The Colorway Blog

Art Maker Alex Johnson in The Daily Hampshire Gazette!

The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Editor in Chief, Steve Pfarrer sat down with Alex for an interview that touches on his creative process, his journey through ten years of recovery, and more. 

Originally published 6/2/17 in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Photos by Jerrey Roberts and Jodi Nicholas.


When you talk about great guitarists in the Valley, Alex Johnson’s name is always in the mix. Whether he’s playing meaty and melodic hooks with his rock trio, Colorway, gigging solo or handling myriad riffs as part of the backing band for the Young@Heart Chorus, Johnson’s in complete command of the fretboard.

He’s also a longtime singer and songwriter who has been involved with music since he was six, when he started violin lessons in his native Fall River (he picked up the guitar at age 10). Now 47, Johnson, of Florence, has logged time with many other bands over the years, including a longtime Valley favorite, the Drunk Stuntmen.

That band’s name might have hit a little too close to home in some ways: Johnson says he went through “a twenty-year romance with drugs and booze” starting in his teens but has been clean and sober since 2008. This has enabled him to expand his work, from giving guitar lessons to hosting a regular open mic at Brew Practitioners in Florence.

Hampshire Life: Talk about your music. What will the audience experience?

Alex Johnson: At any Colorway show, you should expect to see a performance by three people who love music with all their heart and soul. We are always striving to break new ground with the songs and lift up the collective crowd. 


H.L.: What is your creative process like? Does it start with a “eureka!” moment?

A.J.: Many of my songs begin at 6 a.m. when I wake up with a melody from the soundtrack of my last dream. I’ll tiptoe out to the living room, so as not to wake my fiancée, Jodi, and huskily hum into my iPhone voice memo. From there I’ll flesh it out with an acoustic guitar and get a good structure.

H.L.: What to you do when you get stuck?

A.J.: I’ll take a long shower or bike ride. Anything to get away from my phone.

H.L: How do you know you’re on the right track?

A.J.: I really don’t know until the song is being played live. That’s the real test. If it can survive everything up to that point, it’s probably a keeper … for a while.

H.L.: What did you do recently that relates to your art?

A.J.: Rehearsed with my band; woke up with a melody that I think will make for a great summertime anthem; saw the David Crosby show at the Academy of Music; and gave a guitar lesson to one of my teenage students who’s coming along nicely, opening for bands at the Iron Horse and all that. I’m pretty proud of how far he’s come.

H.L.: What keeps you sober?

A.J.: Love, music, guitars, great television, a well-fitted jacket and the fact that I almost lost the ability to enjoy any of those things from use and abuse — that we might not be talking right now because I needed one more shot of vodka.

— Steve Pfarrer 

Alex Johnson and Colorway will play the Sierra Grille in Northampton on Thursday at 9 p.m. with The Demographic and The Electric Eyes (featuring “rock professor” Steve Waksman). Colorway’s website is Johnson also maintains a blog ( about his past struggles with alcohol — it’s for anyone, he says, “who might need to know that you don’t need to get lit to light up a stage.” 

Photo of Rufus Chaffee and Alex Johnson by Jodi Nicholas


Hey Hey, It’s A Colorway May!

Hi all,

Hope everyone is enjoying the springtime wherever they are. It’s one of my favorite times of the year for so many reasons. 

One of those reasons is that there is music seemingly everywhere and anywhere, inside and out. So this update on the band is to tell you about two indoor shows and one outdoors one. 

Tonight, (Friday, 5/12) if you’re in the Boston area come check out a great four band bill at PA’s Lounge in Somerville, MA. Doors are at 7:30 and music starts at 8pm with a nu-wave pop-rock band called DIVVISIONS, followed by the alternative rock trio, The Amy Incident, and a great (mostly) instrumental rock band who we played with at the Middle East a while back called The Slum Raisins. It’s only $10 for a whole night of music from four very different groups. Colorway is on last at 11pm. Hope to see you there and if you can’t make it but know somebody who can why not forward this email along or share the Facebook Event Page with them. 

Next weekend we are off, but if you want to go cheer on Colorway’s Matt and Riley with Shokazoba as they compete in the Valley Music Showcase at New City Brewery in Easthampton, MA on Friday, 5/19 check out the Facebook Event Page for that here. 

Memorial Day Weekend is a big one for us as we head back up the interstate and back into the green mountains of Burlington, VT. We’ll be at Manhattan Pizza right in downtown on Friday, 5/26. We play from 10-1am and it’s a no cover show. Facebook Event Page for that is right here. 

Closing out the weekend and the beautiful month of May, on Sunday, 5/28 (rain date, Monday, 5/29, 5-10pm) we are thrilled to be taking part in the Forest Fusion Fest happening at Deja Brew in Wendell, MA. This is an outdoor show and we will be kicking things off at 7pm, followed by Jam-Atan Abina (Latinx, hip hop, reggae, world music from Amherst) at 8:15pm and then Shokazoba at 9:30. DJ Vibewise takes over after that and spins great tracks to chill you out until 12:45am. For more details see the Facebook Event Page here. 

Word to the wise, there are only 200 tickets to this show and it will surely be a sell-out by showtime. So if you’d like to purchase an advance ticket you can get yours at the Wendell Country Store, the Deja Brew or from any of the band members involved. You can just respond to this email if you’d like to work it out and I’ll get back to you toot sweet. 

So, there you have it folks. That’s it for this month. Plenty more shows this spring, summer and fall and you can see all of that good stuff by going right here. 

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who came out to the shows we played in NYC, Richmond, VA, Raleigh, NC and Washington, DC. We had such a blast getting out on the road and playing for you all. Thanks for being so supportive whether it was posting a photo, video clip (thanks, Drew!), buying a CD, tee shirt or just signing up on the mailing list. We can’t do this without you all, so thank you for keeping us going. 

You can check out some photos from the trip here and see a video of the song, “This Happens To Everyone” from our show at The Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh, NC right here.

We are currently planning a return in late fall to keep the momentum rolling. 

Okay, gotta go pack up the car and get ready for tonight’s show but I’ll send out another update in a couple of weeks to update you on what’s in store for June (like Shrine in Harlem, Saturday, 6/3). Until then, enjoy the spring and keep music in your lives. It may be the best thing ever. 

Thanks again and we’ll see you at the shows!

Details on the aforementioned shows below:

Friday, May 12 Colorway Performs at PA’s Lounge, Somerville, MA

We’ll be performing along with our friends from Somerville, The Slum Raisins (instrumental rock) as well as The Amy Incident and DIVVISIONS.

When: Friday, 5/12
WherePA’s Lounge
345 Somerville Ave
Somerville, MA 02143
What time: Show starts at 8pm; Colorway plays at 11pm
Phone: (617) 776-1557
How much: $10

On the bill:
9pm The Amy Incident
10pm The Slum Raisins
11pm Colorway

Join the Facebook Event Page here!

Friday, May 26 Colorway Performs at Manhattan Pizza, Burlington, VT

Come pizza party with us as we head back up north for an all-nighter to kick off Memorial Day Weekend in the heart of downtown Burlington.

When: Friday, 5/26
WhereManhattan Pizza
167 Main St
Burlington, VT 05401
Manhattan on FB
Phone: (802) 658-6776
What time: 10pm-1am
No cover!

Join the Facebook Event right here!

Sunday, May 28, Forest Fusion Fest at Deja Brew in Wendell, MA with Colorway, Shokazoba and Jam-Atan Abina 

This is gonna be off the chain. 

Colorway kicks off the night followed by Jam-Atan Abina  (Latinx, hip hop, reggae, world music from Amherst) and then the thunderous, cosmic, funkestra sounds of Shokazoba (featuring Matt and Riley on bass and drums). 

When: Sunday, May 28 (rain date, Monday, May 29)
Where: Deja Brew
57 Lockes Village Rd, Wendell, MA
What time: 7pm-midnight (rain date hours 5pm-10pm)
Phone: (978) 544-2739
How much: $10
Tickets for sale at Wendell Country Store and Deja Brew
Children under 12 free
All Ages!!!

From the Facebook Event Page:

People of the Pioneer Valley! Shokazoba and the Deja Brew Cafe & Pub proudly present the very first FOREST FUSION FEST!!!

One day! Three bands! One DJ! Out back at the Deja Brew!!!
Purchase your tickets early to ensure your place on the lawn as there are ONLY 200 TICKETS AVAILABLE!!! Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the Wendell Country Store, the Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, or directly from participating musicians. Remaining tickets will be on sale at the door on the day of the show. All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to all musicians involved!!! Speaking of musicians…

Colorway! 7 – 8 * Colorway is a 21st century power trio with pop songs on the brain and guitar rock in its heart. Colorway performs regularly in NYC, Boston, Burlington, Worcester, Albany, New Haven and at home in Northampton, MA. *

JAM ATAN ABINA! 8:15 – 9:15 * JAM-ATAN (abina) in Jola means “Listen up the music has arrived” – a transcontinental musical conversation btwn Jola, Latinx, hip hop, reggae, world music. *

Shokazoba! 9:30 – 11 * Aiming to inspire greater human awareness by through conscious, funky, dance music with progressive, topical lyrics, Shokazoba performs top quality, high energy music designed to move your feet, energize your mind, and simulate your soul. *

DJ Vibe Wise! 11:15 – 12:45 * DJ Vibe Wise has appeared redionally with Fear Nuttin’ Band, Danny Pease & The Regulators, Rhythm Inc, Addis Revolution, at Charlemont Reggae Fest, at the New York Harvest Festival. Late night throwdown with Vibe Wises’s perfectly curated blend of dub, roots, and culture. *

Remember, the new album is available at on CD and 180gram vinyl, as well as at for the digital download. And to celebrate a year of The Black Sky Sequined, through the month of May everything in the store is 20% off. But you can also pick it up an any one of these great Valley establishments. Support your local musician and support you local music store.

Turn it Up
5 Pleasant St
Northampton, MA

Platterpus Records
28 Cottage St
Easthampton, MA

Cup and Top Cafe (CD only)
1 North Maple St
Florence, MA

Electric Eye Records
52 Main St Suite 6
Florence, MA

Mystery Train Records
178A North Pleasant St
Amherst, MA

“No music, no life.”

Big Thanks To All Who Made Our Spring Tour A Success

Been back a week now and just wanted to thank everyone who made our most recent tour a success.

Silvana​ NYC and Drew Mrrattles d’Auguste​ as well as Gonzalo Silva, everyone at Crossroads RVA​ in Richmond, all the folks involved with Spittle Fest​/ Spittle Fest 2017​ in Raleigh: Temperance League​, PALEFACE​, Hank Sinatra​, Lutie Cain​ and Maldora​, Peter Holsapple​ and, of course, Jac Cain​. Thanks to Lisa Lewis​ for the hospitality. Next time we’ll get that hot donut, for sure. Props to The Electric Maid​ and Avoid DC, Syndicate 51​ and Bay Creatures​ for help with the gear and Lisa Missenda for the great photos. And a huge thank you to Will Timpson​ and fam for your hospitality. There’s more people I’m probably forgetting so please forgive me.

Oh yeah, thanks to the waitress at Big Ed’s Country Kitchen for sharing some fat back with us (a first) and not laughing *too* hard when I asked for soy milk for my coffee. The half and half was just fine. 🙂

And finally a big thank you to all the new fans we made along the way. We can’t do this without your support, so here’s to lots more rock coming your way. If you bought anything at the merch table, threw some money in the tip jar, signed up on the mailing list or even just came up and said hi after the show we thank you from the bottom of our heart right up to the top. Share us with your friends and keep track of us ’cause we’ll be back again for sure.

I think I can safely say on behalf of Matthew​ and Riley​ that we had a ton of fun seeing some new sights together and playing so many different rooms for you all.

So thanks again and we’ll see you out at the shows.

~Alex J

PS: You can see some photos from the tour right here.