A native of Roanoke, VA, 26-year-old LenBarker has played guitar for 12 years. His first guitar was an SG style Kay K-2, which the extremely kind parents of a deceased teenage neighbor gave him. Barker's parents, who had encouraged him to purchase Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Grateful Dead albums to wean him of an affinity for top 40, soon insisted that he take guitar lessons. The encouragement, love, and support of his parents and two sisters have always guided and aided him in all of his pursuits.
When he was a junior in high school, Barker began playing in rock bands at local churches, parties, school functions, and nightclubs. During those formative years, friends and experiences at summer camp in West Virginiaís Camp Greenbrier also inspired Barker. Weekly campfires and "talent" shows there provided an outlet for displaying his musical interests in front of a relatively large, captive audience.
After high school, Barker attended Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he majored in biology. He also took courses in music theory, music history, and ethnomusicology there, all of which aided in his development as a musician. He continued performing with rock bands from his hometown of Roanoke, first in Sarcastic Eulogy and later with the Electric Company. By senior year, Barker was taking courses during the week at Georgetown, then taking Greyhound buses or riding with friends to gigs at Virginia Tech, Roanoke College, and Duke University.
The Electric Company broke up by the end of his senior year, but Barker's experiences with that band at Duke University helped convince him to apply to graduate school there. After matriculating from Georgetown in the spring of '96, he began studying for his masterís degree at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment in the fall. He formed the band Pine Fetish with some musicians that he met there, and Dave the drummer, a high school buddy who had played in several Roanoke bands with Barker over the years, took over drumming duties for Pine Fetish during Barker's second year there.
Barker completed his masterís degree after two years at Duke and soon found work in the Washington, DC area as an urban forester at army base, where he continues to work. He loves his job, but he was distraught that he had not found new musicians in the area with whom he could collaborate until a classmate from Duke introduced him to keyboardist Fred Miller at a 4th of July weekend barbecue in 1999. Fred informed Barker that the lead guitarist in his band, Buffalo Hazard, had just departed the area and that they were looking for a replacement. Barker asked what styles of music they played, and, after Fred replied "Grateful Dead and Neil Young", Barker told Fred that he had just met his new lead guitarist. They have worked together ever since.