Yestival 1998 in Cherry Hill, NJ – Photos and Story
In 1998, the day before (or maybe the morning of) the Yes show in Camden on June 27 as part of their Thirtieth Anniversary Tour, a Yestival was organized and held at a hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. A Yestival is in the same category as a Star Trek Convention, where a bunch of like-minded people (nerds?) gather and revel in their mutual obsession with something in pop culture; in the case of Yestival, it is the obsession with the prog-rock band Yes. As with a Star Trek Convention, there are tons of merchants and others selling all manner of merchandize, including practically any product emblazoned with the Yes logo, thousands of CDs, DVDs (or, perhaps in 1998, video tapes), and, of course, T-shirts and such. Also, as one may expect, the typical dress code for a Yestival is your favorite Yes concert T-Shirt. In the last photograph below you will see me wearing the concert shirt from Yes’s 1997 Open Your Eyes Tour.
Of course, as with festivals of this kind, the main attraction are the celebrity guests, and Yestival 1998 was no exception. The stars who were able to be seen (and are pictured below) included Steve Howe (Yes’ longtime guitarist), Chris Squire (Yes’ co-founder and bass player), Alan White (Yes’ longtime drummer), Billy Sherwood (Yes collaborator 1988 – 1997, 2014 and Yes member 1997 – 2000), and Geoff Downes (Yes keyboardist 1980 and 2011 – present). In fact, I was able to get Geoff Downes to pose for a picture with me (see below)! In 1998, Geoff Downes was just “Asia keyboardist and former Yes keyboardist from 1980;” little did I know he would rejoin Yes thirteen years later, play on two good albums (Fly From Here and Heaven and Earth) and a forthcoming DVD, and play at five Yes concerts I would later see (not to mention two Asia shows too). The late Peter Banks (Yes’ original guitarist) also appeared but I was unable to take a photograph of him. Mike Tiano (Yes website creator and current moderator of Notes from the Edge) was there t00 (he is the guy with the large bushy beard and tie-dyed shirt in the photos below).
Unfortunately, I was unable to spend all day at the festival and did not see everything that happened. As can be seen in the photographs below, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some of the Yes guys and there was a question-and-answer-session with a few of them. From what I understand, I may have missed an appearance by Jon Anderson (Yes’ co-founder and long time vocalist), Patrick Moraz (Yes’ keyboardist from 1974 – 1976), and an impromptu jam session with Moraz and Banks in the hotel bar.
If anyone reading this can add more details to what happened at the 1998 Yestival, please leave them in a comment to this post!
The last tid-bits that I remember from this Yestival are these two anecdotes: during the question-and-answer-session, Steve Howe was asked about Yes music on the radio (namely, wondering why Yes isn’t on the radio more often). He responded with something like “well we don’t make music where you’ll hear ‘baby baby’ like you’ll hear on the radio.” Also, during that same session, Howe and Squire were asked about their favorite Yes songs and Squire sarcastically responded with “Ram” (a Howe solo piece) to which Howe responded with “Fish” (a Squire solo piece). Finally, when asked to play a little something, Sherwood said he was not particularly good at improvising, which is a comment that got him some heat on the message boards.
Needless to say, between the show and the festival, this was a weekend to remember. Here’s hoping for more Yestivals in the future!
Enjoy the photographs below from the event!
Update on March 27, 2017:
I just discovered that someone unearthed a video from the event which can be seen here: