|Origin||Ishpeming, Michigan, US|
Da Yoopers is a traveling comedy show and musical group from Ishpeming, Michigan They are known primarily for their humorous songs and skits, most of which center on life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The band's name includes the term "Yooper," slang for residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the use of "da" instead of "the" is typical of the Yooper dialect.
Da Yoopers has released thirteen albums, all on their personal label, You Guys Records. The band's lineup consists of Jim Bellmore (guitar, vocals), Lynn Bellmore (keyboards, vocals), Jim DeCaire (percussion, vocals), Bobby Symons (drums), and Matt Bullock (sketch comedy actor).
Da Yoopers was founded in 1975 by drummer Jim DeCaire and guitarist Rodney "Joe" Potila, along with keyboardist Lynn Anderson and bass guitarist Jim Pennell. The band took their name from the word "yooper", a common term for people of the "U.P.", an abbreviation for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and "Da" came from the Yooper dialect pronunciation of "the". The band toured throughout Michigan's Upper Peninsula for several years, before recording their first album, Yoopanese, in 1986 on their personal label, You Guys Records. This album included nine songs, all written by Potila and DeCaire.
A second album, Culture Shock, was released a year later. This second album featured several comedy songs, including "Second Week of Deer Camp" and "Rusty Chevrolet" (the latter a parody of "Jingle Bells"), both of which became local hits, including airplay on stations in Chicago and Milwaukee. In addition, "Second Week of Deer Camp" would later be played on several Dr. Demento shows. "2nd Week of Deer Camp" has also received heavy radio air-play in North Central Pennsylvania annually since 1995 in late November and early December during deer hunting season. This album also featured humorous dialogue and skits between songs, a feature later duplicated both in concert and on subsequent albums. Several local guest musicians also performed on this album.
By the release of Camp Fever, the band's third album, Pennell left and was replaced with Joe DeLongchamp. In addition, Lynn Anderson married Jerry Coffey, who joined as a vocalist and percussionist. It also included the first song of the band's career not to be written by Potila or DeCaire, as DeLongchamp wrote the title track. Yoop It Up, their fourth cassette, was released in 1989.
Yoopy Do Wah, released in 1991, was the band's first album on compact disc, released shortly after Dave "Doc" Bradbury took over on bass guitar. Also that year, a compilation titled For Diehards Only was released, featuring a selection of songs from the group's first four albums. Da Yoopers' 1993 album One Can Short of a Six-Pack featured both regular and Christmas songs, including a parody of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" titled "Grandpa Got Run Over By a Beer Truck". After the release of this album, both Potila and Bradbury departed the group. Potila was replaced with lead guitarist/vocalist Jim Bellmore, who made his first appearance on the 1995 album We're Still Rockin'. Bellmore also succeeded Potila as the band's main songwriter, usually working with DeCaire. "Cowboy" Dan Collins, who had previously appeared on two other albums as a backing vocalist, also officially joined as rhythm guitarist on this album, and Reggie Lusardi became bass guitarist afterward. Several members soon joined as sketch comedy actors as well: Dick Bunce (who also played bass guitar on some songs), Pete "Casanova" LaLonde, Jerry "Mungo" LaJoie and "Billy Bob" Langson. On December 11, 1998, Laughing Hyena Records released "Deer Camp Songs", a comedy album based on their song, "Second Week of Deer Camp".
Two albums were released in 2000: Jackpine Savage and Naked Elves in Cowboy Boots, the latter an album of Christmas music. Both Dan Collins and Jerry Coffey left shortly after Naked Elves in Cowboy Boots. Songs for Fart Lovers and Diehards II (a second compilation composed of songs from the first four albums) both came out in 2004, with the two-disc 21st Century Yoopers in Space following in 2006. This album also featured several guest contributions in both performing and songwriting. Lynn, who divorced Jerry in 2005, was again credited as Lynn Anderson on 21st Century Yoopers in Space, and married Bellmore shortly after that album's release.
Lusardi died May 8, 2016.
Da Yooper's tourist trap not only contains merchandise, but two museums as well. The first museum is a mineral museum that contains various minerals found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It also has exhibits related to the local mining culture. This museum is found inside of Da Yooper's Tourist Trap. The other museum is an outdoor museum that is more oriented towards humor. It contains such things as a large chainsaw, called Big Gus, a large rifle, called Big Ernie, and Da Two-holer (a very special outhouse). This comical museum has various other displays in which tourists are encouraged to see in order to understand the humor of the Yooper culture.
The band's membership comprises the following:
- Jim "Bella" Bellmore: lead guitar, bass guitar, fiddle, vocals, sketch comedy
- Lynn Bellmore: keyboards, vocals, sketch comedy
- Matt Bullock: sketch comedy
- Jim "Hoolie" DeCaire: drums, percussion, vocals, sketch comedy
- Bobby "Sy" Symons: drums
- Jim Boyer: sketch comedy
- Dave "Doc" Bradbury: bass guitar, vocals
- Dick Bunce: bass guitar, sketch comedy
- Steve Calhoun: sketch comedy
- Jerry "Cuppa" Coffey: drums, percussion, vocals, sketch comedy
- "Cowboy" Dan Collins: guitar, vocals, sketch comedy
- Art Davis: sketch comedy
- Joe DeLongchamp: bass guitar, vocals, sketch comedy
- Chris Kukla: sketch comedy
- Jerry "Mungo" LaJoie: sketch comedy
- Pete "Casanova" LaLonde: sketch comedy
- "Billy Bob" Langson: sketch comedy
- Reggie Lusardi: bass guitar, vocals, sketch comedy
- Robert "Dill" Nebel: sketch comedy
- Jim Pennell: bass guitar, vocals
- Joe Potila: lead guitar, vocals, sketch comedy
- Mike "Mikku" Powers: sketch comedy
All albums released on You Guys Records.
|Yoopanese||July 4, 1986|
|Culture Shock||November 1, 1987|
|Camp Fever||August 1, 1988|
|Yoop It Up||August 1, 1989|
|Yoopy Do Wah||October 1, 1991|
|One Can Short of a Six-Pack||November 23, 1994|
|For Diehards Only||April 16, 1995|
|We're Still Rockin'||December 10, 1996|
|Jackpine Savage||August 15, 2000|
|Naked Elves in Cowboy Boots||November 14, 2000|
|Songs for Fart Lovers||February 10, 2004|
|21st Century Yoopers in Space||2006|
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- Binder, David (September 14, 1995). "Upper Peninsula Journal: Yes, They're Yoopers, and Proud of It". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
- Piirto, Jane. "Da Yoopers Deconstructed". A Location in the Upper Peninsula. Retrieved July 21, 2007.
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- Kloss, Gerald (July 30, 1989). "Let's Hear it for Da Yoopers, Once". Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
- "Reginald W. 'Reggie' Lusardi". Mining Journal. May 10, 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
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