This year is a pretty exciting year for Jerry Barnett. 25 years ago in 1981, Jerry created his first band, “Moment’s Notice.” There’s no question that Barnett has led the way in Colorado when it comes to entertainment. As Jerry says: "Our motto is “25 years of Rockin’ Your World!” Jerry adds: “I still love this business! There are so many great young people out there in the music world who are enthusiastic, love music, and want to entertain people.” Jerry has been, and continues to be, a mentor to many formidable musicians playing in bands locally, and all over the country.
What’s on tap for Jerry and his group in the future? Jerry enthusiastically says, “I’m very excited about the next 25 years. I want to tune in to what people like to hear and keep it fresh and always evolving. My craft is doing commercial music, and doing it better than anyone else in the country!”
(Jerry sadly lost his lovely wife, Becky, to breast cancer several years ago. On September 23, 2016, there will be a special event at "The Soiled Dove" celebrating Jerry Barnett's 35th year since creating Moments Notice.)
What social or charitable event is your favorite? We’ve played for all three Debutante Balls. Also the Swan Ball in Nashville, and the Heart Ball in Scottsdale. I would say those are my favorite.
What’s near and dear to your heart in the fundraising world? I’m a big supporter of the Arts, Ballet, and the Symphony. My main interest is working with structured artistic organizations to help create a strong awareness of the need for Music and Art in our Public Schools. I’ve always had a vision of using my company to make a difference by creating even small programs, so school kids can be involved in Music and Art.
How did you get into the “Biz”? After getting my Bachelors and Masters in Music from University of Michigan, I first became a music teacher, since I started my family early. After six years of teaching in Michigan, I then got a teaching job in Colorado teaching in Adams and Jefferson County.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was playing my trombone with just about everybody. I saw at the time that there wasn’t a good band in Denver, so I started to put a group of musicians together to jam on Mondays, and started playing in bars. Susie Nelson, the top session’s singer in town, (now she’s doing voice-overs everywhere) and our 18-piece orchestra (or 18 piece jazz bands) started playing at a bar called Club Soda. I realized we had too many pieces, and it was too expensive to pay everyone, so we cut the band down. Our first big gig was at holiday time in 1980, with six horns instead of 12. We had a total of 11 members. The second gig was at Green Gables Country Club, and then we did an event at the Broadmoor. They didn’t have a budget for any horns except for me, so I re-wrote the music for just one horn. By 1982 I had four bands with top studio caliber musicians.
When did you first pick up a musical instrument? In the 5th grade I was really into art and painting, and I thought I wanted to be an artist (I may still do that yet!). Turned out I missed out on the band that year, but before it was too late, in 6th grade, I got my trombone, and joined the school band, and started taking lessons with a great teacher.
At this point, what advice would you have for an aspiring young musician to get as far as you’ve gotten? My first word of advice is: If you aren’t really sure, don’t do it, because it isn’t an easy life. You load in the back door or kitchen of the bar - it’s not glorious. You’ve got to do what the people want you to do. My son who is graduating from Creek this month is actually performing. He’s been accepted to the Berklee School of Music, but we still encouraged him to get involved in athletics and to be well rounded. His goal is to be the creative force behind all of his music. He’s already been doing Blues gigs in places such as Montreal. He’s out there. Never give up if you really want to do it!
What kind of shows are you doing now? It’s all part of our re-branding. Before 9-11, we started to franchise the company into Scottsdale, AZ and Washington, D.C. and other cities. After 9-11, everyone downsized out of necessity. The goal for now is to get my market share here in Colorado – in Denver, Vail, and Aspen. If the economy will support it, I plan on taking my top three orchestras and marketing them nationally. Right now, we are doing a show outside of town at least once a month. Basically what we are doing is creating a spectacular show you can watch and dance to – with horns, stage dancers, acrobats – all types of entertainment.
Who is your hero? John Coltrane. “Moment’s Notice” is a name of a song John Coltrane wrote, and I named the band after it.
Do you have a mentor? Steve Helpin, a drummer who had his own orchestra, took me under his wing and helped me a lot. He’s since passed away.
What’s your favorite restaurant? My wife’s kitchen. She’s also a personal chef and I’m her guinea pig.
When you were a young boy, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to play the harmonica. I also liked sports - especially hockey. Then I got my trombone in the 6th grade, and the rest is history.
What do you like most about yourself? I’m very honest.
What do you least about yourself? I’m very passionate but can also be temperamental.
What makes you cry? Van Gogh, Mozart, Coltrane, and Otis Redding.
What makes you laugh? Van Gogh, Mozart, Coltrane, and Otis Redding.
What do you consider your proudest achievement? My children and grandchildren. Also, playing in London and jamming in a famous jazz club there.
What is your advice for a happy marriage? Find your soul mate - and be patient.
What one word describes you best? Impetuous.
What one word would others use to describe you? Passionate.
Who is the most interesting celebrity you’ve ever met? Bob Hope, and his wife Delores. We backed them up12 years ago at the Jerry Ford Invitational.
What is one of your favorite memories? The memory of watching John Coltrane in 1966 at a small bar in Detroit.
What is the best advice your Mom/Dad ever gave you? My mother always said: “You can do anything you choose to!”
What is your personal motto or favorite quote? One of my favorite uncles, who just passed away recently, always used to say: “Find out the one thing that makes you happy, and go do it!”
Is there somewhere other than Denver you would like to live? – Maybe someday? I’d love to be bi-located in a loft in New York City where everything is happenin’.
If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would it be? I started out as a music teacher, and then became a professional musician; maybe I’d reverse the order of that.
What might your epitaph read, or what would you like to be remembered for? He was honest and generous, and cared about people and their success.
Six different units of Jerry’s bands, now all under the name of Jerry Barnett Entertainment, offer orchestras and diverse groups that can perform from a library of over 1300 songs. The JBO bands have entertained in places like New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, London, Montreal, and Puerto Rico. Jerry says, “We’ve performed at the last 5 Presidential Inaugural Balls, and we have worked with such greats as Rosemary Clooney, The Four Tops, The Spinners, The Temptations, Linda Ronstadt, Lou Rawls, Marvin Hamlisch and Natalie Cole.”
Jerry, you are always there to help the non profits and work with thier little budgets and give them BIG results. You are a number one class act and Larry and I are honored to be your friends!! Love Jil
Hi, Jerry: Nice profile! Say, when your son gets to Berklee, have him look up a friend of mine who is on the faculty there: Ralph Peterson Jr. Ralph is a well-known (in jazz circles) drummer and is on the Berklee faculty. He gets out to Colorado once or twice a year to do workshops, mainly at CU-Boulder, and could be a good mentor/contact for Daniel to have.