Yam Cannon
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Yam Cannon

Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States | SELF

Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States | SELF
Band Rock Jam


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Featured Band, Chippewa Valley Backstage Pass, August '07"

Eau Claire band Yam Cannon plays everything from blues to metal. Members are, from left, Joe Thielen, Sarah Rohow, Greg Hirsch and Matt Hankey.
Staff photo by Dan Reiland

City: Eau Claire.

Members: Lead vocals and bass guitar, Greg Hirsch, 33; guitar, Joe Thielen, 28; drums, Matt Hankey, 25; keyboards, Sarah Rohow, 32.

Together since: June 2006.

Musical style: Psychedelic blues, dance, funk, country, metal.

Influences: Pink Floyd, Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, Dr. Demento, Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Phish, Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Richard Cheese, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Raconteurs, Tom Petty.

Favorite venues: Boyd Park, The Mousetrap, The Stones Throw, The City Limits in Stanley, The Joynt. - Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

"Yam Cannon Plays the Big Sh-Bang"

All the fun of a potato gun...but bigger, badder, and awesomer. Eau Claire band Yam Cannon, featuring Greg Hirsch on vocals and bass, Joe Thielen on guitar and vocals, Dan Trelfa on keyboards, and Matt Hankey on drums, has been together since June of 2006. Thielen said the band's style is half rock, half jam band, but leaning more toward the rock side - "We don't have any songs that last a half an hour." The Cannon mixes up originals with "weird lyrics and in your face stuff" amidst covers of the likes of Tom Waits, Ween, and Neil Young. - Volume One Magazine, 9/20/07

"WHYS 96.3 Eau Claire"

Yam Cannon makes me smile a lot!
-Nikki Miller, host of The Positive Frequency - Nikki Miller

"Wam Bam Thank You Yam Cannon"

“Sweeter and more powerful than a potato gun.”

Most wayward youth know what a potato gun is. It mainly involves the shoving a spud into a pipe or PVC tubing with some hair spray or other flammable. Add a spark and watch the combustible launching of said vegetable. Then giggle manically. A powerful improvised weapon if dropped into the wrong hands. Now, imagine a Yam Cannon militia showing up and decimating the feeble Potato Gun soldiers. Then, as a victory song, the Yam Cannon breaks into a lengthy jam about enjoying a nice complete breakfast.

That last part actually happens fairly often around the Chippewa Valley. Eau Claire based four piece Yam Cannon regularly fires their volley of Phish-esque jams unto the jam loving people. The YC (as they are known in the EC hoods), like their songs to wander. They prefer the guitars explore the space and stroll along paths overgrown with blues runs and hippie vibes. The rhythm section drives the undercurrent with a solid enough foundation so all detours taken always return home to the safety of the groove. When the keyboards decide to get antsy, they reach out and channel some Ray Manzarek Doors spirit. Vocally, it’s all about a good time. “Musically, we work hard on our music. But the lyrics and ideas for songs tend to be on the silly side.” says guitarist Joe Thielen.

Yam Cannon formed in the basement of bassist and lead vocalist Greg Hirsch in early 2006. The core of the idea came together when guitarist Joe Thielen and Hirsch decided their current bands weren’t completely meeting their expectations for their own creativity. A musician wanted ad actually turned up a decent drummer in Matt Hankey to fill out the rhythm section. And when original keyboard player Sarah Rohow had to move to the cities, Yam Cannon found a talented replacement in Dan Trelfa who came complete with some quality backing vocals. It is with this lineup (with the occasional special appearance by electric cello artist Matthew Probst) that Yam Cannon launches their musical jam skirmishes unto the willing masses.

As for the name, Hirsch explains, “Our friend came up with the name. We have no idea what the actual origin of it is. She is just very good at coming up with little phrases that sound interesting. Her dad is kind of a strange guy and actually had a yam that he carried around the house for days and called it “yammy”. He eventually ate it.”

When asked their views on the Chippewa Valley scene in general, both Hirsch and Thielen are quick to praise the merits of such a seemingly unlikely hotspot for music. “I’ve lived in this area for 16 years,” said Hirsh “I’ve never seen the scene dip at all. It constantly changes. No matter what the dominant genre is, there is a ton of bands doing it. Then there are dozens of other bands doing their own thing. Right now, the jam band thing is huge. This town has had a big metal scene for the entire time I’ve been here. It’s crazy for a town this size to have had several really good metal bands over the years.”

So if not for the fame and glory of playing in this somewhat isolated Midwest scene, what rewards are earned for playing in Yam Cannon? The buzz of the live show, of course. Hirsch elaborates, “It’s those points, and there’s at least one per show, that the all the work put into rehearsal and writing and refining pays off and everybody nails everything for five seconds. And that’s the best five seconds. The great shows are the ones where we get that for two hours straight.” - Volume One Magazine

"Interview with Northern Edge Magazine"

Northern Edge: Who and what are Yam Cannon?

Yam Cannon: We are a 3.5 piece, consisting of 3 permanent members and one semi-permanent guest musician. Greg Hirsch sings lead vocals and plays bass guitar, Joe Thielen sings harmonies and the occasional odd song in a set, and plays lead and rhythm guitar, and Matt Hankey plays the drums. Our friend MC Mello Cello (Matthew Probst, of Gypsy Lumberjacks fame) sits in with us on electric cello whenever his schedule allows.

Northern Edge: Tell us about the Yam Cannon sound?

Yam Cannon: Typically we describe ourselves as a psychedelic blues band, and that sort of covers the bases most of the time. In reality, we like all kinds of music, and rather than lock ourselves into creating only alt-country, or punk, or spacey instrumental music, we like to keep our options open. We choose our covers on the basis of how many other bands aren’t playing them. Our original material comes from the intersection (and sometimes the violent collision) of the differing musical tastes within the band.

Northern Edge: What is the bands live experience like?

Yam Cannon: It’s like meaning to crash a wedding, but winding up at a college orgy at the campus’ church. Something doesn’t seem right, but you feel great.

Northern Edge: What has been the highlights of the Yam Cannon experience this far?

Yam Cannon: Last winter we had a gig at a blue-collar working man’s bar northeast of Eau Claire. At the end of the evening, after a typical crazy and psychedelic 3rd set, three large bikers approached us and asked if we’d consider a spot as the house band for their motorcycle club’s pig roast in 6 months. We exchanged information, and for the next several months, the group sent “scouts” to check us out and make sure we were worthy of the honor. Finally, they officially engaged us and we booked the date in August. The event was easily the most surreal night we have had to date, starting with the hippie girls that came with the Yamily playfully teaching right wing bikers how to use a hula hoop appropriately, middling with sincere requests for Metallica (we compromised by teasing ‘Enter Sandman’ at length) and finishing off with a titty contest that consisted of biker mommas with a median age of 50. We ended partying with them until the wee hours of the morning.

Northern Edge: What is ahead in the future for the band?

Yam Cannon: I would say that “the future” is ahead for the band. We can’t go back now. The official Yam Cannon Time Machine is in the shop, and frankly, going back in time to one of our shows would bore me. You see, I already lived that part of my life and it’s behind me. I’m interested in what’s ahead for the band- the future. Unlike a lot of bands in the scene, we don’t rock crowds on a weekend basis. We’ll hit the road once a month, sometimes twice if our wives/special lady friends don’t hide our car keys. But in spite of not touring rigorously, we’ve constantly progressed and improved since the band was born more than 2 years ago. That fact makes playing out worth while. We actually talked about making an album long before we became a band. In lieu of an album, Yam Cannon is planning on releasing a book of poetry for the upcoming holiday season. It will make a great stocking stuffer. - Northern Edge Magazine, Fargo, ND

"Yam Cannon at The Mousetrap"

Here it is, over two weeks since the show. The Wife has been asking me almost daily if I have written this review. I told her "nearly", making me feel totally guilty. I hadn't in fact written a word. My only plea, falling on her deaf ears, is a project I have been working on for just over a year at my real job is about to go live. Very soon my workplace will be running its web site on the same software I have made you'all the guinea pigs of for the past three years. It has been an adventure. I am glad it is almost over.

Its not uncommon for me to let some time go by after a show. Lots of times I put off writing a review when I don't have anything good to say. Sometimes I'll spend a whole week trying to figure out a way to twist the disaster I just saw, into something positive and redeeming. However, I am happy this isn't the case with Yam Cannon.

Yam Cannon was outstanding! And I really feel kind of bad, because I feel like I owe them something better here. It was a great show! But by this point, …well, I quite honestly can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. So I am going to be sparse on details. I will really want to see these guys again and will try to be a bit more timely with my review on the next show. There is something about strings, when added to rock music, I never fail to like. I don't know that its necessarily just because it isn't a common sound. I really feel like the music needs it. That tuned frequency hum of an electric violin. Or, in this case, electric cello, I think is what many rock songs have been missing for years. It surprises me a band with strings hasn't made it big. Sure, there are one offs, like Hurricane by Bob Dylan. But no bands where the strings play a major part.

And, Yam Cannon sounds great with Matthew Probst on Cello. He was a great cello player. Totally able to rock out, with his fingers flying up and down that long neck. Greg Hirsch on vocals has lots of depth to his voice. He has one of those voices you can't believe can make it through the night. But, with Joe Thielen the group's guitar player spelling him a few times for a couple of short rests, he seemed to do just fine.

High point of the night? The Jethro Tull song, Locomotive Breath with the cello performing that which you would normally hear the flute. It was an outstanding cover. And, something I have never heard covered before. Which is a great experience too. My video's really don't do them justice.

My recommendation on Yam Cannon? See them. I will. - Freaks and Geeks

"Hot acts return to Laurens Farm Jam 3"

July 16, 2009

Area music lovers will have a second chance to hear both headliners from June's Fire in the Flatlands Music Festival when Useful Jenkins and Yam Cannon return July 18 for the third event in the rural Laurens venue's Farm Jam Series.
The Hidden Acres Music Farm, northwest Iowa's only music and camping festival venue, will feature full-length performances from three bands, plus free camping, fire performances food vendors and more for Farm Jam 3: Uncle Ed's Birthday Bash.
"The Farm Jam events are really all about the music," says Bill Hertz, Alta, one of the directors of the Hidden Acres Music Farm. "Most festivals offer bands one-hour sets, but our Farm Jams give bands three- to four-hour set times, giving musicians the freedom to explore outside their typical musical boundaries."
Rude Punch, a Quad-Cities based trio making their first appearance at Hidden Acres will open the festivities with a late-afternoon performance of classic and modern reggae with influences such as Bob Marley and Sublime.
Yam Cannon, the event's second performer, is one of the Midwest's most popular psychedelic rock bands. With appearances at several of the area's bigger festivals as well as endless touring, this Wisconsin quartet is quickly gaining a following in the jamband scene.
"We only heard a little bit from these guys at the Fire in the Flatlands so we're really looking forward to having them back for a much longer show," says Megan Hesse, another of the farm's directors.
Useful Jenkins, a five-man band from Mankato, will headline the evening's music with their high energy, tribal, acoustic celebration of jam, reggae, rock, bluegrass and folk.
To close out the one-day festival, members of all three bands plus other musical guests will join together for a late-night All-Star Acoustic Campfire Jam. Featuring once-in-a-lifetime collaborations, the late-night acoustic jams are quickly becoming one of the highlights of the Hidden Acres events.
"Lots of people have told us how much they enjoy sitting by the fire or falling asleep in their tents listening to the late-night jams so we're really encouraging people to stay and camp so they don't miss this part of the Hidden Acres experience" says Hertz.
Ed Beshey, or "Uncle Ed" as he's known by the farm's regular attendees, is the guest of honor at this weekend's festivities and the owner of the Hidden Acres Music Farm. "Ed has done so much to help get this whole thing started that we wanted to do something special for him in return!" says Hesse.
The show site is at 45380 110th Avenue, Laurens. Gates open at 1 p.m., with music beginning at 3:30. Tickets are available online at www.hiddenacresmusicfarm.com for $15, or $20 at the gate Saturday. - Storm Lake Tribune

"tuber rockers release jamtastic new album"

It’s possible Yam Cannon loves everyone. The happy-go-lucky attitude that made this “sweeter-and-more-powerful-than-a-potato-gun” act an Eau Claire jam staple is branching out to a new, full-length album.

“The world’s greatest tuber” recorded their new album, the 60s psychedelic jam-athon Registration Round, at an empty House of Rock on a Sunday afternoon.

“It’s definitely the old-school San Francisco sound when we get cooking,” said Joe Thielen, who plays rhythm guitar. “A friend called it mushroom rock, we call it tuber rock; it varies.” (A tuber is like a potato, kids.)

Semi-regulars on WHYS radio, Yam Cannon debuted in fall of 2006 with a Mousetrap appearance and have been local favorites since. The Mousetrap will also be holding the band’s CD release party April 18.

While their live shows can get a little intense … “We prefer to play three sets in a four-hour block – really get a groove going,” says Thielen.

The new CD is surprisingly listenable, even if you’re not into jamming for hours on end. Some tracks, like How Big Is It, conjure up images of ska, minus the horns and with an added cello and much funkier bass, while Goin’ Surfin, as you can imagine, wants you and all your friends to party on the beach till the break of day.

Bassist and vocalist Greg Hirsch’s voice is deep, clean, and almost blues infused, while cellist Matthew Probst keeps things interesting with solos. Original members Thielen and drummer Matt Hankey round out the lineup, holding down the funk.

The mix is also reminiscent of the band’s influences, which vary from Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa to Ween and the Raconteurs.

“It’s only about two or three takes on all the tracks. It’s pretty garage-like, but clean,” says Thielen.

Two songs from the Cannon’s first 2007 release are also newly reworked on Registration Round, while about half the other tracks have been written within the last six months.

“People just kept asking when we were going to have a new album out,” said Thielen. “We have about two CDs worth of stuff so hopefully this isn’t our last.” - Volume One Magazine

"August 2008: Yam Cannon Voted Eau Claire Live Artist of the Month"


EauClaireLive is dedicated to bringing you the best in entertainment that Eau Claire has to offer. "...designed to promote live entertainment in Eau Claire and it's immediate surrounding area. Music, poetry slams, movies, comedy showcases, sporting events, parties, MC battles, local merchants, festivals... it's all here."

From Yam Cannon: "...Eau Claire holds a special place in our hearts as a bastion of great live music of all kinds. There's so much amazing music here. When we book out-of-town shows it's easier, because club owners across the region recognize the area as home to lots of talented musicians. We are honored to be considered among the best, and hope the spotlight continues to get directed toward the countless other great acts in town through EauClaireLive." - Eau Claire Live


2006: Self-titled Live EP, available at any Yam Cannon show.
2009: Registration Round - Yam Cannon's First LP.
2011: Beards of the Sun - Yam Cannon's second LP



Yam Cannon strives to give you aural pleasure for the full length of each and every evening. Our musical philosophy is a combination of sausage pizza and anarcho-bolshevism. Serious consideration is given to serious matters. Fortunately for us all, there are no serious matters.

Yam Cannon has been blasting notes around the upper Midwest since early 2006, traveling in a minivan full of musical hopes and dreams, along with drums, guitars, and electronic amplification equipment. In 2007, the band built a repertoire of original tunes and played their hearts out for bar crowds, free outdoor summer shows, and underground parties alike.

In 2008, Yam Cannon landed some great co-headlining spots for Eau Claire's Sounds of Summer Concert Series, the Open Air Festival for the Arts, and the Spokesman Motorcycle Club's Annual Biker Rally. The boys played with a lot of their favorite local bands, and also had great time during their first run of the local summer festival circuit at the Campout, Fat Fest, and the Fall Roots & Grass Festival.

In 2009 the band continued this progress, garnering the headliner slot at the first annual Fire in the Flatlands festival in Iowa, along with primetime performances at Fat Fest and the Campout Roots Festival. The honor among honors came when the band was invited to perform at the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, MN. Yam Cannon was proud to be guests on a bill that featured Widespread Panic, Sharon Jones, and the Dave Matthews' Band as headliners.

Join us as we journey onward into the abyss!