F. Alex Johnson
Confidence. For a week now I've been trying to come up with a defining characteristic for the community I am part of. We don't really have a sound. We don't really have a dialect. We don't really have a dress code. We don't really have an overt religious affiliation. But what we do have is confidence. I, myself, am a musician; have been all my life. From the minute I set foot in Northampton I was welcomed with open arms. I walked up a long staircase to an apartment where I was invited by some musicians. I plugged in my guitar and started playing. I didn't know the people I was playing with, nor the music we were performing. But that didn't matter, because I was doing something. That something gave me confidence. That confidence gave me the energy to start a band. I've gone on to play with numerous people who have done wonderful things with Northampton as a base. Thanks to gallery owner Rich Michelson, I got to work with Leonard Nimoy. Thanks to the tattoo community, I got to play with (and get tattooed by) Mark Bode. Thanks to Bob Cilman I have travelled the world with the Young at Heart Chorus. I played on the Tonight Show. I performed at the Newport Folk Festival. And every chance I get I take part in raising money for the town's music program, which ensures that the kids of today will do what I have done when they get older. I have travelled Europe, the U.S. and Mexico with my band, the Drunk Stuntmen. And I have made a name for myself in the world of sober musicians everywhere. Because this valley breeds confidence. This valley welcomes everyone and everything that might make creative expression a healing process. From the booking agents to the club owners, from the publicists to the music editors, the music store owners, the sound men, the door people and the people who fill the clubs–both musicians and fans alike–you all make this place what it is… a confident community.