Thursday, May 27, 2004
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Sunday, May 23, 2004
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.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.)
"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.
Friday, May 21, 2004
"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.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
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."
Thursday, May 20, 2004
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.I have a better name for the program. Geoff Davis, what do you think of "The Kiwi Strummers"? Link
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.
"If we could prove that MPs can play the ukulele then anyone could."Lessons are being provided by Kiwi uke legend Bill Sevesi. Link
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
"Early Dobro ukes missing the cone or the spider. You see them come up on ebay occasionally, or run across someone's post on the internet seeking one or both of these parts to restore. And always the reply is the same – "Maybe somebody should make some of these."Email Colin McCubbin for more into. And don't miss Colin's amazing site devoted to resonator instruments. There about a dozen resonator ukes featured, including the National Style 1 pictured at left. Link
Well now, Colin McCubbin – impresario of resonator instruments and host of the extraordinary www.notecannons.com, and my personal resonation angel – has gone ahead and done something. He recently returned to his home in Canada and sent me an email that I want to share with you immediately:
"I took an early Dobro uke cone and 8 legged spider with me for Mike Lewis of Fine Resophonics in Paris, France. Mike is going to get some spiders cast and spin some cones. I know of two ukes with no spiders or cones and about a dozen that need cones. If anyone wants either of these parts could they please get in touch and I will add them to my list."
So this is it, folks. If you or someone you know needs a spider or a cone to bring an old Dobro uke back to life, now is the time."
"Almost always when you get your hands on a new, unfamiliar instrument there is a new idea for a song!! It happened when I bought my first Rickenbacker 12-string 1982 (from Basse Wickman!). Then I wrote 'Vandrar i ett sommarregn' that same night. Same thing here. I bought a ukulele after I had seen a documentary about George Harrison (seems he never traveled without a ukulele, bless his soul!!!) and I sat down trying to figure out the logic and learn some chords... and... 'Tuffa tider' was born in fifteen minutes..."There's a clip here on the Gyllene Tider website (track 2.).
Since the 26th is also my birthday, I'll propose a friendly competion to celebrate. Place your "bet" by choosing your horse (here's the field--scroll down the page) and posting your choice here. I'll announce a winner after the race. Link
Monday, May 17, 2004
Friday, May 14, 2004
Thursday, May 13, 2004
"This excellent example of the earliest production series of Martin ukuleles is loaded with interesting features not found on later instruments. Notice the more 'primitive' lines, especially around the heel of the neck. The fingerboard was installed before the fret slots were cut, and the frets seat well below the glue joint between the fingerboard and neck. The bridge is a one-piece construction with an integral saddle, the tuning pegs are plain hardwood. Martin ukes made during this early period were the only ones that had serial numbers. Even the linings are simple rough rectangular strips."Link
Sounds like an interesting guy, but I doubt his sanity. Not because he's only 24 yet says he went to middle school with Tiny Tim, but because he says the banjo is cooler than the uke. Link
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
I think she sounds like the female version of a mix between John Prine and Tom Waits. (Not surprisingly, Waits is a big fan.) Holland is co-founder and former member of the uke-inclusive "Be Good Tanyas". Here's a link to a recent review. Link
"To the tune of "Take me out to the ball game," plucking at his ukelele and warbling in his stringy voice, Buffett sang on the movie: "We are glad you're here at our meeting. Be sure to check out all your wares. . . . For it's buy, buy, buy all you see at the Berkshire show."Now that's art!
The movie (produced by Buffett's daughter, Susie) then went into sci-fi mode, taking the audience forward to the year 2104, when Microsoft was about to take over Wal-Mart and Starbucks to form MicroWalBucks, a "strategic alliance" to take over the world.
In a pastiche of PlayStation and Saturday morning cartoons, Buffett and Munger, dressed in Fruit of the Loom undershirts and boxers, battled Arnold Schwarzenegger to bust up the alliance. The Warrenator and the Charlanator ended up defeating the Terminator by splattering the windshield of his monster truck with a can of Cherry Coke."
"The reproduction of the ORIGINAL HAWAIIAN UKULELE SOUND seems to have been very elusive. Many have tried and some have come close. Close examination of the works of the early makers; Diaz, Santos, Nunes, Mossman, Sam Chang, the Summers Brothers and many other named and unnamed instruments finally revealed their secrets...The CONCERT FLYER has the sound and look of the past with the improvements of the present."More information can be found here and here.
"Expect peripatetic group singalongs and special guest appearances. Please bring sheet music, a sense of humour a uke or other instrumentalist.(Btw, site of the parent chapter of T.U.R.D.S. is here).
If we can keep going for 24 hours an exhumed Norris McWhirter will be in attendance to authenticate this truly ridiculous world record attempt, currently held by Henry Rollo of Austin, Texas who, in 1998 played continually for 21hrs 32min and 17 secs."
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Owner and luthier Steve Triplett will take the new owner through one production cycle (about a month). Plus the new owner will have discounted access to Triplett's laser engraver in perpetuity (for all those swell engravings that 3rd Wave is known for).
For more information, email Debbie Triplett or call 866-831-5478. (Their website is currently down, but should be up in the next few days.)
I'd love to buy it, but my wife says I already have enough ukes (c'mon, I only have 5). Maybe I should tell her that if I owned the company I'd never have to buy another uke...
Update: Interested Parties, please mention Ukulelia when you contact Steve or Debbie. The Tripletts have graciously offered us a modest commission which Mark and I will use to purchase Flea ukuleles for hospitalized kids at Mass General (see more info in the sidebar).
Monday, May 10, 2004
"The elevated fingerboard is something I've been doing on acoustic guitars, and it was a natural to bring over to the uke world. Many uke fanatics I've talked to declare that the best sounding instruments are the old style ones without a fingerboard extension glued to the top. Makes sense...there's not a hell of a lot of top on a uke, and the more one can do to enhance useable top vibration, the better. The cantilevered and elevated board also makes high fret reach easier."Here are more photos. Link
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
(This is the result of a search on BananaSlug using my pal Steve Nelson's new "A.Word.A.Day" function. Today it paired "ukulele" with "idiot savant." Check it out.) Link
"...at the new Seneca Goodwill I found something wonderful in the miscellaneous Halloween bin. A ukulele. A homemade ukulele, with a mysterious glyph on the head. A homemade ukulele, sans frets but with geared tuners, painted pink with house paint and decorated with red foil star stickers, and shaped like a heart.
And it was six dollars. YES. There were a couple of other uke-like things in the bin, without strings or tuners or ways to attach strings to them, all with the same mysterious head glyph and the same kinds of household paint jobs. It was as though some idiot savant ukulele craftsman a few Goodwills upstream of us made wonderful if twisted ukes, then released them out into the wild."
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
"Stephin Merritt's band The Magnetic Fields released a new CD today, entitled 'I'. The CD features music played on only 'handheld' instruments, meaning no synths. Naturally, the Uke is featured heavily...And, of course, it's fantastic..."All the song titles begin with, of course, the letter 'I'. Link includes audio clips. Link (Thanks, Gary)
Monday, May 03, 2004
Sunday, May 02, 2004
"On Thursday we bid farewell to "Friends." A sad occasion, for certain, but we can ease the show's passing by joining in a joyful rendition of "Smelly Cat." The song, sung by Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, is legendary for its tunelessness and total fusion with the Phoebe personality."Link