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 continues to perform and tour to this day.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 include acting from stagehands, who dress up in various costumes and perform skits between songs. They also own a "Tourist Trap" museum outside of their home base of Ishpeming, Michigan.
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, vocals)
Lynn Bellmore (formerly Lynn Anderson, then Lynn Coffey) (keyboards, vocals)
Matt Bullock (stage actor)
Jim DeCaire (percussion, vocals)
Reggie Lusardi (bass guitar, vocals)
Bobby Symons (drums)
Former (official) members:
Dave "Doc" Bradbury (bass guitar, vocals). Left shortly after Bellmore joined.
Jerry "Cuppa" Coffey (drums, congas, 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 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.
Adrenaline Time: "We Need da Money", the first track on We're Still Rockin', speeds up faster and faster with each line.
"Yooper Snow Rocket" is about The Alleged Snowmobile.
American Accents: Their name is based on the Scandanavian-Canadian hybrid accent common to the upper Midwest. Sometimes they exaggerate it, but most of the band members really do talk dat way, eh? Ya, you betcha.
Anti-Christmas Song: "Rusty Chevrolet". They also recorded several of these on Six-Pack and much later, a full Christmas album of them.
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 and "Dear Mr. Governor" and "Beer Gut" are both 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.
In the skit before "Da Couch Dat Burps", Sandy Kempa says, "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 told that he'll go blind, but stating that it's what "made him a man".
Directionless Driver: In the "Beer Run" skit, the guys drive around for hours, passing several landmarks again and again before they finally realize Potila has been holding the map upside-down.
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 beatů").
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 played guitar and drums on several albums as a guest musician (starting with We're Still Rockin') before becoming the 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: Yoopanese has two serious songs outside the band's typical themes ("My Shoes" and "Critics Tune"). It is also the only album besides Yoopy Do Wah not to have skits or guest musicians.note We're Still Rockin' came close to the latter as well, since the only real guest is Jim DeCaire's son Jesse on lead guitar on one song.Yoopanese and Culture Shock are also the only two albums on which Lynn plays a true synthesizer instead of keyboard.
Elvis Impersonator: In "He Thinks He's Elvis", the narrator (Lynn) laments that her husband woke up this morning and thought himself to be The King.
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.
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...
Innocent Innuendo: "My First Time Ever" sounds dirty with its lines about her spreading her legs, him putting his hands on her breasts, and the "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
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" (i.e., a resident of the Lower Peninsula) 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?
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.
New Sound Album: We're Still Rockin' turned up the rock influences in the band's sound, which have more or less stayed on subsequent albums.
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. Lusardi has been the touring bassist since at least the late 90s, but Bellmore typically plays the bass parts in-studio.
Also true of Bobby Symons, who mostly just stays behind the drum kit. DeCaire usually plays the drum parts in-studio.
Nutty Squirrel: "Burt & Ernie", a skit on One Can Short of a Six-Pack, has DeCaire and Potila voicing two squirrels (voices pitched up to match). As mentioned above, Jackpine Savage revived the skit as "Burt & Bunna", with Bellmore and DeCaire now voicing them.
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
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.
The version of "Smeltin' USA" on For Diehards Only oddly keeps Jim Pennell's original vocal track, but has a new instrumental backing.
They re-recorded "Diarrhea" for a music video compilation, using a more polka-style instrumentation and local musician Kim Lenten on lead vocals. This re-recording later appeared on Songs for Fart Lovers.
Revolving Door Band: Quite a few membership changes. Founders Jim DeCaire and Lynn are the longest-lasting members.
Robot Girl: The title of a song on their debut album.
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).
"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:
"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.
Step Up to the Microphone: 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 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). Oddly, 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. (Oddly, 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, is now split among DeCaire, Lusardi, and Bellmore.
Another exception to the "Bellmore sings what Potila used to" rule was "Diarrhea", which was given to Dan Collins when he was in the group. Bellmore now sings it.
After Bradbury left, Collins took over on "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck". Bellmore now sings this one too.
Also, several guests have also 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".
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.
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", 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.