Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Jake at The Knitting Factory

Aloha, New Yorkers, mark your calendars for January 10, 2004. Jake Shimabukuro will be in performance at The Knitting Factory at 7:00pm. Word is that the following day, January 11, Jake will conduct an 'ukulele workshop. More information on the Fleamarket Music Bulletin Board or email the Hawai'i Cultural Foundation for reservations. Link Discuss

The 560 Ukes of Keith Bramer

Nice local article on a San Jose artist who has managed to amass a collection of over 500 'ukes. Link Discuss

Japanese Ukulele Museum

This is either a museum or sombody's incredible collection. It's in Japanese, but the pics are worth the trip. Link Discuss

Ukulele TV Documentary Opportunity

Hans van Dam, maker of the fantastic resource, the Ukulele Chordfinder is shooting a TV documentary about how ukers use the Chordfinder. If you're on the Big Island, drop Hans an email.

"Dear Ukulele Friends,

To promote our (non-profit) activities we want to broadcast a documentary on Dutch Television on how people all over the world make use of the Ukulele Chordfinder. In the period of December 28th 2003 until January 9th 2004 we will be visiting Hawaii the Big Island, birthground of the Ukulele.

Which of you ukulele friends wants to tell/show/explain us something of your ukulele activities on the Big Island. We will be hounered to meet you on the Big Island in the above mentioned period and shoot some scenes for our TV documentary. Please send us a reply if you are willing to help us out on this.

Mahalo on behalf of the Sheep-entertainment team, Hans van Dam"

Discuss (via ukulelestan)

Now Boarding: Ticketed 'Ukuleles Only

Legendary 'ukulele player Eddie Kamae was forced to buy a ticket for his 'ukulele on a recent Hawaiian Airlines flight. Bizarre. I carried my soprano 'uke and case on a recent trip from Oakland to Atlanta and the only comment I got was from an ex-pat Hawaiian guard at security who pointed to my case and asked, "Kamaka?" Maybe Eddie was packing a tenor.

Anyone else ever have to buy a ticket for their 'uke? Link Discuss

Monday, December 29, 2003

Hey, Kids: Write and Essay, Win a Uke!

Uke Jackson is sponsoring a monthly contest for schoolchildren living in the Delaware River Watershed. Sez UJ:

"This contest is meant to promote an ecological appreciation of the Delaware River watershed while supporting the development and exercise of children's writing skills and overall literacy.

Each winner will receive a new ukulele with a solid spruce top. The school of each winner will receive a storytelling and music assembly program, performed by award winning storyteller and musician Uke Jackson."
Link Discuss

Friday, December 26, 2003

The Hekili Collection

Nice collection of vintage ukes. Link Discuss

Janet Klein at The Silent Movie Theatre

Announcement the Jewish Journal today (12/26/03):

"Shhh! Today and tomorrow, the Silent Movie Theatre presents “The Silent Picture Show.” Legendary 91-year-old theater organist Bob Mitchell and singer and ukulele player Janet Klein provide the sounds, while Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, the Little Rascals and Felix the Cat provide classic visuals. $10-$15. 8 p.m. (Dec. 26, 27 and 28), 2 p.m. (Dec. 28). 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Hollywood. (323) 655-2520."
Link Discuss

Ukulele Building Video/Fundraiser

Ken Potts, Maui luthier and maker of some of today's most heralded 'ukuleles says:

"Aloha, Happy Holidays. Rudy Aquion and I have put together a nice video of building an uke from start to finish. More importantly, all of the proceedes from this video will go into interest bearing accounts for the children of the late GREAT Dennis Pavao. Dennis passed away at age 49 and left 6 kids behind, age from in diapers to 14 yrs old. The video also includes a fair amount of Hawai'ians playing ukulele both solo and together. All of them donating their time and effort for the cause. Very enjoyable video for a very worthy cause. DVD format also available. $40.00 includes shipping and handeling. Much thanks to all who have helped and who will help."
To order, call 808-667-0759 or email here. Link Discuss

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I'll See You In My Dreams

With the recent release of the George Harrison tribute concert "Concert for George" on DVD, a lot of folks in ukuleleland have been asking for the lyrics and chords to "I'll See You in My Dreams," which was performed by Joe Brown on uke. Jim Beloff's "Ukulele Gems" songbook has a great, easy arrangement. Here's a fine arrangement online as well. Link Discuss

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Jake's Tutu Wins $8.9 Million!

I vote she uses it to found the Shimabukuro Ukulele Academy and Performance Hale. Any other ideas? Link Discuss

James Hill - On the Other Hand

Canadian Uker James Hill dropped us this note about his latest CD:

"'On the Other Hand' is a bold new move for me - it's all very minimal (one `ukulele and one bass is as thick as it gets) and I've written the majority of the tunes on the album. Essentially I wanted to make a statement, to take a risk and to get back to the essence of the `ukulele as a solo instrument.

All the info is available at my website along with news updates, photos and a bunch of audio samples."
Check it out. The CD features a swinging arrangement of the Inspector Gadget theme. Link Discuss

Saturday, December 20, 2003

New Home for the Ukulele Community Album

For some time, ukulele hero "Catfish Carl" has hosted a site featuring portraits of various members of the ukulele community. Carl's album now has a new home. You can find it at the following link. (Catfish, you're the greatest.) Link Discuss

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Ukulele Crack Repair

Gryphon Stringed Instruments' master luthier Frank Ford takes you on a step-by-step journey into ukulele crack repair. For those of us among us who are mere mortals, I think it's safe to say "do not try this at home." Fascinating, nonetheless. Link Discuss

Howlin' Hobbit

Just in time for the premier of "The Return of the King," here's Howlin' Hobbit's site. Lots of great uke information, tips, and freebies--even ukulele haiku.

Wonder how to say "my dog has fleas" in Elvish... Link Discuss

Ukulele Jukebox - Volume 3

Yet another great stocking stuffer: The Ukulele Jukebox - Volume 3 is now available. It's a sort of "open source" project of the the ukulele community, and produced by The 4th Peg.

If anyone has definitive info on how and where to purchase volumes 1 and 2, please leave a note in the discuss link. Link Discuss

Fleabag Songbook

Here's a swell stocking stuffer to accompany that uke you're putting under the tree this year--and it's free! Compliments of the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum. (I'm sure a membership in the Museum would make a welcome gift as well!)

"The Fleabag songbook, a collection of ten public domain songs arranged for the ukulele, was created through the volunteer efforts of a handful of ukulele playing musicians, artists, and teachers. The project is inspired by the need for a common collection of ukulele tunes to allow players of all levels to play together at ukulele events (like the Ukulele Expo!). The Fleabag will be published by the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum and offered for sale in a print version, and as a free download..."
Link Discuss

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Now here's a story I'd like to share. Over the past couple of years, I travelled to Honolulu on business about once a month. And while I love Hawaii, it's really hard to be away from your family and working while everyone else is on vacation.

One night, I was walking down Kalakaua in Waikiki and stopped to listen to a gathering of seniors who were playing ukulele and steel guitar in one of the picnic shelters that line the beach. I stood and listened for a while, regretting that my uke was back in my hotel room.

The leader announced that one of the players would hula to "Little Grass Shack," and when she laid down her uke, I asked the leader if I might sit in. Without missing a beat, the dancer handed me her uke. I checked the tuning, and it was way, way off, so I started to tune it up. "No, no! Stop!," several players said at once. The leader winked at me and whispered (in a voice that reminded me of the great Ed Wynn), "Never tune another person's uke."

A bit embarrassed, I sat down, joined in, and ended playing along for several joyous numbers. As the little goup packed up, I introduced myself to the leader, a ukulele teacher named Stan. He gave me his card and invited me to play with them whenever I was in town. Then the other day, while I was searching for something else entirely, Google returned a link to a blog called Ukulelestan.

At first, I thought it was some arch reference to Radio Free Blogistan. Then I clicked through, and who did I find, but Stan himself, ukulele teacher, leader of the little Waikiki troupe--and now, blogger!

So with much aloha to Stan and his merry band, indulge me in a little thought for the new year. I've thought back to that night many times, and have come to realize that I learned a great life lesson that night.

You know, you really shouldn't tune another person's uke. A guy once told me, "You'd sound really good if you were in tune." I've never forgotten the sting of that remark. And I don't think he meant it the way it came out. But there it was, and I felt ashamed.

On the other hand, you know, when you pick up another person's uke and it sounds out of tune to you, you might very well be holding the instument of a great slack key ukulele player, who just might know much more than you ever will. You really cannot tell for sure.

So for 2004, let's all make a resolution not to tune anyone else's uke, and make it a wonderful year.

Mahalo, Stan--and you, too Nancy for letting me borrow your uke. Hau'oli Makahiki Hou! Link Discuss

Uke-Playing Santa Aloha Shirt

Just in time for the holidays, here's a nifty aloha shirt from Hilo Hattie featuring Santa kicking back on the beach and playing his uke. Okay, I'm only posting this in case my family or friends check the blog before Christmas. I've been very good this year... Link Discuss

Doug Skinner Onstage With Bill Irwin

White Knuckle Sandwich ukulele player and occasional Blather contributor Doug Skinner is currently onstage in New York with, imho, the greatest living clown, Bill Irwin. Doug plays uke in the show, which is enough of an excuse for anyone within stumming distance of NYC to make haste and catch the show. If you've never seen Bill or Doug, you HAVE to see them. Link Discuss

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Ukulele Strummers

This is such a great site and I keep forgetting to blog it. Ukulele Strummers is built and maintained by Clint, a ukulele teacher and member of the South Bay Strummers on the Big Island of LA (as Clint sez). It is chock full of resources: music theory, chords, downloads, teaching aids, and some cool strummer merchandise. Plus lots of SoCal event info. Bookmark this site. It's a keeper. I'll add it to our directory. Link Discuss

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Ukulele Player Inspires Novel About Orson Welles?

Story on the NPR site today about how a photograph of a young actor playing a ukulele tricked out to look like a lute in Orson Welles's 1937 production of Julius Caesar inspipred Robert Kaplow (aka Moe Moskowitz) to write his new novel, Me and Orson Welles. Kaplow tracked down the actor--Arthur Anderson--who still has the uke. Link Discuss

Friday, December 05, 2003

Beatles Ukulele Marathon Info Online

As promised, here's a link to details of the event, this Sunday, December 7, 2003. It's a benefit event to raise funds to benefit Paul and Heather McCartney's work against landmines. (Oh, and check out John's odd chord fingering in the photo. That's a lot of work for an F7+5!)Link Discuss

Thursday, December 04, 2003

If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies

Official Ukulele Sweetheart Zooey Deschanel has been getting a lot of notice of late for her appearance in the holiday movie "Elf." As we've reported earlier, Zooey also plays ukulele in a band called "If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies." I've finally found some pix of IATSWPB in performance. Sadly, not a uke in sight. But plenty of snazzy shots of Zooey and partner Samantha Shelton from a gig at Maxwell's at the Argyle in LA from June of 2003.

Has anyone heard them in concert? Link Discuss

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Ukulele Christmas Music and Tabs

To help you strum your way through the holidays, make everything merry and bright and all that, we've collected all the Ukulele Christmas music and tabs links here in one place.

From Risa, makers of the swell Uke Solid
Compiled by Jerry Dallal
From Dominator
From John King
From Joseph Todaro, father of the Akulele
Mele Kalikimaka!

If you know of any others, please drop us a note or leave a link in the discussion area. Mele Kalikimaka!

William H. Macy, Ukulelist

One of Jim Beloff's recent newsletters had a photo of William H. Macy stumming his uke. Here's an interview with Macy in which he talks about playing the uke. (Acutally, I've pasted the whole reference below, but if you're a WHM fan, it's a good interview.)

"Q: What are you listening to right now?

"Macy: Jim Beloft (sic). I’m crazed for ukulele. I started playing ukulele about four years ago, and matter of fact when we get home, on Monday night I’m doing a breast cancer benefit and I’m playing a song that Jim wrote and, oh God… Oh God, I still don’t know the words…"

Link Discuss

Monday, December 01, 2003

Beatles Fans Watch This Space!

Uker Roger Greenawalt is organizing a Beatles Uke-a-Thon for this Sunday 12/7/03 in Brooklyn, NY. Evidently they're going to play some 200 Beatles songs and you are invited to sign up for a slot. Roger is sending us more details and we'll post them as soon as we can. Until then, save the date and start tuning up your Fab Four Strings!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Burning Uke!

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz has way more fun than they should. And here's proof. For their recent weekend campout in Big Sur, club members fabricated an enormous scale replica of a Martin O soprano. Then, in an homage to Burning Man, set it aflame. Following is a link to more pix on Catfish's Ukulele Community Album (which is always worth a visit).

Please, someone, add more links and information about this to the discussion area! Gee, I wish I lived closer to you guys... Link Discuss

Friday, November 14, 2003

Bill Tapia in Concert November 15

From today's Honolulu Star Bulletin:

"Bill Tapia, 95, who learned how to play ukulele by listening to his Hawaiian neighbors on Sereno Street, says that modern strings are much easier to work with than the gut strings he learned on before World War I. Tapia will be performing with Makana and Tau Moe tomorrow at Hawaii Theatre."
Link Discuss
'Ukulele Crime Wave Continues!

This time it's a 50-year-old Martin 'ukulele from Puanani Alama's hula studio. Link Discuss

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Scoundrel's Steal Uncle K's 'Uke

From the Honolulu Advertiser this morning:

"A baritone 'ukulele made for the Hawaiian composer and musician, stolen from his Kaimuki office during the weekend, has his name inlaid on the face of the instrument.

"The 'ukulele, handmade by craftsman K.C. Young in 1974, is one of a kind and easily recognizable, Lake said."

Link Discuss

Update 11/14/03: 'Ukulele returned--no strings attached (literally!) Link

Friday, October 10, 2003

Amazing Ukulele Books!!

I have to tell you. This is the damned most amazing thing I have found in my search for "ukulelia."

Santa Cruz, CA bookbinder and ukulele player Peter Thomas (in collaboration with his wife, Donna) have made an entire series of playable artbooks out of ukuleles.

"One day I thought to myself, "I love to make books and I love to play the ukulele. Can I put these two loves together? Can I make a book out of a uke?" After I made the first one, I thought, "How many more can I make? Each one will have to represent a different book structure, format or concept and each will still have to play...."
There are 22 pieces in the series thus far including the one pictured (jeez, it was hard to pick just one to feature!): Ukulele Series Book #13 The Ukulele Jam, 2002.
"This uke, which was once part of some sort of mechanical calliope, was sawed in half lengthwise. The halves were attached by hinges on the back, with a hasp on the back of the headstock to hold it shut. Small chambers were created in each half and a tall narrow book is inserted in that chamber. The book is coptic bound, with boards covered in Moroccan leather with colored leather picture onlays. The book is a "exquisite corpse" book with interchangeable heads, torsos and legs for 15 different ukulele players."
Peter and Donna are looking for a venue to show the ukulele books, so if you have a lead on a gallery, give them a ping. And, dang, they're not for sale...yet. Link Discuss

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Aloha! Looking for the Beatles Uke Site?

Burt Lum wrote a very nice article about Ukulelia's sister site, BoingBoing, in the October 7th Honolulu Advertiser. We usually get about 50 to 60 hits a day. Tuesday we got nearly 800.

Oh, if you're looking for the Ukulele Beatles site, it's over in the right hand column. Aloha! Link Discuss (Mahalo, Burt!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Uncle K

Great profile from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of Kahauanu Lake, baritone ukulele player, and a true pioneer of Hawaiian music.

"As a musician, he took the lead in bringing the baritone ukulele into the Hawaiian music mainstream by playing a custom-made instrument designed with a low bridge and thick back.

"He elevated the basic technique of strumming to an art form while also demonstrating the importance of going beyond simple chords. He bucked tradition with arrangements in which the ukulele defined the melody rather than the rhythm of a song, helping the humble uke make the leap to lead instrument rather than a sidekick to the guitar or piano."

Link Discuss

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Better Living...Through Plangency!

Yet another example of how the uke makes you smart...Link Discuss

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Midwest Ukefest

While we're talking Key Strummers, be sure to mark your calendar for the Midwest Ukefest, October 31 thru November 2, 2003 in Indianapolis. It's being hosted by those lovable Hoosiers themselves. Everyone from Beloff (Jim and Liz) to Bayless (Pops) will be presenting and teaching. Visit this link for more information and inspriation. If you're within 1,000 miles of the Missisippi, you HAVE to go.Link Discuss

Key Strummers to Perform at Memorial

WRTV reports on memorial services for Indiana Governor O'Bannon:

"Seven governors and most of Indiana's congressional delegation are scheduled to attend a public, interfaith service to be held on the Statehouse's west steps Friday.

"Former first lady Judy O'Bannon said she wants the service to reflect the kind of man her husband was. Personal touches will especially be reflected in the music.

"Performers will include the Circle City Sound Barbershop Chorus and the Key Strummers, a group of children who play novelty jazz on ukulele. O'Bannon was particularly fond of barbershop music and of the Key Strummers, who come from the Key Learning Community in Indianapolis."

Link Discuss

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Jake on Hawai'i TV, September 17

From today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

"Jake Shimabukuro's summer concert adventure in Japan will be highlighted in a special half-hour show, "Jake Live in Japan," airing on KHON-2 from 9:30 to 10 p.m. tomorrow.

"Jake Live in Japan" will also be rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on KHON-2."

Link Discuss

Sunday, September 14, 2003

C'mon People Now, Smile on Your Brother...In Kealakekua, Hawai'i

In scouring the Web for interesting bits of ukulele culture, we frequently run across stories in which legendary musicians and guitarists cite the ukulele as the instrument that they cut their teeth on. (Dick Dale, Chrissie Hynde, and Joe Strummer as a short list for starters...) More recently we've run across players like Eddie Vedder and the late George Harrison who picked up the uke after earning their wings as ace guitar players. Now here's our latest discovery--and what a great story.

Jesse Colin Young, folk rock icon, co-founder of the "No Nukes" movement, and it seems, world-class dad, loses almost everything to a fire in Marin County, California, then moves to Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Plants coffee, writes more songs, and, when he finds that there is no ukulele instructor for his kids' school, teaches himself to play and volunteers to keep the flame alive. He's reportedly about to release an album that will have a major ukulele focus. He's dedicated profits from an earlier CD to The Kona Pacific School, the local Waldorf School, and is working hard to raise money for a new facility.

Spend some time on his site to learn more about this remarkable man. His music page features a short video clip of Jesse playing "My Little Grass Shack," and a downloadable mp3 of his song, "Aloha e," which he wrote as a fond farewell to those lost on 9/11. Bet he makes a great cup of coffee, too. Link Discuss

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Lord "Uken"?

Well, he may not have been Lord Lucan , but he did play the ukulele! (Okay, so it's a slow day for ukulele news...) Link Discuss

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Uke Film Oddity

"The greatest film ever made"? You decide. But Sid Laverents's "Multiple Sidosity" is the only amateur-made film included in The Library of Congress's National Film Registry. And it certainly sounds cool:

"The movie opens in Sid’s living room as he and his wife Adelaide are enjoying Christmas. Sid opens a bulky present as she looks on...it’s a reel to reel two track recorder! After his wife chides him to save the ribbons he starts experimenting. He uses a metronome and records himself whistling and playing ukulele...Then the magic happens: we hear a brilliantly executed multi-track recording of the peppy song “Nola” (all instruments and singing done by Sid...).

"And accompanying the music are visuals that for decades have astounded and confounded the rare audiences that have seen this film. Whenever a new instrument or verse is introduced, by use of inventive black mat multiple exposures, we see two, four and eventually ten little heads of Sid playing different instruments simultaneously...

"This brilliant, joyous film is almost impossible to describe. All I can do is vigorously urge you to see the movie any way you can."

Screen shots from the film are here. Sid is still around, and you can order a copy of his films from him directly (address, etc. at this Link.) Discuss (via bananaslug)
Concert for George

Press release today about a George Harrison tribute film to be released theatrically on October 3, 2003,

"Rock music's most celebrated musicians gathered at Royal Albert Hall in London on Nov. 29, 2001, to pay tribute to one of their own, the legendary George Harrison, on the one year anniversary of his death. On that magical night, Harrison's closest friends gathered to perform a collection of his music for a live audience. Concert For George is far more than a concert film; it is a soulful cinematic tribute to a musician whose vision transcended the ordinary and whose talents contributed to a revolution in the music industry.

"Under the musical direction of Harrison's longtime friend Eric Clapton, the film captures an emotional gathering of musicians such as Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston and Ringo Starr. Truly a rare moment in music history, this documentary showcases these legends of music not likely to perform together on the same stage again."

Paul McCartney plays ukulele (presumably on "Something," which he's played regularly in concert recently) and, although the release does not say, I'll bet that you'll see Joe Brown on uke for "I'll See You in My Dreams." Link Discuss

Monday, September 08, 2003

Jennifer Foster

Meet Jennifer Foster, a Toronto-based performer whose early musical experience included playing in a ukulele group in New Brunswick.

"'I was a ukulele extremist. I just loved it so much and stuck with it for years, but it was such an uncool thing to do and carrying it into the junior high every Tuesday became too traumatic and I quit...'

"Now in Toronto, and playing to slightly more discerning human audiences, Jennifer offers up her jangly pop blend on guitar and treats them to a little crowd-pleasing ukulele rock. What was once the stuff of teenage angst is now the hook behind one of the album's most lively tracks, Ukulele Dropout.

"'That song is really about the big lesson in my life - be unique, do your own thing.'"

Link Discuss (via Bananaslug)
2003 Southern California Uke Festival

Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual Souther California Ukulele Festival, Saturday, October 18, 2003 in Cerritos, CA. Following the festival there'll be a luau and evening conctert featuring Janet Klein, Ian Whitcomb, King Kukulele and Kaulana Ka Hale Kula 'O Na Pua 'O Ka 'Aina. Lots more information on the festival site. Register now and save money, too. Link Discuss

Friday, September 05, 2003

Ukelooza This Sunday!

If you'll be in the Seattle area this Sunday, you won't want to miss the 3rd (I think) annual Ukelooza at Re-bar. I hadn't seen any announcement pop up on the web, so I pinged Carla Schricker at Re-bar. Carla replied:

"Hi Gary! Thanks for writing! As a matter of fact, I just found out last
night that Ukelooze IS happening THIS SUNDAY at Re-bar!...

...The doors open at 6.30pm, and the show starts at 7.30pm. It's $10, and
there'll be a raffle and other great stuff."

Here's a link to an announcement for last year's event. The Re-bar site is here. Oh, and please note: 21 and over only (sorry, kids). Discuss (Thanks, Carla!)

Friday, August 29, 2003

Aloha Music Camp

Slack-key artist Keola Beamer and other members of the Beamer 'ohana operate an annual camp on Moloka'i with workshops on 'ukulele as well as slack-key guitar, hula, and the Hawaiian language. Sign me up! Here's a recent article about the camp, too. Link Discuss

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Bruddah Iz Memorial

In the SF Chronicle this morning, Annie Nakao writes about sculptor Jan-Michelle Sawyer's work on a bronze memorial to the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.

"Iz, having been larger than life in Hawaii and around the world, might have approved, I somehow think. Bare chested, except for two fishhook necklaces around the neck, this image in bronze is quietly majestic, massive in its presence, just as Iz was. The eyes are focused slightly downward at the middle distance, as if they are trying to see the horizon.

"I wanted him to face the ocean," said sculptor Jan-Michelle Sawyer, who calls both Hawaii and the Sierra town of Nevada City home. "I also wanted him to be looking to the future. Keep looking forward. That was always his message to young people."

But first, Sawyer will have to get him home. Fund raising has so far collected $10,000, but that's just half of the total cost of the casting, the pedestal construction and the preparation of the site in front of the Wai'anae Neighborhood Community Center, where the sculpture will be dedicated. Sawyer donated her work on the bust."
Donations to help complete the memorial are being accepted by The Friends of Bruddah Iz (P.O. Box 2217, Ewa Beach, HI, 96706). Link Discuss

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Jake's Latest CD

Jake Shimabukuro's latest CD, "Crosscurrent" was released in the US this week. It's been available in Japan for almost two months. Here is a link to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's review, including audio clips of three cuts from the CD. Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" is particularly hot. The CD features Jake's arrangement of Chick Corea's "Spain," which I've heard Jake play live and which is outstanding. Here's a link to a related article. Link Discuss

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Wit and Wisdom from Ian Whitcomb

Check out the last paragraph from this column by Bruce Bellingham. What the heck--read the whole thing.

I can't say it better than Joseph Wambaugh: "The smartest thing this country ever did was to give Ian Whitcomb a green card." ...
Link Discuss

Monday, August 18, 2003

New Axes From Tony Graziano

Ukulelia pal John Pivarnick was up at the Guitar Festival in Healdsburg, CA this weekend. He reports that ace uke luthier Tony Graziano was on hand with several interesting projects, including an in-progress Rickenbacker-style ukulele. Rock on! Here are links to some photos: Picture 1 and Picture 2 Discuss (Thanks, John!)

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Nihon Ukulele Association

Here is the official site of the Nihon Ukulele Association, an organization for amateur players in Japan. There is a message board for Japanese players and information on jam sessions. Be sure to check out the History of NUA and the biography of Yukihiko "Harry" Haida, Japan's "Father of Hawaiian Music." (Harry's given name was "Haruhiko," which he later changed to Yukihiko. Do you suppose that he changed his name during WWII because of the association with Hirohito? I know that Harpo Marx changed his given name from Adolph to Arthur about the same time. Or is "Yukihiko" a reference to "ukulele?" If anyone knows the answers to these questions, please post a message in the discussion area.) Link Discuss

Tiki King Rules!

In his ineffable benevolence, His Royal Majesty, Tiki King, has established an online ukulele school for his loyal subjects on his swank site. Don't miss the handy downloadable transposing disk in the "Tools Corner."

All for free! Golly. Why is he not on the ballot for governor of California? Link Discuss

Ukes on Public Radio

Nice story on ukuleles that aired on WRNI's "Focus Rhode Island" program. Click on the archive link for August 8, 2003. Then click on the icon indicated to play the show. Fast forward 44 minutes and you'll be at the segment on ukuleles. Link Discuss

Bruce Shimabukuro

Article in Sunday's Honolulu Star Bulletin about Bruce Shimabukuro, Jake's younger and apparently just as talented, charming, and big-hearted brother. Link Discuss

Friday, July 25, 2003

33rd Annual Ukulele Festival This Weekend

Roy Sakuma's annual Ukulele Festival is this Sunday, July 27th at the Kapiolani Bandstand in Waikiki. Check out this line-up:

Ohta-San, Ernie Cruz, Jr., Raiatea Helm, Ledward Kaapana, Frank DeLima, Troy Fernandez, Danny Kaleikini - Emcee, Yuji Igarashi (Japan), Brittni Paiva (Hilo), Hiram Bell (CA), Keale Ohana, George Matsushita (Japan), Bill Tapia (California), Yasuhiko Ariga (Japan), Kaoru Kohnoike (Japan), Roy Sakuma 800-Piece Ukulele Band.

Here's a link to a related story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Strangely enough, this year it's the "Starbucks" Ukulele Festival. Now if Starbucks would just sell Dale Webb's cool Flea uke and play ukulele music... Link Discuss

Friday, July 11, 2003

Jake of the North?

A great article about James Hill in advance of tonight's performance in Waikiki:

"James Hill is being called "the Canadian Jake Shimabukuro." It seems only natural to make that comparison. Both Hill and Shimabukuro and James Hill are in their 20s, with a keen interest in pushing the envelope as ukulele virtuosos."
Link Discuss

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Get on the Plane. NOW!

Ohmygod. Krakatoa's explosion is going to look like a burp compared to what is going to happen tomorrow (Friday, July 11, 2003) at the Sheraton Waikiki. Get this: Jake Shimabukuro, James Hill, Kenny Boy DeLima (and swell kid, Kapena), Herb Ohta, Jr., Paul Luongo AND the FREAKIN' Langley Ukulele Ensemble. If some dormant volcano on Oahu doesn't erupt tomorrow, then I'm switching to dulcimer. Man, where are my frequent flyer records...? Link Discuss

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Speaking of Kings...

Jim Tranquada writes:

"You really ought to have a link to John King's NALU Music site. John, a classically trained musician who teaches at Eckerd College, is a renaissance man who is not only the most distinguished ukulele historian alive today, but a remarkably gifted performer who is pushing the boundaries of what the ukulele is capable of. His site is a great collection of history, music, photos, an interesting forum, and cool stuff to buy. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to note that John and I are co-authors of an article on the early (pre-1915) history of the ukulele that will appear in the forthcoming issue of the Hawaiian Journal of History."

Well, we've blogged items from the NALU Music site in the past, but I've now added a permanent link in the "Ukulele Information" section in the right hand column. Lots of great stuff there. And we'll look forward to reading that article when it comes out! Link Discuss
(Thanks, Jim!)

Friday, June 27, 2003

Ralph "King of the Ukulele" Shaw in the Press

Nice article profiling Ralph Shaw. Includes a link to a low-fi clip of "Yes Sir, That's My Baby." Link Discuss

Monday, June 23, 2003

BBC Reviews TUOoGB

Nice article from the BBC about The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

"We are always ready to perceive pomposity where it exists, and it's very hard to be pompous when you're playing the ukulele."
The group's Web site has been updated, too. Link Discuss

Friday, June 20, 2003

"Rock That Uke" Rocks Baltimore

Ukumentary "Rock That Uke" receives its Baltimore premiere this Saturday. Live performances follow by Carmaig De Forest and Songs from a Random House. Link Discuss

Monday, June 16, 2003

Mainland Style Workshops

Hey, y'all. Joel Eckhaus, ukulele virtuoso, former student of Roy Smeck, and the master luthier behind Earnest Instruments will be teaching workshops on mainland style playing July 13 though 18 at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia. Note: they've misspelled ukulele on this site, so you'll want to search on "ukelele" if you're so inclined. Link Discuss

Friday, June 13, 2003

La Klein in La News

Nice article about ukulele chanteuse Janet Klein. Link Discuss

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Online Hawaiian Mele Lessons

Kamehameha Schools is offering distance learning classes in traditional Hawaiian mele (songs) via a unique combination of online materials and radio broadcasts. "Nahenahe: Sweet Melodies of Hawai'i" is taught by Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier. Lessons are broadcast on Hawaiian 105 KINE. No registration is required, and it's free! You can listen to archived lesson broadcasts here. There's a complete songbook with ukulele chords in pdf format here. This is an amazing program! Don't miss it! Link Discuss

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz's next meeting is June 19th. Oliver Brown in concert, and meal specials for all you hungry ukers. Email Andy Andrews for more information and to sign up for their mailing list. Discuss

If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies at Maxwell's

Actress and ukulele goddess Zooey Deschanel's band will play Monday, June 16th at Maxwell's at the Argyle in West Hollywood. If anyone goes, please send in a report from the field. Bonus points for digital pix we can post here on Ukulelia! Link Discuss

Hawaiian Steel Guitar CD

Dave Stewart, who earlier released the MP3 compilation "Waikiki is Good Enough for Me" has now released a compilation of 234 Hawaiian Steel Guitar 78s on one MP3 CD. "Rhythm of the Waves" is playable on any computer/CD/DVD player that can play MP3s. That's right, folks, over 10 hours of vintage steel guitar recordings by the likes of Sol Hoopii, King Bennie Nawahi, and Roy Smeck for about 3 cents a minute. Information on ordering the CD is on his site, along with a complete discography. Link Discuss

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Cool Story, Dude

Fun article by surfing champ Corky Carroll about the dude who wasn't his sixth grade teacher, but would have been if he hadn't been such a screw-up in fifth grade. The teacher gets a great deal on an ukulele that was used by some haole at a funeral. (Corky's also the voice of Grungy Grouper on Spongebob Squarepants.) Righteous. Link Discuss

Jake's Two-hand Strum

One more Jake blog for you. Check out his two-handed strum. He demonstrated this for the ukulele players in the audience last week at Chai's. You cradle the neck of your ukulele with your left arm, then alternate up and down strums with both hands. Oh, right, and then you just have to play like Jake. Link Discuss

Congratulations, Jake!

At the 2003 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in Honolulu last week, ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro won 2 Hokus for Instrumental Album of the Year (for "Sunday Morning") and Favorite Entertainer of the Year. The Hokus are the local equivalent of the Grammys.

I happened to be on vacation in Hawaii at the time and caught Jake at Chai's Island Bistro the following night. It was a huge fete, with Jake presenting leis to his ohana (everyong from his recording company's executives to his ukulele teacher, Dr. Trey, were in attendance). Champagne flowed and we all toasted Jake with a traditional "banzai!" What an incredible night: he played everything from Okinawan folk music to Beethoven and Lennon/McCartney. My wife and kids--who are generally lukewarm about all things ukulele--were spellbound. We left after two continuous hours of playing and he was still going strong. Wonder how long his wrist held out. Don't miss him if you have the chance! Link Discuss

Kate Bush vs. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Kate Bush has allegedly banned The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain from releasing its arrangement of "Wuthering Heights" on their new CD. Cheeky! Link Discuss

Friday, May 23, 2003

UPDATE: New Uke New York
The New Uke New York festival begins tomorrow night at Joe's Pub. Here is a link to the Public Theater's site. Click on "Now Playing at Joe's Pub" for more information.

Also, (at left) courtesy of White Knuckle Sandwich is the New Yorker cartoon that recently ran with the festival blurb.

Finally, here's the (slightly snide) announcement that ran in the NYTimes today:

NEW UKE, NEW YORK, Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, East Village, (212) 539-8777. Hard as it is to believe, there are people who take the ukulele seriously, or at least seriously enough to play it for other people. A two-night festival includes current pop songwriters along with people reviving the four-stringed instrument's Hawaiian heritage. Tomorrow's lineup includes the Moonlighters, who write anachronistic ballads and swing-style tunes that Bliss Blood (formerly of the Pain Teens) sings without a hint of campiness; J. Walter Hawkes, who plays trombone along with ukulele; and the country-flavored King's County Queens. Sunday's bill includes the Conservationists (with Brian Dewan); the Haoles, a New York band devoted to Hawaiian pop; and the Honey Brothers. Tomorrow and Sunday night at 6:30; tickets are $15 each night or $25 for both.
Link Discuss

Thursday, May 22, 2003

SoCal Trad Music Festival
The California Traditional Music Society will hold its 21st Annual Summer Solstice Folk Music, Dance and Storytelling Festival on June 20-22, 2003 in Calabasas, CA. This year the theme is Hawaii, with a focus on ukulele performances and workshops. And check out the cool festival logo designed by Mindy Lee. Sort of Franz Marc-meets-Piet Mondrian-meets-Tiki King! Link Discuss
Ukulele Patent Museum
Ukulele virtuoso and historian John King's site has an entire page of ukulele patents. Everything from the ridiculous (uke destroying capos) to the sublime (Sam Kamaka's Pineapple). Link Discuss

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Stars and Stripes Uke
Michigan luthier David Talsma crafted this lovely flag-draped soprano. A little eye candy for you, just in time for Memorial Day. Link Discuss

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Enthusiast Alan Johnson has created this little site that seems to be growing nicely. I learned about it several weeks ago, but waited to blog it until there was enough information to make a visit worthwhile. Check out the Music Room where you'll find a couple dozen downloadable pdfs of ukulele arrangements. The Parlor Room contains a discussion board. Link Discuss
Meet Marzipan!
I'm probably the last person on the planet, but I've just discovered Homestarrunner.com, a hilarious cartoon site. One of the characters is Marzipan, a ukulele-playing lass. Here's a link to a video called "The Luau" Great fun! Discuss
Professor Joel Eckhaus shared the bill with Yoko Ono at Maine College of Art's recent commencement ceremony. That woulda been something to see. Well, that, and the chairman of the board of trustees singing an a capella rendition of Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up." Sounds like a cool school! Anyone's mom and dad take a video?
Link Discuss

Monday, May 19, 2003

A New Ian Whitcomb Songbook!
Ian announcez: "The Cat's Meow", my long-awaited third ukulele songbook/CD which contains songs from the movies, 'The Cat's Meow' [directed by Peter Bogdonavich and starring Edward Herrmann and Kirsten Dunst] and 'Last Call' plus lots of other Roaring Twenties favorites (and obscurities). To launch this book we're having a concert at The Coffee Gallery's Backstage venue right here in Altadena." Ian's books are great, so I'm looking forward to this one! The event is Saturday, May 24 at 8pm. Cost: $15 (cheap). Address and reservation information here. (I've listed the table of contents in the Discussion link.) Discuss
Ukuleles in Wonderland?
Recently, one of the fine folks over at the Flea Market Music Bulletin Board happened across this photograph taken in 1860 by C.L.Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. It shows Ina Liddell (sister of Alice, who inspired Alice in Wonderland) playing a decidely uke-like instrument. Taken in Victorian England years before the ukulele's "birth" in Hawaii, the photo sparked a lively debate about the identity of the instrument (a machete, mayhaps?) that quickly evolved into a discourse on semantics (semantics?). To read the discussion at Flea Market, use the Bulletin Board search function to look up "Lewis Carroll". The photo in question can be found here. Another of lesser quality of all three Liddell Sisters can be found here. Discuss

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Check out this hawaiian glossary and you'll know your way around the 'ukulele from ka puka to ke kaula o luna loa. Link Discuss

Friday, April 18, 2003

To support their swell "Ukeblitz" educational outreach program, the Key Strummers have published a companion songbook to their CD, "Are You Havin' Any Fun?" The songs in the book are in the same order and key as the CD so you can play along. Plus some surprise bonus songs! The songbooks are available for a $7.00 donation + $2.00 shipping. Contact Key Strummer director
Geoff Davis
for details; info on the CD is posted on their web site. Link Discuss

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

See if you can guess who this young uker is, then click through to Catfish Carl's Ukulele Freakshow to see if you're right. Lots more inside the tent...This way, folks! Link Discuss
Frank Ford, luthier extraordinaire and publisher of frets.com has posted a gallery of photos of Kamaka's "Ohta-San" model 14-fret concert ukulele. These are sweet ukuleles and have a great tone, but I still don't have the hang of playing with a low G-string. (Okay, commedians, I've set you up with the perfect straight line. I expect some good retorts in QuickTopic.) Link Discuss
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