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Sounds Local: Change isn’t slowing Colorway down

  • Northampton-based band Colorway continues to build its audience. Colorway will perform Saturday, Sept 3, at 8 p.m. at the Root Cellar in Greenfield. On Saturday, Sept. 17, the band will be at the Basement in Northampton, and on Saturday, Sept. 25, it will perform at The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange. On Sunday, Sept. 25, you can catch Colorway on the deck at Whetstone Station in Brattleboro. Contributed photo



For The Recorder
Sunday, September 04, 2016

It’s been a busy year for the pop -rock band Colorway. Since releasing its sophomore album, “The Blue Sky Sequined,” in May of 2015, the Northampton-based band has been steadily building its audience and performing throughout the northeast.

Colorway, which is led by guitarist/singer/songwriter F. Alex Johnson, underwent a major lineup change soon after the album’s release when original members bassist Dave Hayes and drummer JJ O’Connell departed and were replaced by bassist Matt Clegg and drummer Riley Godleski.

Johnson has been a regular on the Valley music scene since the early 1990s. He spent many years playing guitar for the popular alt-country band Drunk Stuntmen and has been a longtime member of the backing band for the Young at Heart Chorus. And for those of you interested in open mics, we should also mention that he recently began hosting a successful open mic every Wednesday night at Brew Practitioners in Florence. His bandmates, Godleski and Clegg, also have years of experience playing in various local bands, and in addition to their work with Colorway, they are both members of the afro-pop band Shokazoba.

A lineup change like this could slow some bands down, but that hasn’t been the case with Colorway.

“I’ve been excited to have this new band,” said Johnson in a recent phone interview.

“We played our first gig together a year ago, then we spent the winter and spring regrouping and teaching the new guys the songs. From there the focus was on getting some good gigs,” he said.

And the band has played some good gigs in cities like Boston and Providence, in addition to some high profile shows here in the Valley.

“We got to open up for Foreigner at the Calvin and it was huge sold out show and we rocked it,” said Johnson. “We also had a great experience opening for for Delta Deep (featuring Phil Collen of Def Leppard) at the Iron Horse and playing the Green River Festival was awesome.”

“We are trying our best to bust into other markets, and we are lucky to live in an area where we are close to places like Boston, New York and other cities,” he added.

However, during the month of September, Colorway has a series of shows that will keep them close to home. This weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. they will serve as the opening act for Flux Capacitor at the Root Cellar in Greenfield. On Saturday, Sept. 17, the band will be at the Basement in Northampton, on Saturday, Sept. 25, at The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange and on Sunday, Sept. 25, you can catch them on the deck at Whetstone Station in Brattleboro.

Johnson is particularly excited about the Root Cellar show this weekend, as the band will have the opportunity play a brand new venue and to open up for Flux Capacitor.

Flux Capacitor is a trio of brothers from the Philadelphia area, who blend guitar, bass synths, organs, drums and percussion to create a very unique brand of jam heavy psychedelic rock. The trio’s music includes traces of rock, improvisation and electronica. Every shows features what the band calls “encounters” that are filled with improvisation, musical segues, spontaneous covers and teases, to create a one of a kind experience. Flux Capacitor is fast making a name for itself on the national music scene and is currently on a U.S. tour in support of its latest release, “Monolith..”

“Flux Capacitor is definitely a band on the upswing,” said Johnson about opening for the group. “They played Bonnaroo this past year and the Peach Festival. We are looking forward to hearing them, plus I am a huge Back to the Future fan,” he added with a laugh”

“It’s going to be fun, and we are hoping we can tap into a new market of people, sort of the jam crowd.” He added, “As much as I like to think of this band as a pop/rock band or at least that’s kind of the way we started, we are doing a lot of extended stuff, taking the guitar to a whole new level and trying to really make this more about the musical journey as much as the story that the songs tell.”

Johnson, who is a very accomplished guitar player, said that with the new lineup he is really trying to build the sound around the guitar. And he was encouraged to hear are recent story on WNPR where they claimed that the guitar is enjoying a bit of a resurgence, after being pushed back in favor of electronic instruments.

“It’s kind of nice to see, because I’ve always been doing this and I’m waiting for people to pay attention again and it sounds like they are and that’s a good thing,” said Johnson.

With the new lineup settled in, Johnson is starting to write music for the next Colorway album all while keeping the focus on growing the band’s fan base.

“This new group has been about getting to know to play with people who I am not familiar with their style and vice versa,” said Johnson, “in addition to trying to write new music and expand our market to other areas where people love music around here.”

Tickets for the Colorway/Flux Capacitor show are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. Tickets are available at: www.rootcellarbar.com. Music begins at 9 p.m. The Root Cellar is located on Fiske Avenue in Greenfield. For information on Colorway’s other upcoming shows, visit: www.colorwaymusic.com

The Wheelhouse

Tonight kicks of a series of shows at the Wheelhouse, the club located at the bottom floor of the Arts Block in Greenfield. The subterranean venue, as they call it, is a cozy little room with the kind of vibe that you’d expect to experience in a classic rock club. The Arts Block, which is now under new ownership, is officially relaunching the room with these shows that are being presented by The Buzz, A Honey Pot Production. The show tonight will feature the power duo Wydyde and progressive rock/jazz band, Hot Dirt. The series continues with The Mary Jane Jones on Sept. 8, Sean McMahon, Seth Newton and Casey Opal on Sept. 15 and Fat Bradley on Sept. 22.

Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and music begins at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5. The Arts Block is located at 289 Main St. Patrons are asked to use the Arts Block back alley entrance.

The Arts Block has a new website that has more information on these shows and other upcoming events, including information on purchasing tickets. Visit the Arts Block at: www.theartsblock.com

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com