cassidy, and of course, Patsy Cline.


Mike Donald

Acoustic & Electric Guitars



I started plucking the strings of my Dad’s flat top guitar when I was about 8 years old. In a little while I learned to play the Wild Wood Flower and Guitar Boogie. Although I played off and on through my early teen years I didn’t really get serious until about age 17 when I started taking Classical Guitar lessons from Allen Brill of the Guitar Studio in Winchester, VA. Although I favored Rock over Classical, I studied under Allen for 2 years and became quite proficient with the Classical style. Learning classical guitar served me well as I branched out into other areas of acoustic playing. While learning classical guitar, I continued my affinity for Rock and Roll and played electric guitar.

Since my classical days, I played off and on with various “Garage Bands” and was invited in 2000 by my friend Brenda Johnston to join a folk group named Folk Singers Five. The group went through several iterations through the years and in 2007 became known as Push to Start.

My current gear includes a vintage Fender Stratocaster, Epiphone Casino Elitist and a Taylor 614ce flame maple acoustic. I run my electric guitars through a Boss GT-10 guitar effects processor.

My musical influences are too numerous to list but a short list would include The Beatles, Eagles, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, Dave Matthews and Jimi Hendrix.


Kris Sherman

Vocals, Keyboards


I started singing in choir in junior high school and continued through high school singing in many musicals and scholarship pageants. By 17 I joined my older brothers band “John Ryley," playing at air force bases and casinos in Utah, Idaho and Nevada.

After meeting Pete through John Ryley we married, and not long afterwards started our own band “Side Show” in the early nineties and played many bars and private clubs in Ogden, Utah. A few years later, we moved to Virginia and continued to raise our family here. Winchester has become home to us, and we would not have it any other way.

My influences / favorite singers are Pat Benatar, Heart and Joni Mitchell. I play a Kurzweil PC1 SE synth…and a really cool tambourine!


Alan Johnston

Vocals, Drums


I became interested in playing the drums when I was in junior high school. My dad bought me my first set of the crappiest drums in the world from a pawn shop; I wasn’t allowed to play them without towels draped over the heads. By the time I was in high school I had learned how to turn a crappy set of drums into a pretty good set by replacing the heads, refinishing the exterior and buying a new cymbal periodically when I had saved enough money from mowing lawns. Together with a couple of friends we put together a band called The Crystal Blue Band and then later changed the name to Water Ship Down. We wore our 1970s puffy sleeved shirts whenever we played. After high school I didn’t have much opportunity to play and didn’t pick up a stick again for more than 20 years until I met my wife Brenda and she invited me to join Push To Start.

I’m a coordinated drummer but have only a fair sense of timing, I compensate by watching Pete keep time by bobbing his head – the human metronome. I play a 5 piece natural maple Gretsch kit with Remo Pin Stripe heads and Ziljan cymbals.

My favorite drummers: Phil Collins (Genesis), Bill Bruford (King Crimson), Chester Thompson (Genesis Live shows), Neil Peart (Rush) and Carter Beauford (Dave Mathews Band). Honerable mentions: Nigel Olsen (Elton John) and Ringo Star (Beatles) – that’s right, Ringo is an under rated and under appreciated drummer - not a monster drummer but an incredible sense of timing!


Pete Sherman

Vocals, Bass, Keyboards



I've been playing bass for more years than I care to admit, and keyboards for a few years less then that. Kris and I came to Virginia about 8 years ago. For the majority of the time we have been here, I played bass and keyboards for another local Winchester band called Troublemaker.

Although Troublemaker are a great bunch of guys and I had a fantastic time with them, I eventually wanted to get back to playing the type of music that I enjoy listening to. I joined Push To Start in the fall of 2007 as a result, and have never regretted making the change.

I play a custom Yancy fretless as well as Alembic and Mike Kelly basses. For keyboards, I play a variety of software synthesizers using Apple's Main Stage (Logic Studio) application on a Mac laptop computer. My influences include Geddy Lee of Rush, Chris Squire of Yes, Mike Manring (on WIndham Hill records) and John Entwistle of The Who (RIP)