Evan Barber, left, conducts a music lesson with Lance Anderson, 11, Tuesday evening at the newly opened threeforty on Dawson Road.
ALBANY — Evan Barber’s doing what he was made to do. Most days for the past four years, he and his band The Dead Gamblers have been somewhere — anywhere — playing music.
Barber and the Gamblers, who’ve earned a reputation as musical gunslingers who’ll go anywhere the music takes them, have decided that maybe that approach is not the best use of their talent. So Barber and company have come up with a unique business plan that will allow them to share their passion with an altogether different demographic.
“I see the adults who enjoy music in the bars and the clubs where we play, but we never have an opportunity to interact musically with kids,” Barber said. “But when you think about it, that’s where music starts.
“So we decided we’d teach kids not just how to play music, but how to enjoy it.”
Thus was born threeforty (a creative group), where Barber, his bandmates and other local musicians are offering lessons in guitar, piano, vocals, drums and bass. The 2516 Dawson Road business, located in the Largo Plaza at the former site of the LeVee, is quickly becoming ground zero for budding young musicians.
“What we hope to do is teach our students about music as well as how to play it,” Barber said. “If they’re interested in a group like say Led Zeppelin, we want to introduce them to the blues that the band’s music is based on.
“We hope we can show young people that music is an ends to itself, not a means to an end. Hopefully they’ll see that you can get enjoyment out of music without trying to hit it big. Nothing against the guys from around here who are doing well with their careers, but there’s more to music than just trying to become a star.”
Barber teaches beginner guitar, while his bandmates — drummer Jeb Tabb, bassist Ryan Juneau and lead guitarist Blane Johnson — teach classes in their instruments. Bo Henry Band guitarist Brandon Fox teaches beginner and advanced guitar; “fifth Gambler” Chris Stanich teaches drums and guitar, and multi-instrumentalist Katy Workman teaches piano, vocals and musical theory.
“What we do is teach the basics and then see what direction each individual’s interest goes in,” Barber said. “Advance lessons will go more in that direction.”
In addition to music lessons, threeforty (“The speed of sound on water,” Barber explains) will host a number of songwriting seminars, will serve as a venue for band rehearsals and monthly concerts — Zach Deputy, fresh off a Wanee Music Fesival appearance, will play June 14 — and will be one of the city’s only outlets for vinyl and CD copies of local and independent musicians’ works.
“We’ll have some special events, too,” Barber said. “We’re planning a songwriters’ night where some local writers will talk about and play their music, and we’ll have drinks and food brought in from Harvest Moon.
“We’re going to continue to play shows, but this will allow us to be more selective about where we play. We’ll be able to stay here and still play and interact with other people who love music.”
Threeforty is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Call (229) 869-3463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.