The Barons Motorcycle Club, founded nearly five decades ago, are one of Utah’s longest-running motorcycle clubs. The Barons have cultivated their sense of fraternity by logging thousands of highway miles, by sitting around campfires late into the night, and by drinking at the planks of many a dive bar.
These noble brethren of the bike are drawn together by their passion for sitting on the back of a chopper, and over the years, they've seen the West’s open roads while wearing the iconic Barons patch.
Harley-Davidsons bellow as they pull up to the Barons' Edison Street headquarters for the Thursday meeting. Overflow bikes line the street outside the house that the club has owned since 1976. The steely bikes stand in juxtaposition to the vibrant red building exterior.
As I shoot, I’m offered a Solo cup full of whiskey, and I'm greeted with a bit of curiosity and welcomed on the property. I am, however, told to not ask to go inside the house, and asked to leave the property when the meeting commences. I can respect that.
Before the meeting, there is a spirit of camaraderie as bikers drag cigarettes and joke as they sip beer and whiskey. It seems as though the wild days of ‘60s biker gangs, however, are no more.
For decades, the Barons were just one of two local clubs; the other is the Sundowners. Now, many clubs have popped up and law enforcement says the number of members throughout Utah has increased by more than 300 percent in the past five years.
The increase in bikers is significant, reports a recent City Weekly story, because lawmakers are trying to pass stricter ordinances against clubs; lawmakers feel that many bikers take part in illicit outlaw biker gang activities. The Barons say they are merely a club. However, they are no strangers to fighting the man or for advocacy. For instance, the Barons helped repeal the mandatory helmet laws that the federal government pressured the states to adopt during the late 1960s.
Beyond meetings and rides, the club makes time to give to charity. They do an annual toy drive for Primary Children's Hospital and a blood drive for the American Red Cross.
Photographer's Note: The photos were originally shot on assignment for City Weekly and were published on Nov. 27 in a cover story titled "No Country For Bikers." It's worth the long read.
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.