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. voopa Says:

    Yeah, boy! Let that ‘tussin get in there. Let that ‘tussin go down to the bone! If you run out of it, put some water in the jar, shake it up, more ‘tussin! MORE ‘TUSSIN!

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    love wnc’s finest for sure ..

  3. dyda Says:

    really, i thought the pineal gland regulated your day/night cycle. i will check that out. as i said, it’s been a long time since i was really into the drug culture, but it is an invaluable resource to know your shit out there in the weirdness. i was just making a joke quoting fear & loathing (and jon stewart from half baked).

    when you scream for help you’ll sound like a raccoon!

  4. El Duderino Says:

    I just got some Mr. Nice from San Fran. Big knots, darker color, pretty sweet!

  5. notkuroda Says:

    Hate to be a negative nelly here but do we really have to be so blatant about things on Miner’s site? Aren’t some things better left to being discussed in person? Remember when we used to do that?

  6. El Duderino Says:

    Good point!

  7. dyda Says:

    actually trainwreck was the most recent strain i’ve seen around these parts

    i agree guy, a microbrew (stoudts gold) and headies are fine by me, but the kids seem to enjoy them. whatever. easier to take advantage and rook the rubes if they’re spun out of their gourds. heh. i’m only 24 and listen to me…

    i’m not sure if magic hat is sponsoring all good this year. that would be a shame. i likes me some #9 too.

  8. wizzle1986 Says:

    we need a SBD of the 12-13-97 show….bring in the dude….anyone?

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    moving forward .. just finished listening to the lemonwheel night 1 and I’m pretty impressed, probably better than I remembered even.

    During Halley’s there’s a moment I forgot about that is clearer hearing the FMSBD – trey was hit with a glowstick (maybe he caught it?) and you can hear fishman go “great” and then trey at one point goes “please stop” — pretty funny stuff..

    and the big bass note to start off tweezerprise is off the chain.

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    getting all psychedelic today are we?? The L wilkl be flowing come summer- ever notice how batches drop with Phish tour 😉 It’s not a coincidence.

    E= lame, un-challenging drug.

    Powders are for the birds IMO…

  11. dyda Says:

    true enough. back to ween. or lebowski. or ya mar. actually i really should get going anyway. real life calls. shucks.

  12. El Duderino Says:

    The Dude Abides!

  13. guyforget Says:

    So, check this out. Bruce is playing in Phoenix tonight, and i can’t go, but for shits and giggles, i went to ticketsnow to see what they were scalping for. Look how cheap!! How is that possible??????


  14. voopa Says:

    Mr. Nice = good strain!

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    other posts like today’s for :

    Free: http://phishthoughts.com/2008/08/20/five-versions-of-free/

    Gumbo: http://phishthoughts.com/2008/09/19/five-flavors-of-gumbo/

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    Halley’s: http://phishthoughts.com/2008/12/15/this-everlasting-spoof/

    2001: http://phishthoughts.com/2009/02/26/a-space-odyssey/

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    Tube: http://phishthoughts.com/2009/01/28/so-stupendous/

    Theme: http://phishthoughts.com/2008/11/25/from-the-bottom-from-the-top/

  18. SOAM Says:

    ck5 (not)–kinda tough to talk in person but sorry if we offended you-I hope you realize that words are not actions and if you are too serious perhaps you should start a “mr miners mature phish thoughts” -just an idea-peace bra

    Miner-is Keif a powder?

  19. El Duderino Says:

    More like a brown sugar

  20. R1 Says:

    I once found an entire film canister full of Keif on a bookshelf in my bedroom in my parents house and could not for the life of me figure out from whence it came. I still don’t know.

  21. Bandito Says:

    I haven’t linked to the other posts you just put up, Mr. Miner, but here’s a question for y’all. Which Free do you like better? The funk jam or the textured jam? I prefer the textured one, most likely due to the one I witnessed in 96 that blew my mind….

  22. SOAM Says:

    might be the best drug name ever-who dubbed it Keif?

    my guess-Keif Richards

  23. guyforget Says:

    the free on the ball DVD is sick.

  24. Frankie Says:

    Take me out to the ball park… 😉

  25. EL Duderino Says:


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