QUICK HITS: Andrew “Red” Johnson of Spafford

by Chris Snyder

Spafford is on the rise in the “jamband community”. What do you contribute to your success?

I think the biggest thing is our fans. Our fans are just amazing! They’re so passionate about the band and they aren’t afraid to tell anyone and everyone about it! It’s unreal! They’re all over social media spreading the Spafford name. They’ve even got their own website with forums, set lists and song trackers, they trade these custom stickers they make… It literally blows me away! NERDS! (that’s what they call themselves -Spaffnerds)

Were there any other careers early on that you had before wanting to go for music?

Sure I’ve had a lot of jobs, but none that I wanted to do more than play music. I was a full time telemarketer for like 12 years! It was actually a pretty decent job! It paid the bills and gave me the flexibility to play music and do short tours with the band. The end goal was always to play music full time though.

How do you feel the industry has changed with technology being at our fingertips? (I.e. Spotify)

I’m probably the worst person to ask that question! I actually don’t ever use Spotify or SoundCloud etc. I probably shouldn’t admit that!

Do you have any pre show rituals?

Personally, I just try to take it easy. I have a practice piano that I set up in the greenroom and I run through the tunes we’re thinking of playing that night. I always try to check out the city or town that we’re in, but that doesn’t always happen. If there’s pinball nearby, that’s where you can find me!

Are there any teachers that made an impact on you and swayed you to play the keyboards?

I’m sure there were plenty, but none that come to mind right now. My family was really pivotal in me becoming a musician. My grandfather was a piano tuner and a phenomenal jazz and boogie woogie player so he and my mom really got me into playing music. I started on the piano and took lessons for a couple years when I was really young. I got an acoustic guitar when I was a teenager and played a little trumpet when I was in high school, but the keys were always my favorite.

Are there any groups in 2018 that you are looking forward to playing with?

I couldn’t pick just one. All of them! We’ve met so many great musicians over the past year or so and shared the stage with some musicians that I’ve looked up to for so long. It’s been a blast! So the more the merrier at this point!

What is the best advice you can give to young musicians?

Think less and play more! Don’t overthink it and play what feels good!


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