Ya Mar, Ya Mar, Ya Mar, Ya Mar, Ya Mar

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

“Ya Mar” is one of few covers that many fans have confused for a Phish original.  Part of the reason for this confusion is that the band has played the song routinely since its debut in 1987, and it has become a staple of the Phish catalog.  Its foray into calypso rhythms never ceases to lighten up a show, and bring smiles to the faces of many grooving fans.  Though Phish has played the song for the duration of their career, the history of it was a bit nebulous.

As the story goes, Mike was on vacation in the Caribbean and heard a band called The Mustangs, playing “Ya Mar,” a song that was actually a cover of Bahamas recording artist Cyril Ferguson.  The cover had been recorded by The Mustangs, put on their album, and credited to them on many a Caribbean compilation.  Liking the song so much, when Mike returned to Vermont, he taught the band “Ya Mar” and the rest was history.  It wasn’t until years later, when The Mockingbird Foundation was doing research for the first edition of the The Phish Companion, that it was discovered that Phish had been playing The Mustangs calypso interpretation of Ferguson’s original all along, without knowing who the real artist was.

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Regardless of the song’s history, it evolved into a Phish song.  With countless performances over two plus decades, its origin has become mere trivia.  Adding a hint of island flavor to an otherwise divergent show can often be the exact thing needed to complete that perfect set.  While “Ya Mar” has appeared in all spots on a set list, some particularly well-placed second set versions appeared on 7.25.97 in Dallas, with drummer Bob Gulotti sitting in, leading into a drums jam; 4.5.98 in Providence, RI, providing melodic relief from a grinding “Disease” jam; 11.26.97 in Hartford, with a seamless segue out of “Cities,” 12.2.97 in Philly, deep in a whole-set “Mike’s Groove” leading into “Weekapaug.”

Sometimes used as a largely composed piece, and other times used as a clear improvisational vehicle, “Ya Mar” carries diverse purposes.  Like Phish’s own utility infielder- ready for action at all times-  happy to fill in wherever needed. Drawing enthusiastic cheers from Trey’s call of “Play it Leo!”, and Page’s subsequent organ romp, the song carries a merry and lighthearted vibe, while sometimes leading into far more.

“Ya Mar” has moved with the trends of Phish’s music, and has seen various tempos and incarnations of its polyrhythmic textures.  Below are five standout versions of the song- where Phish takes it quite a bit deeper.  You can listen to each right on the site by rolling over the links and clicking play or right click and open in a new window.


12.13.97 Knickerbocker Arena, Albany NY

1997-12-13moKicking off the last show of Fall ’97, this “Ya Mar” is many a fan’s favorite version- and rightfully so.  The opener summed up the funked out tour with a groove-based “Ya Mar” unlike any other.  Like many shows of this tour, funk jams popped out of non-funky songs, and Phish killed this one with an opening dance session.  After playing a tight and engaging version of the song, the band “took it from the top,” as Trey strummed the opening chords just as you thought the song would end.  And this is when things blew up.  The second time through there was nothing but sublime, funkified improv.  This is truly IT.  Check this one out- it gets my vote for “best ever.”

LISTEN TO 12.13.97 “Ya Mar” NOW! < LINK


12.02.97 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

1997-12-02gn2Deep in a second-set “Mike’s” sandwich, this version of “Ya Mar” emerged out of “Dog-Faced Boy,” bringing light to an otherwise dark set that was dominated by an outrageous “Mike’s” jam.  This jam began in a sparsely percussive place, as Trey slithered into the mix with subtle melodies that soon blossomed into a constant flow of gorgeous lines.  Page and Mike laid low for the beginning, integrating themselves into the jam slowly.  With the band’s entry, the music became more layered and psychedelic, reaching a territory far away from its origin.  Trey even managed to squeeze some “Crosseyed” licks into this standout version.  As the adventure continued, the music wound its way into the beginning of a top-notch “Weekapaug.”

LISTEN TO 12.2.97 “Ya Mar > Weekapaug” NOW! < LINK


4.5.98 Providence Civic Center, RI

1998-04-04gn2The Island Run “Ya Mar” was something to behold.  The band worked an extended and twisting “Disease” down to virtual silence, when out of the silence came a complete change of vibe with the opening chords of “Ya Mar.”  While seeming like a somewhat random placement, it fit with the celebratory theme of the run’s final set.  Once the improv started,  Trey absolutely slaughtered it, playing surreal lead lines as if they were coming off a record.  A melodic geyser completely going off, Trey mesmerized the crowd, and his own band, with his work.  Mike, Fish and Page quickly stepped out of prominence, and then into silence, allowing Trey’s quiet solo to take this version to the bank.  The whole arena was silent, as his emotions poured from his guitar.  The band came back from the darkness with musical bliss that is some of the most soulful of the weekend.

LISTEN TO 4.5.98 “Ya Mar” NOW! < LINK


12.8.99 Cumberland Country Civic Center, Portland, ME

This first set version stood out with its incredibly collaborative nature.  With all members contributing short complementary phrases at the onset of the jam, the band took a minute to make sure they were locked.  Following this introductory portion, this jam turned into heavier music that remained loosely anchored to the song’s rhythm.  The band gelled into some very interesting percussive territory during this version, and it’s largely forgotten in the middle of the first set.

LISTEN TO 12.8.99 “Ya Mar” NOW! < LINK


8.2.03 IT, Limestone, ME

phishitposterThis second-song “Ya Mar” on the opening day of IT took off flying, setting the improvisational course for the weekend.  Taking the crowd by surprise, Trey led the band through one of the best versions of the song ever played.  The band hit a groove about a third of the way into the song from which they took off and never returned.  Taking the normally upbeat tune into harrowing psychedelic darkness, Phish was at it being Phish again.  The band tore through some distinctly non-afternoon music while the sun still shone brightly; it was a nice paradox.  This version ran right away into “Jim.” IT was gonna’ be a good weekend!

LISTEN TO 8.2.03 “Ya Mar >Runaway Jim” NOW! < LINK



LISTEN TO 7.25.98 “Ya Mar” NOW! < LINK

This one deserves mention in any “best ever” discussion!



I want to send a heartfelt thanks to all the readers for your generous contributions on day one!  Your help will go directly to pay for the colossal month of March with the No Spoilers and Hampton downloads.  I really appreciate your support!  Thanks again!





Today is the eleven year of one of the greatest Phish shows ever played. Period.  A night that would go down in the annals of Phish history, 4.3.98 is right in the running for best show in history.  Enjoy the energy that 4.3 brings, as well as the rest of the weekend.  The other three ain’t too shabby either!  Below are my Island Run posts from earlier this year.




8.8.98 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD SBD < LINK

8.8.98 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD SBD < TORRENT LINK

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Following up yesterday’s topic of Summer ’98, here we have a leaked SBD of the well-loved show from Merriweather.  With bust-outs of “Sweet Jane” and “Sabotage,” Phish kept the covers coming, and with the “Sneaking Sally” and “2001,” they kept the funk coming.  A scorching “Piper” is the centerpiece of the second set which closes with a beautiful “Harry Hood.”

I: The Wedge, NICU, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Guyute, Fikus, Farmhouse, Possum, Sweet Jane*

II: Cavern, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Tela > Piper, Sexual Healing, Harry Hood

E: Sabotage*

*First time played

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316 Responses to “Ya Mar, Ya Mar, Ya Mar, Ya Mar, Ya Mar”

  1. Harpua Says:


    Ticketmaster in trouble?

  2. voopa Says:

    Nice. Bringing TM to the table. Probably won’t help me score Shoreline pavs tho :o|

  3. snigglebeach Says:

    I wish i could read more of that article.

    That is best news i have heard about that topic in months.


  4. Harpua Says:

    Full Article:

    Ticketmaster Is Asked for Reseller Information

    Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. on Friday said it received demands for information from the U.S. Justice Department and other government agencies investigating the company’s activities in reselling concert tickets.

    The company sent an email Friday to ticket brokers who use its TicketsNow Web site saying that it had received subpoenas or other requests for information from the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the New Jersey Attorney General and the Canadian Competition Bureau, among others. The company confirmed that the email was authentic but declined further comment.

    Ticketmaster’s proposed merger with concert promoter Live Nation Inc. is already under review by the Justice Department’s antitrust division; it was unclear from the company’s email whether any of the subpoenas in question were issued as part of that regulatory review or came from a separate investigation.

    The email indicated that the investigations stemmed at least in part from an episode in February in which people trying to buy tickets to two New Jersey Bruce Springsteen concerts were redirected from Ticketmaster’s main site to TicketsNow, where seats were priced at many times face value.

    The letter said that Ticketmaster, of West Hollywood, Calif., had been asked for information relating to its dealings with ticket brokers, including the names of every broker who resells tickets on TicketsNow and copies of their business contracts.

    The letter added that Ticketmaster would take steps to protect the confidentiality of its business relationships but that it considered the requests “lawful demands” and would respond to the requests by the end of next week.

    Between them, Ticketmaster and Live Nation, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., own the dominant ticketing platform, the world’s largest concert-promotion company and the biggest artist-management concern.

    The companies argue that combining those resources would enable them to explore new approaches to selling concert tickets, among other things. Competitors, consumer groups and members of Congress have criticized the proposed combination.

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    holy shit that’s great..

    change bitches..

  6. Mitch E. Says:

    Well this will probably get lost in all the replies, but the Albany Ya Mar is an interesting highlight here. Before the closing jam, Trey turned to Page and tried to tell him to close up the song, giving him the ol’ hand across the throat stop sign. But Page had his back turned, jamming away on one of his keyboards and kept on going. Trey gave him a very “what the hell” face, as if to say, “This one is going nowhere,” then shrugged and continued to play.

    I was second row in front of Page that night, and will never forget that opening sequence. I believe in The Phish Book, Trey said that first set of that night in Albany was the worst set that tour.

  7. KRIVRAQ Says:

    Great posts, Miner. You took me through a mini-throwback into some of the headiest days I had on Tour, right back into the thick of things.

    11.26.97 was there
    12.2.97 was there
    12.12.97 was there
    4.3.98 was there
    8.8.98 was there

    Oh, the car troubles we experienced from the Delaware Memorial Bridge toll booths all the way to the show and all the way back to north Jersey the next day. Although I had to take the wheel on our friend’s VW bus with only 2nd and 4th gears, we made it into the show just as The Wedge was beginning. After the show, we only had 2nd gear so we had no choice but to get a room for the night. Oh, the memories!

    Now there’s a HOT topic for posting— Car troubles and shows!!!
    Probably would fill a whole weekend.

  8. KRIVRAQ Says:

    ^^^ car trouble from NJ to Merriweather 8.8.98

  9. cottle Says:

    Murfreesboro, TN, Fall ’98. My boy’s Oldsmobile was overheating on the way into the show. We had to push it in to the lot.

  10. OlFactoryHugh Says:

    @msbjivein, Nice pick but first night at jones beach is going to be

    Set 1:
    Oh ke pa > Suzy, Runaway Jim>Carini>Runaway, Talk, Mikes>Simple>Hydrogen>Yerushalayim shel zahav> YEM>Hydrogen>Weekapaug, Bowie

    Set 2: The Sloth, Tweezer, The Horse > Silent in the morning, Slave

    E: Drowned, Reprise

    This is what dreams are made of.

  11. wall05 Says:

    I just had a terrible experience with Livenation!!!!!

    I was trying to buy Allman Bros w/ Widespread Panic ticks this morning from their website. I went on at exactly 10 and got PIT TICKETS!!!

    When i go to check out (literally after clicking the button that states your card will be charged) the site just gives me a big page that says SORRY you cannot access this page!

    WHAT kind of shit is that???!!!! The paying customer and fan cannot access the page to buy tickets!!!! Probably only Ticketsnow and Stubhub employees can!

    I had to get on the phone and do it and sit through the dumbass that works there trying to pronounce Susquehanna for ten mins. I still got seats and not lawn except now they are all the way towards the back of the pavilion which does not make me happy considering the seats I should have in my possesion right now!


  12. Al Says:

    For all Phish DVD fans out there!!! Go to this site and get yourself the greatest Hampton 2009 videos! If you have the software to download youtube videos, convert them and enjoy.

  13. Baxter Says:

    Thanx Al ^^ I hadn’t checked Silverchairs channel in a while. This link will play most of the first reunion show in sequence.


  14. Jer Says:

    I’m listening to the 8-2-03 Ya Mar again…and it is a really good extension of the Ya Mar jam out into a minor key. Fish (as he was pretty much throughout Phish 2.0) is just tearing shit up…he is ALL OVER THIS ONE!!! Nevertheless, this version pales in comparison (from an improvisation standpoint) to 12-13-97. One of the things that I love about the 12-13 version is how it just winds down to a close and doesn’t segue into anything…like it was a composition of it’s own.

  15. Baxter Says:

    wicked pissa vid of yamar from silva phish from 5.23.00 roseland, from yer mean old pa


  16. andrewrose Says:

    Nice to see the 12.8.99 Ya Mar mentioned. I was at both these shows at the CCCC and they were some of the best I ever saw, and seem to always be overlooked. 12.7.99 was the better show overall, with the monster Halley’s in the first and amazing Bathtub->Simple, Free, Suzie to end the second set. But set 1 of 12.8.99 was fantastic, with this Ya Mar being a standout. The DWD->FEFY that immediately precedes it is also amazing. Very atypical and gorgeous jam out of Disease…

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