Where did you get that name? That’s the question that comes up on a regular basis for New York based folk-pop trio, The YaYas - Catherine Miles, Jay Mafale, and Paul Silverman. The answer to that question is also the story of how the band got its start.
College friends, Catherine and Paul first met Jay while performing with a theatre company. At first, the three got together to play just for the fun of it. Then one day someone said “What the heck, let’s try an open mic.” They had such a good time they went back the next week. The owner liked them so much that he booked them for a show at the end of the month. At that point they had no band name and only knew six songs they could play together...
Instead of saying no to the invitation, they spent days learning enough songs to play a three hour show. And the name? Well, the name simply came from a goofy inside joke about “the little man that lives in Paul’s mouth whose name is YaYa.” (Okay, sounds a little weird, but it’s just a silly little piece of Paul’s childhood that makes them smile.) The truth is they never intended to keep the name, planning to use it only until they found “a better one.” But the name stuck. “People don’t tend to forget it, even when they don’t remember our individual names.”
The story of how The YaYas got their start reflects a theme that has recurred for them over the years. This theme winds its way through the songs on their newest album, Paper Boats, and is rooted in the idea that there is always a choice in every situation. People’s lives are filled with both good and bad surprises - circumstances that are often beyond their control. The choice we always have is in how we respond to these twists and turns. We can always choose to be hopeful, to keep our sense of humor, to remind ourselves that our lives are bigger than any individual moment or event.
The songs on Paper Boats are stories. Through plain-spoken lyrics, the characters that inhabit them share the details of their lives as if speaking directly to the listener. Catherine’s expressive voice is intimate, honest. Jay’s percussive guitar parts and Paul’s melodic piano lines complement each other, and all three blend in a way that reflects their friendship and years of playing together.
The YaYas’ long history as a band and as friends is apparent on Paper Boats, and even more so in their live performances. Currently touring in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, their shows are informal and entertaining. Talking and joking around with each other and the audience... their spirit is contagious. Some people leave having cried a tear or two, some will be humming a chorus they can’t get out of their heads, but they are all usually smiling.