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:

    nutter center 12-7-97 is a great timber 2-17-97 amsterdam is also great, both are parts of huge sets taboot..

  2. dyda Says:

    hahaha. star lake does not host many worthwhile acts. just found out that dave is going to be there the next two days after phish. glad i’ll be in deer creek and alpine instead!

  3. guyforget Says:


  4. SOAM Says:

    the rangers have a must win saturday and it’s not looking good.

    Big Bad B’s are rolling..I want to crank up Punch and go drop my boss-guy is a little rubber with no sac and needs to be tuned.

  5. dyda Says:

    my best friend went to philly for the 04 dave/trey show and said that tim reynolds put them both to shame

    good call on the dayton timber

    (cinncinatti was just on livephish radio and afterwards trey was like ‘we’re glad to be here and not in cinci’)

  6. SOAM Says:

    Its me Dave -you got the stuff!!!!!


    Man it;s me Dave you got the stuff?


  7. msbjivein Says:

    Back to WEEN. What about “Boys Club” on Shinola! That’s a fucked up song. I can’t help but laugh my ass off and feel weird about it at the same time. Those guys fucking rock! Especially on DUSTER……..

  8. Bandito Says:

    @cOwfunk – thanks, I’ll check these out.

  9. nonoyolker Says:

    Boys club is hillarious! Ween runs the full spectrum of song writing, with tunes that are either absurd, hillarious, RAGING heavy rock, jammy, heartfelt, offensive, and beautiful. If you never listened to them, give them a serious spin. They are not “accessable” at all, but once it clicks, they are one of the best bands out there.

  10. R1 Says:


    The Timber from 11.16.97 is straight nasty.

    Pretty sure Miner put it in one of his Pick’s collections

  11. dyda Says:

    funny thing about the ween show was kinda early on in the set (i don’t know which song, boo on me) they went into a really improvisational dark psychedelic jam and i was one of the only people getting down to it. most others were just kinda standing there probably wondering when the next ‘normal’ song was coming. not to knock them, but they aren’t known for very long stretches of improv which is fine when you have so many strange and diverse originals. i guess they’re more ‘radio-friendly’ in the song length regard…

  12. Dean Ween Says:

    Please cover more of our songs, we need the money.

  13. msbjivein Says:

    wEEN’S ONE OF THOSE love ‘EM or Hate ’em bands. Kind of like Phish. It’s impossible to just kinda like Phish. If it clicks your hooked forever!
    CAN’T Wait for the 1st ROSES also!!!

  14. nonoyolker Says:

    I’ve seen deaner and gener prolly 5 or 6 times and they’ll throw some improv in now and then. Def more radio friendly as far as duration though for sure. They usually jam out “Zoloft” nicely and that jam gets suuuuuper spacey. Really cool. When they played out Bonoroo they had to add the disclaimer that Roses are Free was actually their song.

  15. dyda Says:

    i just hope they jam it out (4.3.98 & 12.31.99) cause the most recent ‘roses’ (6.25.04) was kinda weak

    yeah, the 11.16.97 timber is in a miner’s picks

    first time i heard the 8.2.03 ‘ya mar’ was when i was camping along the snake river in idaho. great memory attached to that one.

  16. msbjivein Says:

    The Jam in Voodoo lady gets pretty out there. DEANER rips the solo.
    Let Me Lick Your Pussy has a great funk groove in it. I’ve seen them play some long ass LMLYP jams before. Probably my fav ween tune. It’s actually lyrics from two diff Prince tunes. Ween added the LMLYP part evrything else is Prince lyrics. I’m surprised they got away w/ that.

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    listened to a lot of ween but never really “got” it .. I see why they’re talented, but it’s just not my thing..

    7-12-88 is a great early timber I forgot to mention.. I believe this show also has a sneakin sally in the second set complete with vocal jam (they “sing” the jam like the way they do the freebird jam vocally..) and is a must hear early phish show!

  18. dyda Says:

    lol yeah, they stopped playing it as frequently and had to reclaim it from phish. the way they toy with the tempo in ‘zoloft’ is a good example of their talent.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Jer and Bandito – dead on point re: Oden – Jer you must be real blazers fan since you remember Martell Webster is on the team. We only need 1 big step out of Oden over next year for him to be perfect fit, and we might get more than 1. You could see it their faces in the Utah game, many opposing players are already scared of him and he’s just getting started.

    Love Przybilla – the “Vanilla Gorilla” – best nickname in the league right now

    TIMBER HO!!!!!!!!!!

    what a sick jam that song has. love it. *love* it. One of the best. LOL @ seeing it first show and not knowing what you’re getting, I saw one of the last Spanish Jams at my second dead show and spent 2 years wondering when I’d see it again before finding out the deal.

  20. dyda Says:

    funny you mention that cause they encored with pussy and it went on for a very long time. i just meant that they jammed in a way that was out there even for ween and it seemed that people had a little difficulty accessing that particular one.

    i am the walrus on livephish radio right now

  21. hairy pood Says:

    What a great pick for download of the day. I’ve been listening to this one for a while. Seems like the heat surrounding Fenway rumors has cooled off a bit? Regarding “Roses Are Free,” I think the Phish versions of that tune are rather overrated. I’ve seen them play it, and Ween play it, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind if Phish left that song alone. It doesn’t matter. BUG! over……

  22. AlexanderK Says:

    @ c0wfunk

    I’m not quite sure I understand what the problem is that you’re describing. When you refresh the page, the default action is to bring you to the most recent page of comments. as you page around within the comment pagination links you are actually grabbing the most recent data from each of those pages, yet the main post is not reloading. So….. What is the problem again?

    Re: Mobile version

    I think that would be a great idea. Definitely something that we will consider in the future. If you would like to donate your time and efforts to help create a mobile stylesheet that would be appreciated. In the meantime I’ll try to find a simple solution like a wordpress module that will accomplish this.

  23. DC Says:

    My original vinyl copy of The Pod on Shimmy Disk is one of my most prized musical posessions

    I appreciate the later band accompanied stuff, but Dean, Gene, and the drum machine is the wya to go.

    This is ween at their finest

    There is a rumor that they are going to ditch the band and do a tour just them and the drum machine

    that would be amazing

  24. dyda Says:

    yes to early sneakin’ sallies ending with the vocal jam. they brought that back for vegas 04. also like the yem>wolfman’s a capella from jazzfest 96 that was mentioned eariler today.

  25. dyda Says:

    dc, yeah, that’s what i’ve heard too regarding future ween plans. they’re one act that’s missing from an already awesome summer festival lineup

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