Grand Rapids Press Thursday March 20th 2003
Da Yoopers are revered by growing legions of trolls
A nine-member music-and-skit outfit, 
Da Yoopers plan to spring some new tunes on Grand Rapids audiences as well as a special tribute to the chubby.

   Hey, if "trolls" living down in da Lower Peninsula figure it's too cold here in da winter, try Ishpeming in February or early March, eh?
   "The U.P. is closed for glacial repair," Jim "Hoolie" DeCaire quipped recently by phone from Da Yoopers Tourist Trap on U.S. 41 west of Ishpeming, in the heart, or more accurately, the left armpit, of the Upper Peninsula. 
   "It's subzero and stuff. They had to cancel the ski meet Sunday because the skiers were frozen crouched in mid-air. It's gotta be 20-below."
DeCaire pauses to yell at a store employee about the temperature. 
   "Oh, he don't know," he said.
   "His brain is froze."
   So begins a guffaw-filled conversation with the head honcho, the beer-praising frontman, the chief jester for Da Yoopers, the U.P.'s most celebrated crew of plaid-shirted entertainers who've made the eight-hour trek to Grand Rapids for eight performances at this weekend's Sport, Fishing and Travel Show at the Grand Center.
   DeCaire, 57, has made a career out of Da Yoopers, along with giant chainsaws, flatulence and deer-camp jokes, rock collecting and wacky "Yooper innovation machines," which fill up Da Yoopers Tourist Trap and museum - an attraction touted as "one of the seven wonders of Yooperland," complete with "two flushing toilets" visitors actually can use for free.
   A true Yooper in every respect, DeCaire peppers anecdotes with expressions such as "fer cripe's sake" and speaks with real reverence about a local fellow who may sport the world's biggest beer gut.
   "He's like Buddha, he's like a god to us," DeCaire said of the owner of the rotund belly featured in a photo on Da Yoopers' Web site. "Holy cripe."
   Da Yoopers themselves are revered by growing legions of fans who appreciate their U.P. spoofs and slapstick comedy bits. (The nine-member music-and-skit outfit, by the way, made the trip south to Grand Rapids in a "caravan of rusty vehicles.") 
   Already boasting nine albums of side-splitting tunes with names such as "Smelting USA," "Gimmie Another Beer" and "Deer Hunting Son of a Gun," DeCaire said the band has started its 10th titled "Da Yoopers Songs for Fart lovers," slated for release this summer. 
   "They're well-done songs," DeCaire insists. "We've got one called, 'If She Farts On The First Date She's A Keeper," I think this one's going to go over real well."
   Da Yoopers plan to spring some new tunes on Grand Rapids audiences as well as a special tribute to the chubby. 
   "Everybody in the band is overweight, so we kinda play to the overweight. They're kind of like short people; they get overlooked," DeCaire argued. "We just like to eat."
    So, unlike beer and munchies, what keeps Da Yoopers going after all these years, playing fund-raisers, "convention-type things for plumbers," casinos and sports shows?
    "I enjoy being with those guys," offered DeCaire, who sings, but doesn't play an instrument. 
   "I've got guys in their thirties that have been working for me right out of high school."
   And one of his funniest chums, Dick "Dick-e-Bird" Bunce, never fails to leave everybody in stitches.
   "He's even better now that he's got all his teeth pulled," DeCaire explained. "You outta be in a bus with these guys for eight or nine hours. They need a date. They talk about women all the way down and say stuff like, "If only I had a girl friend." Finally, one approaches them at a bar and they run. They panic. Honest to God. They say, 'I've gotta go take a shower.' "
   Showers aside, Da Yoopers have a solid following among trolls-Yooper-speak for Lower Peninsula types-in West Michigan.
   "They like us down there. We get tons of people from the Grand Rapids area. We're one of the only bands that draws a full range of people, that can have a father and son listen to the same album."
   Of course , Da Yoopers remain hometown heroes, favorite sons and rulers of the roost in the U.P.,where snow can fly well into the spring, leaving even natives a bit restless about the long winters. 
   "I was a mexican in an earlier life," DeCaire surmised. "I'm 57, and I still haven't adjusted to it. I dream about dancing around a cactus with a margarita in my hand."
   Cripes. A beer will have to do.

Gags from north of "Da Bridge"

   With nine albums in da bag and another one on da way, Da Yoopers have belched out some classics since the mid-1980s. The song titles alone are enough to leave listeners laughing in their beer. Here are a few to request this weekend when you catch their act:

  • "Beer, Beer, Beer"
  • "She Loves To Fart"
  • "Da Couch Dat Burps"
  • "Grandpa Got Run Over By a Beer Truck"
  • "Happy Birthday Fungus Face"
  • "I Tink My Beagle's Gay"
  • "Rusty Chevrolet (a true Yoopers' classic)"
  • "The Second Week Of Deer Camp (a true Yoopers' classic)"
  • "Why Do Girls Think I'm Scary"
  • "If I Could Fart Like My Dad"
  • "Nightcrawler Boogie"
  • Story - John Sinkevics - The Grand Rapids Press