Music / Da Yoopers
A musical group hailing from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
, Da Yoopers has had 35 years of flying under the radar.
Founded in 1975 by Jim DeCaire (drums), Joe Potila (guitar), Jim Pennell (bass), and Lynn Anderson (keyboards), the band achieved local success before self-releasing the album Yoopanese
in 1986. Its followup, Culture Shock
, accounted for two of the band's most famous songs: "Rusty Chevrolet" and "Second Week of Deer Camp." Both songs received regional airplay on several radio stations throughout the Great Lakes region, and even appeared on Dr. Demento
's national radio program. Subsequent albums didn't produce nearly as much regional success, but the band continued to tour until 2013.
The band is known for singing songs primarily dealing with rural life in the Upper Peninsula, including topics such as drinking beer, hunting, dealing with long winters, drinking more beer, eating Swedish and Finnish food, and more beer. Live shows included acting from stagehands, who dressed up in various costumes and performed skits between songs. They also own a "Tourist Trap" museum outside of their home base of Ishpeming, Michigan.
Although the band effectively stopped recording in The New '10s
, Bellmore has posted some solo work on Bandcamp, some of which features his bandmates.
- Yoopanese (1986)
- Culture Shock (1987)
- Camp Fever (1988)
- Yoop It Up (1989)
- Yoopy Do Wah (1991). First release on CD.
- One Can Short of a Six-Pack (1994)
- For Diehards Only (1995)
- We're Still Rockin' (1996). First release after Joe Potila was replaced by Jim Bellmore.
- Jackpine Savage (2000)
- Naked Elves in Cowboy Boots (2000)
- Songs for Fart Lovers (2004)
- Diehards II (2004)
- 21st Century Yoopers in Space (2006)
- Jim Bellmore (guitar, bass guitar, various other instruments, vocals)
- Lynn Bellmorenote (keyboards, vocals)
- Matt Bullock (stage actor)
- Jim DeCaire (drums, percussion, vocals)
- Reggie Lusardi (bass guitar, vocals). Joined as a touring bassist in the late 1990s, although Bellmore often played bass on the albums. Died May 8, 2016.
- Bobby Symons (drums)
Former (official) members:
- Dave "Doc" Bradbury (bass guitar, vocals). Left shortly after Bellmore joined.
- Jerry "Cuppa" Coffey (drums, percussion, vocals). Lynn was married to him from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s.
- "Cowboy" Dan Collins (rhythm guitar, vocals). First appeared as a backing vocalist on Culture Shock and One Can Short of a 6-Pack, but became an official member shortly before We're Still Rockin'.
- Joe DeLongchamp (bass guitar, vocals). Replaced by Doc Bradbury around 1990.
- Jim Pennell (bass guitar, vocals). Replaced by Joe DeLongchamp around 1988.
- Joe Potila (guitar, vocals). Left ca. 1995.
Former sketch comedy actors who didn't contribute instruments over the years included Jim Boyer, Dick "Dick-E-Bird" Bunce, Steve Calhoun, Art Davis, Chris Kukla, Jerry "Mungo" LaJoie, Pete "Casanova" LaLonde, "Billy Bob" Langson, Robert "Dill" Nebel, and Mike "Mikku" Powers. For a short time, Bunce also played bass on a few songs.
- A Cappella: "My First Time Ever".
- Adrenaline Time: "We Need da Money", the first track on We're Still Rockin', speeds up faster and faster with each line.
- Album Title Drop: Culture Shock is title-dropped on "Yooper Talk", and Yoopy Do Wah comes from a breakdown at the end of "Transplant Song".
- All Periods Are PMS: "Ridin' da Cotton Pony" suggests this.
- The Alleged Car: The subject of "Rusty Chevrolet".
- "Yooper Snow Rocket" is about The Alleged Snowmobile.
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Rusty Chevrolet". They also recorded several of these on Six-Pack and much later, a full Christmas album of them.
- Anti-Love Song: "Happy Birthday Fungus Face".
- Ascended Extra:
- "Cowboy" Dan Collins sang backing vocals on a couple albums before becoming an official member on We're Still Rockin' in 1996.
- Dick Bunce had assisted the band in their comedy sketches for years, but near the end of his tenure, he played bass on a handful of songs instead of Lusardi or Bellmore.
- Ass Shove: The resolution to "Diarrhea":
I'll take a cork and Super Glue
Pound it in there with my shoe
And then I'll be all through
- Author Catch Phrase: Deer/beer shows up a lot as a Stock Rhyme. They also make repeated use of Finnish slang such as "sisu" (roughly "determination").
- The Band Minus the Face: They survived the departure of frontman Joe Potila.
- Big Eater: Present in several songs, most notably "Pizza in My Shorts" (family who eats a lot of pizza) and "Meathead" (man who eats a lot of meat).
- Bizarre Instrument: A few of their songs from Jackpine Savage onward feature a guest musician playing the pogo cello (or as they spell it, "polka-chella").
- But I Can't Be Pregnant!: "Three Months Late" is about a guy freaking out over his girlfriend getting pregnant during deer hunting season.
"She's late! She's late! Oh Lord she's three months late / I took her to my uncle's camp, and now she's three months late!"
- Camp Fever has two: Late in the album, a character mumbles "My mouth tastes like I ate my socks", a line from "Crawlin' Home Puker" on Yoopanese. At the end, all the guys sing a few bars from "Second Week of Deer Camp".
- Jackpine Savage has more. "Can't Find da Truck" uses the line "We've been lost before, and this is what it looks like", previously a line of dialogue on one of the skits on Camp Fever. Later, another skit references painting a face on a board with a hole in it and pretending that it's a woman, referencing a skit on One Can Short of a 6-Pack. The skit "Burt & Bunna", about two squirrels (mentioned below), is also a call-back to One Can Short.
- Common Meter: The verses of "Dear Mr. Governor", "Beer Gut", and "Transplant Song" are all common meter double.
- Cool Toy: "I Want a Rinky Dinky Doo Dad for Christmas". The son demands that his parents buy him the toy in question, leading to the mom getting into a fight at Kmart. Come Christmas, the son is excited to get the toy, only to be told that it's being recalled. He then says that's okay, because what he really wants is another toy that's even better. As a result, both parents Freak-Out.
- Credits Gag: On We're Still Rockin', DeCaire's credits include "broom" and "coffee".
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: In one skit on Camp Fever, the wife of a man who has run off somewhere threatens to "give him a vasectomy with a rusty chainsaw" if he ever returns.
- A Date with Rosie Palms:
- In the skit before "Da Couch Dat Burps", Sandy Kempa quotes an old joke: "Sex is like bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you better have a good hand."
- "Shuckin' da Cob" is the narrator's reminiscence of being chastized by his parents about it, although he admits it's what "made [him] a man".
- Directionless Driver: In the "Beer Run" skit, the guys drive around for hours, following what Potila claims is a shortcut. They pass several landmarks again and again before they finally realize Potila has been holding the map upside-down, and end up in a completely different town once they realize this.
- Double Entendre: "Do You Wanna Buy an Organ" is ostensibly about a musical instrument, but could be about something else ("Do you wanna buy an organ / I'll sell it to you cheap / She never let me touch it / So you know it ain't been beat…").
- Early-Bird Cameo: Jim DeCaire's son, Jesse, appeared in a skit at the end of Camp Fever and got a lead vocal on one song from Yoop It Up, both while he was still a child. Jesse later played guitar on "Shuckin' da Cob", and would sporadically appear as a guest musician on later albums before becoming their sound tech.
- "Cowboy" Dan Collins sang backing vocals on Culture Shock and One Can Short of a Six Pack before becoming an official member on We're Still Rockin'.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Quite a lot of it on their early tapes:
- Yoopanese is all over this, as the band barely resembles itself. "My Shoes" and "Critics Tune" are completely serious songs with more generic themes (Your Cheating Heart and Take That, Critics!, respectively); "Robot Girl" and "I Don't Wanna Glow" have science fiction overtones that stand in contrast to the mostly realistic approach of their later work; and "Road to Gwinn" is one of only a very small number of parodies in their catalog. It is also the only album besides Yoopy Do Wah not to have interstitial skits or guest musicians.note Also, Lynn is playing an analog synthesizer instead of a keyboard.
- Culture Shock, despite containing the very famous "Rusty Chevrolet" and "Second Week of Deer Camp", still contains some weirdness. Notably, some tracks still have Lynn playing a synthesizer ("Last Frontier" even has a drum machine, something the band never used again); "Chiquito War" continues to show a mild science-fiction theme; and the B-side is dominated by Finnish folk songs performed by guests. Also, "Rusty Chevrolet" and "Second Week of Deer Camp" are examples themselves despite being among their most famous songs, as the former is a parody, and the latter is "traditional" folk with only a gutbucket bass and accordion.
- Camp Fever has the band mostly shifted to its most famous sound, but there are still a couple Finnish folk songs performed on folksy instrumentation such as a gutbucket, jugs, and spoons.
- Elvis Impersonator: In "He Thinks He's Elvis", the narrator (Lynn) laments that her husband woke up this morning and thought himself to be Elvis.
- Fake Radio Show Album: Camp Fever and One Can Short of a 6-Pack use a fictional radio show called "YOOP Radio" as a Framing Device, with relevant skits interspersed among the songs. The former has a Story Arc where all of the YOOP staff are at the deer camp while an inexperienced DJ (played by Jerry Coffey) substitutes, while One Can merely includes the skits in the track listing. Jackpine Savage brought back "YOOP Radio" for one skit, which was a Call-Back to a skit from One Can.
- This actually originates in Culture Shock, but is easy to miss. Only one interstitial skit there explicitly mentions the station call sign YOOP, but the station call-in phone number (used in the skit Talk Time) is also an obvious tell once you know about the Framing Device: 371-YOOP.
- Fat and Proud: A recurring trope, seen in songs such as "Beer Gut" and "You're My Porky Babe".
- Forgotten Anniversary: The subject of the "Anniversary Song". She tries to hint that it's their anniversary, but he's stuck on amusing anecdotes from her uncle's funeral.
- Gasshole: Just about every album has had at least one reference to farting. Then there's Songs for Fart Lovers...
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: "Chiquito War" describes a "chiquito", a cross between a chicken and a mosquito which was bred through Black Comedy Rape.
- "I Am" Song: "Yooper Cowboy Dan".
- In the Style of...: "You're My Porky Babe" is in the style of Sonny and Cher.
- Innocent Innuendo: "My First Time Ever" sounds dirty with its lines about a female spreading her legs, the narrator putting his hands on her breasts, and "white stuff" coming, but it's really about milking a cow.
- Similarly, "Beer Gut" has one:
I took my date into the sauna, and on the bench we sat
She pointed and she said, "I've never seen one big as that"
She held it and she stroked it, and she told me with a smile
- Kids Rock: DeCaire's son, Jesse, sang "Yooper Kid" with a few other kids singing backup.
- Later Installment Weirdness: All of the albums featuring Bellmore stand out for having more Genre Roulette than the albums on which Potila was involved.
- Lead Bassist: Everyone who has ever played bass for the band (except for Dick Bunce) has sung at least one lead vocal. In an inversion, Jim Bellmore often played bass in-studio alongside his guitar (and sometimes other instrument) playing, usually to tracks he sang lead on.
- Lead Drummer: Jim DeCaire and Jerry Coffey have both fulfilled this role at several points.
- Lethal Chef: "She Don't Make Good Pasties" is about a wife who is terrible at making the titular food (a meat and vegetable pie of Cornish origin).
- Listing Cities: And countries, in "Christmas Is Everywhere".
- Local Reference: They frequently reference a lot of the smaller former mining towns in the UP, as well as businesses with a strong local presence, such as IGA supermarkets and Shopko discount department stores in "Rusty Chevrolet".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Diarrhea", despite its subject matter, is performed as a straight-up love song. At least barring the fart solo.
- Lyrical Shoehorn: The opening lines to "Dear Mr. Governor", in which a "troll from down below"note brushes a snowflake off his body, kicks it in the lake, then says that he'll "stay down here below the bridge and eat my birthday cake". Huh?
- Musical Gag: The skit "Rev. Send Me Money" on Camp Fever features a radio preacher backed by organ music... which happens to be "Second Week of Deer Camp" played in the style of a hymn.
- Naked People Are Funny: "Naked Elves in Cowboy Boots". The titular elves chase a man who doesn't believe in Christmas, and no one else can see them.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: They've done traditional folk songs, polka, country, and rock, just to name a few. This genre-hopping gets turned Up to Eleven on We're Still Rockin', where every song is done in a different musical style (for example: "Big Truck" is truck-driving country, "Green Green Grass" is reggae, "Vampire Surfin' Girls" is surf rock, "My First Time Ever" is a cappella, "Shuckin' da Cob" is grunge, etc.). Jackpine Savage dialed it down slightly, but still had the hard rocking "Super Dooper Yooper Love Machine".
- New Sound Album: We're Still Rockin' turned up the rock influences in the band's sound (likely a result of Jim Bellmore taking over from Joe Potila).
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: "Vampire Surfin' Girls" from Munising Bay.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: They changed bassists twice in the course of their first six albums, and some of their songs don't even have bass parts. ("Second Week of Deer Camp" had a guest playing a gutbucket bass.) Bellmore played all the bass parts on We're Still Rockin' due to it being recorded after Bradbury left, and while they later hired Reggie Lusardi as a touring bassist, Bellmore usually continued to play most of the bass parts in-studio.
- Also true of touring drummer Bobby Symons, who mostly just stayed behind the drum kit and never sang or participated in skits. DeCaire usually played the drum parts in-studio, although Jerry Coffey was credited as drummer a few times.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Chiquito War", "Bingo Fever", "Fishin wit Fred", "Yooper Kid", "Pizza in My Shorts", "Da Fishing Trip", "He Thinks He's Elvis", "My First Time Ever", "She Don't Make Good Pasties"…
- Nose Shove: In "Fish Fight Song", the female lead threatens to shove the husband's fish eggs up his nose if he shrugs off his duties as a father in favor of fishing again. She then implies an Ass Shove with the spoken line "Somewhere else, too".
- One-Hour Work Week: "Fishin Wit Fred" Defies this trope just for the sake of recreational fishing.
Twenty Yoopers on a pontoon boat, fishin' for Moby Dick
The wife, she thinks I'm working, and the boss, he thinks I'm sick
It's a perfect day for fishing, drinking beer, and telling lies
It's a little bit like heaven, when you're fishing with the guys
- Parental Hypocrisy: The narrator of "Shuckin' da Cob". He is scolded by his father for masturbating to porn magazines, but counters dad by saying that he got the magazines from dad's dresser.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Admittedly it's about a recreational sport rather than a job, but "Second Week of Deer Camp" is about hunters who "never shoot no deer."
- Polka Dork: Usually with Jim "Hoolie" DeCaire dressing in nerdy clothes. He also plays a nerdy lead in "Desperation Polka", about a nerd who is so desperate that he dates (and marries) a fat ugly woman.
- Potty Failure:
- The protagonist of "Diarrhea" thinks it's only gas, so he lets one rip and ruins his brand new pants.
- Happens in the skit "Santa's Helper", where the title helper offers burps and farts as gifts. Upon being asked for one more, he strains to make one last fart and ends up soiling himself instead.
- Rearrange the Song:
- The version of "Smeltin' USA" on For Diehards Only keeps Jim Pennell's original vocal track, but has a new instrumental backing.
- The late-90s video compilation It's About Time, Eh! had a re-recording of "Diarrhea" with a more polka-style instrumentation and local musician Kim Lenten on lead vocals. This re-recording later appeared on their website, and then on Songs for Fart Lovers.
- Revolving Door Band: Quite a few membership changes. Founders Jim DeCaire and Lynn Anderson/Coffey/Bellmore are the longest-lasting members.
- Robot Girl: The title of a song on their debut album.
- Rhyming with Itself:
- "Last Frontier", the first track on Culture Shock, rhymes "fall" (the season) with "fall" (the verb).
- "I Tink My Beagle's Gay" rhymes "way" with itself on the chorus.
- Same Language Dub: They released a music video for "Rusty Chevrolet" in the early 1990s, featuring the group's then-lineup of Jim DeCaire, Joe Potila, Lynn Coffey, Doc Bradbury, and Jerry Coffey. However, the latter two were not in the band at the time the song was released, and DeCaire didn't play anything on it, so Jim D., Doc, and Jerry are lip-syncing to parts that they didn't actually sing. Much later, after Jim Bellmore joined, they released the video compilation It's About Time, Eh!, mostly composed of songs released before his joining, resulting in him (and a few others) lip-syncing to parts that they never sang.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Done frequently. Notable examples include:
- On "Dear Mr. Governor", Lynn sings both the chorus and part of a "ba bum ba bum" counterpoint under it.
- "My First Time Ever" is in the style of a barbershop quartet, with Jim B. singing all four parts.
- DeCaire sings harmony over himself on the chorus of "Da Fishing Trip".
- "Yooper Snow Rocket". Jim B. sings the lead vocal and a bass harmony, while Lynn sings two harmonies over him. As a bonus, Lynn also plays two keyboard parts on the song (one set to organ, one set to saxophone).
- Something Completely Different:
- "When One Love Dies" on Yoopy Do Wah, a straight-up serious song about a deceased lover. The album itself may be an example, as it was the only one after their first not to include skits.
- One Can Short of a 6-Pack abruptly switches to a batch of humorous Christmas songs for several tracks before reverting to the typical fare. One gets the impression that they wanted to do a Christmas album, but didn't feel that they had quite enough material for it.
- DeCaire and Potila wrote the vast majority of the songs and skits, with Bellmore also taking over as co-writer after Potila left. However, DeLongchamp wrote the title track to Camp Fever, Lynn co-wrote "Don't Go Up Dere" on One Can Short of a 6-Pack, and several other writers are present on 21st Century Yoopers in Space.
- The Something Song: "Fish Fight Song", "Cow Pie Song", "Sauna Song", "The Transplant Song", "Da Anniversary Song".
- Song Parody: Not their primary genre, but they've done a few:
- "Road to Gwinn" ("On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson)
- "Rusty Chevrolet" ("Jingle Bells")
- "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck" ("Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo & Patsy)
- "Packer Backer Anthem" ("The Star-Spangled Banner")
- "It Was Eino" ("The Banana Boat Song" by Harry Belafonte)
- Song Style Shift:
- "We're Still Rockin'" has a more upbeat midsection compared to the slower rock of the rest of the song.
- "Yooper Snow Rocket" shifts to a mostly a cappella B-section with only vocals and hand claps.
- Stylistic Suck: Invoked in a newspaper article, where DeCaire said that they decided not to let Joe DeLongchamp sing a song they had been working on, because DeCaire thought that his voice was too good for it.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "Deer Hunter's Widow" repeatedly subverts rhymes to "shit" by having the word go unsung, while "Butcher Town" uses a long chain of averted rhymes, "Miss Susie" style. "Arm Chair Quarterback" uses the oft-quoted "Rah rah ree, kick 'em in the knee / Rah rah rass, kick 'em in the other knee" cheer during a break.
- Synchro-Vox: Done twice with a mounted deer head on "Camp Go for Beer", a song exclusive to It's About Time, Eh!
- Take That, Critics!: "Critics Tune".
- Toilet Humor: Not just the Fart Lovers album, but also "Diarrhea" (self-explanatory), "Lonely Yooper" (character hides in an outhouse during an affair and gets crapped on), etc.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: Probably the closest they've ever come to this is "Wanna Buy an Organ", which goes from C Minor on the verses to C major on the chorus.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Ring Dang Do" is about female genitalia, apparently.
- Vocal Tag Team: They are all over this trope. Most of the vocals have been Potila, Jim Bellmore, or sometimes Jim DeCaire. They've also written several songs from a female perspective for Lynn to sing.
- Among those known to have been sung by other "official" members:
- Jim Pennell: "Smeltin' USA"
- Joe DeLongchamp: "Camp Fever", "Drinking Resort"
- Doc Bradbury: "Transplant Song", "Free Beer", "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck", first verse of "Heikki Lunta"
- Jerry Coffey: "Super Dooper Yooper Love Machine", "Nite Crawler Boogie" (two lines in the first verse), "Ridin' da Cotton Pony" (duet with Lynn). The last one was the only duet he ever did with Lynn, despite many other songs taking a husband-and-wife perspective; "Fish Fight Song" and "Anniversary Song" had DeCaire sing the husband's part, while "Pizza in My Shorts" and "Meat Head" used Potila. However, Jerry and Lynn also portrayed a husband and wife on a skit from Jackpine Savage, and they voiced the parents in the half-skit, half-song "I Want a Rinky Dinky Doo Dad for Christmas."
- Dan Collins: "Yooper Cowboy Dan", of course.
- Reggie Lusardi: "30 Pound Diaper". Jerry originally did this song in concert several years before it appeared on an album, and Reggie took over after he left. (Bellmore always plays bass on this song.)
- Several vocal parts have been shuffled over time due to membership changes. The general rule is that Bellmore sings whatever Potila used to, but this is not set in stone. Perhaps the most interesting is that "Fishin wit Fred", originally sung by Potila, ended up split among DeCaire, Lusardi, and Bellmore.
- When he was in the group, Collins took over from Bradbury on "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck" and Potila on "Diarrhea". Both were later given to Bellmore after Collins left.
- Also, several guests have contributed over time:
- Culture Shock was the first to feature guests on lead vocals. Bertha Hintsala sang a song in Finnish called "Iso Sika" (aka "The Killing of the Big Pig"), and Sandy Kempa sang "Da Couch Dat Burps". Unknown male vocalists (several vocalists are credited in the liner notes, but it's not known who sang what) sang "Ruthie Rollover", "Chiquito War", and "Beer-Beer-Beer".
- Glenn Adams was featured in some of the skits framing Culture Shock (on which he also contributed to half of the spoken-word verses to "Dear Mr. Governor") and Yoop It Up, and sang two folk songs on Camp Fever. He returned much later to back the Jims on "Ooga Booga" from Jackpine Savage.
- Songs for Fart Lovers and 21st Century Yoopers in Space also feature several guest musicians on lead vocals.
- Volleying Insults: "Mental Monkey" is a string of these between a brother and sister, portrayed by Jim D. and Lynn.