Celtic sound responsible for musical rebirth of guitarist coming to Rifle
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
RIFLE ” An online search for guitarist Jerry Barlow won’t overwhelm you. His website, the first hit, is clean and simple, with a few pictures, a biography and several happy responses from fans.
It all feels slightly under the radar ” which is just how Barlow, 57, likes it.
Since switching to mostly instrumental, Celtic songs 12 years ago, he’s experienced a musical rebirth. Recently, as he spoke by phone from his home in Golden, he seemed grounded and thankful. For him, commercialism “just doesn’t work” now, he said. His sights are set higher.
“Can I bring some healing and some uplifting to this energy field?” he asked. That’s the question these days.
But that wasn’t always on his mind, not even close.
Swiftly, he recapped his musical past, which started at 15, when he won $15 in a raffle. He used the money to buy a guitar and was almost instantly enveloped in a world of bands and bars. He started with different groups, playing Beach Boys and Beatles tunes on the Front Range. Later, in 1977, he would chase the music dream to Nashville. There, he was a country songwriter and performed in the cast of the Opryland Theme Park. He knocked around for years, constantly writing and playing wherever he could, before finally burning out on the whole idea.
Ready for a change, he packed up for Gatlinburg, Tenn., where he’d invested in a restaurant. He soon found, however, the food service business wasn’t the “rest” he’d been hoping for. At the same time, he started to take notice of the backwoods music of the area. The folksy sounds, heavy with history and Celtic influence, spoke to him. He picked up his guitar again, fell in love and didn’t look back.
On his website, a brief sampling of his music reveals none of the marketable, country twang of his past. His current, fingerpicking style gives the illusion of several players at once, combining in a medley of lively, pensive and serene sounds. It makes you want more, in a low-key way.
Talking about his current state of music, Barlow went introspective. To him, his work is spiritual and important. You could just hear how much he believes in it.
“I feel it has a lot of therapeutic value to it,” he said. “Without the lyrics, it was kind of interdirective. I would take a very different ride than the lyrics would take me on.”
The lack of words is just one of many changes he’s been through. Though he still performs and composes actively, his venues aren’t bars and nightclubs. Instead, he plays his mixture of original and historical tunes in libraries, community centers and the like. His songs may not be wildly marketable now, but, to him, they matter.
“It just has some intrinsic value for me,” he said of his music. “It’s more esoteric, but that’s OK.”
In actuality, it seems his true focus isn’t Celtic music ” or even music, for that matter. It’s bringing a sense of healing to those who want to listen.
“You can bring it to whatever you do, this thing of leaving people in a better world than before you had the interaction with them,” he said. “The older I get, the more I think that’s what it’s all about.”
Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111
Post Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
WHO: Jerry Barlow, Celtic guitarist, performing live
WHEN: 7 p.m. on Tuesday
WHERE: Wamsley Elementary School cafeteria, 225 E. 30th Ave. in Rifle
WHY? Because Barlow really believes in what he does ” and you might, too.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.jerrybarlow.com.
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