Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jim Tranquada Interview: Why You Should Take the Ukulele Seriously | Learn To Uke

In case you missed Jim Tranquada's lecture at the LA Public Library, here's a Q&A, courtesy of the folks at Learn to Uke. Link

Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015 Silver Creek International Ukulele Carnival

Ukester Brown sez you can also catch Rachel Manke at this year's Silver Creek International Ukulele Carnival, August 21-23 in Two Harbors, MN. Bring your uke, music, and hot dish to share.

Prince Paul

I had the distinct honor of working on the Ringling show with this gentleman, Prince Paul Alpert. I'm guessing that this is from a spec production, some Roaring 20s theme. I'll update if I learn more.

If you like the photo, it's up for sale on Etsy.

(Thanks, and happy birthday, Michael Simmons!)

Big News from Lake Wobegon

Big news coming from Malden, MA: Rachel Manke, splendiferous strummer in the Smeckian and sundry styles, will be making her national radio debut on Prairie Home Companion. Mark your calendars and set your dials for Saturday, June 27th, when the show will be broadcast from Tanglewood. We expect Garrison to aim a little sacerdotal sarcasm at her, but the word is still out as to whether Guy Noir will help a lady uker in need.

Here's Rachel's site.
And her YouTube Channel.

And in case you've ever wondered what the lead-in music for PHC is ("Oh, hear that old piano, from down the avenooo..."), it's Tishomingo Blues. Here's a link to a .pdf of the chords, courtesy of Ukester Brown. Or, if you prefer, the original Spencer Williams sheet music (1917).

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Jim Tranquada at the LA Public Library this Saturday

Attention LA ukulele enthusiasts. Ukulele historian Jim Tranquada will be at the LA Public Library this Saturday, May 9 at 2pm:
"Author Jim Tranquada (The Ukulele: a History) discusses the fascinating musical and social history of the “tiny four-stringed thingamajig” and argues for a rehabilitation of the instrument’s image."
In the Mark Taper Forum, Central Library. If you go, say hi to Jim and tell him Ukulelia sent you. Link

Friday, May 01, 2015

Warren Buffett's Second-Favorite Uke

Legendary beverage maker Coca-Cola and legendary ad agency Wieden+Kennedy recently had a custom ukulele built for legendary uker Warren Buffett.

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the iconic Coke bottle, the tenor ukulele was built by Portland luthier Mark Roberts and features a sound hole cut in the silhouette of the bottle. More info on the Coke site.

You can't really see the uke too well in the above video of Mr. Buffett playing "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." Here's a slightly better photo of Mark Roberts and his work.

We haven't located any more images, but will reach out to Mark and see if he has any he can post. We're not familiar with his work, but a few clicks around his site reveal him to be an innovative and impressive builder (check out his Wise-N-Uke, a baritone version of a Weissenborn hollowneck steel guitar).

Now where in the world do you suppose W+K got this grand idea? Considering that they turned me down for a job years ago, it's nice to know that they liked at least one of my ideas.

Link to article on Adweek.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Telstar on Ukulele & Stylophone

How did we miss this one? The Tornados Telstar performed on ukulele and stylophone. Richard G's got the tab, too, here.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

James Thurber on The Ukulele

The Sun-Dial has been published on the campus of Ohio State since 1911. Around 1916 a young fellow joined the publication, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. His name was James Thurber.

Of the ukulele, Thurber once wrote:
“Let me be the first to admit that the naked truth about me is to the naked truth about Salvador Dali as an old ukulele in the attic is to a piano in a tree, and I mean a piano with breasts..." 
And, while we cannot be certain whether Thurber penned the lead editorial for the December, 1916 edition of The Sun-Dial (which was billed as the Hawaiian Number), it certainly reads like Thurber (read the entire editorial at the link).
"Some time ago somebody read “Madame Butterfly” and wondered why he couldn’t transplant her. So the nearest place to land from the land of Nippon was the isle called Honolulu. So then we had “The Bird of Paradise.” They brought those wierd (sic) little musical cigar boxes called ukuleles with them and the great American public found out that they are easy to play or display. 
"We haven’t a thing in the world against the ukulele, in fact, we like them. But we do hope and pray that the Hawaiian craze will not extend much further than “Yaka Hula” and “Oh How She Could,” etc. As long as they don’t import the cute little sausages which the brown dreamers of the Pacific wear or are imputed to wear, we won’t kick."
We guess those "cute little sausages" might be leis. Odd.

Note the references to Bird of Paradise, the theatrical production that helped ignite Hawaiian Fever across the continent, as well as Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula and Oh, How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo.

There are more ukulele "ditties" and cartoons in the magazine.

West Coast Premiere: Jim Beloff's Ukulele Concerto

Jim Beloff & Santa Monica High Orchestra - YouTube:

Backed by the Santa Monica High Orchestra, Jim Beloff performed the west coast premiere of his ukulele concerto Uke Can't be Serious yesterday. Nice, Jim!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Ultra Wide Neck Ukulele Kickstarter -- Deadline Today

Aldrine and our good friends over at Ukulele Underground have designed this innovative solution for players suffering from Large Finger Syndrome, or LFS.

Watch their Kickstarter video today. Starts and ends today, so don't miss it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Uke-A-Thon! - Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Please join me and a whole bunch of ukulele fanatics at the Uke-a-Thon! celebrating the centennial of the Pan-Pacific Exposition, the event that set the mainland afire with Ukulele Fever.

Saturday, February 21, 2015
Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda
3:00 to 4:30pm
Free (register here)

Details at the link. Hope to bump into you there! And don't forget your uke!


Sunday, February 08, 2015

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Post-Xmas Jump Start Classes

Is Santa bringing someone you love a ukulele for Christmas? I'm teaching my second annual I Got a Ukulele for Christmas workshops on Saturday, December 27th at Lamorinda Music, in beautiful Lafayette, CA. One for kids, another for teens and up! Link

On This Christmas Eve - Rachel Manke

A little Christmas present for all our dear readers, courtesy of Rachel Manke. An old Mills Brothers tune, On This Christmas Eve.
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