Reprinted by permission from The Bolivar Bullet
by Jack Criss
Assistant Professor of Practice at Delta State’s Delta Music Institute, Ben Yarbrough, is a multi-talented musician originally from Oxford who brings his real world experience to the classroom to inspire and educate students. And that experience is deep.
“I graduated from Delta State in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Entertainment Industry Studies with a concentration in Audio Engineering Technology,” said Yarborough. “Then, in July of 2022, I earned the iMBA with a concentration in Entertainment Industry Studies and began teaching full time in January of this year.”
Having started playing guitar at the age of 10, Yarborough cites the usual influences of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page.
“I formed my first band when I was 13,” he said, “with a good friend of mine who stayed with me over the years, even with my band Young Buffalo.”
Yarborough toured as guitarist and vocalist of that trio for seven years–beginning in 2009–and, over the course of the band’s time, opened for the popular English band Arctic Monkeys several times playing in front of large audiences, as well as traveling throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Yarborough has also served as live sound engineer in many venues, including The Lyric in Oxford and Hey Joe’s in Cleveland.
“Young Buffalo was a great experience,” said Yarborough. “The three of us wrote our own material and would sing lead on the songs we wrote. We were originally signed to Fat Possum Records, which was based out of Oxford, and recorded at the amazing studio that used to be housed there called, Sweet Tea. But, the record was never released,” he said. “Votiv Records, out of Seattle, then proceeded to buy out our contract from Fat Possum. We went through a few personnel changes at that point, becoming a five-piece band, and recorded another record at the Bank in Burbank, CA and also at a famous studio in Los Angeles called East-West, where artists like Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson had recorded–it was incredible.
Eventually, though, for a variety of reasons, the whole business took a toll on us,” said Yarborough. “The other band members and I are still very close, but we were tired and it was time to move on.” Young Buffalo’s music is available to hear, however, on all the usual musical social media formats, said Yarborough, including Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and YouTube, among others.
“I came to Delta State after Young Buffalo broke up,” said Yaroborough. “I was somewhat aimless at the time, but it just so happened that a friend of my mother’s told her about her son’s experience at DMI. So I drove to Cleveland, took a tour and thought it was amazing. After I got my BS, I started working in the studio at DSU while continuing to pursue my Master’s. I taught an adjunct class for a time before going full-time as an instructor in January of this year as Assistant Professor of Practice.” He currently teaches DMI 300 Entertainment Industry Entrepreneurship, DMI 114 Live Sound I, and DMI 314 Live Sound II, in addition to DMI 419 & 420 Record Label Practicum.
Yarborough said he continues to record with independent artists such as Craig Adams, Spencer Thomas, Anne Freeman, Dead Gaze, and DMI graduate Schaefer Llana–but probably would not return to the road anytime soon. “I love my job here at DMI and touring is really a grind,” he said. “I don’t think people realize how much time is spent on the road and how monotonous that can be. But I do love to sit in with other artists from time to time and have some of my own songs in the can that I might do something with in the future. We’ll see,” he said.
“Teaching at DMI is truly a rewarding experience,” said Yarborough. “We have some really talented young people here,” he said, “and I love it when my students ‘get’ what I’m teaching and then start enjoying the technical aspects of recording. I’m in a good spot now. I love Cleveland, met and recently married my wife, Rachel, here and don’t see myself doing anything else anytime soon.”