The Yams from Outer Space’s first gig was in 1986 on Moffett quad at Radford University at a “Unity Festival” – it was to serve as a distraction away from a KKK march that was going on downtown, and the idea was instead of everyone going down there and throwing stuff at the rednecks, we would just have a shindig where everyone was welcome, so no one would even be there at their stupid hatefest. We hadn’t even discussed the name of the band before the show, thinking it was a one-off gig – the night before the show one of the promoters asked me the name of the band, and being that I was all silly on that old sticky-icky-icky, I just blurted out “Yams from Outer Space”, just kidding – well, the guy wrote it down, and we were like “ahh, who cares, it’s just one gig…” – so we ended up stuck with that name for the next 15 years.
The Yams ended up playing all up and down the greater east coast for zillions of people, we did gigs with folks like Dave Matthews, Hootie, and Slash, we made a ton of friends, we earned TENS of dollars, and we had ourselves a grand old time doing it… the band’s repertoire evolved from a covers-heavy batch of Zeppelin and Van Halen covers sprinkled with ludicrous versions of Helen Reddy’s “I am woman”, Hank Jr’s “Family Tradition”, and Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero” (all delivered with tongue firmly planted in cheek) to mostly originals – the style was sort of like if Aerosmith covered Frank Zappa covering Prince, or maybe a jam-band Parliament-Funkadelic.
The presentation was always a big part of a Yams show, featuring antics like helium-enhanced “chipmunk” vocals, vienna sausage and watermelon solos, instruments played with “alternative” body parts (toes, noses…y’know…use your imagination…), and frequent audience participation (especially if the individuals pulled onstage had no talent whatsoever) Eventually, the fellows in the band all agreed that it was time to explore other opportunities, mostly due to financial angst – we all still love each other and see each other frequently, and we do even play the occasional Yams gig here and there.
Mike and George, the two original Yams, are still like two peas in a pod, and they will frequently do random pick-up gigs and recording sessions together. George’s full time gig these days is with a kick heiney ensemble called the SOL CREECH BAND – check ’em out ya’ll – our sound dude, Matt D is an actual rock star, running sound for the DRIVE BY TRUCKERS – he be calling us from Norway, the Black Crowes tour bus, eating dinner with Phil Lesh, or backstage at the Conan O’Brien show where they’re gigging – Dylan has got his hands full doing booking for DYLAN LOCKE PRODUCTIONS and booking for the Jefferson Center, Floydfest, Steppin’ Out, and lots of other stuff – Mark is in Florida, studying jazz at Florida State University and gigging with various different folks almost every night – Chris is up in Northern Virginia, he’s the manager at some computer thingy…he still grabs a gig around town now and again, blowing his horn and singing his ENTIRE azz off – Gary is still the big cahuna at Mainstream Music in the burg of Black, and he also does some horn honkin’ with Sonic Safari and some other cats – Joe is the music director at a church in North Carolina and is also an ordained minister (!!!!) – and still the hilarious, ascebically-witted dude he always was – Jeffy is working with computers in Bburg and has another bun in the oven – Steve Sachse is playing his bass for a living (!!!) and residing in the DC area, Todd Ingram is one of the many former Yams who are friends on this very website (see “T.I.”!) – the other fellas are all still around, most everybody is making music in some way, shape or form… give us a hollah and send some love, ya’ll… MUAH!.