Friday, December 30, 2005

Tim Sweeney

Nice article today about jazz ukulelist Tim Sweeney in The Cape Codder. Link

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Drole de Sire

Meet Drole de Sire, a uke-infused French band in the fumiste tradition. And that's about all I can tell you about them, except that I like their music. Be sure to listen to the mp3 clips at the "Disques" link (Les extraits MP3). Link

It's Official: We are the 'Ukulele

Probably no single performer has impacted the uke world in 2005 the way that Jake Shimabukuro has. This year saw him serving as official tourism spokesperson for Hawai'i, opening for Jimmy Buffett, and hitting (almost) prime time on the Conan O'Brien Show.

One bit of proof is the number of new Ukulelia readers who have come to us in search of information about Jake and his music. Our readership hit an all-time high this month, due in part to the Jake phenom.

If you've been reading Ukulelia for a while, you know that it's a labor of love for Mark and me. So it's nice when things like this happen: Click thru to the FAQ section on Jake's site. Then see what the answer to "What is the 'ukulele?" is. Link

Martin 3K for Jim - a photoset on Flickr

Check out this work-in-progress on Flikr: "Springwood" is building a Martin 3K Soprano replica for his brother. I wish I had a brother like this! Link to Photoset

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Hawaii: Postcards and Picture Galleries

Here is an incredible collection of vintage Hawaiian and Polynesian postcards. Do you suppose the keiki at left knows she's holding a priceless antique? You'll have to poke around, but there a lots of uke pix herein, including some that would be of interest to Uke Jackson for his newsletter! (Some images beautiful, but NSFW). Link

Pumping Koa?

Apparently, a performance art piece using bodybuilders to play the instruments while working out. If you speak French, perhaps you'll tell me what this is all about. Weird. Link

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Belated Wishes, Mr. Beloff!

Completely spaced and forgot to wish Jumpin' Jim Beloff a happy birthday on the 25th! Hope you had a great day, Jim, and thanks for being such a champion for the uke community. Link

Marc Benioff, Uker

My friend Bruce Campbell (no, not that Bruce Campbell) tells me that CEO Marc Benioff has quite a uke collection. So I wonder if Jim Louderback knew this when he "predicted" that a "ukulele-swinging Marc" would team up with Larry Ellison, Tom Seibel, and Craig Conway to form a barbershop quarted called the Oracles? (And shouldn't the uke-playing "Oracle of Omaha" be invited to sit in?) Link

Monday, December 26, 2005

It's a Wonderul Life

Ukulele leads to husband leads to eight (count 'em) great great grandchildren. Sounds like Jacqueline Skyles McKnight lived a wonderul life. I found her story touching, so here 'tis. Link

KY Math Students Build Ukes

Story from the Lousiville Courier-Journal about a local high school using lutherie to help students advance their math and physics skills. Link

Friday, December 23, 2005

Vargas Uke Illustration

A vintage ad illustration by pin-up artist Albert Vargas. Sadly, it's rated G. Link

And to all, a good night!


Merry Christmas!

Well, Dear Readers, this is probably our last blog post until Santa has come and gone. Don't forget to serenade your loved ones under the mistletoe with a uke tune or two. And here's hoping that Santa's elves have crafted the perfect four-stringed present for you this year.

On behalf of Mark and his family, Merry Christmas from the entire Peare Troupe!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

New York Uke Fest

Uke Jackson sez advance tickets are now on sale for the April 2006 NY Uke Fest. Check out the line-up! Link

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Alternate Tunings Uke Shop

How have we missed this? Alternate Tunings is a specialized "ukulele only" music store just north of Morro Bay. They have a number of holiday specials, and their pricing looks good. Ho ho ho! Link

KoAloha Pineapple Sunday

Ukulele Sweetheart Victoria Vox plays a KoAloha "Pineapple Sunday" model soprano. The Pineapple Sunday is the first uke in KoAloha's new "Papa KoAloha's Masterpiece Collection." There's no information about this model on the KoAloha site currently, but here is a link to a Japanese fansite with a photo of said model. It features an embellished pineapple body shape with a textured top.

The origin of the name? Sez Papa Alvin Okami, "It's in the shape of a pineapple, and the idea for the design came to me on a Sunday, so that's why it's called Pineapple Sunday."

Blog for Windy City Strummers

Jim Allenspach has a burgeoning blog called Fleajumper. Jim hails from Chicagoland, and we hope that he'll be enlightening us about the uke community in the City of Broad Shoulders in the months to come! Link

Friday, December 16, 2005

Paul Kraus: Surfer, Uker, Filmmaker!

Northern California Coast surfboard shaper Paul Kraus also makes ukuleles. Not only that, he's also a documentary filmmaker, and recently released "The Jumping Flea, Tales of the Modern Ukulele."
"Paul Kraus, filmmaker and ukulele builder, takes us behind the scenes to meet some of the most influential ukulele builders and players today! The music comes through loud and clear, with Jumpin’ Jim Beloff guiding us through the different eras of the ukulele’s popularity. An exceptional documentary film, featuring the music of Lyle Ritz, Jim Beloff, Bill Tapia, Bryan Tolentino, Michelle Kiba, and a host of others."
The video is available from Lark in the Morning or from North Pacific Productions. Link

Thursday, December 15, 2005

UPDATE: Cole Clark Ukes

Brad Clark dropped us a note with more information on his Ukeladay ukes. (See earlier post, below.) Following are links to the images and spec sheet that Brad provided. Wow.

Spec Sheet (Word document)

Style UL1

Style UL2

Style UL3

Victoria Vox

As the daylight dwindles and Winter nears, our thoughts turn to the sultry clime of...Green Bay, Wisconsin?

Meet Victoria Vox, singer/songwriter, and now ukulele chanteuse:

"February 7, 2006 will see the release of Victoria Vox and Her Jumpling Flea. In December '05, Vox debuted the songs in Hawaii (O'ahu and Maui). Vox is now sponsored by KoAloha ukuleles. "
Check out her Christmas song, "Christmas With You".

Artist's Site
Agent's Site
Myspace Page

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Kahiko Ukuleles: The Concert Flyer

Dear Santa,

If you can't slip a Martin 5K in my stocking this year, perhaps you can grab one of these babies made by elf/luthier Ken Potts in conjunction with elf/grand-uke-panjundrum Chuck Fayne.

"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. Knowing the secrets and translating that knowledge to reproduction was not an easy process. However, through trial and error, Ken Potts has done it. We at KAHIKO VINTAGE REPRODUCTIONS are proud to announce the sound we have all been waiting for-- THE CONCERT FLYER--the player's lifetime companion. This instrument continues where others leave off. The CONCERT FLYER has the sound and look of the past with the improvements of the present. We would like to thank all those whose experimentations have made our job easier. WE uncovered the mine; they helped dig the tunnels."
I've been very good this year. Link

Cole Clark Ukes

Chuck "Frets" Fayne knows ukes. (He hosts the Collector's Uke Yak over on the Fleamarket Music site which is well worth checking regularly.) So when we saw Chuck's effusive post about Australian luthier Brad Clark's new ukes, we took notice. Chuck sez "THIS UKE ROCKS.....ONE OF THE EASIEST I HAVE EVER PLAYED":
" I promised all of you that I would tell you about anything new that I thought was terrific. When I came to Australia 9 years ago, I began to look around for ukuleles. There was nothing. As far as I could figure out, there were two companies and neither making ukuleles then. One was JMG a weird uke made a lot like a violin and it sounded horrible. The other was a Maton, a company that is still in business, but no longer made ukes. by our standards , the ones they made were just passable. I went to visit the Maton Company and met a man named Brad Clark. We talked about ukes. He was later fired by Maton, a move I assume they regret to this day. He opened his own Guitar business and revolutionized the making of modern instruments by turning back the clock 300 odd years and by using some of the old and some of the new coupled with a world recognized sound system that is regarded by many as “the best”. Cole Clark Guitars has begun to make ukuleles with the same quality. They are manufactured in three styles. Each more fancy but all with the same fabulous sound. They are really a player’s instrument. They are larger than a soprano and smaller than a concert. You can see them and find out all future plans for the uke by writing I suggest you do, this is one of the best sounding and revolutionary ukuleles to be made to date. There, I lived up to my promise and am please to be able to tell you about the 'UK-E-LADY'."
Currently there is no info on the ukes on the Cole Clark site, but here are some photos in the meantime: Photo 1 Photo 2.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reminder: Jake Tonight

Jake Shimabukuro will be on Conan O'Brien tonight! Should be great.

Behold, the Electric Kazoo!

Off topic? Perhaps, but it sure is cool. And for $17.95, a great stocking stuffer for the Hoosier Hot Shot in your life:
"The Kazooka electric kazoo can be connected directly to any microphone or instrument input on almost any audio device with no need for batteries or phantom power. Examples include: computer sound card, guitar amplifier, P.A., digital workstation, cassette 4-track, mixing board, guitar pedals, karaoke machine, mini disk recorder, sampler."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas Songbook

Here is a link to the Vancouver Ukulele Circle site where there is a great collection of Christmas and holiday songs with uke chords "compiled by Mr. R. Shaw, who has done his best to include songs for everyone's enjoyment and seasonal fulfillment."


Angels we Have Heard on High

Away In a Manger

Burglar, the

Chanukah Medley

Deck the Halls

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Good King Wenceslas

I’ll Have a Blue Christmas

I'll be Home For Christmas

In the Bleak Midwinter

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Jingle Bells Hawaiian Style

Joy to the World

Let It Snow

Little Drummer Boy, the

Mary’s Boy Child

Mele Kalikimaka (The Hawaiian Christmas Song)

O Holy Night

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Old Toy Trains

Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Silent Night

Silver Bells

Ukeing around the Christmas Tree

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

White Christmas

This page has links for both MS Word and pdf files. Link

Ralph Shaw's ukulele instruction DVDs would make great gifts for your favorite uker this year. Titles for everyone from kids to advanced players. Link (And a link to Mr. Shaw's "Ralphomercial" for the DVDs: Link)

NY Times Calls Fluke a Clear Choice!

Congrats to Dale Webb, who was profiled along with his wonderful Fluke ukulele in the New York Times on Sunday. If you're looking for a great uke for Christmas, we highly recommend the Fluke. (Click on the Fluke picture at right for more information on the Flea Market Music site.) For smaller budgets (or hands), the Fluke's sister uke--the Flea--is just as nice! Link

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hanukkah in Santa Monica

This little ditty was written by Tom Lehrer, and has become part of my command performance at our good friends' annual Hanukkah party. I'll post the chords shortly, but in the meantime, you can listen to the song and learn it by ear... Link

UPDATE: And lo, the tabs were scanned and yea, they were uploaded. With special thanks to Mark Childs, who graciously sent me Bob Remstein's arrangement two years ago. I hope you enjoy my uke arrangement. Do drop me a line if you develop any improvements!

Page 1
Page 2

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Maddog Uke

Check out this four-stringed curiosity on Catfish Carl's Freakshow page: an electrified Fido! Link

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Giant Ukulele!

Holy Kamaka!

Ukulelia pal Jim Bradbury pointed us to these photos of a giant ukulele arriving for the First International Ukulele Ceilidh ("Kay-Lee", rhymes with "Ooo-Koo-Lay-Lee") back in October of 2005. According to the site, this bad boy was made in 1976 for a parade honoring HRH Queen Elizabeth II. What I don't know is what building is shown in the pix, nor if the giant is still in residence. Anyone know? Drop me a line...

Oh, and a word of caution to the folks in Nova Scotia: don't let the guys in Santa Cruz talk you into hauling it out to their annual "Burning Uke" weekend. Let's just say it would be like playing with matches... Link (Thanks, Jim!)

Loudon Wainwright III

The man himself, Ukeberry Blue Flea in hand! Link

Dan Zanes in the Newz

We've blogged about Dan before, but here's a nice article about his current tour:
"I have a lot of optimism that making music can become part of our daily lives. And I think the ukulele might be the big part of the renaissance of music-making in America. It's easy to learn, and something magical happens when you play it."
Amen. Link

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, and if our dear readers will indulge me, I'd like to honor my cousin, Richard Ward, who died heroically 64 years ago today and was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.
"For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, WARD remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life."
Peace, everyone. Link

(Today would be a good day to send a uke to a soldier.)

Big Old Ukes

Because big ukes need love, too, here's a site entirely devoted to baritone ukuleles:
"But why the baritone? I love tenors too. I love them all. But the bari is the uke of the American Dreams era. Godfrey. Boone. Kingston Trio. Vega. Favilla. The 50's. They deserved their own website! I also like monkeying with the strings and tunings. Especially baris like the smaller Vegas can be strung with a high D or even Aquila's C tuning strings and you get a "fifth uke", in between the tenor and bari. (And of course, the frets are bigger)."
Big Old Ukes also has a number of baris "up for adoption" in what is about the best presentation and evaluation of used uke conditions I've seen. Heck, they even name them! Link

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Bonus from The Guitar Guy!

The Guitary Guy has posted a "Christmas Bonus" this year: all of the Holiday-related titles indexed from one page. Everything from "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" to "Marshmallow World." Ring-a-ding-ding in the Holidays! Link

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Healthy Twist to the Uke's Burlesque Side

What do you get when a uke player crosses Pilates with Burlesque? Naughty Pilates, natch. Shown is instructor Christine Gladney (with uke) strumming while local Memphis roots-rocker Amy LaVere (of Amy & the Tramps) sings a seafaring song and Marny Star demonstrates a leg kick called "The Mermaid." This might be the only appearance of the uke on the DVD, but, hey, it's an excuse... Link Here's a related news article, to boot.

Baby It's Cold Outside

It's not really a Christmas song, per se, but its inclusion in the movie Elf has made "Baby It's Cold Outside" a new/old holiday classic. And, since it was sung by ukulele sweetheart Zooey Deschanel, we are all essentially obligated to learn it this year. Here's a link to the Xmas music page on Jerrold Connors's terrific Ukulele Boogaloo site. (Jerrold is also author and illustrator of Jiminy Kokopo's Ukulele Sing & Strum Fun Book, which would be a great gift for a young or young-at-heart uke player on your "nice" list.) Link

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ukuleles for Santa's Helpers

I'm drawing up some gifting suggestions for our readers. In the meantime, check out these Xmas specials from Roy Cone. Packages include hard cases and One Penny Shipping. Good thru 12/10/05. Link

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

MidWest Uke Radio

Geoff Davis, Ukulelekapellmeister of The Key Strummers has launched an internet ukulele radio station on I'm digging Shorty Long as I post this... Link

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ford's Hawaiians: Jumpstarted!

Noah Pollaczek from the UCSB Cylinder Project (see posts below) writes:
"I noticed your recent blog post and, as audio technician responsible for digitizing all the recordings for the UCSB cylinder project, I went digging in the archives for the Ford Hawaiian cylinders. I transferred and cleaned them today, so they should now all be online for streaming or download- five of them if you do an author search for "Ford hawaiians".

Thanks for your interest in the project, and let me know if there are any other Hawaiian cylinders that you'd like to hear. (I'm currently on "Cylinder 5200 something", which is why these Hawaiian recordings in the Cylinder 5400 and 5500 call number area had yet to be transferred, so if there are other mid-five thousand call numbers you are interested in, I'd be happy to transfer those as well.) I also love these Hawaiian cylinders, and while the sound quality is a little variable- most of the 3000 series of the Edison Blue Amberols were directly dubbed from "Edison Diamond Discs", sometimes quite poorly- the song "Kaena" by Henry Kailimai I found particularly stunning.


Indeed! Aren't the Internets wonderful? Link (Thanks, Noah!)

Jake on Conan O'Brien

Program your TiVos: Jake Shimabukuro will be the musical guest on O'Brien's show on December 13, 2005. According to this article in the Star Bulletin, Jake's most recent album, "Dragon," was No. 5 on the Billboard world music chart last week. Link

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Henry Kailimai and Ford's Hawaiians

We received a nice note from Catherine U'ilani Blankenship, Henry Kailimai's great granddaughter, in response to today's earlier post about Edison recordings (below):
"Mahalo for the information! And mahalo for extending the message of my great grandfather's life's work!

In June of 2004 a radio station in New York produced a show called "Thomas Edison's Attic" during which they played many of the cylinder and disc recordings Edison produced at his West Orange New Jersey Lab. My great grandfather, Henry Kailimai, and his group are on the playlist performing "Wiliwili Wai." They are about 12 minutes into the show."

Here's a link to the show: Link (Thanks, Catherine!)

Calaveras Ukulele Club Celebrated

News from the Great Central Valley of California today about the Calaveras Ukulele Club. Aloha, Angels Camp! Link

Digital Archive of Cylinder Recordings

Wonderful news for vintage music buffs and scholars. A post on Ukulelia's mother site, Boing Boing, points to a new online digital archive of Edison Cylinder Recordings at UC Santa Barbara. Try searching on "ukulele" or "Hawaii". I turned up several recordings by the Ford Hawai'ian Quintet, a group with an interesting history, and important place in ukulele history. The band was led by Henry Kailimai, and and was first heard by Henry Ford at the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1915. Ford offered Kailimai a job and moved the band to Detroit (!?).

"While in the employment of Ford, Henry Kailimai was the manager of what became known as the Ford Hawai'ian Quintet. This group of musicians would perform regularly at company functions and were booked for private parties as well.

In 1916, the group traveled to Orange, New Jersey where they played for employees of the Thomas A. Edison company. According to a letter sent to Ford's secretary by an Edison employee, the Quintet met and made a hit with Mr. and Mrs. Edison. The group eventually played at the marriage of Edison's daughter, and went on to the Edison Recording Studio in New York where they made several records.

During all this time, Ford's only stipulation was that the Ford Hawai'ian Quintet confine themselves to Hawai'ian music as they had done in the Hawai'i Building during the Exposition."

Why else should you know about Kailimai? He's the composer of the early hapa haole blockbuster, "On the Beach at Waikiki"! Sadly, it seems that the Ford Quintet recordings have not yet been posted to the web. But there's lots of great stuff nonetheless. Here's a 1916 recording of Billy Murray singing "When Old Bill Bailey Plays the Ukalele". Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Finger-pluckin' Good

Nice article about PUA, the Portland (OR) Ukulele Association yesterday in the Portland Tribune. Link

Monday, November 14, 2005

PSA: Ukes and Babies

A reminder from Pineapple Pete about why one must never, never give a Martin to an infant. Link Or, perhaps, you might...Another Link

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Amazing Midwest Ukefest 2005

Lynn Hershberger, aka 1/2 of the Fabulous Heftones, has posted her pix from this year's Midwest Uke Fest. Looks like it was a stellar event! One year I'll make it! Link

Dodge's Sundodgers

I went to a dinner at the Oakland Scottish Rite last night, and who to my wondering ears should be providing the dinner music? Noneother than sometime Cheap Suit Serenader, Al Dodge, and Dodge's Sundodgers! Wonderful music in an amazing venue. Link

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Brittni Paiva in Concert at DaSilva Uke Co.

Next Wednesday, November 9th, Brittni Paiva will be in concert at the DaSilva Ukulele Company in Berkeley, CA.:
Brittni Paiva is quickly establishing herself throughout the islands
as Hawaii’s musical child prodigy. Affectionately referred to as
the ukulele darling
and slack key super girl for her
masterful command of the instruments, at the ripe age of 16, this
youngster is holding her own with the best of them. On June 3rd, the
sweet humble teen walked away with the 2005 Na Hoku Hanohano Music Award for Most Promising Artist of the Year for her debut
recording, Brittni X 3.

It's her first Bay Area performance. Aloha, Brittni! Concert information at this link.

Btw, Mike DaSilva dropped me an email to let me know about his event. We're happy to help announce events and performances of interest to the ukulele community. Hello!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

National Concert "Surf" Uke

Unleash your inner Dick Dale! Or mix yourself a mai tai and relax pooside with this 2-tone turquoise & white concert resonator uke with a to-die-for duco crystalline finish. I myself am unworthy of this blue steel beauty. Are you? Link

Haul Out the Holly!

Every year I promise myself that I'll memorize a bunch of Christmas songs, and then whoops! it's New Year's.

So this year, dear readers, we'll post our annual list o' links to online Christmas music early. I'm in the process of aggregating an updated list of links. In the meantime, here's a link to a page with last year's list. If you've stumbled across any that you don't see, please email me and I'll update the list. Mahalo! Link

Monday, October 31, 2005

Benny Chong

Recent review from the Star Bulletin of Benny Chong's first solo uke CD.
"Benny Chong has been known for more than 40 years as the guitarist who helped make Don Ho & the Aliis one of the biggest acts in contemporary Hawaiian music. It has only been in the last few years that Chong has stepped forward as an ukulele virtuoso -- although his solo recordings have only been on a compilation album. This is his long-awaited debut as a solo artist. Chong proves worth the wait."
Byron Yasui wrote the liner notes. Song clips at the review page. Benny's site in progress is here. Link

Pierce Brosnan Bonds With Uke

According to this profile in this month's Travel + Leisure, Pierce Brosnan carries a uke with him whenever he travels! Link

Friday, October 28, 2005


Happy Halloween, from Mark and me here at Ukulelia! Link

Cliff Edwards Tattoo

Check out Uke Jackson's new tat! Efin great! Link

Ukulele Dick: Helping Keep Santa Cruz Weird

If you're on the Left Coast this weekend, check out Keep Santa Cruz Weird at the Rio Theatre on Saturday, October 29th.
" your local deviant, and indulge your own flair for the denial of normalcy by attending this showcase of local weirdness."
The Ukeaholics and Oliver Brown are on the bill, too!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Folk Uke Grammy Nominations

Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson's first album, "Folk Uke" is on the nominating ballot in several Grammy categories this year. If you're a voting member and a uke fan, your mission is now clear! Link

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Midwest Ukefest This Weekend

And if Big Sur is too far a drive for you, you'll want to check out the Midwest Ukefest in Indianapolis this weekend! Link

Buring Uke 2005: Big Sur This Weekend

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz is holding its 3rd Annual campout at Big Sur this weekend:

"This Friday Saturday and Sunday October 28th, 29th, 30th
Plaskett Creek State Park at extreme south end of Big Sur coast
60 miles South of Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road intersection
Cost: $20 per person..."
Sounds like a most excellent time! For info, contact Andy Andrews.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

KoAloha Feature in Delta-Sky Magazine

An anonymous cow-orker left this month's Delta inflight magazine on my desk yesterday. There's a nice (but brief) profile of Papa Okami and the KoAloha folks. And the illustration? The first aloha shirt-worthy portrait of an 'uke luthier I've ever seen. Shown at left, it's by Tracy Walker (click on her name for portfolio). Link

Jens Lekman

A quick post while I'm playing the waiting game here at Jury Duty. According to this concert review, Jens seems to be a kind of Swedish Stephin Merritt. His site is a bit spartan, but I also haven't had a chance to check out the mp3s yet. Link

Friday, October 21, 2005

Indiana University Sheet Music Collection

Here's yet another wonderful online source of vintage sheet music, much of it with ukulele arrangements (chords). A nice feature of the IU site is that you can elect to search for only digitized records, thus saving you from having to scroll through pages of returned records without scanned sheet music images.

Here's a tip, too: do a search on "Singhi" and the results will include all the music with May Singhi Breen uke arrangements. Link

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Yiddish Hula Boy: Oh, Boy!

Okay, class: mandatory viewing. The one and only Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys perform in this talkie short subject. Aloha, Oy! Link

Pix from Uke Out at the Knock Out

Rev. Jon Pekele Kamalani Thysell attended last Friday's Uke Out in San Francisco and writes about it on his blog:
"The Uke Out at the Knock Out was great last night. First we ate accross the street at a little Japanese restaurant. The Knock Out turned out to not be a concert, but just a bar. It was a little crowded and hot in there, and they didn’t start until late, but the music was great.

The first guy, Cracker Jack Salteen, sounded a little awkward, but at least he acknowledged it. The best group had to be the Paper Dolls who went next. Those girls could sing, and definately took the attention of the crowd. They threw in some Prince and Boy George and it was great. Dimestore Dandy was good, he could sing and his songs were great. He even had a kazoo inside of a tin can around his neck. Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen were great too.

The end was great, as the Paper Dolls joined the Paddlemen onstage as the Sweaters, and they did some great doowop numbers. Check out the photo album."

Sorry I missed it! Link

Pagan Uke Movie Pic

Tikimeister Otto von Stroheim pointed me to this photo of silent screen siren Renee Adoree, shown here with Ramon Novarro in a still from what I guess is probably from "The Pagan." Note the authentic polynesian beret Renee sports while Ramon restrains his curly locks with one of Renee's garters (or a headband from Ben-Hur--I can't tell which). Apparently Ramon was just about to offer Renee a bite of his sugar cane when director W. S. "One Take Woody" Van Dyke yelled "cut!"
(Thanks, Otto!)

Nickel Creek Adds Uke to Mix

My pal Tuba is on tour helping the Ditty Bops open for Nickel Creek. Here is a link to the tour schedule. By all means see the show, if only for Tuba and the Ditty Bops. Treat enough! But we also hear that Nickel Creek fiddle player Sara Watkins (pictured) has been picking up the uke of late. Link

Monday, October 17, 2005

UKULELE! Magazine

Rufus Yells and Phil Powell are planning a British ukulele magazine entitled, well, UKULELE! They seek contributors and advertisers. Link

Friday, October 14, 2005

ALO, Animal Liberation Orchestra

Just in time for Friday: Liberation is here! Check out ALO, the Animal Liberation Orchestra, a hot jam band from San Francisco. There's a sprinkling of uke in their music; "Time & Heat", for example. Link

Direction from The Boss

No excuses now, people. You've all received the memo. The Boss has spoken:
"It's time to bring the ukulele back; size does not always count"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

KoAloha Anniversary Party

Another Star Bulletin piece with lots of great photos from the KoAloha 10th Anniversary party last August. (Eh, Papa, invite us out fo' da 15th, yeah?) Link

KoAloha Profile

Great profile on the KoAloha company in the Star Bulletin. Happy Anniversary! Link

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Dangerfield of Instruments?

A review of last weekend's festival in Nova Scotia:"
"It's not easy to love the ukulele. The instrument has a bad reputation, a tricky name to spell and very little street cred.

To make matters worse, record-breaking rains made the First International Ukulele Ceilidh in Liverpool last weekend nearly inaccessible to anyone travelling from Halifax."

Sounds like it was a great event, despite the weather... Link

Boing Boing: Ukuleles made from demolished buildings

Mark posted this over on BoingBoing, and it's one of the most imaginative uke ideas we've come across recently.
'Japanese artist, Nabuaki Date, make ukuleles out of parts of soon to be demolished houses and buildings. The ukulele is then given to the owner of the house as a physical and acoustic embodiment of its memories and history.

'They are beautifully crafted and unique. If you follow the links to the flickr page you can find a few more that I have scanned in.'

William H. Macy Caught Ukin'

The family and I recently watched the action/adventure movie "Sahara." It's worth renting, and if you do, be sure to watch the "Wrap Reel" in the bonus features. There's a quick clip of William H. Macy strumming his Flea ukulele in his trailer. Link

Lyle Ritz Featured on "Lost"

My wife and I have gotten hooked on the ABC series "Lost." (Somehow we missed it entirely last year, but have been watching the first season on DVD.) Last night we watched the episode titled "Homecoming" on Disk 4. Lyle Ritz's classic arrangement of "Lulu's Back in Town" is featured in the soundtrack during Charlie's ill-fated sales presentation. Link

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Uke Community Photo Album Additions

Catfish Carl's Ukulele Community Photo Album is worth checking out periodically to see who's new. Today I noticed a fun photo of Robert Wheeler (founder of ukulule consciousness) sitting in the highly unusual bathroom at Mike DaSilva's studio in Berkeley (must be experienced to be believed). Sez founder:
"While I have seen one other tone wood hand crafted toilet paper holder in my ukulele travels, rosewood or mahogany, at C.F. Martin in Nazareth, this is the first koa one I've seen.
Scroll down on the page to see the giant scale pineapple uke (shown here) that the guys in the Santa Cruz Uke Club built for this year's "Burning Uke." I can't believe they'll actually torch this baby. But they will! Oh the Uke-manity! Link

Baby We Were Born to Uke

Evidently The Boss has been strumming the uke in recent performances. Anyone found pix? Link and another Link

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Trio of Three Nunes Pin Bridge Ukes

Check out this set of three rare Leonardo Nunes pin bridge ukuleles (concert, tenor, and soprano). Frank Ford points out that the concert is labeled a "radio tenor." Link

Ukulele Cinema World

Okay, one last gem from poking around on The Call of Ukulele (see post below). This page chronicles the uke appearances in movies--both American and Japanese. This guy at right from 1956 is my new hero. Link

The Call of Ukulele

We're a big fan of The King David Ukulele Station, Bertrand's ukulele blog from France. (Even if he does frequently scoop us!)

Here is what appears to be Japan's answer to Ukulelia (and where I've found links for my last two posts): "The Call of Ukulele" ("It's a gateway of ukulele web sites!")

It's in Japanese, but with enough English headers that most folks from this hemisphere should be able to poke around with no trouble. There's a bevy of links to Japanese luthiers, performers, events, etc. Well worth a perusal, and definitely a bookmark! Link

Majesty Ukes

Yusuke Kawakami is an ex pat luthier from Japan, influenced by Larivee, and now living and building in Vancouver. Link

Asturias Ukes

Asturias Ukes are based on classic Martin designs. Wonder how they sound for the price... Here's a link to their site (in Japanese). Link

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Uke for Troops Money Stolen

I ran across this post by Uke Jackson over on the Fleamarket Music Bulletin Board and thought I'd republish it here in hope that the money might be recovered, and that the larger uke community might be interested in supporting the cause. What a shame...
"A detective in the Coronado Police Department has asked me to lend my voice, as it were, to the investigation regarding the disappearance of several thousand dollars at the San Diego Ukulele Festival. This money was destined to buy ukuleles for troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The police also asked me to make it clear that Cathy Michalski was the direct victim of this crime. She is not a suspect.

Whoever stole this money is believed to have come to the festival as a ukulele player. If you or anyone you know has information regarding the disappearance of this money, please contact the Coronado Police at 619-522-7347.

Right now, we have requests for far more ukes than we have money. This is not about supporting the war. It is about the gift of ukulele to young folks in harm’s way on a daily basis.

Anita Coyoli-Cullen is in charge of Ukes for Troops. She is currently using as the web site, while I am in the process of transferring and to her name. She is in the process of receiving 501 3c not-for-profit status. Shirley Orlando does the fulfillment.

Neither of these fine ladies makes a penny for their efforts. If you want to donate, every $20 buys a uke that is sent over there (songbook and postage incl). Every cent raised goes for getting ukes in the hands of the troops who want them. There are no administrative costs taken from the funds raised.

All donations made now are tax deductible through Operation Home Front. Checks should be made payable to Ukes for Troops and sent to the address on

Please, if you know anything at all about the missing money, contact the police at the above number. If you actually know the individual who stole it, get that person to return it anonymously or through an intermediary.

The return of the money would likely end the matter now, and it would let us fulfill our promise to some young people who want to play ukulele."


Hukilau 2005

Otto sez I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you of this mega-tiki event in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend! The event site has loads of links to performer sites. Check it out! Link

Thursday, August 25, 2005

San Diego Ukulele Festival

If you're in the San Diego area, don't miss the 2nd Annual San Diego Ukulele Festival this weekend, August 27th and 28th! Link

Great Performances . Bill Irwin, Clown Prince | PBS

Stumbled across a wonderful profile of master clown (and my personal hero) Bill Irwin on PBS last night. Look for it to repeat in your local area. There's an all-too-brief bit at the very end with Bill and Doug Skinner (whose site seems to be down) on uke. Link

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Ukulele from Coog Instruments

Check out these unusual ukes. The one shown at left is modeled after a Martin Style 1, and features a "recycled abalone inlay (farmed abalone from meal at local restaurant)". Look closely at the sides and you'll see that they're comprised of koa "tiles" with ebony strips. I've never seen anything like it. Link

Heimat der Ukulele

Here's a gem: Heimat der Ukulele (Homeland of the Ukulele) is great site to bookmark, even if (like me) you don't speak much German. I love this picture, which shows how smugglers apparently concealed contraband inside a uke. This, and much more (I was going to blog the photo of a "young" Adolph Hitler with his banjo uke, but I'll leave that for you to discover), courtesy of Raimund Sper... Link

The Honey Brothers

Meet The Honey Brothers, New York's--and perhaps the world's--only Hawaiian-Appalachian Glam Rock Band. Here's a recent interview with the band. Official Site

Monday, August 15, 2005

SoCal Heroes Send Ukes to Troops

Anita Coyoli-Cullen and Shirley Orlando have spearheaded a volunteer effort that has sent one hundred ukuleles to soldiers in Iraq. Link

Monday, August 08, 2005

Ralph Shaw Ukulele Strumming DVD

Ralph Shaw is indeed the King of the Ukulele. His Majesty has released a new DVD which should satisfy the craving of many folks looking to learn George Formby's notorious "split stroke" as well as the strum and chords used in Bruddah Iz's famous Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World medley. Link

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Randall Wright's Bamboo Ukulele

I earlier posted about last Saturday's workshop at Mike DaSilva's (see post, below). In follow-up, I received a nice email from Jim Bradbury, a fellow attendee (who let me try out his short-scale Duane Heileman sopranino--more frets per inch than any other uke I've seen). Sez Jim:
"Here's a link to some
I took of Randall Wright's ukulele derring-do..."
A Word of Caution: do not try this with your 1890 Santos.

(And in the Small World Department, turns out Jim is married to our long-lost friend, Judith Bradbury, nee Johnson. A new friend and a re-union with an old one in one fell swoop. I gotta get out more often!)

(Thanks, Jim!)

One Hot Uke Playa

The SFGate has published a series of pix of Burning Man attendees. Shown here is Dickie Davies. I bet that getup gets warm on the playa. Link (Thanks, Debra!)

Jeff Solomon

Meet Jeff Solomon, singer-songwriter-sketch comic:

"Jeff performs his songs on the piano and this 4-stringed acoustic/electric baritone ukulele. Jeff's ukulele uses an unconventional tuning similar to the alternate "G" tuning for the tenor ukulele: the strings are tuned D-G-B-E like the bottom strings of the guitar, except the D is raised an octave. Why the strange tuning? When Jeff got the uke as a gift, it came tuned that way. He taught himself to play it like that, unaware that it was strange, and with no ukulele experts at hand to alert him to the abnormality. So that's how it'll always be, tuned strange."

Jeff is a co-founder of the award-winning comedy group Elephant Larry and reportedly can play the uke and sax simultaneously.


Monday, August 01, 2005

My Day at DaSilva

I spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon at Mike DaSilva's shop attending one of Byron Yasui's workshops. Randall Wright dropped by and did a handstand on his new DaSilva bamboo uke.

Later, while we were all hanging out, talking story, a lady drops in with a uke that she picked up for her 4 year old at Goodwill. (You know where this is going...) Found it at the bottom of a box filled with kids toys. Marked $3.99, but since it was missing a tuning peg, she haggled and got it for 99 cents. Brought it by Mike's to see what it would cost to put the c. 1920 Leonardo Nunes in playing condition for the kid.

O! Ukulele Karma, where art thou?

Not Just a Flying V...A Pink Flying V!

Wow. Words escape me. Link

Here's a great site, especially for you players in New England. Mark Occhionero's site has lots of photos from recent local events, including Ukulele Noir. Don't miss Mark's Ukulele Flirting section, and his seekrit stash of jazzy uke arrangements and tabs. Link

Friday, July 29, 2005

Annual Ukulele Festival of Hawaii

It's the 35th Annual Ukulele Festival at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand this Sunday, July 31. If you're going, just know that I'm very, very jealous. Link

Friday, July 22, 2005

Global Ukulele Odyssey Benefit Concert

Mike DaSilva is also hosting a benefit concert for Randall Wright's upcoming Global Ukulele Odyssey tomorrow, July 23, 2005:

"One man, one ukulele. Randall will be traveling to Taiwan, China and India to learn and translate regional indigenous musics through the ukulele and explore the contemporarization of such musics into pop, blues and rock formats. Come support the kickoff to his monumental journey. For more information please visit Global Ukulele.
Information on the DaSilva concert venue is here.

Bay Area Workshops with Byron Yasui

Ukulelia pal and luthier Mike DaSilva wrote to let us know that Dr. Byron Yasui (left) will be in the San Francisco Bay Area and conducting a series of worshops--from beginner to advanced--between July 29 and 31.

Complete details on Mike's site. Don't miss it! Link

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dopyera Collection - National Steel Body Ukulele

Check out this pear-shaped 1929 National Tricone ukulele. It's for sale at Elderly Instruments. But there's a catch. To get the uke, you have to buy the entire resonator collection of John and Rudy Dopyera, brothers and creators of Dobro instruments. Link

Weird News of the Uke

Uke playing three-year-old's national anthem-singing career abruptly ended by father's second place finish in tractor pull. Link

Gabby La La

Petty Booka meets Primus? You be the judge. According to today's review in the San Francisco Weekly,
"La La plays sprightly ukulele, sitar, accordion, toy piano, theremin, and Afropop guitar; [Primus's Les] Claypool provides a thumping bottom end on bass, drums, and percussion. Granted, the tunes may sound a bit peculiar at first, but closer attention reveals gems of pop merriment, variously catchy or groovy, with spare, elegant arrangements and an overall feeling akin to a children's game, like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, which despite its veneer of strange discombobulation is basically wholesome fun."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

'The Jerk: 26th Anniversary Special Edition' DVD

This new anniversary DVD of Steve Martin's "The Jerk" includes a bonus feature in which none other than the enticing Miss Janet Klein will teach you how to play "Tonight You Belong to Me". Yowzah! Link

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Red Uke

Heading to the Oregon Country Fair in Eugene this weekend? Check out this vaudeville review on Stage Left, starring Dusty Rhodes, Darcy DuRuz, Phina Pipia, Noodlini, Nanda, Stage Left Dancers and more." Link

Exotica in Chicago this Weekend

Uke music will be in abundance at Exotica 2005, July 7 - 10 in the Windy City. (Chicago Dogs Have Fleas?) Link

Friday, July 01, 2005

Journalist Saves Uke Class

Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer Maggie Downs writes about how she single-handedly saved the uke class offered by the University of Cincinnati's Communiversity. Link

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jake Shimabukuro on "The World" Today

"The World" on public radio today will air a feature on Jake:
"The ukelele (sic) has just four strings, and a very limited range. But one Hawaiian musician has taken the humble instrument out of its customary setting, and even scored a pop hit in Japan. A master musician demonstrates the power of the ukelele, from Beatles tunes to speed metal."
Check your local listings for airtime. Here's info for KQED. (Thanks, Jennifer!)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Nirvana for Ukuleles!

TGIF: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as performed by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Link to mp3

Open Source Ukes

Ran across this amazing site when poking around on the King David site.
"The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an ‘Internet library,’ with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format."
A search on "ukulele" turned up some real gems, like this 1918 Edison recording of an 'ukulele/mandolin duet, Ragtime Echos with the mysterious Marie Caveny on uke. Not to mention some Cliff Edwards classics here.

Take Your Uke on Your Trip!

Well, it's officially Summer, ukefans. So while you're off on your vacation rambles, be sure to snap a shot of your uke in front of local landmarks. Then send your snaps to Jerrold Connors, host of Ukulele Boogaloo and creator of Jiminy Kokopo's keen uke method book. Check out Jerrold's wonderful gallery of travellin' ukes, and don't miss the outstanding collection of chords, lyrics, and tabs! (Perfect stuff for your long car rides...) Link


Over on, a drop dead gorgeous 1914 six-string koa uke made by Leonardo (son of Miguel) Nunes. Link
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