Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ukulele on a Wire, 1929

From the amazing Moving Image Research Collections at the University of South Carolina, here are outtakes from a 1929 Fox Movietone newsreel showing tightrope walker Jimmy Terry walking 39 (45?) stories up between two buildings in Chicago.

Jimmy plays the ukulele and sings "I ain't gonna walk ropes anymore" to the tune of It Ain't Gonna Rain No' Mo' at around 7:30. Keep watching for the moment when he drops the uke.

The full Movietone newsreel plays from 10:30 on.

Link to Video

Image of Jimmy Terry's walk from Modern Mechanix, January, 1930

Friday, March 17, 2017

Real Ukulele Hero

98 year old Tom Boardman crafted a ukulele out of Red Cross boxes and telegraph wire when he was a prisoner of war in Thailand during WWII.
A TV program(me) featuring an interview is scheduled for this weekend. If we find video, we'll update this post.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Popuband Smart Ukulele Exceeds Crowdfunding Goal in One Day

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact on the popularity of ukuleles this automated teaching instrument will have. As a teacher, I'm conflicted. Just so long as they don't promote bad habits that I have to un-teach. Or maybe I should look at that as job security!

Watch out guitarists. They're coming for you next. Heh, heh. Link

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017


New workshops (and soon-to-be-released book) from Daniel Ward:

For the last year, Daniel has been writing “studies”.  If you are someone who has dipped their toe into classical music, you know that these can sometimes stand alone as solo performance pieces (think Villalobos) or be exercises to strengthen your playing (like Hanon for piano). Daniel’s split the difference.  They are simple pieces to play in loops, beautiful to listen to, calming and centering to play. Students and festival workshop participants have been enthusiastic about them, so he’s working on putting them together in a book.
Read more about upcoming workshops Here

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Obituary For Lyle Ritz

The Honolulu Star Examiner has a nice remembrance of jazz ukulele legend, Lyle Ritz. Link

UPDATE: Here is a story on Hawaii Public Radio. Link

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Aloha, Lyle Ritz

Word reached us today that ukulele legend Lyle Ritz has died. Until we can find a fitting obituary, here is a link to his Wikipedia page. Lyle Ritz - Wikipedia

Tiny Tim Was a Hockey Fan

Who knew? And a Maple Leafs fan, at that. Link

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ukuleles at the South Pole!

Check out this video tour of the scientific station at the South Pole. At 2:19 there is a tour of the music room, which features at least three ukuleles.

We see a blue Dolphin Makala, a mystery tenor and a Vita-Uke model of unknown make. Maybe an Ohana? But it would be super cool if an original Vita-Uke was being strummed at the bottom of the world.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Antebellum Instruments: 1952 Regal "Tara Guitar" Baritone Ukulele

While we're chatting about Wendell Hall, here is a rare instrument that was mentioned by The Red Headed Music Maker in one of his method books. There's some speculation that Hall coined the name Tara Guitar and was associated with Regal's manufacture of them. (Regal did make WH signature ukes.) Despite its name, it's a baritone uke, but Wendell recommended tuning it E-A-C#-F#. Lots of fine pics at the link, along with some historical commentary in the comments section. Link

It Looks Like Rain: Frank Ferera, Ukulele

Apropos of this weekend's stormy weather. From the UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive, here is Frank Ferera on ukulele backing up Ernest Hare singing Wendell Hall's comic song, It Looks Like Rain. (Which I'm guessing is an attempt by Wendell to follow up on the success of his It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'Link

Would you like the original sheet music? Ok. Here.

How about It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'? Oh, alright.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Jake Shimabukuro On Pedals

At an earlier time in his career, Jake Shimabukuro eschewed effects, going for a purer sound. He's now returned to the world of pedal effects, albeit with a more mature approach and considered curation.

This interview is worthwhile watching if only because it's to hear Jake speak about something other than the old tropes that every interviewer drags out.

Video at the Link

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lil Rev GoFundMe for New CD

Got a nice note from Marc Revenson, aka Lil Rev, who is launching a GoFundMe fundraiser for his next recording.
Sing Song Daddy is a collection of 15-20 original tunes composed for ukulele and voice, with accompaniment. The songs speak of love, loss, redemption, renewal, blues, friendship, polarization, compromise, contemplation, labor history, ukulele madness, humor, miracles, the vaudeville era, civil war, and so much more. Some are songs i have danced around with out on the road and others are fresh from pen to paper. None of them have ever been recorded before. This record will pick up where Happiest Way To Be Sad left off but with a whole lot more true grit, back road, no holds barred, take no prisoners kind urgency that has been our life the last couple years. 

Here's the GoFundMe Link.

If you're a fan of Lil Rev, please consider supporting him. If you've never heard of Lil Rev, where have you been? Here's a YouTube video to whet your appetite.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Top 50 Ukulele Sites