Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Ballad of Blanche Barrow

Inspired by my earlier post about Bonnie & Clyde's sister-in-law playing the uke in prison, Craig Robertson has written The Ballad of Blanche Barrow.

Okay, so full disclosure: Craig is my partner-in-crime here on Ukulelia. Nonetheless, I have to tell you that I had a Hemingway moment this morning when he sent me the link. After reading Ulysses, Papa wrote to Sherwood Anderson:
"Joyce has a most goddamn wonderful book..."

Well, Craig has a most goddamn wonderful song...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Midnight Ukulele Express

This month the charming Jolene from San Francisco's own ukulele trio 'the Paper Dolls' will be co-hosting Midnight Ukulele Express with me. She warns me that she is a totally guerrilla performer with no regard for convention what so ever so we should have fun on the show.
Midnight Ukulele Express is an hour long monthly show on KALX Radio presenting music in many different genres with the common thread that there is a ukulele strumming in the mix somewhere.
The show airs at midnight,August 28th (actually it's the morning of the 29th).
Kalx is 90.7 on the FM dial and if you are out of our listening area and up at that time KALX can be streamed live. Enjoy!



Where can you see Craig Robertson, Tim Mann, Ian Schwartz, Uncle Shoe, Jim Beloff and many other ukulele acts? At UkeStock ’08 on September 6th at the White Eagle Hall Ballroom in Worcester Massachusetts, that’s where.

for the complete skinny.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nick Acosta

Nick Acosta is an 11 year old ukulele prodigy from Hawaii. But the real story? Well, you'll have to see the video to believe it.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Calling All Paniolos

If you live in the SF Bay Area, know Paniolo tunes, and would like to help out with music for a fund-raiser, please email me. I've been asked to play for an event in Livermore on September 13.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Masters: Lyle Lite

We recently picked up a copy of the latest book in the Jumpin' Jim Ukulele Masters series, Lyle Lite, and have been noodling around with it for a while.

This is the third book/CD combo by Lyle in the series, and the second book to feature chord solos exclusively. If you're already familiar with Lyle's stuff, get the book. You'll find a whole slew of wonderful additions to your repertoire:
  • Avalon
  • Bb Blues In C
  • Beautiful Dreamer
  • Brahms' Lullaby
  • Bye Bye Blackbird
  • Edelweiss
  • Harbor Lights
  • Home On The Range
  • Let Me Call You Sweetheart
  • My Melancholy Baby
  • On The Beach At Waikiki
  • Ramblin' Rose
  • Sabor A Mi (Be True To Me)
  • Shine On Harvest Moon
  • Surfer Girl
  • Where You Look (That's Where I'll Be)
If Lyle's method or chord soloing is new to you, read on before you buy.

First, chord solos are arrangements in which the melody is played via the chord changes. You essentially play a new chord for each note in the melody. Depending on the tune and the arrangement, this can be pretty tricky stuff. You need to be comfortable playing all the way up the ukulele fretboard in order to complete the melodies. If this is all new to you, we recommend starting out with the arrangement of "Ain't She Sweet" featured in Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Gems. It's the arrangement that made the whole chord solo thing "click" for us.

Chord soloing is not impossible (stick with it!), and is really the thing that will take your uke playing to the next level. While the arrangements in Lyle Lite are intended to be "easy" chord solos, we have a few caveats. First, with Lyle's arrangements, "easy" is a relative term. These are definitely way easier than the chord solos in Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Masters: Lyle Ritz Solos. But chord solo newbies will still find them pretty daunting. The included CD will help you a lot. But on the CD, Lyle is playing a uke with "Low G" tuning (which will be unfamilar to most beginners). Players with conventionally tuned ukes will find that the arrangements will sound different from Lyle's performance (but still swell!)

Probably the biggest caveat for beginning uklele players is that Lyle's arranements require a fretboard with more than 12 frets. (This was our biggest frustration with the first Lyle Ritz Solos book: we were all charged up, ready for the challenge, and found that we didn't have enough frets.) To master the the chord solos in Lyle Lite, you'll need a uke with a longer fretboard (such as a concert scale ukulele or tenor ukulele, which is what Lyle plays). Clarification: Nina astutely notes that not all concert or tenor ukes will have enough frets. Be sure to look for ones that have 14 frets to the body. (Thanks, Nina!)

Finally, a tip for beginners that's missing from the book's instructions and chord diagrams: many times you'll see a pattern that appears to require a succession of different chord fingerings but which you can actually play from one spot on the fretboard. Here's an example: you might need to go from 1324 to 1322. Freakishly hard, if you try fingering each chord with all four fingers. But set up the 1322 first by laying your index finger across all four strings at the first fret; then lay down your middle finger down on the top two strings to make the "22" part, and your place your ring finger on the third string to complete the chord. Surprise! Your pinkie is now free to hit the 4th fret to change this pattern from 1322 to 1324! Sounds tricky, but it's sooper simple once you know the secret!


Elephant Town

The Ukulele Summer Blockbuster of 2008 is finally here. It's "Elephant Town", by Tia. All the kids are playing it. We haven't located the lyrics or tab yet, but here's a tutorial that should get you going. Link

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blanche Barrow, Ukester's Moll

Blanche Barrow was married to Clyde Barrow's brother Buck. Here's a photo of Blanche from when she was in prison doing time for crimes committed as part of Bonnie and Clyde's gang.

If this doesn't inspire a Craig Robertson song, I don't know what will.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ukulele Jesus?

This is so obviously a fake, we hesitate to mention it. See if you can spot the errors in this photo.

(Spoiler alert): Here's what we've found so far:
  1. No beard
  2. Beads are from last year's Mardi Gras
  3. Everyone knows He prefers Quiznos
  4. C'mon, ukulele deities don't play Red Mahalos (wwjp?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ukulele Noir at Johnny Ds

I had to stop numbering these events because I lost count. No matter...put on your nicest hat and pointy shoes and come on down to Davis Square in Somerville on Wednesday August 20th. You're gonna hear all kindsa music. And it features the ukulele. And you can even drink.

We sound better when you drink.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More ARRRRGH!: Garage Sale Ukulele

Just to rub it in, Mister Jalopy has posted a full set of photos of his FIVE FRICKING DOLLAR Martin Style 1 Garage Sale Ukulele. Fwiw, we concur with Mark's assessment of the uke's value:
"I can tell you that it's worthless. I was just kidding you about old Martin ukes having any value whatsoever. I think it might be OK for kindling. I'll drive over to your place later today to pick it up."

Having fun in Witness Protection, Mister J? Link

Sign of the Times

Jen Kwok wrote us and said: “I just wanted to e-mail and let you know about the NY Times article today about ukuleles:
I'm also in the article! They have a sound clip of my song on there and pic in the slideshow but overall it's just a little piece of uke love that I think people will find fun and informative.”

Jen's Comedy Schedule is All Up in Here:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Edward Tufte of the Ukulele?

Turns out Mike Dickison (see post, below) is the Edward Tufte of the Ukulele. Check out this thoughtful exposition on rendering chord diagrams as useful as possible. Link

Kiwi Ukulele: the New Zealand Ukulele Companion

Mike Dickison has released his first ukulele method book. Kiwi Ukulele (Mike hails from New Zealand), contains "everything the Kiwi uke player needs to know: choosing, tuning, playing; strings and other accessories; tips for practising, performing, and playing in groups; and a pile of contemporary Kiwi songs." Here is a link to a pdf of contents, sample pages and more info. The book can be ordered at this site. Reviews and several interviews on Mike's main uke page.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

$5 Garage Sale Martins: Yes, They Still Exist (Dammit)

Mr. Jalopy nonchalantly picked up a vintage Martin for $5 at a garage sale last weekend. Sez he:
"It was $5. Well, it was $20 with a Schwinn. The Schwinn was priced at $20, the uke $5. I got 'em down to $20 for both. So, depending on how you look at it, it was free!"
Ukulelia Publisher Mark Frauenfelder is taking it pretty philosophically, but has plans for revenge:
"I hope to one day buy some weird hand tool I know nothing about that Mister Jalopy has fantasized about all his life and blithely post a lousy photo of it."
Sources say Mr. Jalopy is being moved into a Witness Protection Program to save him from the legions of uke players who, having just read this post, are collectively screaming "ARGGGGGGHHHHHH!" Link

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

DaWeek at DaSilva

Tonight at Mike DaSilva's in Berkeley, it's KingniK, aka Nikki "Ukulele Jones" and Curtis "King" Chamberlain from Portland, Oregon. $15 at the door.

Then on Saturday, August 9th from 5-7, it's the Bay Areas own Hiram Bell in workshop and concert. $25 at the door. We've not taken a lesson with Hiram, but have friends who have and say he's great. Don't miss it!

DaSilva Ukulele Co.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Austin Uke Cats: Wail 'N' Flail

Well, we missed announcing the July 27 Wail 'N' Flail, but all you Austin (TX) Uke Cats won't if you bookmark this page. Some swell uke charts here, too. Link

Saturday, August 02, 2008

There's NO UKING in BASEBALL!!??

As we posted earlier, the stupendous ukulele/tuba duo of Adam and Fred Wilbur won the Baby Ruth contest to lead the crowd at the 2008 MLB All Star Game in singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Then, in a move that relegates Baby Ruth back to the status of floating turd and casts a pall against the great American institution of baseball, the genius producers of the event tell Adam to leave the uke at home. (We didn't catch the broadcast, but have heard that after all the ballyhoo about commemorating the 100th anniversary of TMOTTBG during the 7th Inning Stretch of the All Star Game, they didn't bother to broadcast it. Cut to a Flomax commercial, we heard. What a pisser. Bunch o' Merkles...)

Now outraged ukulele players are fighting back. With this video, the gauntlet has been thrown! Sez Terry Truhart:
"It's sad that Major League Baseball cannot embrace the aloha spirit of this beautiful, harmless instrument that's a gift from the Hawaiian people."

Post a video response on YouTube and help demonstrate that "Major League Baseball needs the ukulele more than the ukulele needs Major League Baseball"! Here are the video responses so far. (Terry sez that if you need a little liquid courage to do it, as Eddie Vedder apparently did, he has no objections.)

A note to Oakland Athletics fans. Let's show up en mass at an upcoming game with our ukes and meet up during the Stretch. Add a comment (below) if you're interested. Heck, even if you're not an A's fan, join in. This'll be fun.

And by the way, catch Terry at the Windy City Uke Fest happening this weekend at The Tiki Terrace on the Garden Isle of Des Plaines, Illinois.

Friday, August 01, 2008

UkeTalk: I Like You!

It's been a while since we've had a chance to poke around on Kevin Crossett's UkeTalk site. In addition to being the host of UkeTalk, Kevin owns GuitarSam, a music store in Montpelier, VT, and builds Kepasa Ukuleles. (Craig Robertson is the lucky owner of a Josephine soprano, so we'll let him chime in with a word or two about his little lady.)

Much to our great delight, we made a wonderful discovery on the UkeTalk discussion forum. In the Tabs & Lessons forum, we learned that Geoff Davis will be posting his chord solos to the Blue Stone Folk School site. Geoff, as everyone knows, is Governor of the Great State of Ukiana, and founder of the Key Strummers.

Geoff will be offering the solos at a modest price, with proceeds supporting Blue Stone. As a tease, he's made a free posting of his chord solo arrangement of Sol Ho'opi'i's "I Like You". We first fell in love with this tune by listening to Janet Klein. She's recorded it twice, on Come Into My Parlor and Put a Flavor to Love. We searched for the chords for some time in vain, so we're particularly grateful to Geoff for working it out. Here is the page where you will find the chord solo for "I Like You."

Mahalo, Geoff!

Sing Along with the YesterUkes!

Hey, everyone: welcome YesterUkes to the blogosphere! Link
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