Monday, December 31, 2007
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
UPDATE: Aha! Controversy! Read Arch's extensive notes in the comments, below.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
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.
"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.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
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.
Saturday 29th December
Stage 43 at Jimmy's
43 East 7th Street
East Village, New York
Sonic Uke hosts the 4th Annual New Year's Eve Ukulele DropHere are photos and video from the past three years:
Countdown and drop at midnight (pre-show at 10pm)
130 West 10th Street at Greenwich Avenue
West Village, NY
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
"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
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
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
Ms Vox will also be on the air, Christmas Day, for those of you snowbound ukers in Milwaukee.
"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 am940hawaii.com, click on Listen."
"A contribution to Ukes for Troops would make a nice holiday present for one of our brothers and sisters in harm's way."
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
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!)
Thursday, December 20, 2007
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!)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
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.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
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
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.
"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
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.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
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”
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
Friday, December 07, 2007
Link to mp3 of The Nancies performing "Dreamin'"
"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
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
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.
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
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
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
(via Midnight Ukulele Disco)