Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Monument to Peter DeRose


Peter DeRose, composer of classics like Deep Purple and A Marshmallow World, is perhaps best known to ukers as the sweetheart (and husband) of May Singhi Breen.

Ukester Brown posted a video of A Marshmallow World today (Ukester's songsheet is here), and I hadn't realized that it was a DeRose tune.

Anyway, a trip to Wikipedia turned up a photo of DeRose's grave. Take a peek and I think you'll see a special love token from May. Link

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Elves or Inmates?


The article says they're inmates. But per the photo, they could be elves busy at work making your holiday uke...Link (via ABS-CBN-cbn News)


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ukulele: The Google Ngram View

My friend and Search Guru Steve Nelson pointed me to the Google Ngram Viewer. It shows you how often a particular word appears in books published in specific years.

I plugged in "ukulele" and it's cool to see three "waves" of ukulele popularity. But here they're not the three we usually think of (The Twenties/Arthur Godfrey/Third Wave). Surprisingly, ukuleles were mentioned with a lot of consistency between the late 20s and the late 50s. You can see when Rock & Roll started killing it off, but check out the unexpected renaissance of sorts in the 70s. Maybe this indicates that the uke was on its way back until something killed it again. (Aftershocks of Tiny Tim, maybe?).

Then, check out the Third Wave. It starts to build in '93, which is where I'd expect it. Lots of cool things happening in the late '90s. Note where things take off in '99. Which is about the time that Mark Frauenfelder founded Ukulelia. The biggest peak coincides with the video of Jake Shimabukuro playing Gently Weeps posting to YouTube in 2006.

Google Ngram Viewer

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Roll Out the Canons!

I've been working on canons with my intermediate students. Most players are no doubt familiar with songs like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, or Frère Jacques. Canons are simply instrumental forms of these kinds of tunes that can be played in staggered turns and repeated as you desire.

A good introductory canon, I've found, is Russian Lullaby, a copy of which you'll find here. It's part a of a larger article Canons As Reading Weaponry by Lorna MacPhee from Ukulele Yes!

I like Russian Lullaby because it's in the key of C (easy, no sharps or flats!), and most of the phrases are just ascending or descending snippets of the C major scale. (Here's a handy cheat sheet, showing left hand fingering positions for the C scale. It's from The Ukulele Way, which you really should check out, btw.)

Grab a friend (or two, or three) and give Russian Lullaby a spin. Here are a couple of ways to play the canon. I'm sure you'll come up with more!

  1. Play the entire piece in unison (all together)
  2. Assign parts (Player 1, Player 2, etc.) Player 1 starts, then Player 2 starts at the beginning when Player 1 gets to roman numeral II, Player 3 when Player 1 gets to numeral III, and so on. 
  3. Start together, with Player 1 at roman numeral I, Player 2 at II, etc. Play through several times.
You'll be amazed at the lovely harmonies that emerge when the phrases begin to overlap each other. And don't be surprised if what looks like a simple tune turns out to be more of a challenge than you thought. Learning to play your own part while listening to others are playing entirely different notes will take some getting used to. But it's totally worth it, especially if you want to learn to play ensemble arrangements. Uke on and have fun!




Monday, January 22, 2018

Kala recording artist Ali'i Keanaaina is conducting a workshop and concert, tomorrow, Tuesday, January 23, 2018, at Lamorinda Music in Lafayette, California.
Workshop - Intermediate level focused on the traditional Hawaiian strumming.  The workshop will leverage Alii's original hit songs from his current CD Music and Me, "EO" Ke Kahea O Ke Kahakai, and "A He Aha", and a new composition "Makalawena" (due to release in March 2018)
Time: 7:00PM - 8:00PM

Concert - Ali'i will perform songs from Music and Me and other Hawaiian favorites. 
Time: 8:15PM - 9:30PM
Date: Tuesday, January 23rd
Cost: $20 for Workshop, $20 for Concert, or $30 for both, payable at the event
  More info at this link.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Bruce Off Broadway


Readers of Ukulelia know the ukulele is boss. But now the ukulele is The Boss. Check out this Bruce Springsteen tribute in NYC, Saturday, January 27 at Arlene's Grocery.
 Jim Boggia has been winning over fans, critics, contemporaries and luminaries for over 20 years with his uncompromising devotion to emotionally direct songcraft. He has released three acclaimed studio albums, collaborated with a startling array of artists — including Joan Osborne, Aimee Mann, Juliana Hatfield, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Bernadette Peters, and NRBQ’s Big Al Anderson — and frequent performances with preeminent Beatles tribute band, the Fab Faux, and 18-piece collective Mad Dogs & Dominos, bringing to stage the music of Delaney And Bonnie, Derek And The Dominos, Joe Cocker, solo George Harrison, Leon Russell and their creative roots
Along the way, he got an ukulele and he learned how to make it talk. And once he got it talking, he got to finding ingenious ways of using those four little strings to play some of the most complex rock arrangements with all the grace and power of the originals.
Inspired by the response Boggia has received from his ukulele version of "Thunder Road," he has crafted uke arrangements of other Springsteen classics to present in this unique night of music on Saturday, January 27, 8pm at Arlene's Grocery.

 Link

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Duets for One: James Hill

Oh boy, it's here. The latest book in Jumping' Jim's Ukulele Masters series has just been released.

It's James Hill's Duets for One.

My fellow students in the James Hill Ukulele Institute (JHUI) Ukulele in the Classroom Certification Program and I have known that this was in the works for a couple years. Of course, James being James, he neglected to mention that it was coming out under the Ukulele Masters imprimatur. (It's his Canadian side.)

Duets for One advances the techniques that James teaches in the JHUI as well as through his online The Ukulele Way series. It's a style of solo playing that really makes you sound like two players: one on melody, the other on chords and rhythm.

The first 50 copies sold on the Fleamarketmusic site are numbered and signed by James. I can't wait to get it.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Emergency Ukes at Burning Man


Over on Ukulelia's mother site, Boing Boing, our friend and Playa Plucker Rusty Blazenhoff posted a piece about Justin Lange's art installation from this year's Burning Man: a red emergency callbox containing "emergency" ukes.

Maybe our neighborhood Little Library needs to start lending ukuleles, too.

Al Wood will be chuffed to learn that his Uke Hunt logo served as inspiration for the graphic on the back of call box. (I actually don't know whether Al would be not, but I'm always pleased to have the opportunity to say "chuffed.")


Photo credit: Rusty Blazenhoff

(Thanks, Your Fluffiness!)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Ukalele Daly

This is a new one on me. Never popped up in a search before, most likely due to the non-standard spelling.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Roto-Uku


In answer to the unasked question: what kind of ukulele would Spock play?

Link

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Lil Rev's West Coast Tour


We got a note alerting us to Lil Rev's West Coast itinerary for the summer. I may try to make the July 22 workshop at Gryphon. Here are the deets:
7-6-17- Sumtur Amphitheater, Papillion, NE
7-8, 7-9-17: Swallow Hill Music Org Denver, CO
7-14, 7-15: Uke U 6 Bend, OR
7-19-17: The Strum Shop, Roseville, CA
7-20-17:Cool Hands House Concert, Grass Valley, CA
7-21-17: Funstrummers, Modesto, CA
7-22-17: Gryphon String Instruments, Palo Alto, CA
7-24-17: SLO Strummers San Luis Obispo, CA
7-25-17: Magnolia Concert Series, Larkspur, CA
7-27-17: KC Turner House Concert, San Francisco, CA
7-29-17: Play Uke Concert Series, Minden, NV
8-5-17: KC Ukers, Mission, KS.
More tour date info at: www.lilrev.com

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Sunshine Ukulele Film



Filmmaker Graham Jones has released what he calls an "anti-feel good movie" titled Sunshine Ukulele, “about a young Irish boy who receives the gift of a ukulele from his uncle and proceeds upon a comic, suburban, mini-odyssey”:
"I wanted to make a film about the impact of the internet upon music and movies. The web has caused some problems, but it has also brought gifts. We’ve all migrated online nowadays, art and entertainment have become increasingly unmoored and rudderless – it’s easier to distribute our work, yet harder to make a living out of it. This is a rather paradoxical, bittersweet era that we are living through together. So I wanted to really riff on that in a film – ask what it all means, not merely for artists but ultimately for children and young people."
We'll post more when we've viewed the film.

Here is an interview with Jones.
 
Top 50 Ukulele Sites