HOMEGOING CELEBRATION: Today at noon, the family and friends of Greg Barker will celebrate his life at the Delta picnic facility at Micke Grove Park. If you knew Greg, you’re invited.

“TWELVE BUCKS AND A TACO.” That was Greg’s humorous reply when someone asked what our original band (The Stinkbait Blues Band. The name’s another story) would charge to play. We played solid blues, but we managed to weave the Gospel message into every setlist.

THE NEXT iteration of the group was Greg Barker and The Highway 61 Blues Band. I loved playing with this bunch of guys, and especially with Greg. We played biker churches and rallies, blues and brews festivals, county fairs and a variety of other venues. As a frontman, Greg was generous to every player. He loved the music, but he loved the people he played with even more. A hugely talented and versatile musician, Greg was in demand. He played with a wide array of groups. He’ll be sorely missed.

TODAY, many of the musicians and vocalists who played with Greg over the years will gather for a musical reunion and tribute. Greg’s son-in-law, Ian Bender (Husband of Greg and Charlotte’s younger daughter Mandy) will fill Greg’s role as frontman on vocals and lead guitar. Ian grew up watching a lot of us lead worship at Bethel Open Bible Church in Lodi. He told me that as a little boy, he’d watch Greg rippin’ it up on lead guitar and he’d say to himself, “I want to do that!” Now he’s honoring his mentor.

GETTING THE BANDS TOGETHER to practice for today’s celebration has been a joy. Lots of humor and reminiscing along with some very fine tunes, if I do say so! I kept halfway expecting to look up and see Greg. But as a Christ-follower, I know that before too long I WILL. Until we play together again, Greg.