AZTEC — He may be the only man you'll ever see around Aztec in a full tuxedo at 2:30 in the afternoon.
His hair is slicked back and he has a debonair moustache, watery eyes and a warm smile, but it's his velvety voice that lingers long after he's taken his last request and unplugged his microphone.
The man is David Barron. He sings anywhere he's asked — at birthday parties, benefits, senior centers, art openings, living rooms and long-term care facilities, among others — a dozen or more times each month. He is better known simply as "The Entertainer."
"I love entertaining," said Barron, who lives in Center Point, just east of Aztec along U.S. Highway 550. "I've got some in karaoke format and some I do from total recall, so that helps, it helps an old man. And I always sing in a tux — no matter what the venue is, because my mom always said, 'Always be a professional.'"
Armed with his portable karaoke system and a microphone, Barron, 59, croons, swing and bellows anything that brings a smile, be it Connie Francis, Sons of the Pioneers, Engelbert Humperdinck or Bette Midler's version of "(I'd Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China."
It's particularly a hit with seniors, especially those in assisted living facilities, he said.
"Folks will come up with a tear in their eye and say things like, 'My husband and I used to dance to this' — all kinds of nostalgic stuff," he said. "People forget that people in these places have a whole lifetime of experience and knowledge. There's more knowledge going to the grave that people won't learn because people won't spend time with these folks."
For Barron, music unites people and brings back memories that he says, "are more precious than silver and gold." Though his audience tends to be people in the sunset of their lives, he doesn't see them as old.
"You know, when I'm singing, I look out at the crowd, and I'm not singing to old people," he said. "They may be 90 in years, let's say, but I'm really singing to young folks. They may be in an old body, but they're beautiful and young and alive. I take them back to Memoryville. I see 'em get weepy, and I want to weep right along with them. But I don't. I'm a professional."
He has a particular fondness for centenarians. He has performed for more than 10 people who are 100 or older.
"If someone's going to turn 100, I will come do a concert in their house for nothin'," he said. "They've lived their whole lives so that we could enjoy our lives. I'll travel anywhere in the state to sing for someone 100 years old."
To contact David Barron, call 505-402-9014 or email email@example.com.
Barron came by his second life as a singer while working at Cedar Ridge Inn, a long-term care facility in Farmington. He volunteered to sing a couple of songs one day, and "that's where it started," he said. He has since performed throughout the state and in Colorado and Las Vegas. Last year, he recorded an album of his favorite songs on a CD titled, "The Entertainer."
"I keep as busy as much as I can. You can't give your best unless you're doing something you love, 'cause you're heart's not in it," he said. "I sing at Good Sam's (Good Samaritan Society — Four Corners Village) the second Friday of each month, and it's such a blast. The people in those long-term care facilities, their eyes light up. Pretty soon, they're wiggling around, tapping their feet and enjoying the music. Music can reach your soul. That's why I do it."
Barron has worked countless rooms around San Juan County, and he admits his audiences help him look at life differently.
"I've been with a lot of people, singing all over," he said. "But I never heard anyone say, 'I wished I could have spent more time on the job.' They just don't say that. We're chasing the dollar these days. But there are no U-Haul trucks following the hearse to the graveyard 'cause you're not talking anything with you."
Barron rarely takes money for his performances, choosing to volunteer his services to reach people he knows are too often alone and share the gift of song.
"It's a wonderful gift to do what I do. If people knew how much fun I was having they'd be fighting me for my job," Barron said. "It's a passion. It's a way to give back to the community, light people up and give them a good feeling in their heart, down to their soul."
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.