The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding

Concert slideshow

Zonal Music Group

Your ad here!

For a nominal sum your ad can be viewed by Arizona's connoissuers of culture! For info contact:

Ron Barber Recounts: Page 2

Graham Nash, Nils Lofgren and David Crosby

The five-hour event included musicians Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Alice Cooper, Sam Moore, Dar Williams, Keb' Mo', Nils Lofgren, Jerry Riopelle, Jennifer Warnes, Roger Clyne, Calexico and Ozimatli (see accompanying review) and others. The Tucson Convention Center donated the venue, and Barber, who has not fully recovered from severe leg wounds, walked inside the center to find the thousands of people who bought tickets in support of The Fund. "We wanted to make the concert accessible to everybody so we started ticket prices at $25," he said. The numbers are not all in, but Barber estimated that the concert garnered more than $100,000 for The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. The money will go to support the victims, the first responders, to create bullying prevention programs in schools, preventative mental health programs and many other related issues.

Barber described the activity backstage at the concert as lively and good spirited, like a family. People eager to help poured in. Backstage food was donated from local stores. Barber lined up forty-five volunteers himself. Zelisko did the production and Miller put the show together. Every performance was stellar. "It was two days of rehearsal for people who had never sung together before," Barber said. "The feeling was so heartfelt I can't say enough about how they all were." When Jackson Browne found out Calexico was going to do the song he wrote for his wife called "Paloma" he wanted to join Calexico for the song. "The band was thrilled," Barber reported.

The Barbers' six-year old granddaughter Tillie turned out to be a budding autograph collector. "Backstage, Tillie was running around with a piece of paper, solemnly asking all the musicians for their 'signatures'." Barber laughed. "Dar Williams even played Tillie and Ailsa to sleep with a lullaby."

Kieran, their eldest grandchild, was born in Scotland, at the base of a castle. One of the Barbers' daughters married a Scotsman and all the grandkids have Scottish names. Kieran, sporting a shock of long blonde hair, hung out with Alice Cooper backstage. "Love your hair man, don't ever cut it!" Cooper told him. "Kieran's battle to keep his hair long has finally been won," joked Barber.

Keb Mo

The effortless mix of personalities and points of view intrigued Barber. "Backstage you've got conservative Alice Cooper and liberal activist Jackson Browne, but they find common ground." Barber said. "Alice Cooper is the sweetest guy in the world; so kind and sensitive. He said 'How's this going to work? Jackson Browne's band backing up Alice Cooper!' " Barber laughed. "The musicians are all such cool people." Barber went on to say, "David Crosby really has a connection with children. Backstage there was always a couterie of kids sitting in front of him, just talking. Crosby spent some time with Kieran and told me, "Your grandson is very special. I mean, he's so centered."

Preparations for the concert moved along like clockwork. "The musicians and crew were all there two days in advance of the show to prepare. Not one of them hesitated. Each had his own take on why it was important to be there. Each of them said they were absolutely honored to be there, that it was the right thing to do.." Barber was especially touched by the kindness shown to them by the musicians. "Every day Graham Nash was there with a hug for Nancy, or to ask 'How ya' doing, is there anything I can help you with?' He really went out of his way to find us each day."

Barber reminisced about the last time he'd encountered David Crosby. "It was the morning after a David Crosby concert at the Tucson Convention Center sometime in 1986, '87 or '88, I'm not exactly sure." he said. "I was at the Tucson airport. It was back when you could drive right up. I was dressed in my suit and tie and parked the car to go in. On the backseat of my car was a book David Crosby had written about his recovery from addiction. I saw Crosby sitting on a bench outside the airport and thought, 'Nah, I'm not gonna do this. And then I told myself 'Oh, yes I am!' So I walked over to Crosby, told him I enjoyed the concert, had just read his book and was glad to see him back. Crosby looked at me incredulously and said 'YOU READ MY BOOK, MAN?' " Barber chuckled.

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona manages the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. The Fund for Civility, Respect and UnderstandingVice President of Donor Relations and Program Services Evan Mendelson told me, "Ron and his family are amazing. Both Ron and his family were extremely involved in the benefit.His son-in-law even created the logo for The Fund for Civility," Mendelson said. "The event happened because of Ron and his family. And the feeling in the community [created from the event and the Fund for Civility] worked. It really did help heal the community. I talked to Keb' Mo' who said it was one of the best charity events he had ever been involved in."

When I asked Barber what has been the most important aspect of his emotional recovery, he said: "My family. My wife Nancy and my daughters and sons-in-law were there at the ICU with me 24/7. I was never alone. They have all been incredibly supportive." In his treatment, Barber said the most important aspect of his recovery has been EMDR treatments for post-traumatic stress. It is used with soldiers for post- traumatic stress, he explained. "My cousin is certified in EMDR. I have had trouble sleeping, with the images of my boss and the others getting shot going through my mind. After my first EMDR treatment I got my first good night's sleep. After my second session I slept for 10 hours."

While he was in the hospital, Barber started seeing a good friend of his who is a psychologist. That is also helping him in his recovery. This week he started Aqua Therapy for his leg. He had his first treatment on the day of our interview and called me when it was over. "It's another phase of treatment for my leg" he explained. "I really liked it. I'm looking forward to doing more of it."

During his recovery in the ICU, when Barber learned that President Obama was coming to visit him, his nurse told him he couldn't get out of bed. "I just couldn't be comfortable not standing when the President came to see me." he said.Dar Williams "So they dressed me and got me in a chair. With the help of my son-in-law and daughter, I was able to stand and greet the President. So I stood to shake his hand and the President ordered me to sit down, so I did." he laughed. Obama spent quite a good deal of time with Barber. "I was very impressed with Obama. He was very engaged. He was totally present." Barber explained.

The President and Michelle Obama were very curious about the Barbers’ grandchildren. "They asked all the kids’ names and ages and they remembered them. I told Michelle Obama 'Kieran doesn't like to eat his vegetables' and she told him ‘You eat your vegetables! Keiran, this is the First Lady. I'm going to be checking up on you!' "

"Anyone who says President Obama doesn't have feelings doesn't know what they're talking about. They don't know him." Barber emphasized. He paused a moment and said, "When Obama was visiting me, I thought to myself: 'This is the President of the United States! He's really busy. And he's spending time with me!' "

If you couldn't attend the benefit concert, there are still some t-shirts and other souvenirs available. All proceeds go to the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. Items can be purchased from Bohemia in Tucson or at For full information on The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, to donate, or to find out how to help, go to the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona website at

Return to top of article