Monday, December 31, 2007

The Ins And Outs Of '08

What's in. What's out. Take a guess. Yep! Link

The Ukulelia Holiday Songbook - 2007 Edition

Note: this link will hang around at the top o' the blog until New Years. Be sure to scroll down for new posts!

Mele Kalikimaka, everyone. Once again, as a service and early Solstice gift to all of our loyal readers, we here at Ukulelia have assembled a comprehensive set of links to all of your favorite Christmas carols and Christmas and Hanukkah songs. Most are easy-to-strum chord and lyric arrangements perfect for yule-tide sing-alongs. Others are jazzy arrangements of winter standards. And the occasional knuckle-twisting tab for advanced players or people who are simply holiday masochists.

Do let us know if you have posted or have found material that we've not discovered yet. We'll be happy to add to the list.

UPDATED: Christmas songs from UKUKES, across the Pond!

Go to the Ukulelia Holiday Songbook

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside (semi)Cross Country Duet

Sweet! Aren't the internets cool?


Uke Track Discovered on Honey Pie

Musicians "discover" ukulele track on Honey Pie. Did we know it was there before? Did George play it? In any event, from now on, no respectable re-creation of the White Album will be be complete without it. (Or will it?)

UPDATE: Aha! Controversy! Read Arch's extensive notes in the comments, below.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bushman Ukulele Video Contest

Only a few days left (December 31 is the deadline) to submit your video for a chance to win a Bushman Ukulele. Details here.

I only looked at a couple of the submissions, but this one gets my vote. (We heart Moxie!)

And whatever you do, DO NOT click on this link. You have been duly warned.

Thoughts on Iz's Legacy

Leah from The Mountain Apple Company (Bruddah Iz's publisher) sent us an interesting press release, deomonstrating Iz's enduring popularity:
"Billboard Magazine, the world’s premier music publication, named Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo`ole on three of its year-end charts this week. A rare feat for a Hawaiian artist, IZ placed #3 on the Top World Catalog chart and #8 Top World Album chart for Alone in IZ World, and #5 on the Top World Artist chart for his smash hit 2007 release, Wonderful World.

"This is the 6th year in a row that IZ has been named on Billboard's year-end charts. Since their release, IZ's albums have had an impressive track record for making various charts. As of this week, Facing Future has been on for a total of 557 weeks, Alone in IZ World for 325 weeks, and Wonderful World for 25 weeks. Both Alone in IZ World and Wonderful World have not left the charts since their release, in September 2001 and June 2007, respectively."

And all this 10 years after his death.

By my count, his rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World has been used on least 11 motion picture sountracks, and countless TV commercials. I think this is a wonderful tribute to Iz's legacy.

But it is also a mixed blessing.

Without a doubt, Buddah Iz deserves still more recognition. And importantly, he deserves recognition for more than one song. Which, I fear, the popularity of Rainbow/World may limit him to. My wish is that more people will come to enjoy his ethnic Hawai'ian music, and appreciate him for the important work he did for Hawai'ian culture and the Hawai'ian people.

Iz's Rainbow/World is also a mixed blessing for ukulele performers. It's become the Tiptoe Through the Tulips of the Third Wave. Everyone expects you to play it. And everyone expects that you'll play it exactly as Iz did. (Probably for kids in Hawai'i, it's the new Pearly Shells, to be played ad nauseum at every uke class recital.)

And finally, Iz's eclipsing popularity is a mixed blessing for musicians from Hawai'i. One would hope that his popularity would have led to a "Hawai'ian Invasion," much as the Beatles launched the British Invasion. It may still. There are scores of talented musicians in the Islands that deserve wider play. The good folks at Mountain Apple represent many of them.

So let's all pray that Iz will not be remembered as a "one hit wonder." Or worse, that Rainbow/World will do no more Hawai'i than The Numa Numa Song did for Moldova.

(Thanks, Leah!)

New Year's Prediction

After performing at this event, some knucklehead sportswriter will refer to Jake as "The Tiger Woods of the Ukulele." Link

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Eilidh's Daily Ukulele Ceilidh Draws to a Close

A Ceilidh a Day for an entire year. Sorry to see it end, but congratulations, Eilidh! Link

UPDATE: The Beeb has picked up the story.

NY Ukulele Cabaret This Saturday Night

December 29, 2007, from 7pm 'till late.

On the bill are: Bliss Blood, Craig Chesler, Duncan Pflaster, Moose Karloff, Patsy Monteleone, Ian Schwartz, Heather Mumford, Victoria Vox, Mike Presta, Amelia Robinson, Jason Maniscalco, Jen Kwok, Dana McCoy, Andru Cann, Hot Time Harv, Steven Swartz, Gio Gaynor, Diana Alutto, The Jack Lords, Meaghan Farrell, Sweet Soubrette, Mary Martin and Jamie Scandal -- hosted by Sonic Uke.
Ukulele Cabaret
Saturday 29th December
Stage 43 at Jimmy's
43 East 7th Street
East Village, New York

The 4th Annual Ukulele Drop!

Avoid the (unhip) crowds in Times Square this New Year's Eve!
Sonic Uke hosts the 4th Annual New Year's Eve Ukulele Drop
Countdown and drop at midnight (pre-show at 10pm)
130 West 10th Street at Greenwich Avenue
West Village, NY
Here are photos and video from the past three years:

Teh ABCs of teh Laugh-Out-Loud Cats

Nina Coquina sez:
"Check out the letter "U" in the alphabet of LOLCATS!"

(Thanks, Nina!)

pwnd! d00d gets flAt ook for xmas

It's a Style 2-D! (If I showed you the photo, it wouldn't be funny.) Link

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Buddy Nutt

"Buddy Nutt is a singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist who sings songs about picnics, suicide, super markets, dead girlfriends, ping pong, sledding, and so on. "

Ukulele and musical saw. Kind of a Pittsburghian version of Bob Armstrong. Link

Happy Birthday, Mr. B

Best wishes for the day, to Jumpin' Jim Beloff, Godfather of the Third Wave. And btw, Jim has produced a new CD that's been getting rave reviews. Here's one recent review (with music clips). Link

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

God Rest Ye Sarah and Ye Three Barenaked Ladies

Mike Dickison from Giant Flightless Birds (really) sez:
Hi there,

I just posted the chords for the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan's mashup of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and "We Three Kings", which was a hit at last year's uke jam. There's a few examples on YouTube

Part of a concert vidcam
And someone's home-made video

There are some lovely uke arrangements of indie music on Mike's page. Check 'em out! Link

(Thanks, Mike!)

Christmas Vox

Ukulele Sweetheart Victoria Vox has a lovely Christmas song, All I Want for Christmas. (VV, the feeling is mutual.) Listen here. (And don't miss the video of Victoria uking on an airplane!)

Ms Vox will also be on the air, Christmas Day, for those of you snowbound ukers in Milwaukee.

A Very Patsy Christmas

Patsy Monteleone pinged us to let us know he posted a few holiday classics to his MySpace page. Ukulele plangency meets vocal smoke. Very nice, sir. Link

Ukes For Troops: ON THE AIR

Anita sez:
"Ukes for Troops will be on the air, with Colonel Norman Saito, of the Hawaii National Guard, on Christmas Eve, 10 am California time, 8 am Hawaii time. This show can only be heard on the Internet. Go to, click on Listen."

Editor sez:
"A contribution to Ukes for Troops would make a nice holiday present for one of our brothers and sisters in harm's way."

(Thanks, Anita!)

Classes With Al Dodge

If you live in the SF East Bay Area, you'll want to check out Al Dodge and Randall Goni's ukulele classes at the Orinda Community Center. Next classes (there are 2 levels) begin January 8th, 2008. 8 Week Sessions continue into June. Non-residents are welcome, but pay slightly more for Al and Randall's tutelage. Link

(Thanks, John!)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Get Well Soon, Ed!

Pro football and uke player Edwin Mulitalo is recuperating from a concussion. He's a big hearted guy who donates a lot of time and energy to charitable causes, including Big Ed's Band Foundation, which supports musical education in the schools. Link

A Uke Hunt Christmas

Over on Uke Hunt, you'll find some surprising Christmas ukulele tabs. Fun stuff from the Pogues, the Ramones and a few more. This link will bring up all the Xmas stuff on Uke Hunt. Poke around and enjoy! Link

How To Play Christmas Ukulele

Looking for a last minute Xmas Gift for that uke player in your life? Here's the perfect thing: no shipping required. It's an ebook of Christmas favorites, tabbed for uke. $7.00! Link

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ukulele at the Dawn of the Talkies

Yesterday I stumbled upon this video posted to YouTube. It's a dub of a 1982 public access TV show, The Nightlife Show("Central Florida's Only Television Show About Television!"). In it, host Kerry Decker talks about Bell Labs' Vitaphone system (the first commercial system for talking pictures) and plays a short industrial film made in 1926 by Bell Labs to demonstrate how their system works. It's entitled, The Voice From the Screen. Watch the video before reading on. The set up will make what comes next pretty mind-blowing.

Warning: Here be Spoilers

Okay, did you happen to notice what they were shooting? Why the musical duo "Witt & Berg" performing a medley of hapa haole ditties on ukulele and guitar. So here we have what might very well be the first talking picture a ukulele performance (and it's on one of the first non-experimental sound motion pictures in history!). Enjoy the full performance below. And in case you're curious, I checked in with Michael Simmons, Ukulelia Professor of Lutherie Kine Stuff about the identity of the non-uke instrument being played. With 97.6532% certainty, Prof. Simmons says that he is playing "a guitar made in Chicago in the early to mid-1920s at the Lyon and Healy factory that bears either the Lyon and Healy name or the Washburn name." (Which, we would add, is the factory that made similarly styled ukuleles and tiples during the same period.) We hope you enjoy this little piece of ukulele history.

(By the way The Voice From the Screen is included as a bonus feature on the newly released DVD edition of The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. Lots of other early vaudeville performance captured on Vitaphone shorts are also included!)

Supertone "Idle Hour" Soprano

I've decided that this is what I wish Santa would bring me this year. It's a Supertone "Idle Hour" Model Soprano made by Harmony around 1932. Check out the swell decal (note that the canoe is named "Idle Hour") and the mother-of-toilet-seat fretboard. There's just something about this cutie that says "Christmas Morning." Link

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cliffie at the Lido

Here's an amazing clip of Cliff Edwards managing to concentrate singing and strumming Hang on to Me while a sultry blonde does cigarette tricks. The clip is from the 1935 short, Starlit Days at the Lido. What I like best about this clip is that you can get a clear view of Cliff's unique strumming style: all fingers with thumb for accent notes. (If you can take your eyes off the girl, that is...) Link

(Starlit Days at the Lido is a bonus feature in this DVD collection, on the Roberta disc. Thanks to Vooper for the tip!)

New York Uke Fest 2008

Tickets go on sale January 3 for the 2008 New York Uke Fest. The official logo has just been revealed; the winning design is by Jennifer Vyhnak. Mark your calendars, and congrats, Jennifer! Link

Sex, Drugs, and Ukuleles

Do you live in NYC? Play the uke? Is it your dream to be a musical comedy star? Now's your chance. Auditions are open for Sex, Drugs, and Ukuleles which will see its debut as part of the 2008 NYUkefest. Link

For Mike, A Uke

A discussion thread over on the FleaMarketMusic BB on the use of exotic tone woods reminded me that legendary Martin luthier Mike Longsworth once made a uke out of Formica. Here's a bit by the founder about the "For Mike, A Uke" along with some swell photos. Link

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mary Ukelady

From the tropical western foothills of Maine comes "Mary Ukelady" Hargreaves. I love the fact that she has a photo of her mom as a young girl playing the uke on the site, too. Link

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tippy on KQED's Spark

Pohaku Ukulele's Geralyn Hurney (Peter's "cuter half") dropped us a note to let us know that Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen were recently featured on KQED TV in SF. You can see the video here. Link

(Thanks, Geralyn!)

No Queen

One of the darkest places in the world is a jail cell. Particularly when you’re in there for the wrong reason. Keepin’ your mouth shut for love is either extreme foolishness or the height of romance. Everyone has to make that decision for themselves. Here’s a song of mine (in demo format) called “She’s No Queen of Hearts”.

Original illustration by John Tenniel.

the song.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Go, Nellie!

Time to add another Ukulele Sweetheart to the list. Broadway actress and vocalist Nellie McKay has not only been spotted on the red carpet at the Tonys with uke in hand and admits to wanting to be the Ry Cooder of the ukulele. She recently gave uke-infused performance in NYC. Here's a link to the review. Link

Ukulele Art Raises Money For Charity

4th and 5th graders in Haines City, FL painted, then auctioned off hand-painted ukuleles to raise money for an orphanage in South Africa. They raised nearly $2,000. Nice job, kids! Link

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Attacking the Martin Wall

Last Thursday I set out for Robert Wheeler’s abode in Littleton to meet with him and Greg Hawkes and Mark Occhionero for lunch and an appraisal of Robert’s newly arranged Martin ukulele wall.
Robert is a gracious host, and the three of us are probably not the most gracious guests…he wanted calm, serious appraisals and we wanted beer and to play some damn ukuleles!

Which we all did. Having much fun in the process.

Besides the lovely Martins, I fell in love with a twenties Supertone Taropatch that Robert had in his collection.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cardboard Uke

Evidently no cigar boxes were to be had, so this guy crafted a uke out of corrugated cardboard. I think he deserves particular credit for his clever violin-peg-style headstock construction. Link

(via Uke Hunt)

Friday, December 14, 2007


So, I’m sittin’ in Louie’s Bar and Grill sippin’ a Gimlet and the lights (already pretty dim) dim even further. A little lady with a ukulele sidles out onto the stage: Ginette Machin et son Ukulele. Yeah. She’s french. From Ile-de-France. Cool songs. Make my drink taste better.
But that ain’t what this is about.

What is “torchy”?

High and squeaky or low and cheeky? Low altitude or all attitude? I dunno. Maybe a french accent and low lights…and a ukulele.


Black Bear Christmas Bell Ukulele

Currently for sale on the FleamarketMusic marketplace (a good and reputable place to buy and sell ukes). This beauty was built by Duane Heilman:
"Here is a new soprano size ukulele, the 5th uke in a series I call the 'Christmas Bell'. This uke is fashioned after the older Lyon & Healy bell ukes. The uke features some elaborate pine needle inlays of green abalone shell on the top. The red berries are vintage red pearl celluloid pick material. There are also holly leaves and berry inlays on each corner. The top wood is finely grained European spruce. The sides, back, headplate and neck are made of some highly figured Eastern Maple. The fretboard is ebony inlaid with MOP snow flake designs. There are white side dots at the 5th, 7th, 10th,and 12th frets. The bridge is a hardwood called Redheart. The binding is white vinyl. The top and headplate purfling is a combination of red and white wood strips with green abalone shell inlays. The Black Bear logo in abalone shell with a Maple and Redheart rings. Standard size frets are used, 14 to the body, 16 total. The compensated bridge saddle is bone. The nut and neck heel cap are old ivory. The tuners are gold-plated Grover friction type with hand-made green and red clear plastic knobs."


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Amanda Visell

Artist Amanda Visell has a new solo show opening in LA. Isn't this piece a hoot? I know her two "hobos" are supposed to be playing cigar box guitars, but I don't think that any self respecting Pink Elephant would play anything other than the ukulele. Link

(via BoingBoing)

The Maple Shield

This new beauty on the Pohaku website. A rope-bound koa concert with a maple “shield” and peghed tuners. For those of you who haven’t got a ukulele with pegheds…they are well worth the investment. A 4:1 ratio and lovely stability makes them tremendous on stage. They look great and I recommend them highly for a new instrument. They do, however, need an expert to install them.

Peter Hurney says of this particuar ukulele: “This is a curly koa concert size ukulele with rope binding and soundhole rosette. The koa comes from a tree on Oahu’s Roundtop neighborhood, above Honolulu city. I inlaid a Queensland Maple shield on the lower edge of the soundboard and used the same wood to make the fret position markers which are inlaid into the East Indian Rosewood fingerboard. A genuine Honduran Mahogany neck completes the list of woods. As usual, the back is well arched and the instrument is meticulously finished in a smooth glossy lacquer “


A Child Is Born - Ukulele Arrangement

I loved the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Big Band, and one of my favorite recordings is of Thad's "A Child is Born." It's a beautiful and poignant tune that will rip your heart out if you're not careful. Curt Sheller has posted a uke arrangement that would make a nice soulful addition to a Christmas performance. Link


The Flea Museum

The Flea Museum is a fan site dedicated to cataloging every flavor--stock and custom--of Flea Ukuleles, including the mythical "Sand Flea" of April 1, 2006 fame. There's a big sister site, too, The Fluke Museum.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spreadin' the Love-in

Get ready, kiddos, they’re comin’ atcha: that irrepressible duo: Bosko and Honey!
From the great Downunder to the big Upandover. Dig it.

in 2008 BOSKO & HONEY'S UKULELE LOVE-IN is coming to you!
B&H are pleased to announce that as of FEBRUARY 2008, they will be embarking on a new project called BOSKO & HONEY'S UKULELE SAFARI
B&H will leave their rainforest home and set forth into to the world seeking ukulele players, makers and festivals...
thus the UKULELE LOVE-IN ON-LINE will travel from AUSTRALIA to JAPAN, the U.S.A., the UK and EUROPE to record INTERVIEWS and SONGS with performers and enthusiasts...
we'll publish the results of this UKULELE TRAVELOGUE on YouTube, in ROLLING COCONUTS MAGAZINE and eventually on DVD”

What Do You Get a Wookiee for Christmas?

UPDATED, with mp3 goodness!

Tim suggested that we add this classic ditty to the Ukulelia Holiday Songbook. I've pasted the lyrics and chords in the comments section to save space. You'll want to change the font to something like courier so everything lines up correctly.

Enjoy! (Thanks, Tim!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

KoAloha Scepter

The Scepter is the latest in the Signature line from KoAloha. If you know Japanese, let us know what this site has to say about it! Looks kinda Goth. Link

Triple Neck Uke

I've seen double neck ukes before, but I think this is the first triple neck I've seen. It was built by Japanese luthier Takahiro Shimo for Boo Tagaki. Link

If you don't know Boo about Boo, here's something from the YouTubes. Caution: cute overload.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Coolest Clock Radio EVAR

Here's a great gift for your favorite uke player: the Spongebob Squarepants Clock-it clock radio. It has four wake-up sounds, including ukulele! You'll wake up saying "I'm ready, I'm ready!" Link

Kiwi Uker Wins Songwriting Competition

Congrats to Jane Fisher, a member of the four-women ukulele band The Nancies, who recently won the Australasian Performing Right Association's "Uke Can Do It" songwriting competition for her song "Dreamin'". Link to News Article
Link to mp3 of The Nancies performing "Dreamin'"

Bear Necessities

Ben Lerman is a gay ukulele-playing comedian who wins the prize in my book for the best ukulele quip for 2007. Sez Ben about his "wooden boyfriend, Lenny":
"At the end of the day, Lenny is just a ukulele and nothing will ever change the fact that we are in love, but he can't give me everything that a real boy can. I mean, he's just a ukulele. He's got four strings, a short body and a large hole. And I'm looking for somebody with no strings."


Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Marauders

Meet the Marauders, an all-girl ukulele trio from Croydon, UK. A sweeter sounding two Maddies and a Gabrielle you'll never find. I love their cover of Help! Link

Bargain Ukulele Aloha Shirt

If you're looking for a cool shirt for your uke group or club, HawaiianShirtsPlus has this one on sale for Xmas. $20 (and for those sporting St. Nick-like proportions, available up to 4XL!) Link

humdinger of a ukulele

This just in…a new luthier from lovely Central Jersey, Dan Flannery, is building some killer ukuleles, his company is called Ukululu. Check out his six and eight string tenors…
About this lovely hummingbird-themed 6-string from his site:
“This is a 6 string tenor built around a hummingbird theme. We at UkuLuLu try to carry the design through the whole instrument: the soundhole, the head shape, the inlay, the fingerboard, the bridge, and even the choice of wood. In this one, the head is shaped like a hummingbird tail, the end of the fingerboard is like the end a wingtip, and the bridge is a pair of wings.
The six strings are really good for fingerpicking. It's still a ukulele, but it's got more bass to it than a 4 string uke”
And Dan Flannery says: "The sound holes and inlays are hand cut by the way. You can’t do custom work with a laser because it would be way too expensive. In fact everything is done pretty much by hand, though I do use a table saw for some of the straight cuts."

And there’s sound samples!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Ok, all you LOL Cat fans out there: We ran across this wonderful shot taken by animator/designer Mary Hawkins of her cat, Calamity, hanging out in her uke case. Submit a caption in the comments section at the end of this link. We'll publish our favorite! Link (Photo credit and a big Ukulelia Thanks to Mary!)

A winter wonder

The Big Chill has settled on Beantown. 20 degrees and windy today. The first dusting of snow fell the other day on the burg and already it looks mean and grey.
But the cold is something; it grabs you as you step out of Louies Bar and Grill and it slaps you in the face, reddens your cheeks and ears.

This ain’t no weather for long walks along the Charles.

Or busking. Singing outdoors for what the passerbys with give you.
Ian Schwartz
is a ukulele player who does that in this town. On the streets of Boston and in the tunnels where the trains scream. In this weather he wears those fingers-sawed-off gloves and plays a tenor plugged in to a small amp. Big man. Towers over most of the people he is singing to. Weaves back and forth a little as he sings, kinda like a fighter.


The Mysterious Amy G

As a former circus clown (Ringling, 1980) and uke fanatic, I of course find the intersection of the two artforms of particular interest.

For a couple of years I've run across the occasional new story about one Amy Gordon, occasionally of Cirkus Inferno and other Daredevil Opera Company productions. But I could never find much of anything about her, except that she plays the uke, roller skates, and looks darn cute with a stick of dynamite.

Then the other day I was poking around over on Midnight Ukulele Disco and ran across a couple of videos of one Amy G, who is not only a raucous and sarcastic ukulele lady, but looks darn cute in a grass skirt and pair of skulls. A quick Google search, and voila!, the web home of Ms Amy Gordon. I hope she makes a return appearance to MUD. I like her stuff. Link

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dan Zanes Flea

If you and your kids are fans of Dan Zanes, here's the perfect family gift for this year. Once again, Dan has teamed up with the Magic Fluke Co. to offer a custom "DZ" Flea:
"this exclusive limón model (lime green, dan’s favorite color) is a soprano-sized ukulele made in the USA by The Magic Fluke Company. assembled from sturdy australian pine & fiberglass and fitted with nylon strings, the dz flea offers easy playability and a beautiful sound. this is a real musical instrument, suitable for ages 3 - 203. each ukulele comes with:

• the new dan zanes “6 flea songs for spontaneous singalongs” songbook
• a sticker in the ukulele sound hole personally autographed by dan and hand numbered by The Magic Fluke Company
• ukulele instruction book from The Magic Fluke Company
• pitch pipe
• padded flea gig-bag

edition size: 500" (Only 50 left at the time of this post!)

Plus, save 15% on Dan's (super swell) CDs with purchase.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ukulele Body Bag

Here's a novel gig bag for your uke. And this blog has a step-by-step- how-to.
Step One: locate a French seamstress...
Sew one for your amis this Noel. Link

(via King David)

Carol of the Bells

By the way, if you can play this, and your name is not John King, you should be boiled with your own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through your heart. What a chestnut! Link

Update: Here's Prof. King playing it on one of Mike DaSilva's Santo reproduction ukes.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Top 50 Ukulele Sites