Is it feasible to start an entertainment business in a town of less than 100,000 people almost 40 miles from the nearest interstate? If you ask Justin Andrews and Evan Barber, who founded Threeforty Creative Group in Albany, Ga. almost two years ago, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
Andrews, a native of Dothan, Ala. who attended the University of Alabama, and Barber, an Albany native who attended the University of Georgia, met in college. “I would book Georgia bands that Evan worked with for fraternity parties and events, and Evan would book Alabama bands that I worked with for fraternity parties and events.” After graduation, a job offer brought Andrews to Albany and the pair reconnected, finding themselves constantly inspired by the region’s music heritage. “Music in South Georgia is like no other place on earth,” Andrews says. “Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Boudleaux Bryant, Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, Luke Bryan, Philip Phillips…there’s something in the water down here.”
Barber, who leads the rock band Evan Barber and the Dead Gamblers, and Andrews collaborated to produce one-off events but conversations continued to veer towards the concept of a full-time company that would bring music to Southwest Georgia across multiple platforms. “I’ll never forget it,” says Andrews. “Evan and I were sitting on his back porch and decided to just run with it.”
They enlisted another like-minded friend, Jeb Tabb, who in May 2010 had co-founded Briar Patch Music Festival in the farm community of Damascus, Ga. (population 242) to “bring the real to the field.” With common ground established, Threeforty Creative Group was launched and the partners began to produce concerts and festivals and offer event planning, marketing and talent booking services to other organizations. In addition to Briar Patch, they’ve been involved with Georgia Throwdown, River Oak Music and Arts Festival and Flintfest in Albany and the I-75 Smokeout BBQ and Music Festival in Ashburn, among others events.
Threeforty also operates a music studio and offers lessons in guitar, bass, drums, ukulele, piano and voice. “It’s hard to explain the feeling, but teaching the gift of playing an instrument to someone is like no other,” Andrews says. He and Barber are particularly excited about growing this side of the business and providing opportunities for local musicians to become teaching artists.
Moonlight through the pines
On Oct. 24 and 25, 2014, Threeforty Creative Group presents its inaugural Big Pine Music Festival at Albany’s Exchange Club Fairgrounds. More than 40 bands including Shovels and Rope, John Anderson, Clarence Carter and Chris Stapleton are scheduled with a $50 weekend pass and RV hookups and tent camping areas available. The festival will feature kids’ activities and a variety of arts and crafts vendors. “There’s honestly something for everybody,” says Andrews. “Kids get in free because we think all kids should be able to enjoy music. Later in life these same kids will always remember going to a larger-than-life concert in their hometown.”
Threeforty is also involved with the production of BamaJam-O-Ween and the Monster Mud Ball at BamaJam Farms in Enterprise, Ala. The two-day affair on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 features Big Smo, Shooter Jennings & Waymore’s Outlaws, Nappy Roots, Hayden Carpenter, Grayson Capps and many more. The company kicks off 2015 by assisting with Speedfest on Jan. 21st at Cordele’s Crisp County Motorsports Park and in Albany, with the 100 Block Music and Arts Festival on April 18th and 19th and BrewFest on the Flint at Ray Charles Plaza on May 30th.
Like any new startup, Threeforty is a risk, but as Andrews notes, the partners agree on the driving force. “We’re just about doing people right and giving back to the community in Albany and across the Southeast.”