A place to play

Lathanyo Garth

Photo by Vic Cantu

For decades Chico has been home to musicians trying to make it big locally and beyond. But practicing for those cherished public gigs has resulted in many a complaint and eviction. To the rescue comes musician Lathanyo Garth and his beautifully designed Garth Studios, located on Fifth Avenue, where he rents space for bands to practice. Garth also teaches several instruments, in addition to singing, and is putting together a children’s choir. For more information, log onto www.garthstudios.com.

What are the main services you offer?

We have a pretty big variety. We give local bands a professional rental space to practice, and I teach lessons in vocals, guitar and keyboards. We have a separate room for ballroom-dancing lessons. For those who can’t come personally, I teach voice lessons using Skype to people as far away as Romania. It requires an eight-week commitment because that’s how long it takes for people to change their existing singing habits.

How did you start your studio?

I was majoring in music education at Chico State in 2007 when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and spent eight days in the hospital. I eventually lost 40 pounds and it cut my education short, but I turned it into a good thing. I decided to create this space that teaches music and allows bands to hone their skills.

How many people use your studios?

We have about 35, but I’d like to increase that to 60. We’ve had many different bands here, such as Johny Wallz, Some Kind of Sorcerer, Great White Buffalo, Consider the Dreamer and Salsa Bella.

Do you run this all by yourself?

None of this would happen without the great help of my wife, Kim.

How does your ulcerative colitis affect your life?

There are different levels of severity. Stress usually aggravates my colon, which makes it hard for me to work. I still have some rough days, but medication and keeping my diet under control with my wife’s help really improves things.

You’ve got a couple of nicely framed posters of famous singers in your lobby.

Yes, we have lots of young students who are inspired by them. I eventually want to have a whole wall lined with pictures of famous performers.

What did you think about the tragic death of Whitney Houston?

I loved her music. It was the soundtrack to many of our lives. But it’s no secret she was into drugs and alcohol, which destroyed her voice. The biggest lesson is to stay focused on your original goals and ambitions.