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Jonny Barber, a/k/a The Velvet Elvis (from his website)

Jonny Barber, a/k/a The Velvet Elvis (from his website)

Earlier this week, Barber, who’s been making and performing music in the Denver scene for years with a slew of acts, including Jonny Barber & the Rhythm Razors, Spiv, Mama and the Velvet Elvis, began floating the prospect of running for office on his Facebook page. Appropriately, in a nod to his reverence for The King, he’s even touted the idea of forming a new party called … wait for it … TCB.

This is incredibly cool if this is an actual possibility and Barber’s not just pulling our leg. While John Hickenlooper, the former mayor of the city and current governor of the Centennial State, has actively advocated for music made in the Mile High City over the years, this would be a first, having someone from the scene taking the helm.

When we get a chance to catch up with Colfax Avenue’s biggest champion, we’ll let know if this is an actual thing. In the meantime, based on the response to Barber’s posts, he won’t have a hard time finding a community of supporters to back his efforts. And while we have no idea what the platform of TCB could be (we suspect it probably involves plenty of Fool’s Gold sandwiches from Nick’s Place for everybody), the city would be in good hands under a Barber administration.

By Dave Herrera | Aug. 10 2016

UPDATE: Confirmed: Jonny Barber is indeed planning to run for mayor of Denver

Jonny Barber is indeed planning to join the race to become the next mayor of Denver.

In case you missed our previous post, the longtime member of the Denver music scene started floating the prospect of running for office earlier this week on Facebook. His post immediately garnered an enthusiastic response from folks, many of whom, like us, wondered if he was actually being serious.

Turns out he wasn’t kidding.

Wait, though. It gets better: When we caught up with Barber on Wednesday afternoon, he said not only was he serious, but he was actually getting ready to head down to Nob Hill on Colfax for his first campaign meeting, a confab with none other than Luke Schmaltz of King Rat, another highly regarded member of the scene, who is signing on to be Barber’s campaign manager.

It’s kismet how that whole pairing came together, according to Barber.

“Luke Schmaltz runs into me on south Broadway,” Barber explained. “He was at home, and he saw this post, and he was thinking about it, and he said, ‘You know what? If it’s my destiny to be the campaign manager for Barber’s run for mayor, I’m going to run into him today.’ That’s what he told himself. And then he’s out walking along south Broadway, and I come strolling down, and he sees me, and his eyes widen. Just like, ‘It’s a sign!’

“Get this, though, the story goes further,” he continued. “Earlier that morning, I asked my wife, ‘Anastasia, baby, if I were to pick one man in Denver to man up to be my campaign manager, who would you get?’ And without even blinking, ‘Luke Schmaltz.’ True story. The hand of destiny is at work, brother.”

So, rest assured, this is actually happening.

“It’s already happened,” said Barber. “I’ve already been out talking to people and started building my platform for what The TCB Party is all about.” Barber said it’s premature at this point to discuss exactly what the agenda of his grassroots, Elvis-inspired party will be, as he’s barely announced his intent to run. But considering that the race is still a few years off, though, he’s got plenty of time to work on developing the platform.

Barber is a longtime Denver resident, who was born in the Bay area (in the same hospital where Neil Cassady met Ken Kesey)and raised in Salt Lake City. He moved to Colorado in 1989 to help manage his father’s ranch in Summit County.

“I was living like a mountain man at 10,000 feet,” he recalled. “I was living without running water or electricity or central heating. I was operating heavy equipment and logging trees and managing horses. I was living like a total mountain man. It was incredible. And then my dad just got older and sold the ranch, and we moved down to Denver.”

That was in 1995. Barber rented a place in Capitol Hill, and that’s when his love affair with Colfax began (Barber and his wife have run for the past dozen years). Fittingly, his very first exposure to the city was on Colfax, and it was a bit of harrowing experience.

“In ’95, I’m driving down the 6th Ave. freeway to play my very first gig at the Lion’s Lair,” Barber recalled. “We got shot at driving down the highway. This big Suburban comes peeling up and just pops a couple of shots into the side of my van. By the time we got through the shooting ordeal, we got to our gig at the Lion’s Lair.”

Colfax, of course, was a little different back then. It was a bit overwhelming at first. “We were just looking at each other, going, ‘What kind of town did we just move to?'” he remembered with a laugh. “We’re looking around just going, ‘We just landed in Babylon, brother. So our impression was kind of wild.”

Barber, who has no prior experience in politics, said his decision to run for office was inspired by his time in the city and a desire to give back to the community. “I love Denver,” said the musician, who’s been championing the virtues of Colfax for more than a decade, along with working with Corky Scholl on the Save the Signs historic preservation effort on the historic street. “And I love the people that live here.”

Judging from the response Barber has received so far, it’s safe to say the feeling is mutual. And if a former brewpub owner with no previous political experience can rise up through the ranks to become mayor and then go on to become governor, Barber has historical precedence on his side, if nothing else.

By Dave Herrera | Aug. 10

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