Golden guitarist to bring Celtic tunes to Moffat County Libraries

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Jerry Barlow, of Golden, will be performing at tonight’s Culture Night at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries, 570 Green St. Barlow plays a mix of traditional Celtic music, as well as original songs inspired by Celtic heritage. The event is free and open to the public.

If you go:

What: Jerry Barlow concert/Culture Night

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries, 570 Green St.

• The show is free and open to the public. Barlow, a finger-style guitarist, plays a blend of traditional and original Celtic music and tells stories about the songs’ origins.

When finger-style guitarist Jerry Barlow moved to the Appalachian Mountain region of Tennessee in the mid-1990s, he found himself heavily influenced by Celtic music.

“When you live there, you start to hear a lot of Celtic influence in the music, and the reason for it is the Irish and the Scots settled in those mountains in about the early 1700s,” Barlow said. “Their influence is still heard and felt there quite strongly.”

The more Celtic music he heard, the more he enjoyed it. Not long afterward, he made the decision to take that Celtic influence and put it to use with his own guitar.

Tonight, Barlow will bring his finger-style Celtic guitar skills to Craig.

He will perform a free show at 5:30 p.m. at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries, 570 Green St.

“It was not the kind of music you would normally play on guitar,” Barlow said about his introduction to the music. “Normally it’s played on fiddles, harps and pipes, but guitar players being innovative with the way they were transposing these tunes to the guitar, it really caught my ear and I decided to specialize in it.”

Over the years, he’s been able to build a career traveling around the Western U.S., performing both traditional Celtic music and original tunes inspired by the style.

His music was featured in the PBS documentary “Song of Our Children,” and in 2006 the title track from his “Bring Down the Storm” album was named one of the top 25 songs of the year by the Indie Acoustic Project. His music has also been featured on National Public Radio.

But, when it comes to concerts, Barlow prefers to combine music with storytelling.

“My experience with the music … is that those old, ancient melodies run very, very deep, and I think it’s because (the songs) don’t speak to the sorrows or tribulations of an individual like our pop music usually does, they speak to the sorrows, trials and tribulations of a certain culture,” Barlow said.

“The music is so old, it’s been played in a variety of circumstances throughout history and it’s really interesting to hear where these songs have been.”

As an example, he mentioned the traditional Scottish song “Loch Lomond,” which Barlow said is often mistaken as a love song.

Rather, he said, it was written following the battle of Culloden and speaks of families trying to avoid seeing the bodies of their loved ones.

He said the instruction is also necessary because his music is limited in vocal accompaniment, so giving the audience the background helps listeners understand the message of the tunes.

“I try to keep the productions real simple and try to put the guitar front and center,” Barlow said.

For that reason, he said he prefers to play venues such as libraries or small clubs over Celtic music festivals.

He said the intimacy allows him to emphasize the storytelling and intricacies of the music.

“I’m someone who makes a strong connection with the audience,” he said. “I won’t just sit there and play music at you. I connect with the audience in a way that is intimate and personal, and hopefully informative and humorous.”

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