Western Colorado is mourning the loss of a gifted drummer/percussionist. Vaun Barlow passed away last Tuesday, February 19, at the age of 71.

Chances are you've seen Vaun performing countless times over the last 50 years. He performed in several ensembles ranging from the Mesa State College Percussion Ensemble to the regional country band Against the Grain. This very talented musician was a staple in area Jazz ensembles and percussion groups.

I first met Vaun in 1989 at then Mesa State College. He was a degree seeking music student performing in the MSC Jazz Ensemble, Percussion ensemble, and Symphonic Band.

Somewhere around 1990, Vaun joined forces with Grand Junction musicians Joe Quesenberry and Ira Kaplan to form Against the Grain (not to be confused with the Denver area Bluegrass band of the same name). That project performed at various private functions around the valley.

I can recall performing a number of concerts with Vaun. He was a very capable drummer with a penchant for 60s and 70s Rock. He also enjoyed a deep appreciation of Jazz and Blues.

Vaun could be described as and incredibly "solid" drummer. He was a tall man with a muscular build, and could really "commit" to a set of drums. Put simply, he had a strong foot, a solid beat, and really knew how to play. According to guitarist Joe Quesenberry, "I never had difficulties with rhythm when playing with Vaun."

In the early 1990's, Vaun and Kaplan launched a recording studio on Orchard Mesa. At this same point, Vaun, like many drummers, began experiencing symptoms of Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Several surgeries to treat the condition resulted in a lengthy hiatus from performing.

Courtesy of the Barlow Family

When not performing, Vaun was a devoted family man. He and his wife Tina raised three children in Grand Junction. All three pursued musical and artistic career paths.

Vaun occasionally spoke of his time in the military. After returning from service, he worked at the Grand Junction Regional Center. He ultimately retired from the Regional Center after suffering a severe injury.

Courtesy of Naomi Barlow

Vaun Barlow is an example of someone who lived and breathed music every minute of every day. He studied endlessly, and served as a strong supporter of music in the valley. I sincerely hope you enjoyed a chance to hear him perform.