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


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!)

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."

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

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
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