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. c0wfunk Says:

    keif isnt’ a powder to me, no..

    I like the funk free myself.. the “new” arrangement was nice, kind of a hybrid between the original and the super funky ones circa 2000 (merriweather 2000 was The Funk) Love that wet wah bass tone and the extra DUN DUN thing they did with it. At Hampton, when they hit the “floating in the blimp a lot” section in the end peak, (the part that goes I flooooating in the blimp aloooot… I feeeel the feeeling I forgooooot .. I feeeeeeel freeeeeee) Trey stepped to the mic like he was going to sing, then the solo took over his mouth and he just started shredding it!

  2. Davey Says:

    I agree w/ Miner. No pills or powders, although I will sometimes break my cardinal rule for a candyflip on occasion. Nothing like mali to take away the “awkward” but leave you with the “weird”

  3. msbjivein Says:

    Hey SOAM,
    Kif, Kef, Keef, Jeef , Keethan or kief refers to the loose, dried resin glands (or trichomes) of cannabis which may accumulate on containers, in grinders, or be removed with a kiefing screen or sieve. The word is similar to the Arabic word “كيف” which literally means “mood”. It is sometimes erroneously called pollen or crystal. Kief can be smoked in a number of ways, including using smoking pipes, Waterpipe (bong), or rolling papers (resulting in a joint). Kief contains a higher concentration of desired psychoactive ingredients than ordinary preparations of cannabis buds from which it is derived.

    There’s a town in N.D. called Kief. Maybe they were the first to manufacture it…..

  4. notkuroda Says:

    you didn’t offend me and if Miner’s fine with it then it’s not my problem. I just notice so much blatant drug talk on message boards these days, as though we are the only people reading them. It just seems that this talk exposes the community to more risk, and for what?

    Not my board, just too bad I really can’t come on here at work anymore. The chances that any of my bosses would read it is minute, but the consequences of that happening are too major to risk. So, see ya on tour. Thanks for the writings Miner

  5. Frankie Says:

    That pic of your kid is still there Davey, don’t know if it’s wanted or not…

  6. Davey Says:

    Really? Rats. I see fractal. I deleted the picture off the site it’s hosted on too. Bummer. Anyone smart w/ computers help me out?

  7. Davey Says:

    By the way Frankie did you get Gorge tix?

  8. Frankie Says:

    No man. No Red Rocks or Gorge. I got SPAC though which were the closest to me anyway. Really want to check out a Gorge show at some point though! That place looks beautiful!

  9. Davey Says:

    There, I saved the blue design to my desktop and set that as my gravitar. Hopefully it will work in a couple minutes.

  10. Davey Says:

    Would you go if you could get tix? I know someone who might have an extra.

  11. contacthampton Says:

    The Portland 99 Ya Mar was the song that got me hooked. The Roseland and Greatwoods 00 versions were fun as well.

  12. voopa Says:

    Davey, Frankie…I had to reload the page completely (ctrl + F5) to lose Davey’s old avatar.

  13. Frankie Says:

    I’d seriously consider it if it could work out, i’d need to hop on a plane from Montreal so i’d need to check the logistics of it. Write me at fbeaud@gmail.com and we’ll discuss it. Thanks man! I really appreciate it! 🙂

  14. Davey Says:

    It’s gone on my computer but Frankie might still have to do that.

  15. Frankie Says:

    yeah, gone.

  16. Davey Says:

    Good, let me know if you work things out because I’d rather it go to a phan, especially a phan that was willing to help me out, than some random dude on Ebay or in the lot.

  17. whole tour! Says:

    hey miner –

    another great “3 point game winning” post today! Yamar is a great song and it holds a special place in my chest cavity. “Yamar” was the first phish song i ever heard in the live setting. “Yamar” as a show opener, or in general, is a harbinger of great things to come. Wheater your sitting pool side enjoying a pina colada and getting stuck in the rain, or eating a plate of carribean jerk chicken, the festiveness of “yamar” is something to behold. After Big Cypress the lyrics “catching wild trout, till the break of dawn” had a new and profound meaning that forever etched the songs meaning into everyone’s soul who went all night and 20 rounds with the undisputed champ.

    Your list of “Yamars” is top notch….AND THANK YOU FOR MAKING EACH TRACK AVAILABLE FOR INDIVIDUAL DOWNLOAD! Since my computer is out of comission, i am only able to download on my playstation 3 and the smaller the file, the better! They sure sound great played through my amplifier and big speakers.

    Here are 4 more “Yamars” that are unique and worth checking out:

    11-02-1996 coral Sky ampitheater, west palm beach, Fl –
    This yamar is special because it features the added percussion flavors of santana’s resident percussion player Karl Perazzo. The show opened with a dual drum beat from our favorite frock wearing drummer and karl which layed the backbone foe a thick and jammed out version of this classic tune. Check out the stunning FM broadcast or the FM + AUD matrix version of this “Yamar” from the only outdoor tropical venue of the fall 1996 tour.

    07-04-1999 Lakewood Ampitheater, Atlanta, GA – This yamar was tight! it features a jam at the end that you would not expect from any standard yamar. Trey was just getting used to his new whammy pedal and he used it along with some serious electronica sounding grooves from page to expand this yamar out into thew stratosphere. The ACID Drenched (not safe for work) crowd ate this up and many people had to use their ground tethers to keep from floating away. A great far reaching version of Yamar that pushed the boundaries of time and space.

    6-23-2000 Lakewood Ampitheater, Atlanta, GA – What better way to open a show than with the flipped around opener from the year before. 1999 it was “my soul”, “Yamar”…2000 it was “Yamar”, “my Soul.” Just a great version of the song that got the crowd worked up in a frenzy.

    5-23-2000 Rosland Ballroom, Nyc, NY- This is the “computer gone mad” version of Yamar. Extremely experimental in the way the 7-4-99 and “IT” versions of “yamar” were….the roseland yamar opened up into a full balls out computer funk exploration that would eventually stretch past the 10 minute mark and segue flawlessly into a scorching “mike’s groove.” Excellent soundbaord versions of this show exist and are worth seeking out.

    thanks again for the post miner….this was fun and brought back some great memories. Please continue to use the individual track downloads whenever possible!

  18. SOAM Says:

    I just booked my plane ticket to none other than –Keif ND

    Thanks for the direction

  19. whole tour! Says:


    speaking of sanatana, today the king of latin psychedelic guitar jams announced that wishes that pres. Obama would legalize the REEFER!!!! the momentum of decriminalization/legalization in the mainstream media lately has been growing at a tremendous pace! Santana will also hold permanent residency at the hard rock hotel in vegas….joing the ranks of elvis, tom jones, celine dion, and sigfried and roy as a permanent fixture on the vegas strip! His band will be joining him, meaning that karl perazzo won’t be joining phish on tour any time soon….unless they hit vegas!

  20. guyforget Says:

    Whole Tour, you love Lakewood!!!

  21. msbjivein Says:

    Whole Tour, Great call on 7-04-99 lakewood. i mentioned that a couple pages back but no one really seemed interested. Also another good was the Polaris ’99 Ya Mar opener! Followed by NICU (Carribean sounding also) then into Back at the chicken shack!

  22. whole tour! Says:

    thanks msbjivein!!! i most certainly do love lakewood…perhaps my favorite place to see phish. I have seen every lakewood show since 7-23-1997 and have pledged to myself to NEVER miss a lakewood phish show…i was kinda bummed out a bit that they skipped it on the upcoming summer tour. Phish and summertime and lakewood go hand in hand and th past 5 years have been missing that special vibe.

    maybe this means that for fall tour we’ll get a stop at the hallowed grounds of lakewood deep in the heart of the ATL ghetto….i miss that place.

  23. SOAM Says:

    Last drug reference:

    Obama used to drink coffee laced with toot (ala Stevie Ray)and chain smoked butts diped in hash oil and wore a wig fyi

    Reefer-maybe keef is derived from reef

  24. msbjivein Says:

    Lakewood has one of the more RAGIN lot scenes. I remember after that ’99 4th show it was like a war in the lot w/ the firecrackers going off everywhere. Not to mention the tanks going off everywhere. Yeah, I kinda miss that place also.

  25. msbjivein Says:

    SOAM, Why did they make it A “K”??? Why not an”L”??LEEF!

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