Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy Birthday, Tappy!

We wish Bill Tapia a very, very happy birthday tomorrow (January 1, 2005): 97 years of proof that playing the uke makes you handsome, charming, and enduring.

Much aloha to you, Bill! Link

Frisky Frolics

Our latest find, courtesy of a review of a documentary film about the band in the East Bay Express. From the band's official bio:
"The Frisky Frolics are a wily 5-piece, ukulele-driven outfit specializing in long-forgotten musical gems of the 1920-30’s. These self-described Tin Pan Alley Troubadours have lovingly mined through their 78 record collections and come up with a lively and varied set of songs, combining favorite familiar standards such as 'Louise' and 'Paper Moon', with obscure and novelty numbers like, 'Cake Eatin’ Man' and 'I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate'.


Voted “Best Band for the New Depression” by the Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay, 2001 and; SF Weekly Wammie Nominees, the Frisky Frolics continually perform their “new” musical discoveries to a growing legion of enthusiastic fans from their home base, The Rite Spot in San Francisco."

Link

And While We're Singing "Happy Birthday"...

Happy 3rd B-day to these dudes.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

News From the North

Manitoba Hal sez:
"Hi everyone!

Just a quick note to let you know that the website for the Great Canadian Ukulele Expo has been updated. The site has been changed to reflect the new year, photos from last year have been added, proposed lineup for this year is online, proposed outline of events is online, a list of hotels in the Winnipeg area (close to the expo), how to get to Winnipeg if you want to attend and more.

Surf on by and take a look!

Hal"

Link

Sweet Mama "T"

Looks like Janet Klein might have some friendly East Coast competition. Meet Sweet Mama "T", aka Lauren Thompson. She and her Red Hot Sugar Babies are appearing tonight, December 30, 2004, at Tressa's Downtown Jazz and Blues in Asheville, NC. (Btw, one of the aforementioned Sugar Babies is noneother than Lin Llewellyn of Hula Cats fame.) Link

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

All of us here at Ukulelia wish you and your family the merriest of Christmasses. We hope that Santa drops a new uke in your stocking tonight...or at least a pitchpipe or new set of strings!

If you're playing Santa this year, please be sure to let your uke-gift-recipient know about Ukulelia and the wealth of information about ukuleles freely-available on the Web.

To quote the original Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one".

Peace,

Mark Frauenfelder and Gary Peare

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ukulele Poo Na Na

Manitoba Hal sez:
"This will be the site of all the updates for the upcoming Great Canadian Ukulele Expo 2005 May 7, 2005. I will be posting new information about the expo, info about the ukulele circles at Sled Dog Music and notices about upcoming ukulele events in the Winnipeg area. Uke on everybody!"
Link

Ukulele Disco Holiday Show Update

Uke Jackson sez:
"just thought to let you know that, while last night's streaming was a bust, jason tagg has posted clips from the midnight ukulele disco tv show on line...


Happy Everything to Everybody!


uke jackson



Non-Profit Seeks Uke Donation

Attention Colorado ukers: Spellbinders, a non-profit storytelling organization, is seeking the donation of ukulele this holiday season. Now you have an excuse to buy another one! Contact Al Dietsch locally at 922-1444 or via email. Link

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas Ukulele Disco

Sonic Uker Jason sez:

"Hey its Jason ... not sure if the Ukulele Disco 'spam engine' :P is working so I though I'd send another quick note to say that we're doing a special Christmas Ukulele Disco tonight. The live webstream and chat board should be up and running too if you want to join in live :)"PS. Ted's doing Jingle Bells and naked ukelele guy ...



9.30pm Tuesday Minnesota

10.30pm Tuesday New York/Philadelphia/Ohio

3.30am Wednesday UK

4.30am Wednesday Paris

4.30pm Wednesday New Zealand"

Link

Tim's 'Tonight' Nuptials

Oops, we missed the 35th anniversary of Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki's wedding on the Tonight Show (December 17th)... Link

Monday, December 20, 2004

"Grow Old With You"

One of the Web's best places to find uke arrangements, Ukulele Boogaloo has a nice version of Adam Sandler's "Grow Old With You" from "The Wedding Singer." Link

Also, only one day left to enter the Uke Boog Sweepstakes!

Bill Robertson's Wife in the News

"The Rock" behind "Rock that Uke": nice profile of Bill Robertson's wife, Claire Pomeroy, Dean of the UC Davis Medical School, in the Sacramento Bee today. Link

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Big Ed's Band Foundation


At 6' 3'' and 345 lbs., Edwin Mulitalo may literally be the biggest thing in ukedom since Bruddah Iz. The uke-playing Baltimore Ravens guard established Big Ed's Band Foundation, which supports instrumental music programs in the Baltimore area.

Next Tuesday, Ed will be a guest performer at Dunbar High School's Annual Christmas Concert:


December 21, 2004

7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Dunbar High School

1400 Orleans Street

Baltimore, MD

Be sure to check out the Photo section of the foundation's site for pix of Ed and his intrument of choice. Link

Friday, December 17, 2004

Kalaka Ensemble

This morning's amazing find? A Hungarian band with a serendipitously Hawaiian-sounding name. The Kalaka Ensemble sets poetry (by Hungarian poets as well as others) to folk arrangements. One of their records, Ukulele, has as its title track, a setting of the poem by Tibor Simko. (Although, what I'd like to learn is Hol a Nadragom?.) Link

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Uke Jackson and Friends Webcast

Uke Jackson sez:

"The Delaware Water Gap Ukulele Guild, with special guests, will
broadcast a live holidaze set on WNTI 91.9 FM in Hackettstown NJ,
Tuesday [today!] at 3 pm Eastern US time. It can also be heard live webcast by
clicking WNTI.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Amber Nash

Amber Nash, a uke musician, has a new site, with music and photos. Link

John King - Profile

Bananaslug served up this nice little profile of classical uke virtuosos John King today. Link

Saturday, December 11, 2004

$22 Uke Kit

 Grizzlycom Pics H H3125Make a uke from this $22 kit. I might get one of these and give it a custom paint job. Link (Thanks, David!)

UPDATE: Once you buy your kit, be sure to check out Dom's experience building his here.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Hanapepe Dream

Taj Mahal has been touring around with his Hula Blues Band in support of his CD Hanapepe Dream.
"All-Acoustic String Band Sound Features Taj's Signature Slack-Key Blend of the Blues and Pacific-Caribbean-Island music. The American release of Hanapepe Dream offers bonus video footage including live performances of The Calypsonians and The New Hula Blues. Stereophile wrote, "Taj Mahal's genius is in seeing the unlikely connections between disparate genres, and on My Creole Belle he seamlessly adapts Mississippi Hurt's country blues to a ukulele arrangement. The beautiful melody has a swaying, antique character in this ingenious setting.
Check out the track samples at this link, especially Jimi's Along the Watchtower and Hurt's My Creole Belle. The latter seems to be Hurt's arrangement of this tune (chorus with lyrics is on index page 7).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Baby, It's Cold Outside

In the charming holiday move Elf, ukulele sweetheart Zooey Deschanel croons "Baby, It's Cold Outside," which prompted me to think that this would make a swell uke duet. Here come the lyrics and chords. Link

Mayes Ukes

Check out the inventive (and patent pending!) compensated saddle on John Mayes's ukuleles.
"The C, E, and A strings resting on a fully angled/compensated saddle the intonation will be spot on, but here is the best aspect. The G string will rest on either a forward or rear positioned, user moveable, small saddle to allow for correctly intonated high and low g tunings on one instrument. And since I’ve filed for a provisional patent you can only find this saddle design on Mayes Ukuleles. Now you can switch between high and low G tunings without sacrificing intonation."
You have to look closely at the Features page on John's site to see how this works, but what an elegant solution! Tune it or die! Link

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Seven Degrees of Bill Robertson

I'm a big fan of the Coen Brothers' and Sam Raimi's films. We were watching Miller's Crossing last night and as the credits rolled I caught a familiar name: Rock That Uke Daddy Bill Robertson, who, it turns out, has done voice work for several Coen and Raimi films.

Let's hope that Bill's paean to the uke inspires Joel and Ethan to do for the ukulele what they did for Old Timey music with O Brother...!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Or Maybe They Were Smokin' Mistletoe...

Ah, it seems Santa's elves may have been nipping the eggnog again this year. And what to our wondering eyes do appear, but these amazing, one-of-a-kind beauties:
A Jack Skellington Nightmare Before Christmas Camp Uke from Dave Talsma
The Creature From the Black Lagoon Uke, also by Dave (More pix on Frets.com)
The Bacon & Eggs Fryingpan Uke from Tony Graziano
And for the Jack Sparrow on your list, this Pirate Uke, also by Tony
Excuse me. I've got to revise my letter to Santa...

Bernard Viguie

The New Yorker recently profiled Israeli-Dutch singer and songwriter Keren Ann. Apparently several of her tracks feature ukulele backing (what The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones calls "the least depressing instrument known to man") provided by Bernard Viguie. (About the only thing I've been able to learn about Bernard is that he is primarily a left-handed bass player.) You can hear a brief clip of his playing on Spanish Song Bird on Keren Ann's CD Not Going Anywhere. If you know any more about Bernard, please drop me an email.

Petty Booka Tonight (12/6/04)

If you're in or around the San Francisco Bay area, tonight is your last chance to catch the Petty Booka Christmas Show. The Japanese Uke-Pop duo will be appearing at Biscuits and Blues at 8:30. Old Puppy opens. Link (Thanks, Otto!)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Jumpin' Flea Circus Players

Here's a new uke club in Los Angeles that I know nothing about other than that they've got a great logo. (Of course, as a circus guy, I may be a bit biased...) Link

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ukulele Christmas Music, 2004

Time to hang the mistletoe and get ready for all the adoration sure to come your way when you serenade holiday revelers with your uke. Here for your convenience are direct links to just about every Christmas song imaginable (or at least those that we could think of and find on the Web). Browse around and you're sure to find chords, lyrics and tabs (tablature) for your favorite novelty song or carol.



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 (low G arr.) from Mark Occhionero!
From UFO of Marin
From The 4th Peg
From Ukulele Boogaloo
Courtesy of Fleamarket BB Posters, tips for jazzing up Jingle Bells!
From The Guitar Guy, Christmas Standards

If you know of any others, please drop me a note. Mele Kalikimaka!

Stocking Stuff!

Here's the perfect stocking stuffer for the Ukulele Ike fan on your "nice" list this year! Check out the whole line of Ukulele Ike Fan Club merch from the folks over at The 4th Peg. Link

The Case for Holiday Generosity!

Roy T. Cone is selling spiffy new uke cases on UkuleleWorld.com. Sez Roy:
"Most uke cases look like they were designed by a Mortician. And the uke is a fun instrument and sticking it in a blaw looking case just don't seem right...."
Shown at left is "The Islands" model. Also available is a blue denim model and the tres retro "Tin Pan Alley" model wrapped in hemp-colored canvas. All feature plush lining and would make a great holiday gift (no gift wrapping required!). Link (Scroll down)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Christmas Songs

Stay tuned, watch this space and all that as I'm compiling an updated list of places around the Web where you can score free lyrics and chords for all of your holiday favorites. In the meantime, check out Dominator's music page. And don't miss his swell version of "Christmas Island." Link (For last year's list of songs, check this page.)

The Ukulele Solo Recipe

Uke-Solid Citizen Rigk Sauer has released a book/CD combo perfect for the budding solo-ukulele player on your Xmas list. "The Ukulele Solo Recipe" lays out the fundamentals for arranging your own uke solos and features arrangements for 11 songs (impress your friends with "Peter Gunn!); the CD includes midi files to practice along with. Link

Monday, November 29, 2004

Can Uke Beat That?

Who knew that Johnny Ukulele's son has been Nevada's Poet Laureate since 1967? Sadly, his reign appears to be coming to an end. Link

Esera Tuaolo's "Silent Night"

NFL veteran and ukulele player Esera Tuaolo has released his first Christmas single, "First Christmas." The CD features a bonus track of Esera playing the uke and singing "Silent Night"--including a verse in Esera's native Samoan. It's currently streaming in the background of his site here. Partial proceeds go to charities!

Billy "Uke" Scott: R.I.P.

British performer Billy "Uke" Scott has died at 81. Link

Friday, November 19, 2004

UOOGB at BITE

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is featured as part of the Barbican International Theatre Events in London, November 18-27, 2004. Cheers! Link

New Eddie Kamae Biography

Award-winning author James D. Huston has just written a new biography of Hawaiian music legend and ukulele maestro Eddie Kamae: "Hawaiian Son: The Life and Music of Eddie Kamae".
"HAWAIIAN SON is the story of an extraordinary musician whose influential career has spanned over half a century. As a young man in the late l940s Eddie Kamae developed a jazz picking style that forever changed the status of the 'ukulele. He became its reigning virtuoso. For twenty years his legendary band, The Sons of Hawai'i, played a leading role in the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance. By the mid-1970s Kamae himself had become a folk hero, known for his instrumental genius and for a vigorous singing style that carried the spirit of an ancient vocal tradition into the late 20th century. In l979 he was named 'A Living Treasure of Hawai'i."
And get this, Houston's book rates a pull quote from W. S. Merwin, no less:
"Eddie Kamae is a living treasure of Hawai'i, one of the rare links with the traditions of Hawaiian music that have come down to us through the generations . . . . To have an eloquent and meticulously presented account of his life and outlook, his views on music and the life of which it sings, is something to be grateful for."
Grateful, indeed. This will undoubtedly be the year's "must have" for any uke afficiondado. I know that since I'm taking the family to Disneyland for Xmas, Santa will surely leave a copy under the tree for me this year (hint, hint, family). Link to James D. Houston's site (be sure to check out his complete works). Another story in Waikiki News about the book's release.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Poison Ivy of The Cramps with a custom uke

Beau Vine sez: Just thought your readers might dig seeing this picture of Poison Ivy of The Cramps with a ukulele!

It's just a cheap Hilo that I airbrushed for her, but she really got a kick out of it.  I gave it to her after the concert last night at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA.  It turns out that, just by coincidence, she had bought Jumpin' Jim's Visual History of the Ukulele two days earlier.  What a trip, huh!

Link

Pikachuke

joematango sez: My 8-year-old son knows that the easiest way to get me to spend money on the Pokemon stuff he craves is to entice me to get out the credit card for something I can't resist. So he pointed me here.

Link

Friday, November 05, 2004

Ukulelia ukulele

I wonder if this is just a coincidence? Take a look at this cute plastic girl's ukulele from Japan called the "Ukulelia." Link

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Portland Ukulele Association's growing membership is testament to the tiny instrument's popularity

Here's a nice article about the Portland Ukulele Association.

is a notably good-natured group of people -- which may be a function of playing an instrument that is small and cute. They don't indulge in uke jokes at Portland's Pioneer Music -- they save those for banjos -- but the description for one uke suggests that, "if you're taking yourself too seriously these days, there's no better cure than playing a uke."


Link (Thanks, Stefan!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Midnight Ukulele Disco show tonight!

======================================================
>From the Heartland: Circleville Ohio's 98th Annual Pumpkin Show
======================================================
Time Warner: Channel 67
RCN: Channel 113
Free to air: Channel 16
Live stream: http://www.mnn.org/
Archive at: http://www.ukuleledisco.com/
======================================================

Tonight, Tuesday the 26th, we're bringing you a special episode of Midnight Ukulele Disco - all the way from Circleville, Ohio ... home of the Pumpkin Festival !
We'll take in the sights with Ukulele Man Tom Harker. Don't miss this one.

Sneak preview at: http://www.ukuleledisco.com/eldorado/

We'll be taking calls live on-air at: 212 757 1538. Or, send us an email to read on air at live@ukuleledisco.com

Tom Harker explains how to view the live stream tonight...

To watch the show live on the internet, follow these steps (you might want to run through this early to see if you have the necessary software):

1. Go to: http://www.mnn.org/
2. On the page there is a link to a free Real Player software if you need it.
3. Click on the rectangle that encloses Ch. 67
4. Real Player will come up (if not, you can go to the download link below the Ch. 67 rectangle.)
5. Sometimes (even if you have Real Player), you may have to go back and click on the Ch. 67 rectangle again if it doesn't work right at first. I usually try to get it all set up a little early.
6. The screen will be small, but can be made bigger (bigger, though, is less clear).
7. The show lasts a half hour.

If you miss the live show, check out the archive at http://www.ukuleledisco.com/

Friday, October 08, 2004

A Guide to Ukulele Chords

Curt Sheller has a new book out called a Guide to Ukulele Chords, with an introduction by James Hill. Link

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Saturday, October 02, 2004

"How To" Ukulele FAQ

The folks over at Flea Market Music have posted a new section featuring answers to the most-commonly asked questions about all things ukulele. "The FAQ File" contains a wealth of knowledge about ukulele history, tunings, tune-ups, and more. Link

It's Raining Ukes!

At least it soon will be. Mark your calendar for the 1st Annual Portland (Oregon) Ukulele Festival, which will be held November 5th & 6th 2004 at the Multnomah Arts Center in Portland. Co-sponsored by the Portland Ukulele Association. Link

Friday, October 01, 2004

Tiki: Not Tacky

Fun article in today's SF Chronicle about the resurgence (yea!) of Tiki Culture and evidence of same in the San Francisco Bay Area. Interviewed is Tikimeister Otto Von Stroheim, who has mounted a show, "Tiki Art Now" in conjunction with The Shooting Gallery in SF. Featured in the show is a tiki uke created by none other than his Feztanic Majesty, Tiki King. (Note: King Kukulele will be performing at the closing night party on October 8, 2004.)

Man, all this talk about Martin Denny has convinced me that I want a clip from "Little Grass Shack" by Bliss Blood's exotica combo, Voodoo Suite, to be the ringtone on my cellphone. (Now if I could only figure out how...) Link





Thursday, September 30, 2004

Baseball to Bring Harmony Back to Washington?

With the recent announcement that the Montreal Expos will relocate to Washington D.C. next season, we learned that the Washington Senators' Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, Bob Wolff, is a kindred soul. Back in the late '50s, Bob was instrumental in prompting several players to suit up as the "Singing Senators", with Bob backing up on ukulele.

In today's Washington Post, Bob signalled his willingness to suit up again:

"Wolff, who strummed a ukulele on long train rides, coaxed some of the team into harmonizing one night. Roy Sievers, Jim Lemon and other Senators actually appeared on the "Today" show in 1958, crooning for a full 45 minutes. Ballplayers in a barbershop quartet on NBC. Honest.



You ask Wolff if he is interested in play-by-play work again, given that he still works part-time for a cable station on Long Island, the Madison Square Garden network, and is going on his eighth decade in the business.



"No, when my daughter started calling airplanes 'bye-bye Daddies,' I knew I needed to stop traveling," he said. However, Wolff said he will reprise the Singing Senators, but only if Jose Vidro and Livan Hernandez can sing or need spare cash. 'Oh, I'm ready to come back with my ukulele.' "

It'd be nice to have some more talented Singing Senators for a change, wouldn't it? (Photos) Link (free subscription required)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Sonic Uke Broadcast Tonight (9/28/04)

Sonic Uke sez:

From 8pm-9pm ET (New York) tonight we'll be broadcasting live on the web from the stoop of the Murray Spaceshoe. Check it out at http://www.sonicuke.com/stoopcamlive



The broadcast uses Quicktime ... the free plugin is available as a download from Apple Computer, for Macintosh and PC at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download



Then, at 10.30 we return to MNN for the first of the second season of Midnight Ukulele Disco. Tonight, our special guest is Howie Leifer. Don't miss his inspired uke-puppetry !



Mary Anne plans to join Ted from the stoop; Syd is working on a new song; the Incredible Uke has a new feat of strength; and rumour has it the Naked Uke guy may return ...



Midnight Ukulele Disco

==============

Tonight, 28th September 10.30 ET

Manhattan Neighborhood Network

Time Warner: Channel 67

RCN: Channel 113

Manhattan free-to-air: Channel 16


or streaming live on the web at: http://www.mnn.org/

Archives of past shows are at Ukulele Disco. Link

Monday, September 27, 2004

David Gunnarsson Ukes

Swedish artist David Gunnarson paints amazingly beautiful masks for pro hockey goalies. And an occasional ukulele. Shown here is the "Bebopalua" uke he painted for Gyllene Tider's Per Gessle. It's a replica of George Harrison's self-painted 1965 electric guitar (a photo of which you'll find at the link). Be sure to check out Gunnarson's "Hardrocker" design, too.

(You may have to poke around on David's site a bit to locate the photos. In the left hand nav, roll over "Art of Dave" and click on "Section 2". On the dropdown button that says "choose category here", select "misc". Or look for a button for the George Harrison tribute ukulele on the right hand side of the site.) Link

Midwest Ukefest

You need to be Back Home Again in Indiana at the end of October for the Second Annual Midwest Ukefest. Hosted by Geoff Davis and those irrepressible Key Strummers, this year's festival runs from Thursday, October 28 through Sunday, October 31, 2004 in Indianapolis. Don't miss it! Link

SoCal Ukulele Festival This Saturday

Load up your Woody and head to sunny Cerritos this Saturday, October 2, 2004 for the 3rd Annual Southern California Ukulele Festival. Take the kids, your parents, the slacker neighbor kid who plays the guitar... Link

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Shimabukuro: Hendrix of the Ukulele?

Personally, I like to think of Jimi as the Jake of the guitar... Link

Santa Cruz and Hawaii: Separated at Birth?

I envy folks that get to live in Santa Cruz. There are at least 300 uke players in the vicinity. There's the beach. There's the Boardwalk. And you can almost taste the hot dogs and french fries they sell... Link

Monday, September 20, 2004

Tiny Tim and Mr. Plym

Proving that, once again, legitimizing the ukulele remains an uphill battle:
"There are three people in this world who under no circumstances - WHATSOEVER - do you wish to be informed about what went on in their bedrooms.

The first two are your parents.

The third is Tiny Tim, the world's only Depends-wearing, falsetto-trilling ukulele master, who died in 1996.

That's what makes the new tell-all book by his Des Moines manager, "Tiny Tim and Mr. Plym: Life as We Knew It," as repulsively engrossing as watching a boa constrictor gulp down live rats."
Link

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" by Andy Ihnatko

Here's an MP3 of Andy Ihnatko's sweet rendition of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows." Also, Andy will be speaking at the Soho Apple Store in NYC at 8 PM this Saturday. He's bringing his Fluke and will be performing there! Link

Friday, September 10, 2004

Jack Johnson Ukulele Charity Auction

Uke-totin' fans of Jack Johnson will want to check out this auction which benefits the Power to the Peaceful concert tomorrow, September 11, 2004, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Bidding starts at $300. Link

Friday, August 27, 2004

Florida Today's article on the ukulele revival

Nice article about the uke revival. If you are a uke aficionado already, you won't learn much from reading this, but heck, I'm not one to pass up an article about my favorite instrument. Link

Monday, August 23, 2004

Aloha, Dad Peare (1918 - 2004)

Dear Readers,

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I've been away from the blog for the past two weeks, attending to my dad, who passed away on August 13. I took my ukulele with me back to Detroit and spent a lot of nice, reflective time playing and singing to Dad at the hospital. At the end he was very tired and slept most of the time, but he seemed to like the music, and it seemed only right to sing him to sleep with songs from his glory days.

The last song I sang for him was "I'll See You in My Dreams", which I chose not because of the George Harrison memorial connection, but because Dad's cousin was married to Saxie Mansfield, a tenor sax player who played with the song's composer, bandleader Isham Jones. I remember Dad recalling how several times when he was a kid, he woke up and went downstairs to find the Isham Jones Orchestra crashed in his parents' living room. Imagine having to step over Woody Herman to get to the kitchen!

So, farewell, Dad. I'll see you in my dreams...

'Uke Birthday Celebration Tonight in Honolulu

From today's Star-Bulletin:
"Today is "Ukulele Day in Hawaii," honoring the 125th anniversary of the islands' musical icon.



From 7 to 9 p.m., a ceremony recognizing the day will be held in the renovated Mission Memorial Auditorium, located on the Civic Center Grounds, makai of the State Capitol and between Honolulu Hale and the Sky Gate sculpture.



The anniversary also commemorates the Honolulu arrival of the Barkentine Ravenscrag, a Portuguese ship that departed from Madeira, bringing 419 Portuguese men, women and children to settle in Hawaii. Aboard the Ravenscrag were the men who invented, built and popularized the ukulele.



A stellar lineup of entertainers will be demonstrating the many ways that the ukulele can be played, from traditional Hawaiian to Tin Pan Alley and jazz numbers.

If you're lucky enough to go tonight, send pix!

Link

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Happy 125 birthday, ukulele!

Nice Honolulu Advertiser article about the ukulele's 125 anniversary. Link (Thanks, Chris!)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Rock That Uke screening in Hollywood CA, August 14

Bill Robertson sez: "Just a heads up that ROCK THAT UKE is screening in Hollywood, CA, this Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Arclight Theater. Showtime is 2:00 pm. The promised post-screening pool party concert fell through, but there will be live uke performances outside the theater in the Arclight Courtyard! Unconfirmed report (read: to my knowledge they haven't been asked yet!) is that Larry D. and RTU featured artist King Kukulele will be on hand with a third performer I haven't met yet! for more info, check out the Don't Knock the Rock Film Festival." Link

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Jake Shimabukuro profile

Jake Shimabukuro is profiled in this brief article, "Ukulele master seeks respect for his 'toy' instrument" in the South Florida Sun-SentinelLink

Friday, August 06, 2004

Update on Los Gatos uke concert August 13

I recieved this email this morning:

Just when you thought things couldn't get any better...

Today I have the honor and pleasure of announcing that Ukulele Lady and her Aloha Style Band shall be playing with us at Ukulele Night next Friday, August 13 at Borders Books in Los Gatos!!!

This means that the final official lineup is as follows:

-Tiki King
-Oliver Brown
-Beau Vine
-The UkeAholics
-Ukulele Lady and her Aloha Style Band

Each act will play for approximately 20 minutes.

You do not want to miss this event. The ukin' will start at 8:00 PM but parking can be a bitch so leave yourself plenty of time.

Borders Books is at 50 University Drive in Los Gatos, California.

Link

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Uke box project

Paul Overton's step-by-step guide to making a nifty gift box out of a cigar box and a ukulele sheet music cover. Link

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Hulabilly - Red Hot Hawaiian Western Swing-a-lulu

Rob of Hulabilly emailed me with a fine treat -- a free song by his band! He writes: "Hope all is swell. Just wanted to let you know that
Hulabilly has been working on new material and we just
posted an MP3 for The People. A little rough, but if you don't mind, then we don't either. Enjoy! Link

Ukes in Yachats - September 24 & 25

Jim sez: "Tickets are now on sale for Uke In Yachats, September 24th and 25, 2004 in Yachats (YA-hots), Oregon on the central coast.  Uke jazz master Lyle Ritz headlines the festival and we've just added Canadian uke virtuoso James Hill to the bill." Link

Curt Sheller's Uke Books

Curt Sheller has written several ukulele instructional books:
QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Ukulele - Volume 1
QuickStart Scale Fingerings for Tenor & Baritone Ukulele - Volume 1
Advanced Guide to Ukulele Chords - Volume I,
Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Ukulele - Volume I
Link

2004 San Diego Ukulele Festival is August 28 and 29

I wish I could go to this! Link

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Midnight Ukulele Disco Tonight

This just in from Sonic Uke:


Midnight Ukulele Disco

Tonight, Tuesday 3rd August
10:30pm
MNN Manhattan Neighborhood Network
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Time Warner channel 67
RCN channel 113
Free-to-air channel 16
live stream at: mnn.org
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this week:
- special guest, M. David Hornbuckle, on banjo-uke
- Eve of Mass Destruction
- Ukulele Rapture II
- more Uke (in)Sanity
- unexpected guests
- live call-in 212 757 1538

Check out clips from previous shows at Ukulele Disco


Monday, August 02, 2004

Folk Uke

If I've Googled this correctly, Folk Uke is a duo comprised of Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson. That's Guthrie (left) as in Arlo; Nelson (right) as in Willie! They have swell T-shirts for sale on their site, but apart from a (probably) NSFW song on the homepage, not much clue as to their repertoire. Link

Friday, July 23, 2004

San Diego Uke Festival

Mark your calendar for the 2004 San Diego Ukulele Festival, August 28 & 29, 10-5 at the Coronado Playhouse Pavilion, 1335 First Street Coronado, CA , at the Ferry Landing. Call (619) 435-4856 for information or send an email inquiry here.


Starbuck's 34th Annual Ukulele Festival

If you're on Oahu this weekend, you cannot miss this annual event on Sunday (July 25, 2004) at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand (Waikiki), 10:30 am - 1:00 pm. Free. Check out this line-up:

Grammy award R&B vocalist James Ingram

Ohta-San

Uluwehi Guerrero

Daniel Ho

Troy Fernandez (of the Ka’au Crater Boys)

Keale Ohana

James Hill (Canada)

Yuji Igarashi (Japan)

Da Hawaii Seniors Club of Cerritos (California)

Kaoru Kohonoike & KK Hawaiian Groove (Japan)

Rocky Brown

Roy Sakuma 800-piece Ukulele Band


Nice profile of festival founder/sponsor Roy Sakuma yesterday in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, too. Link







Thursday, July 22, 2004

King David Ukulele Station

For our Francophile readers (and Robert Crumb, in case he frequents the blog), here is a uke-blog from France! Link

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Anahola Ukes by Michael Sussman

Ukulele Earle wrote to tell us that Michael "Mickey" Sussman is making ukes again. Not being familiar with his work, I emailed Mickey. He sent along a photo of this spectacular double-necked model and a nice note:
"thanks for the email. and it is true i am making ukes again. hope you like the pic. this instrument really sounds incredible, much more than expected, and is very easy to play. unlike the double neck guitar i made for Roland Cazimero, because its so small. am considering making the soundhole smaller however not much smaller as this uke has a hugh, rich sound that i don't want to restrict. my good friend larry ramos, of the new christies and the association, is having me make the next, with a spruce top. larry, or "little larry" as he is known here, won the aurther godfry ukulele contest when he was 6 yrs old and after that the family moved to calif. and the rest is history. i'll be getting more pics on the website shortly. mahalo for the inquirery and come visit if your ever on the island..."
Who could say no? Link (Thanks, Ukulele Earle!)



A Really Smart "Idiot Stick"

Here's a spiffy electric travel uke that the luthier made using a piece of ash and a cheap Radio Shack piezo buzzer. Needs a better name. Sounds good, though... Link


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Ukes in Yachats Site

When I was in Oregon a few weeks ago on vacation, we went to Cape Perpetua. While there, a charming lady from the interpretive center noticed the uke in backpack and my Kamaka T-shirt. We did a bit of uke-chatting, and I mentioned that a fellow--whose name I spaced on--was planning a uke festival in Yachats later this fall. "Oh, that has to be Jim D'Ville!"

I asked Jim for an update on the event, and he sent me this link to the event site. Did he know who the lady was that I met? "I don't know who the person at the Cape was, but heh, I'm the only uker in town."


Bruddah Iz Gets Belated Buzz

Wired News's Katie Dean reports:

"Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" has consistently been on iTunes' list of the top 100 songs sold since it debuted in the store in December. Recently, the song held spot No. 73, ahead of Jessica Simpson's "Take My Breath Away" (81) and Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" (82). "

His CD Facing Future is also the number one selling album among Microsoft employees, according to Amazon. Link

Monday, July 19, 2004

Jack Johnson on New Donavon Frankenreiter Tune

My darling wife (who will now regret that she ever told me) pointed me to this new song ("Free") by Donavon Frankenreiter that features Jack Johnson on ukulele. Enjoy! 


Aloha From Bill Tapia's Former Bandleader

A month or so ago I received some wonderful correspondence from Ken McCaulou, aka "Kenny McCall", leader of the Oakland-based "Kenny McCall Orchestra" (pictured left). Sez Ken:

"Billy was in my band in '52,'53,'54 when we did a weekly live remote show from The Ali Baba Ballroom in Oakland over San Francisco Channel 7.  He played guitar and steel mostly, but I used to feature him playing his Ukulele and singing on the front edge of the bandstand with a coconut hat. He got most of the fan mail !  He uses a picture of that scene with my band for his promo material still today...

"I'll contact the documentary film people about Bill Tapia and some of the zany musical acts we did with him. If he keeps playing I'm sure he'll make it past 100. I'm supposed to go down for his birthday party on New Years Day.


Ken still plays today in The Certificates, a Bay-Area-based swing band that recently released their first CD (available on their site).

"I'm doing more playing of Uke than I do my Sax and Clarinet nowadays. I'm teaching it to my 7 year old grandson and I took him to Santa Cruz Uke Festival last month to be with Billy and he won the Martin Ukulele being raffled !!"
(Lucky kid!)
"I imagine you follow all the good stuff Jim Beloff  is doing for Uke playing just like I do. Nice reading your comments."
Well, thank you, Ken!












Smeck Night Review

Joe Holmes wrote us with his review of the Roy Smeck tribute night last week:
Alan Edelstein showed his half-hour Oscar nominated documentary (Best Documentary, Short Subjects, 1986) titled "Wizard of the Strings." The tiny room at the back of Barbes was filled to capacity with about 35 people, a few packing ukes.

The film was delightful, with clips of Smeck performing on film in the 1920s and interviewed in 1983. It was a treat to see Smeck paying in his early 80s, accompanied on guitar by Mel Bay (!). Gene Autry appeared to explain what a big influence Smeck was on cowboy stars of the era.

Edelstein explained to the Barbes audience that he'd been a fan of blues and other niche music in college and was surprised to discover a recording by Smeck, whom he'd never heard of. He found Smeck in the phone book, living in Manhattan, and was delighted to discover that Smeck had preserved a trove of old films -- at that point Edelstein knew he had a documentary. At the same time, Edelstein and his partner found Smeck frustrating as a documentary subject -- like many old-time and vaudeville performers, Smeck repeated favorite anectdotes and was not very reflective for the camera. Smeck died in 1994, but Edelstein stayed in touch with his widow, Kay until her death.

After the film, guitarist Elliott Sharp performed some of his compositions -- there was little connection to Smeck, but Sharp was as amazing as always.

Thanks, Joe!

Y Pants Reissue

Gail Vachon, formerly of the band "Y Pants" wrote to let us all know that their early recording has been reissued and that (yea!) there's plenty of uke on it. The CD is in its second pressing and can be purchased here. (Thanks, Gail!)


Thursday, July 15, 2004

Nigerian scammer rips off ukulele seller

A Nigerian fraudster used a fake check to swindle money from a ukulele seller in Hawaii. Link

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Smeck Tribute Night in Brooklyn

Joe Holmes pointed us to an evening tribute to Roy Smeck Thursday, July 15 at Barbes in Brooklyn, NY:
A special tribute to ROY SMECK: Vaudevillian, master of the soprano Ukulele and all around entertainer with a special screening of Alan Edelstein's documentary: Wizard of the Strings presented by the director - with Elliott Sharp and more performers tba.
Link (Thanks, Joe!)

Rummage Through The Crevices

A recent Down Under link to Ukulelia:

"Rummage Through The Crevices is a weekly community radio segment (Friday mornings, 2SER-FM, Sydney, Australia) devoted to offbeat and outsider music, less travelled paths of global pop, music-sharing activists, notable and unusual online mp3 repositories, etc. This webloggy thing is its online companion.
Here is their page of uke-related items. Actually, only one at the time of this posting, but it does include a link to an mp3 of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's "Wonderful Land."
Link

Declare Yourself PSA

Declare Yourself has produced a series of PSAs to encourage Americans to register and vote. This PSA (caution: large file) features ukulele on the soundtrack--a kind of Bruddah Iz/Over the Rainbow spoof. Anyone know who's playing? Link Discuss

Uke show in Los Gatos, August 13

Beau Vine the Atomic Bard, Oliver Brown, and Tiki King will be performing at Ukulele Night, Friday August 13, at Borders Books and Music in Los Gatos, California. Wish I could go! Link

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Coffee Pot Tabs and Lyrics

I posted an earlier piece about the band "Mr Mediocrity" and their ukerrific song "Coffee Pot." The uke riff has been running around my brain for weeks now. Band member Joe Roby sez:
"'Coffee Pot' is the first song we wrote incorporating the uke, but
I'm sure the future will bring more works featuring the ukulele. Very soon
we'll have a fresh recording of "Coffee Pot, along with a couple new pieces
which we're very excited about recording. "
Mr Mediocrity's uke player extrordinaire, Peter Remiger, has graciously posted tabs, lyrics, and chords on the band's site. Brew yourself a pot of Peet's and Uke Baby Uke!...Link (Thanks, Joe and Peter!)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

DaSilvas for the DaServing

Oakland, CA luthier Mike DaSilva decided that he'd like to give back to the uke community by bestowing a deserving person with a free uke:
"For the first 3 weeks of every month I'll accept your nominations of someone you think would benefit from a DaSilva ukulele. And I want to know why. Maybe they deserve a simple token of appreciation from the ukulele community. Or a new instrument will inspire their musical talents. Or a quality ukulele would just light up their day. Then, at the end of the month, I will choose someone and send them a DaSilva ukulele. Free. No strings attached.



This is not a popularity contest. Nor a hard-luck reward. Great stories, fun reasons, inspirational situations and out-of-the-box thinking is what I am looking for. Once the ukulele is delivered, it will be theirs to own, or pass on as they see fit. Just like many of the ukuleles I own are enjoying multiple lives, I hope DaSilva ukuleles have a long useful lifetime.



Please visit the website for more information. I will post updates on the process during the month, including great ukulele stories and construction photos of the giveaway uke."

It's kind of a MacArthur Genius Grant for uke players! Link

'Ukulele 2004 Workshop

In case you're on Oahu this weekend, or have some spare frequent flyer miles laying around, this sounds like it's going to be an amazing workshop! (If you have plenty miles, call me, eh? I'll go with...)Link

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Del Ray and Steve James play "Black Stick"

Roberto sez: "Del Ray and Steve James appeared on a Seattle public radio station. One of the songs they did was performed on ukulele and resonator guitar (I think). It's a rendition of Sidney Bechet's "Black Stick". Del plays a mean uke. The song turns up at the 18:00 mark."
Link

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Mid Atlantic Ukulele Invitational

If you're in Baltimore this weekend, but want to be in MAUI, check out the Mid Atlantic Ukulele Invitational (MAUI, get it?).

Don sez:

Thinking of coming to the 2nd Annual Mid Atlantic Ukulele Invitational? There are a few rooms left at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center (410-633-9500) for Saturday night. There is a map to our event at creativealliance.org and some tickets are still available for the afternoon workshops and evening concert. There will be an open jam and 5pm free Hula and Hawaiian rhythm workshop and even a special guest or two.Buying and selling of ukes and related material is encouraged and bringing a lender uke for the beginner workshops will be greatly appreciated. Email me or the Creative Alliance at the above adress with any questions. We are looking forward to a splendid second outing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Michael DaSilva Ukuleles

Here's the web site for Mike DaSilva, a ukulele maker from Oakland, CA. Beauties, Mike! Link

Uncle Sam Wants Uke

The Ukuleles for Sanity folks are selling swell T-Shirts that would be perfect attire for the upcoming July 4th holiday. Link (Direct link to merchandise is here.)

Mr Mediocrity

I love this track (Coffee Pot) by Minnesota band "Mr Mediocrity". I've completely forgotten how I stumbled across this, but what a find. (Uke Baby Uke!) Link

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

WNYC - Now Hear This: Stephin Merritt

Gary O'Brien writes:
John Flansburgh (of They Might Be Giants) has a little show on WNYC where he interviews various luminaries of music (that is, if you have good taste). In his piece on Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields, Merritt plays accompanied only by a uke. The website even points out that Merritt “rock(s) out (sort of) on the ukulele.” There is also a brief piece of him singing “All I Want To Know” (erroneously called “All I Wanna Do” on the website), again alone with his uke.

Link (Thanks, Gary!)

Also, here are links to recent performance reviews in the NY Times and the Boston Globe.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Building a Soprano Ukulele From a Kit

Thinking of building your own uke from a kit? Be sure to follow along with Dominator's trials and tribulations as he builds (and customizes) this mahogany soprano from Grizzly Industrial. Link

Rolling Coconuts

"Magazine of Ukulele World"! I've seen several copies of this glossy uke magazine that is published in Japan. And it's free! I wish they'd publish an English edition. Poke around on their site. There's some interesting stuff, even if you don't read Japanese. For example, I'm not exactly sure what this is, but it certainly rocks de uke! Link Discuss

Ukulele Blog From Japan

Here's a Japanese uke enthusiast's blog. I've poked around a bit and have found some fun stuff. Enjoy!Link

Listen Up Larrivee Lovers!

Not long ago, Larrivee broke uke lovers hearts by announcing that they were discontinuing their line of ukuleles. Today there's some good news: John Larrivee, Jr. writes that a limited number of sopranos will be available in the near future:
"...I recently decided to do another run of saprano ukulele's. There are about 150 of them(mahogany and koa), ranging from entry level 01's to mid level 09's to 10's with master grade Koa. I will finish these ukes over the next several month's. About a dozen being completed a week. I am also building 10 concert size ukes that will be available sometime in August. If you are interested in owning a uke from this run you can find out what is available and order through your favorite dealer. I have read frequent postings concerning hardshell cases for Larrivee ukes. I now have custom fitted hardshell cases for the them. Mini versions of our guitar cases. They are very solid! The hardshell cases will be offered as an option. A softshell gigbag is always included either way. For those of you already owning a Larrivee uke and are interested in geting your hands on a hardshell case, just order one through your Larrivee dealer. It's pretty exciting doing the uke 'thing' again, it's been a while! John Larrivee Jr. Carpe Diem!"
For more information, Johnny says you can also contact him directly via email.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Andy's Fluke papooseFellow journalist, Mac aficionado, and ukulele player Andy Ihnatko sez:

"I flew to Kansas City on Wednesday to speak to a local user group. It was just an overnight so I was utterly delighted to be a one-carryon, minimalist traveller for the first time in memory. I just tossed my PowerBook, its charger, my toothbrush, one book, and a change of shirt and unmentionables into a backpack I got last month, slid my iPod and my phone into a pocket, and then I was ready to go.

"But there was still plenty of room left over so I figured what the hell...I'll take my Fluke with me. Lo and behold, the backpack's outside pocket zipped around the thing as if it were a custom-made Fluke Papoose:

Fluke Papoose

"I mean, this backpack kicks butt. On top of its obvious appeal for Fluke enthusiasts it's the only notebook-compartmented backpack that doesn't scream out "Are You Stronger And More Aggressive Than Me? A $2000 Computer Could Be YOURS! Pin Me Against A Wall And Ask Me How!" It has expandable and/or bungeed pouches for anything worth taking and pass-throughs for headphone wires. The pack was a freebie (a party favor from an awards dinner I attended last month in London) but a Google turned up its Australian manufacturer.

"The user group (MacCORE) was surprised and delighted by how I finished my talk. Well, I don't know about Delighted but my performance found that happy medium above Men Throwing Beer Bottles and below Women Throwing Underwear. But I was doubly-glad that I brought the Fluke. My connection home through O'Hare was profoundly delayed and by the start of my third hour in Terminal C, strumming "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" in a variety of tempos and styles was a fine distraction from the sorts of impulses that would have led to my being siezed by federal air marshals and dragged behind an unmarked door somewhere. I might have to make my Fluke a regular travel companion...!"

Beloff's Attorney Tells All

Well, sort of. Here's a great bio piece about "Jumpin' Jim" Beloff, written by his longtime friend (and former real estate attorney), Tom Teicholz. Link

Everybody needs a Pikachuke

The Pikachu Ukulele looks cute. And it's guaranteed to "produce rich and cheerful sounds from within the walnut brown body." How can you say no to this irresistable creature? Link

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Ukiyo Ukuleles

Luthier (and resonator guitar meister) Marc Schoenberger has turned his attention to making fine quality ukuleles. Of particular note are his faithful and sonorous replicas of the Roy Smeck "Vita-Uke," complete with the legendary seal-shaped sound holes.
"The model V is a refined version of this classic uke. Subtle binding accents set off the two tone sides while the fingerboard sports a snappy multicolored wooden side stripe...
"...While retaining the look and feel of the original, this modern uke plays in tune and will meet the standards of even the most critical musician. With its "tap tuned" top and attention to detail, this diminutive dandy barks with the authority of a big box Jazz guitar!"
You have to play one of these sweet babies to believe it...and fall in love. (Don't miss Marc's interview with Albert Einstein on the site and the story behind the Del Norte uke, made from flame redwood and wood from William Randolph Hearst's yacht. Not for the faint-hearted!) Link

Monday, June 14, 2004

King of Flukes!

Ukulelia pal John King writes:
"Jim Beloff asked me in December to do a classical book and CD for his Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Masters series and I wanted to use a Fluke for the recording so I asked Dale Webb to send a stock plastic fretboard model, which sounded great. I used it for the recording and loved it. When we were in Santa Cruz Dale asked me if I could use a 17-fret Fluke; it arrived Friday. He said he had few more of the 17 fret fingerboards and I thought some of your readers might be interested."
The extended fretboards are made of rosewood (rather than the standard issue and serviceable molded ones). If you're interested in ordering a 17 fret Fluke, John suggests that you inquire over at the Fleamarket Music site.



I understand that using a Fluke for the recording was John's idea. He wanted the book to be accessible, and for players to know that they didn't have to have an expensive uke to sound great. Watch here for news about the release of the John's Ukulele Masters book!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

PiNEAPPLE PRiNCESS

"What do you get when you mix a hula dancer, a punk rocker, two feedback-laden electric ukuleles, lotsa beer, Jack Daniels and Jagermeister shots, and a sports-fanatic conga drummin’ madman?" Yep, you guessed it. Glad to know the girls are still rockin'. They're featured in the documentary Rock That Uke. Link

The Hazzards (fka Ukes of Hazzard)

Meet the Hazzards:
The Hazzards are Sydney Maresca & Anne Harris. They have been playing the ukulele together in NYC since meeting at a party in 2000. Originally known as "The Ukes of Hazzard", they recently shortened their name to stay on the right side of the law.

With over a million downloads of their video "Gay Boyfriend", The Hazzards are truly an international sensation.
Their video is a hoot. They'll be in San Francisco this week!
Link

Sprechen Sie Uke?

If you've ever wanted to earn your "Ukendiplom," here's a fellow in Dresden that can teach you. His site includes such old time favorites as "Ein Frosch wollte Hochzeit machen" (aka "A Frog Wanted to Make Wedding") Ukes uber alles! Link

Geoff's Oahu Trip Blog

Key Strummers leader Geoff Davis is on Oahu learning about 'ukulele culture and construction. He's blogging his experiences here. At left is Geoff's own "Hoosier Maid" 'uke with Diamond Head in the background. I'm not jealous. I'm not jealous...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Digging Stick Ukuleles

Beautiful and exotic ukuleles by Jeff and Margaret Burger in Bemidji, Minnesota (home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox!). I especially like the offset tuning pegs on this koa model. Anyone have one or tried one out? Link

Mosaic Uke art

Amber sez: "I just happened upon this site and am fascinated by the Uke culture that is apparently alive and thriving!  I just thought I'd send along a photo or two of the Uke that I created for a local musician - it's a Hilo and was fun to put together for him.  Thought you might enjoy it - you're welcome to post it as long as you place my name with it.
Link

Cars synthesizer player to make uke album?

Will Judy sez: "Ran across this while Googling for info about the rumored Yamaha uke-synth. It's an April 30 bit from the Boston Herald about former Cars keyboardist Greg Hawke and his rediscovery of non-electronic music."

Hawkes is so into the string thing he says his first post-Cars solo CD likely will be - no kidding - a ukulele album. As a preview, he plays three tracks he's recorded featuring
multitracked ukes: a sweet original with Nilsson-esque vocals, an
almost Oriental-sounding instrumental and a gorgeous arrangement of
'Eleanor Rigby.'


Link

Germany's most famous Ukulele player meets Will Smith

Daniel sez: "Just stumbled upon your ukulele page and thought this might interest you. There's a popular TV host in Germany named Stefan Raab who frequently does interviews with international celebs. He often plays the Ukulele for or with them. Here's a link to a snipplet from his show featuring Will Smith. They do a "Here come the men in black" duet. The snipplet is taken from a retrospect and therefore has comments from German b-class celebs." Link

Friday, June 04, 2004

I Want My Uke TV

James Hill writes:
"Yesterday I taped a short interview segment for MTV Canada that will air on June 7th [4 pm]. I talked `ukulele with 'VJ' Brian Adler and played a bit...As with most things `ukulele these days, it was a little surreal. After all, here's a show that usually features pop artists, rappers, DJs and other 'cool' folk, and there I was - right in the heart of teen culture... with nothing but a smile and an `ukulele. MTV - who would have thought?"
(If anyone does a video capture, let us know...) Nice shoes, James! Link

Occasional Publisher Occasional Bartender

Ukulele pal and Ukulele Occasional publisher Jason Verlinde writes:
It would appear that for some odd reason that the Seattle branch of the Ukulele Occasional will be bartending on Monday night [June 7th]. At Hattie's Hat in lovely Ballard, Wash. There will be uke music on the stereo, a drink special or two for anyone who brings in a uke, and a few giveaways. And I'll do my best to hand you your beer in a timely fashion.



So come by, talk to uke people, have a drink, and discuss pressing uke issues ... all in the comfort of one of Seattle's friendlier bars. And they serve food, too.



Hope to see you there..."



Link

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Bliss Blood -- uke player

Bliss Blood sez: "I'm a uke player in New York, with a band, the Moonlighters, active since 1998 and with 3 self-released CDs. Our band is instrumentally similar to 1920's and 30's Hawaiian groups, with uke, guitar, steel guitar, and bass and two harmonizing female vocalists.  We are playing at the Ukulele Hall of Fame Expo on September 18th. We also have MP3's on my website for people to down-load free, from our most recent CD, Live in Baden-Baden. We write originals and also play classic covers." Link

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Eight-year Old George Formby Protege

Great audio program about Rhys Thompson, an 8-year-old boy who is obsessed with George Formby. Link (Thanks, Ray!)

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Ohta-San vs. Ohta-Son

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin today featured a profile of the Herb Ohtas, senior and junior. The two are competing as finalists in the "Best Instrumental Album" category in the 2004 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards which will be held May 24th at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. (The Hokus are the local equivalent of the Grammys.)

The article also notes that Ohta-San is on his way to Japan demonstrate Yamaha's new ukulele synthesizer:

"When I first saw it, I thought it was just another toy, but it really sounds good," Ohta-san says.



"It's a standard-size ukulele (and) has four strings that will never go out of tune, and you can tune it just by a twist of wrist of the peg to low G, high G, tenor sound, soprano sound. And with a turn of the peg it will sound like a violin, a Hammond organ, a trumpet," he said, adding that the instrument can also be programmed to show a novice the correct fingering for up to eight songs.



"It's not on sale yet, but they're going to sell it for under $300.

I'm sure this new instrument will spark a heated debate within the uke community, but I can't wait to check one out! (I haven't found any info about them on the Yamaha site yet. If anyone has found more information, please send me an email.)
Link

Friday, May 21, 2004

Just Out! King's Famous Solos & Duets

John King dropped us an email to let us know that Mel Bay has finally released John's "Famous Solos and Duets for Ukulele" book and CD:
"Famous Solos and Duets for the Ukulele presents ukulele music as you have never seen or heard it before. An anthology of pieces selected from the earliest known methods and collections published for the ukulele between 1909 and 1920, Famous Solos and Duets is newly engraved in both standard notation and tablature and contains extensive fingering and performance instructions.



Edited, arranged, and performed by ukulele virtuoso and historian John King, this collection makes the original, classic repertoire of this charming little instrument available to the public for the first time in nearly a century. The Preface, informative and thoroughly researched, places the ukulele and its music in historical context, from its early days in Hawai'i, to its widespread popularity on the Mainland. Showcasing pieces which are both challenging and beautiful, Famous Solos and Duets features the music of Queen Lili'uokalani, King Kalakaua, Ernest Ka'ai, Henry Kailimai, George Awai, George Kia Nahaolelua, N. B. Bailey and Vadah Olcott Bickford. Also included in Famous Solos and Duets are invaluable instructions for the different styles of strumming as played by the "Father of the ukulele," Ernest Ka'ai. The CD contains all 22 pieces expertly performed by Mr. King. $17.95, 48 pp."

I'm off to my neighborhood music store (Campana Music in Lafayette, CA, where Bill Tapia taught guitar for years) to have them order me a copy. Make that two copies (duets, you know...). Link

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Play It Strange

Yesterday it was Sweden. Today all the news seems to be about New Zealand.

Play It Strange is a non-profit trust "established to encourage young New Zealanders to develop interests and skills in music, composing and performance". The trust is currently looking for funding sponsors for their Ukulele Orchestra Programme:

Schools apply for a "ukulele orchestra" for Years 7, 8 and 9.



Essential points:



Resource package includes:

- Overhead projector resource.

- CD of ukulele hit songs.

- CD of backing tracks for class and solo performances. Fifty per cent of the material will be NZ songs.
Ukuleles are retained by the school.

Ukuleles lead naturally to the guitar. They are a perfect launchpad to a wider performance and composition pursuit.

I have a better name for the program. Geoff Davis, what do you think of "The Kiwi Strummers"? Link

Ukes Centerpiece of New Zealand Music Month

To celebrate New Zealand Music Month, associate arts minister Judith Tizard has challenged all of the members of Parliament to learn to play the uke.
"If we could prove that MPs can play the ukulele then anyone could."
Lessons are being provided by Kiwi uke legend Bill Sevesi. Link

Tappy in the Headlines

Latest article on Ukulele Hall of Fame inductee Bill Tapia. Link

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Swedish Formby Posters

Seems to be a theme today: Formby and Sweden! Check out this page of vintage Swedish posters from George Formby movies. Link
 
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