When we catch up with Jim Yakabuski, he’s just finishing a Rob Thomas tour pre-Christmas 2009.
Technically today is a day off, the perfect time to take in some football on TV and relax. But then there’s this interview, and the fact that he’s also engaged in a delicate technical project – converting
files for his 14-year-old daughter’s high school project.
Strictly speaking, this still qualifies as downtime. Not something he gets too much of with four children back home in Orlando.
While his three girls are getting to the age where hanging with Dad is less high-priority than it once was, his 6-year-old son is another matter. “He’s all about it. We go to the park. He’s in his Spidey outfit. I gotta be the Green Goblin. He’s full on,” Yakabuski says, laughing.
He isn’t complaining though. Over nearly 30 years in the business he’s spent an inordinate amount of time on tour, and only in the past decade has he been able to spend more time at home.
From The Beginning
Born and raised in British Columbia, Yakabuski studied audio recording at Vancouver’s Columbia School of Broadcasting. After that he cut his teeth touring western Canada’s thriving club circuit in the 1980s. “Part of the success in the touring side is that I really try to make every seat in the house sound good. I’ve always been from the school of loving to tune the room and the PA and make sure everyone in the house is hearing what I’m hearing.
“The whole corporate side of things helps,” he continues. It’s a marriage of technical skill and diplomacy, with little or no latitude for error. “You’ve got to be willing to solve any problem.” Regardless of the need, “You just figure it out.”
But Yakabuski’s success also stems from a continuing desire to expand on what he does.
His first gig was with a band a former high school buddy had just joined, and who also needed an engineer. Ditching his day job to tour meant taking a pretty deep cut in pay.
“I left my Safeway grocery gig and went out on the road making a sweet 20-50 bucks a week,” he says, laughing. Still, it wasn’t long before Yakabuski found himself with better paying gigs and plenty of them – enough to work six nights a week, 50 weeks a year if he wanted to. Soon, however, he wanted more.
“The story starts as most good ones do,” he says. “I met a waitress in a bar…”
She was wearing a dB Sound T-shirt, a US company he was familiar with but hadn’t approached yet. That was enough to prompt him to start up a conversation.