Saturday, September 30, 2006

To You Sweetheart, Aloha

This documentary biography of Bill Tapia will be aired on PBS stations in LA on Sunday, October 1, 2006. I'd say "set your Tivo," but DVDs are available from the film's official site, and it sure would be nice to support the filmmakers, now, wouldn't it?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mahalo, Peter!

I had the pleasure of meeting Bay-Area uker Peter Alau over lattes this morning. Peter responded to a recent request I put out to readers about bringing me back a T-shirt from this year's Ukulele Festival in Hawaii. Peter's been patiently waiting for me to meet up with him and reimburse him for the shirt, but I am now the proud wearer of a papaya-orange shirt featuring a design by Kyle Shimabukuro (Man! What is it with this family?).

Peter also gave me a bunch of swell swag from the event, including an uke-shaped fan given away by KoAloha.

We talked story for over an hour, and I'll be writing more about the musical mystery that he's trying to solve about his family's ukulele past. Stay tuned! And thanks again, Peter!

Jake on NPR Today

NPR's Morning Edition featured Jake Shimabukuro today. It's a nice, 7 minute piece that provides some nice perspective on the state-of-the-uke. Ukulelia has been receiving a lot of extra traffic as a result, which is nice. If you're here because of the NPR story, welcome! Link to page with audio

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Once Again, Decades Behind the Times

Ukulele shop finally accepts plastic. Link

5-Minute Guaranteed Ukulele Course

This fellow inherited his Grandmother's uke book, and to honor her sprit, has uploaded it to flickr. This is the method book that my mom and dad bought me to go with my plastic uke when I was about 6. Like most uke books from the late 50s until Jim Beloff began publishing his "Jumpin' Jim" collections in the late 90s, this book is filled with songs that no one wanted to sing--if they even knew the tunes in the first place. The author of this book apparently assumed that you knew the tune to "When You and I
Were Young, Maggie,"
since the lyrics are there, but the student is left to play the chords "by number." (35-Year Method is more like it! Subtitle: "Sweet, But Depressing Songs Loved by People Who Are Now Dead". It also has the quaint distiction of containing heartwarmingly un-PC ditties such as "Massa's in De Cold, Cold Ground" and "Old Black Joe.")

"Polly Wolly Doodle" was about the only song I recognized in the book, but I always wanted to be able to sing "The Bull Dog". And now, thanks to the free tubes of the internets, I can.

Still, I've kept my copy, and now you can have yours, too. Link

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mary Lou Stout Dempler

Meet Kentucky's Ukulele Goddess, founder of LUAU (the Louisville Ukulele Association Unlimited), and author of several method books. In particular, if you're looking to include the uke with devotional activities, Mary Lou's site looks like a great place to start. Link

Marines' Hymn

As a little addition to the post below, here's a link to an arrangement of the Marines' Hymn with chords. (They're guitar chords, so ignore the first two strings and you're all set. The key will be off, but if you play by ear, you should be able to hear the melody. Otherwise, transpose to your heart's content!) Link

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Few. The Proud. The Ukers.

Shirley Orlando of
Ukes for Troops wrote us with this terrific news flash:

"Hi, Gary!

Could you put this story on your web site. I received it in my Email today and starting cracking up. Now we've got the Marines turning in their band instruments for ukuleles. I don't think John Philip Sousa will be turning in his grave, however...he's probably doing the hula!

Love Ukulelia and give the web site to all my new students, and anyone interested in Ukulele.


Shirley Orlando,

Ukes for Troops

Here's a snip:

The best part is the ukuleles now belong to the Marines. They were passed out to other bandsmen assisting in security duties throughout the area of operations. In little corners all across Fallujah and Habbaniyah, Marines are plucking the sing-song strains of the South Pacific.

“It’s great to be able to play, but better for the rest of the Marines,” Dalberg said. “Someone’s getting the chance to play music because of this donation. Too many times you hear, ‘I wish I could play.’ Here, we’ve got someone giving us instruments to learn how to play.”

“It’s a really nice gesture that someone would do something like that,” Hufford added.

“I enjoyed being able to feel like playing music had a purpose again,” Dalberg explained. “We played and it made people smile and that’s what it’s about.”

Don't miss all the great photos that accompany this article. They'll give you a real sense of the positive impact that the Ukes for Troops program is having on our brothers and sisters in arms.

So listen up, all you loyal Ukulelia readers: for about the price of a yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbon decal you can send a uke and songbook to a soldier. That's 25 Bucks, recruits. TEN SHUN! Present checkbooks! And that's an order!


PS: I think Sousa would love this (courtesy of John King!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


While I work at figuring out what this is all about, enjoy the show! (En Espanol). Link

Lil' Rev in the City of Angels

Our peripatetic pal, Lil' Rev, dropped us a note to let us know that he'll be heading out to the Left Coast for a series of concerts and workshops this fall. Of particular note, sez Rev, is his gig at the Craft & Folk Art Museum on October 14, 2006. Details at Compete deets about Rev's route will be found on his site. If you haven't yet explored the folk and blues sides of the uke, check out his concerts and recordings. But don't take my word for it. Take it from Pete Seeger (with Rev, at left): "Listen to this! Lil Rev is Great!"

Oh, and I hope to see folks at Rev's workshop at Gryphon Stringed Instruments on October 7th!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Plastic Ukes

Catfish Carl has a great page devoted to plastic ukes made by Maccaferri and others. There's a banjo uke made by Emanee (left), but no Maccaferri (see post below). Link

Maccaferri Banjo Uke

You probably knew that Maccaferri made tons of plastic ukes in the 50s. But how about this: a plastic Maccaferri banjo uke! Currently for sale at Elderly. Love those graphics! Link
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