After a sizeable celebration at The Fillmore in San Francisco, friends and family of the late John Perry Barlow gathered on April 9 at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, CA for a more intimate memorial.
“We’re on a long endurance run, I feel like, in the celebration of this wonderful man, John Perry Barlow,” his daughter Amelia Rose Barlow said at the beginning of the event. Whereas Barlow’s memorial at the Electronic Frontier Foundation was a glimpse into “the facets of his mind,” and the prior evening’s Fillmore event was a retrospective on “the musician, the poet and the wild coyote he was in his dedication to psychedelics,” the show at Sweetwater Music Hall was intended to celebrate his roots in Wyoming, his longstanding love for the outdoors and his home, the Bar Cross Ranch.
The musical portion of the evening started with all three of Barlow’s daughters singing the song, “I Will Take You Home” a lullaby he wrote with Brent Mydland.
Barlow’s longtime friends Bob Weir, Steve Kromer and Andy Leonard then took the stage, telling tales of how they met the songwriter and their connection to his ranch. “Our friend John Perry Barlow was a fairly unique individual. I’ve been searching for something to say about him and the best I could come up with so far is that he was the guy who had actually learned to embrace the challenges that life has to offer,” Weir said. He described how Barlow and those around him on the ranch taught him “The Cowboy Way.”
Jerry Joseph, Steve Kimock and Wally Ingram then played a rendition of Joseph’s “Wisconsin Death Trip.” The trio also played “Giraffe,” before welcoming Bob Weir to the stage for a newer “cowboy” tune we wrote.
Weir then took Joseph’s place leading a larger group of musicians including Lukas Nelson, Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads, Kimock and Barlow’s daughters to play Talking Heads’ “Heaven,” which they performed the night before at the Fillmore. Other highlights included the Barlow-penned “I Need A Miracle,” sung by Harrison, and “Take Me to The River.” Nelson and Weir traded licks on “Feels Like A Stranger,” followed by a Jeff Chimenti sit-in on “The Music Never Stopped.” Nelson also sang lead vocals on “Estimated Prophet,” and Weir went partially acoustic on an emotional “Lost Sailor,” before switching back to electric and closing with “Saint of Circumstance.”
The band encored with a deep, exploratory “Cassidy” sung by Weir and Barlow’s daughters.
Watch the full concert below, courtesy of Sweetwater Music Hall: