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!

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