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)
- Old Age Is for Sissies! (2018)
- Jim Bellmore (guitar, bass guitar, various other instruments, vocals)
- Lynn Bellmorenote (keyboards, vocals)
- Jim "Hoolie" DeCaire (drums, percussion, vocals)
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.
- 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.
- Jim Pennell (bass guitar, vocals). Replaced by Joe DeLongchamp around 1988.
- Joe Potila (guitar, vocals). Left ca. 1995.
- Bobby Symons (drums)
Former sketch comedy actors who didn't contribute instruments over the years included Jim Boyer, Matt Bullock, 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" was done in the style of a barbershop quartet, with Jim Bellmore singing all four parts.
- 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:
Rust and smoke, the heater's broke
- The subject of "Rusty Chevrolet":
The door just flew away
I light a match to see the dash
And then I start to pray
The frame is bent, the muffler's went
The radio, it's okay
Oh, what fun it is to drive
This 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".
- 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".
- One track on Yoopy Do Wah is titled "Nudsie's Wedding Reception". Several tracks later, "Free Beer" has the line "Our old pal Nudsie got married..."
- 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 a 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 sang lead on "Yooper Kid" one album later, 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. 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 with "folk" style instrumentation such as washtub bass, jugs, and spoons. 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's sole musical accompaniment is accordion and washtub bass, both played by guests.
- Camp Fever has the band mostly shifted to its most famous sound, but there are still a couple Finnish folk songs with minimal "folksy" instrumentation. By Yoop It Up, everything was in place.
- 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: "Beer Gut":Beer guts of America, stand up if you can
Stick out your big beer gut and hoist a cool one in your hand
Your beer gut is your buddy, it's a friend who's always near
And all you ever have to do is feed it lots of beer
- 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, with gems such as "Diarrhea" and "If I Could Fart Like My Dad". 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
"Bodybuilders make me sick, but beer guts drive me wild"
- 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 is the most prominent member of the band, having co-written and produced nearly all of their material.
- 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: "Christmas Is Everywhere" is just a list of cities and countries where Christmas supposedly can be found.
- Local Reference: They frequently name-drop a lot of the smaller former mining towns in the UP. Some songs also reference businesses with a strong presence in the area, such as the reference to Shopko stores in "Rusty Chevrolet".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Diarrhea" is performed as a straight-up love ballad. At least barring the fart solos.
- 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 within their first decade of recording, and some of the songs on their second and third albums have either a guest musician on a washtub bass, or no bass parts whatsoever. 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" has an accident after a bout of what he thinks is "only gas".
- The title character in the skit "Santa's Helper" (from Naked Elves in Cowboy Boots) offers burps and farts to the listener 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 only Lynn and Joe are matched up. 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.
- Doc Bradbury does his own harmonies on the verses of "Free Beer".
- "My First Time Ever" is a four-part vocal arrangement sung entirely by Bellmore.
- DeCaire sings harmony over himself on the chorus of "Da Fishing Trip".
- Jim Bellmore tends to sing most of his own harmonies, such as the bass vocal on "Yooper Snow Rocket".
- Something Completely Different:
- Yoopy Do Wah is a double example: it was the only album after their first not to include any interstitial comedy skits or guest musicians, and it contains the completely serious ballad "When One Love Dies".
- 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 on the last two tracks. 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.
- "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: While obvious in Songs for Fart Lovers, they've also done several other references to flatulence and related bodily functions (such as "Lonely Yooper", where the narrator hides in an outhouse to escape an affair but ends up getting defecated on instead).
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Wanna Buy an Organ" 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 / Step Up to the Microphone: They are all over this trope. Jim DeCaire, Joe Potila, and Jim Bellmore usually did the vocals, but nearly every album had at least one song sung by Lynn. Among the official members, there were several rotations:
- Jim Pennell sang "Smeltin' USA" and "Chicquito War".
- Joe DeLongchamp sang "Camp Fever" (which he also wrote) and "Drinking Resort".
- Doc Bradbury sang "Transplant Song", "Free Beer", "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck", and the first verse of "Heikki Lunta".
- Jerry Coffey sang "Super Dooper Yooper Love Machine" and two lines on "Nite Crawler Boogie".
- Double example with "30 Lb. Diaper": Jerry Coffey sang it in concert for several years, but after he quit, it went to Reggie Lusardi instead. Lusardi also sang the studio version on 21st Century Yoopers in Space.
- Dan Collins sang (obviously) "Yooper Cowboy Dan".
- Billy Bob Langson and Pete "Casanova" LaLonde, despite mainly being sketch comedy actors in the band's live shows (and therefore not contributing on albums), split vocal duties with Lynn on "Arm Chair Quarterback".
- Many of their songs are unusual in that they were sung by guests:
- Culture Shock: Bertha and Elaine Hintsala sang "Iso Sika", Glenn Adams did half of the spoken-word verses on "Dear Mr. Governor" (DeCaire does the other half of each verse, and Lynn does the chorus), and Sandy Kemppa sang "Da Couch Dat Burps".
- Camp Fever: Glenn sang "Sauna Song" and "Butcher Town"
- Yoop It Up: Jim DeCaire's son Jesse sang "Yooper Kid"
- Songs for Fart Lovers: As mentioned above, Kim Lenten sings a re-recording of "Diarrhea" (originally sung by Potila on Yoop It Up)
- 21st Century Yoopers in Space: Al "Goofus" Ammesmaki sang "Yooper Love Song", Kim Lenten sang "Got My Sisu Working" and "Designated Driver's Drunk", Jim Stedman sang "It's Cold" and "Nimrod Nation", Barbara Johnson sang "No Black Bloomers", Frank Sarvello sang "I Taught It Was a Buck", Jesse DeCaire sang "Snow Day", and Tanya Stanaway sang "Tanya's Song".
- Old Age Ain't for Sissies: Jesse DeCaire sang "I Tried to Be a Yooper Man", Glenn Adams sang "I'm Old", and Kim Lenten sang "Living in Yooper Paradise".
- Volleying Insults: "Mental Monkey" is a string of these between a brother and sister.