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. hairy pood Says:

    the mollusk, anyone?

  2. msbjivein Says:

    My 1st Ween show was Gene & Dean w/ Drum machine. The tour right before Pure Guava came out. I was 13yrs old! My brother talked my parents in to taking letting me go. Got drunk off my ass that night! There was a lot of LSD around for that. but my bro was like “No Dude” he didn’t wanna baby sit. Probably a good thing.

  3. cottle Says:

    The only time I ever saw Ween, they jammed the hell out of “Poop Ship Destroyer”

  4. R1 Says:

    ^^^”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.”

    Serious? I grant you that the jam out of the song has little to do with the actual song structure, but jesus, the Nassau Roses is enough for me to always hope for it.

  5. msbjivein Says:

    Back to Phish. I’m waiting for the Boys to bust out Ha Ha Ha! It’s short and SWEEEEEEEEEET!

  6. dyda Says:

    good call. lsd and booze do not mix when you’re 13. ever tried drinking on dxm?

  7. dyda Says:

    ha ha ha or buried alive. 7.15.03 anyone? short versions, but when was the last time both of those songs were played in the same show.
    how about dinner and a movie, faht, eliza, leprechaun or never.
    mound! i want to see mound.

  8. hairy pood Says:

    actually yes, I am serious. I know that the jam on Nassau is great, but there are just certain songs/ bands that I think should be left alone. That’s all.

  9. msbjivein Says:

    You mean DMT?? No I never done DMT. I would in the right setting. I’ve been offered DMT on lot but I don’t think that’s where I wanna try it for the 1st time.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    what dyda, you from houston or somethin’? dxm indeed

  11. dyda Says:

    weekly time, fikus, somantin, windora bug, my left toe…

  12. dyda Says:

    no i meant dxm (robotripping)

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    drinking on dmt, unlikely, considering you can’t hold a drink

    and no don’t do it in the lot & get it from some random dude – if you want to try it go under controlled circumstances and known source if possible

    heady stuff

  14. voopa Says:

    Speaking of The Mollusk, check out this Lego-mation video of it:


  15. dyda Says:

    amt is where it’s at (refer to erowid.org cause i don’t want to be all william s borroughs on y’ins)

  16. msbjivein Says:

    POOD=Fuck Yeah! Buried Alive! short but sweeeeet!

  17. guyforget Says:

    you’ll get a nice buried alive opener on 12.2.97 if we get it as no spoilers this weekend:)

  18. DC Says:

    also with DMT make sure its the red stuff

    I’ve done both and find the white really synthetic stuff to not be as enjoyable

    not a fan of DXM at all kind of harsh no to into alphabet drugs anymore

  19. msbjivein Says:

    Fuck yeah! I robotripped back in HS. 4oz of robo and a joint. Can’t go wrong! Oh yeah and the Pod blasting in your car! Good Times! ever listened to “Molly” on robo and weed????

  20. DC Says:

    except the one that starts with L

  21. dyda Says:

    no, i’m done with all that stuff anyway. had my couple years experimenting with all manner of substances when i started college. too old for that now. actually more like been there done that. heh. just remembered the salvia conversation from a few weeks ago. word of warning, you must be very careful with dmt. it’s basically the same chemical your brain produces as you’re dying…

    now if only i could get some extract of pinneal…

  22. DC Says:

    there was some real deal red deemsters on lot in 2003

    kids told me people did not even know what it was and had trouble getting rid of it

    got a bunch and saved for a more natural setting, but I was very surprised at how good it was

    usually question drugs found on lot expecially DMT

  23. msbjivein Says:

    Yeah i haven’t touched Robo since that time I listen to “Molly” in my car back in HS!

  24. dyda Says:

    have you ever looked at the back of a twenty dollar bill … on weed?

  25. c0wfunk Says:


    very strange because this behavior is now gone – have you been updating the site today? Earlier this morning, when I posted that, the url was changing when one of the comment page numbers was clicked to “http://phishthoughts.com/?p=6192&cp=5#comments” for example .. I was able to change the “5” to 6 or 7 or whatever to get a new page up, and when I hit “refresh” this number didn’t change. At this moment the url is remaining “http://phishthoughts.com/2009/04/03/ya-mar-ya-mar-ya-mar-ya-mar-ya-mar/” and refreshing pops you to the most recent page. If you fixed it, good job, if not, bizarre!

    re: mobile css style sheet -> that may be something I’d be interested in taking on, but right now I’ve got a full time job, part time school, and a few part time side jobs so I’m covered up for the next little bit. If nobody does it before this summer and you can’t find a quick plugin, I’ll make it happen (or if it drives me crazy before then I may just do it 😉 email me at c0wfunk AT yahoo DOT com and we can discuss details

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