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. R1 Says:

    I might be showing my age here, but what the hell is Robo?

  2. msbjivein Says:

    What does everyone think Phish will open their Summer tour with??(I know it’s a little early for this but what the hell)
    I could see a Ya Mar>Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY opener……..

  3. dyda Says:

    acid is my favorite, but finding quality any more is harder and harder. last truly great ‘cid i had was from australia (along with some bubble hash) in 06. i’ll stick to headies. new york sour diesel, aeota, matanuska thunderfuck, goldeneye, dumpsta phunk, mango silver haze, anything afghani… you get the idea

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    ahh robo .. if it’s what I think, kidz, mainly in hs may drink a bunch of Robotussin DM on a particularly boring evening for it’s psychedelic properties.

  5. msbjivein Says:

    R1, Robotasen(I don’t know if that’s spelled right) COUGH SYRUP! Noticed I said I was in H.S. when I was experimenting w/ that. Don’t try it.

  6. SOAM Says:

    “amt is where it’s at”-you just can’t find good, salt of the earth substance abusers anywhere else (phishheads could give Hells Angels a run for their money when it comes to dope-I take pride in our community.

    I like to keep it simple- my recipe is one 12 of red white and blues, 2 7 and 7’s-3 large fat cat surpises of the dank ,1.5 to 2 g’s of boomers washed down with a pair of v’s/p’s

    when you complete start again at beggining. Recipe for sucess

  7. SOAM Says:


  8. DC Says:


    just need to know where to look
    the fluff is alive and well
    this summer will be fluffed hard

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    somewhere I heard that some rappers put robo in their 40s or gin or something and call it crunk juice? Did I read that here?

  10. Bandito Says:

    Ha! Faht is a good one. I saw that one at my first show, too. First time I saw Ha Ha Ha it kinda freaked me out, sounded scary. Much like the first time I witnessed Saw It Again. Angry Phish can be fun.

  11. msbjivein Says:

    I’m gonna try that recipe sometime SOAM!

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    mmm the fluff it’s been a long time since I thought about that..yum hmm..I wonder that may be exactly what I had at the lemonwheel that night.

  13. DC Says:

    I met these gangster rap cats from Mephis in a hotel after Polaris Phish called 36 Mafia

    they were all about sippin on their syrup

    we all ate some L partied all night long fun crew

  14. R1 Says:

    Ahhh, I see.

    Argh, I’m blanking on his name, but that rapper (he’s really short and scrawny, with braids, tats all over including his face . . . fuck . . . can’t think of it) drinks that shit literally every waking moment.

  15. dyda Says:

    yeah, you have to make sure the tussin doesn’t also have a bunch of pseudoephedrine, guaifenesin or acetaminophen or else you’re pretty much fucked.
    dxm = dextromethorphan. except it’s technically more like a dissociative. think special k. not the cereal.
    check out erowid.org

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    @dyda – these things come and go in waves. Around here the tide has already started to come back in. be patient, keep your eyes open

  17. msbjivein Says:

    R1,,Sounds like all of them…

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah dissociative sounds about right, I was 17 when I hit that at one point – it was hard to get beer and the schwag had run out 😉

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    word DC

    the whole syrup thing is/was big around the Houston rap scene. IMO the most boring-ass hiphop ever produced on planet Earth.

  20. DC Says:

    that DXM crap gets pressed and selled as E on lot

    nasty stuff when you are expectin MDMA
    seen people get nasty sick on that shit before

  21. dyda Says:

    i do envy you left coasters for the consistent quailty of the fluff/nugz.

    not like i haven’t given it a spin each year, but i guess it has more difficulty making it east. had some rothbury syd at all good and wasn’t that impressed. also got attacked by hornets while taking a piss in the woods when coming up. that didn’t help.

    seems to me that mda (molly) is the new craze around here recently.

    but true, don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart. you just gotta poke around…

  22. shpongleyez Says:

    extract of pineal = DMT

    check out “The Spirit Molecule”

  23. SOAM Says:

    Histussin HC is where it’s at. Robotussin and liquid hydrocdone-killer buzz but too much turns your ass into dizzy gillespies trumpet.

    I had a cough in December and the doctor ran shouting graphic translations and gave me 4 refills-I got some strange looks when I refilled it each time, esp the last one during july 4th weekend

  24. cottle Says:

    Don’t forget about the Trainwreck, the Mothership, or the MKD (Master Kush x Diesel). Western NC’s finest!

  25. guyforget Says:

    i thought all these drugs went out of style in the late 90s ealy 2000s?? at least MDA and E…
    Maybe i’m just too old and would never even ever consider doing any of those “designer” drugs ever agan….
    beer and grass is fine with me.

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