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Published August 19, 2013, 11:59 PM

Neighbors: The tale of the gospel-singing barber

When you combine barbershops and music, you probably think of barbershop quartets. But not in this case. Because this is the story of a barber who sings solo. And does it well.

By: Bob Lind, INFORUM

When you combine barbershops and music, you probably think of barbershop quartets.

But not in this case. Because this is the story of a barber who sings solo. And does it well.

Jon Larson, 68, has been barbering for 46 years. But he’s been singing much longer; he was singing in church when he was 5.

And he’s still singing in church. And elsewhere.

Dalton to Fargo

Jon was raised on a farm near Dalton, Minn., and graduated from Ashby (Minn.) High School in 1963.

Wanting to take up a trade, he chose barbering, influenced, he says, by his aunt, who was a beautician.

He enrolled in Moler Barber College, Fargo, in 1966, graduated in 1967, worked in shops in Glendive, Mont., and Valley City, N.D., came to Fargo in 1968 to work for the Esquire Barber Service, then, in 1969, joined Eighth Street Barbers and bought it in 1972. It’s the oldest barbershop in its original location in Fargo.

He’s seen men’s hairstyles change from short to long and now back to short again.

He still gives shaves, using a straight-edge razor.

“I enjoy my work,” he says. “But then, I enjoy people.”

To help keep track of all the people he’s met over the years, he keeps a card file listing their names and something about them.

But with all that, “Music,” he says, “has always been my hobby.”

Only gospel

Jon comes from a musical family. His grandfather played the violin and his mother played the piano and sang. Jon sings and plays the guitar. “But I’m not a professional,” he says. “If I was, I’d be a musician, not a barber.” He has cut a couple of gospel music CDs. “Gospel is important to me,” he says. “It’s my favorite music, always has been.”

Jon is on the worship team and does special music for Shiloh Evangelical Free Church, West Fargo, serves on the board and is one of the musicians for the Cornerstone Coffee House, Fargo, and is a guest soloist at area churches.

He used to sing country music and was with a regional band, Larry and the Country Drifters. But now, “It’s just gospel,” he says.

“Music,” he says, “is pretty much my life, after my family.”

Jon and his wife, Janice, a greeter at Sam’s Club, Fargo, have two daughters: Cherie Stegman and Amy Mertes, both Fargo, and five grandchildren. Jon says he’ll continue singing in public “as long as someone wants me to.” And he plans to continue barbering “as long as I’m able.” But isn’t it tough, having to be on his feet all day? “It doesn’t bother me at all,” he says, pauses, then adds, “yet.”


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com

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