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
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