Friday, April 30, 2004

Animated Welcome Display

If you missed Uke Fest West, you missed this incredible display built by members of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz. It's a 3-D rendering of the event logo and features a scale replica of a Martin Style 3. What you can't readily see in the photo are the rollercoaster cars that revolved around in the lower bout of the Martin, an homage to the Big Dipper coaster on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where the event was held. A lot of folks took video of the display, so I'll try to find a link to a clip for Ukulelia readers. Link

Uke Fest West in Pictures

Here is a collection of pix of last week's event courtesy of the fine folks at the Ukulele Hall of Fame. That's Joel Eckhaus demonstrating his four-handed technique... Link

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Beau Vine, The Atomic Bard

Meet David Kearney, AKA Beau Vine, Mookulele player and blogger (click on his "news" link to read his blog). Link

'Ukulele' Strums Up Win in Johnson County Spelling Bee

Atta boy! Someone send this kid a uke! Link

The Fluke as Computer Accessory

Andy Ihnatko from the Chicago Sun-Times calls the Fluke "one of the finest computer accessories I've ever acquired":
"Yes, it's a computer accessory: It has a flat base, so you can stand it upright next to the keyboard. See, the reason why your computer keeps crashing, freezing and stalling on you isn't because the only people who hate you more than God are programmers. It's because the computer industry wants you to broaden yourself.

So it keeps giving you these five to 20-minute gaps in the day to learn some new chords..."

Saves thousands of dollars on computer hardware, too! (Paul Harvey quoted Andy's piece on his radio show today. I haven't located the segment, but it should be here) Link (Thanks, Dr. Nelson!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Key Strummer Weblog

The Key Strummers are blogging! Poke around and check out Geoff Davis's trials and tribulations with uke building. He'll also be blogging his experiences on Oahu later this year as he attends an immersion program in all things uke. Link

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Hayward Uke Festival Pix

Catfish Carl has posted Dominator's pix from Uke Fest West and Sunday's NoCal Uke Festival in Hayward on his Community Photo Album. At left is James Hill comparing notes with John King. Also, be sure to check out Jim Beloff's custom Flaming Fluke! Link

Billboard Buzz: Tapia Tops

Billboard gave a wonderful review of Bill Tapia's CD "Tropical Swing."
"In an era of manufactured and quickly forgotten pop acts, a debut solo album from a 96-year-old man is quite a surprise. And Hawaiian guitar/ukulele legend Bill Tapia's 'Tropical Swing' is as delightful as it is surprising."
Bill graciously autographed my copy on Sunday. This CD is a MUST HAVE. In addition to a bevy of recent recordings, the disc features two rare vintage tracks including Byron Yasui's father's 1936 wire recording of Bill playing "Stars and Stripes Forever."Link

Monday, April 26, 2004

Ukulele Hangover

Geez Louise! Just back to the computer after three (count 'em!) glorious days of total uke immersion. Caught Friday night and Saturday of Uke Fest West, then over to Hayward for the NoCal Ukulele Festival on Sunday. Both were incredible, memorable events. I'll be blogging related items of interest as soon as possible. Suffice it to say that it was a blast meeting lots of Ukulelia readers; meeting Bill Tapia and Lyle Ritz was pretty darn sweet, too.

Hope you made it! If you did and took pix, let me know!

Lex Uex

Lex van den Berghe, lately of Survivor: Africa, plays the uke. Anyone know if Lex (a Santa Cruz resident) made it to Uke Fest West? Link Discuss

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Howlin' Hobbit's Custom Glyph Soprano

First, steel yourself against the potential onslaught of insane jealousy. Next, remember the first uke commandment: "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ukulele." Then take a deep breath and take this slide show tour of Dave Means (of Glyph Ukuleles) building Howlin' Hobbit's new soprano. Link

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Uke Box Hero

Here is the website of Chalmers Doane, Canadian educator, founder of the "Ukulele Yes!" organization, godfather of tens of thousands of Canadian ukulele players, and creator of the neato triangular Northern ukulele. Link

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Stephin Merritt Scores Chinese Opera

Stephin Merritt, uke player, and creative force behind The Magnetic Fields, has written the music and lyrics for a 21st century reimagination of Chinese opera. Peach Blossom Fan features a chorus of courtesans singing and playing the uke, natch. It's Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and is in performance at the Disney/CalArts Theatre in LA until the 24th of April. Link (Read a review here).

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Buck-Moore Electric Uke: Model 1

Maine high school student collaborates with Joel Eckhaus to craft an electric ukulele. Nice job, Danji! Link

Judge Finds in Favor of Uke

Former judge in Homer, Alaska made a CD of ukulele music to raise funds for the local library. Link

Friday, April 09, 2004

Ukes in Yachats!

Jim D'Ville sez:
Come to the beautiful central Oregon coast for a one-day ukulele festival, Ukes In Yachats! (pronounced Yah-hots). We'll have a Friday night welcome bonfire and jam on the beach and Saturday will be filled with workshops, an open mic and an evening concert. Performers include Red Poppy (ukulele jug band) Hawaiian Charm (traditional Hawaiian from Portland, Oregon) and ukulele jazz master Lyle Ritz! Friday, September 24th (evening) and Saturday, September 25th, 2004. Late September is our best weather on the Oregon Coast so make your plans now.
For more information email Jim D'Ville. Ukuleles and clam chowder...mmmmmm... Discuss

Ian Misses Casting Session...or, Flattered by Fluffer Offer

Read Ian Whitcomb's April 2004 "Letter From Lotusland" to learn how he nearly became the first ukulele player to be immortalized by the legendary Cynthia Plastercaster. (Not worksafe.) Link Discuss

Talsma Web Site

Dave Talsma makes some of the most stunning custom ukuleles I've seen. And because he's from Michigan, he's no doubt a heck of a euchre player, too. Here's his new site. Link Discuss

Lyle Ritz in Miz Kitty's Parlour

Attention Oregonians. Can't make Uke Fest West in Santa Cruz? Then catch Lyle Ritz Saturday night, April 10th in Portland! Tickets in advance at Artichoke Music. Link

Ria Lina

Award-winning UK stand-up commedienne Ria Lina takes the mike, uke in hand. No two-ton Tessie, she. Link Discuss

The Willamson Playboys

Meet the Williamson Playboys, a dynamic tuba/ukulele duo and world's oldest father-and-son Cajun combo. Actually, they are Paul Bates and Doug Morency, Second City alumni. Morency is Cecil Williamson, Jr., aged 141 years. Bates is his father, Rufus. Don't miss the video. Tuba and ukulele. My two instruments! Very cool. Link Discuss

Rock That DVD

Bill Robertson, director of the uke documentary Rock That Uke sez:
"If anyone is interested in receiving email notification about the 'Rock That Uke' DVD when it becomes available for purchase, you can subscribe to a one-time emailing we'll send out. Just send an email to and write 'subscribe' in the subject heading. That's it. You don't need to write a message."

Ukulele Teaches Lesson in Humility

Benedictine oblate and author Carol Bonomo finds "parallels between learning to play the ukulele and searching for humility in her spiritual life." A 1928 Martin is her instrument of faith. Naturally! Link Discuss

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Tuba Plays Uke

In the current Flashbacks section on Flea Market Music is the smiling mug of my dear friend, Tuba Heatherton. Tuba and I were clowns with Ringling together and he taught me my first uke tune "I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)" on my pal and Ringling roommate Michael Goudeau's uke. And until I discovered Jim Beloff's songbooks four years ago, about my only song. Come to think of it, about the only other tune I had was "Sweet Georgia Brown" and Tuba wrote that out for me, too. Discuss

Clown Doctor Doses Uke Tunes

Australian hospitals utilize the talents of Clown Doctors who cheer up sick kids. Here's a story about Chris Kelly--aka Dr. Either--who uses the uke in his "practice."
"One of Dr Either's favourite tools to help calm people is to take up his ukulele and play a nursery rhyme. He said the tune which works wonders is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. One memory which stands out Dr Either's mind is when he was in the children's ward and heard a little child screaming. Dr Either didn't know the room was out of bounds and he went down there and stood outside the door and played the Twinkle melody until the child's crying stopped."
Wonder if anyone ever requests a 10cc tune... Link Discuss

Monday, April 05, 2004

I Want Uke...To Blow Me Away

We can now add Peter Frampton to our ever-growing list of legendary rock guitar players who cut their teeth on ukes. In young Master Frampton's case, his grandmother's banjolele:
"Dad and I were getting down the suitcases to go on some holiday, and there was this little instrument box, and I said, what's that? And I was 7 at the time and dad said that's your grandmother's banjolele."
Link Discuss

Texas Uke Fest 2004

Whoa there, pardner! This one plumb snuck up on me. Time to saddle up for the 3rd Annual Ukulele Festival in San Antonio, TX, April 21-23. Check out this august bill of headliners: Shorty Long - Pops & Mysterious John, Michelle Kiba, Debbie Porter, Geoff Davis, Pearl's Girls, Ukulele Ladies & Gents of Texas, Tom Steele, Dallas Ukulele Headquarters (D. U. H.).

Y'all come! Link

Friday, April 02, 2004

The Formby/McFadden Matter

I was going to ask a Ukulelia reader from across the Pond to translate this article for me until I found this less colourful explanation. Evidently, a local TV show winner lost out to George Formby in a poll to see who would be immortalized in bronze. George got 51% of the vote, but Kerry McFadden beat out beloved TV puppet Sooty. Discuss

Thursday, April 01, 2004

At 96, a Uke Legend Still Has Plenty of Pluck

Touching and inspring profile of Bill Tapia in the LA Times today. Includes audio clips of Tappy playing Stardust and Stars and Stripes Forever. Can't wait to meet Bill in Santa Cruz later this month. Link (Free subscription required.) Discuss (Thanks, Kirby!)

Update: For readers who have had difficulty subscribing, see the Discuss link for full text.

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