Friday, October 29, 2021

Farewell Fred Fallin



We learned this week of the passing of Fred Fallin. If you've been around the uke world for a while, you no doubt bumped into Fred. A sweet man, lovely musician, and captivating chronicler of ukulele and Tin Pan Alley history. 

Here's a 1996 profile of Fred from the history page of his beloved Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. For readers who weren't playing back then, this was beginning of the (current) Third Wave of ukulele popularity, when a seeming handful of Mainland eccentrics played, and it was players like Fred who had lovingly kept the pilot light on for us.


Above is a photo from Catfish Carl's Closet (still extant!), a site hosting photos from the legendary Uke Fest West of 2004. We picked this photo for a couple of reasons. First, this image is from a workshop that Uncle Bill Tapia (then just a youthful 96) gave at the Fest. Fred was playing the role of interlocutor. We were fortunate to have been in the room for this, so this would have been the first time we met both Tappy and Fred. 

Mahalo, Fred. See you down the road. 



Thursday, October 28, 2021

Jake Needs No Introduction

We found it worth noting that in his article on the online education company MasterClass, The New Yorker author Tad Friend understood that Jake Shimabukuro needed no introduction:
"The site has recently begun to attract instructors, including Amy Tan, Elaine Welteroth, Jake Shimabukuro, and Malala Yousafzai, who were MasterClass subscribers before they taught their classes."
It's remarkable that Jake has reached the point of recognition at which no "ukulele player," or "ukulele superstar" appellation is needed. 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Playing for Afghan Refugees


An unnamed U.S. Airforce Airman brought out his ukulele to entertain children and adults from Afghanistan at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. I wonder what he played. Link

If anyone runs across the name of this Airman, please send a comment and I'll post it.

Photo Credit: Lt. Col. William Powell

Monday, August 23, 2021

Meet Covie


Ok. I've been sitting on this one for a while. It got shuffled to the bottom of a pile of to-dos, and then I thought (hoped?) that it wouldn't be relevant anymore. Sadly...

So, meet Covie. Created by my friend and uker, Jon Soto, and several of his advertising pals to help remind people to wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash their hands. 

Covie has a theme song, featured in the video. Heck, he has a whole YouTube channel where you can follow his travels. 

If you'd like to sing along, write your own verses, post your own videos, I know you'd make Covie happy (and Jon would appreciate it). Here's the music:



Visit Covie's site for more info and goodies, including stickers you can download. Be like Covie and spread them around. Follow Covie on Instagram, too.



Wednesday, August 04, 2021

A New Old Saying

"There’s another old saying: It’s all over but the ukulele." Link

Meet Sayali Tank


I was honored to mentor Sayali Tank during her first year with the James Hill Ukulele Initiative program. She's a delightful person and it was fun to stay up late in California (while she got up early in India) for our Zoom meetings over the past year. She's now a featured Kala artist. See what working with me can do for you?!  Link

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Still Strumming: William H. Macy

It's been a while since we've checked in with stalwart uker William H. Macy. Nice to know he's still strumming. Link

h/t Marilyn!


Kamaka Brothers Receive Congressional Gold Medals

I'm a proud owner of a sweet 1970s Kamaka soprano, and couldn't be happier for the Kamaka brothers and their entire family on their having received this well-deserved honor. Link

h/t Marilyn!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Profile of Koaloha 'Ukulele

Nice feature from Hawai'i Magazine on one of the three legendary "Ks": Koaloha. (The others being Kamaka and Kanile'a, natch.) Link

Mahalo, Waven

Thursday, July 01, 2021

The Baseball Sheet Music Project

Attention Baseball Fans. This scholarly site has 175 mostly Tin Pan Alley period sheet music titles related to America's Pastime. Note: offensive racial stereotypes are present.

The Baseball Sheet Music Project

Friday, June 25, 2021

Comprehensive Look at Bass Ukuleles

This is a pretty thorough review and evaluation of bass ukuleles. Usually these kind of sites a just clickbait for affiliate links. And yeah, there are affiliate links, but the writers have done a solid job of compiling information that you'll find super useful if you're in the market for a bass. Which I really should be...

The Best Bass Ukulele | Beginner Guitar HQ

Jake Shimabukuro Named to the National Council on the Arts

President Biden has nominated Jake to serve as a member of the National Council on the Arts

"The National Council on the Arts advises the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, who also chairs the Council, on agency policies and programs. It reviews and makes recommendations to the Chairman on applications for grants, funding guidelines, and leadership initiatives."

Well deserved, Jake. What an honor! Link


Friday, May 07, 2021

Rev. Robert Jones' New Old Zimnicki Uke

I really need to tell you all the story of my Zimnicki Reclaimed Wood ukulele, built by Detroit-area luthier Gary Zimnicki. In the meantime, here's a video of Detroit's own Rev. Robert Jones, a noted blues artist and storyteller playing the sister to my uke. Enjoy, and do check out Gary's work


Sunday, April 04, 2021

Midnight Ukulele Disco Lives!

Back in the early days of the Third Wave there was Midnight Ukulele Disco. When the resurgence was gathering a head of steam, and when the ukulele was still a fringe instrument. Twenty-some (very) odd years ago Midnight Ukulele Disco introduced us to a new world of performers. Nice to see that the shows are archived on YouTube!

Midnight Ukulele Disco - YouTube

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A New Find, From Oldsmar


My friend William asked me if this could be a photo of his dad playing the uke in 1920 at a picnic in Oldsmar, Florida. 

I said "It might be, but this is not your father's Oldsmar, Bill."

And in the truth-is-stranger-than-Gary's-humor category, it turns out Oldsmar was actually founded by auto magnate Ransom E. Olds. No word on whether REO played the uke himself. 

Here's the photo, from the State Library and Archives of Florida.

 
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