Baseball, pharmacies and country music appear to have nothing in common—unless you’re Andrew Salgado, that is.
At 21, the Darien native was working at a pharmacy while coaching and playing baseball, and writing songs on the side.
First, the baseball. During his third year as a coach of a Downers Grove-based team, he asked the head coach if he could sit in on the draft. One player caught his eye. The player’s throw was about 10 feet off base, but Salgado, now 24, saw something in him.
“I told the coach, ‘I want Joe Pappalardo first,’” Salgado said. “He thought I was joking."
Salgado got his pick, whom he worked with nearly exclusively during practices. While chatting with Joe’s dad, Frank, after practice one day, Salgado mentioned that he was a songwriter and musician looking to pursue a full-time music career.
“Do you know what I do for a living?” Pappalardo said.
Pappalardo is a recording engineer with the PBS show Soundstage, which has featured performances from the likes of Tom Petty, Seal and Sheryl Crow.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to get this guy my music,’” Salgado said.
From that fateful moment, Salgado’s career as a pop-inflected country singer/songwriter has been on a steady upward trajectory.
In March, after three years in full-time pursuit of his dream, Salgado signed a two-year deal with BMI, a licensing firm whose catalog includes country superstars Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney.
“I’ve lucked out on a magic moment,” Salgado said. “I’ve taken a huge chance and so far it’s turned out really well.”
Salgado’s songs have been played on the radio in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. His first single, “Running,” was recorded in 2008 with the help of his father’s friend Frank Collazo.
“I didn’t even have a band at that point,” Salgado said. “It was so low budget I had to do it in one day. … And I met the band that day.”
The station that first played "Running" broadcasts out of New York City. Salgado listened to it via the Internet for 24 hours straight, sleeping on the couch so as not to miss a moment. Eventually he heard Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” And then the announcer said Salgado’s name.
“I didn’t know whether to dance, jump or cry,” Salgado said. “So I sort of did all three at once.”
Not long after, Salgado met Pappalardo, who quickly agreed to be his manager. Pappalardo also said he had a famous friend whom he wanted Salgado to meet.
On the day he was set to play for Peterik, Salgado was sick as a dog.
That’s where the pharmacy comes in.
From his years behind the pharmacy counter, Salgado said he knew exactly how to medicate himself to tame his symptoms as much as possible during his one shot with a big-name songwriter.
The self-medication paid off.
Salgado and Peterik clicked, and soon the pair was writing songs together, with Salgado recording out of Peterik’s Burr Ridge studio.
“The first writing session was incredible,” Peterik said. “The melodies and lyrics were flying faster than we could record them. And it's been that way every session since.”
Salgado hopes to have his first album complete by the end of the summer. He regularly plays the Chicago-area festival circuit, putting a special emphasis on shows for charity events such as the City of Hope walk for cancer.
He and Peterik will perform both solo and together at the May 21 Walk Now for Autism Speaks at Soldier Field. Registration starts at 8 a.m., with the walk kicking off at 10:30 a.m.
“When I started my career, I said, as soon as I get big, I’m going to donate a lot to these causes,” Salgado said. “But someone said to me, ‘Why not start now?’”
It’s all part of Salgado’s mission of doing good through music. His upbeat, country-pop tunes focus on ecstatic moments and happy memories.
Between Salgado’s innate talent and the good karma he’s generating through both his music and deeds, his supporters say he’s got a long career ahead of him.
“He loves what he does and it shows,” Peterik said. “He'd be doing this no matter what. For him it's not about getting paid. It's his passion for his gift of song.”