Saturday, March 28, 2009

Musician's stuff

There's an oppressive layer of fog over the park in Ukuleletown this evening. It was a semi-warm day, but, with the approach of dusk, a blanket of chilly fog spread across the city like a cold virus. No hot blooded island music here tonight. Stay home and sing to your computer, sing to your headphones. Record it and listen.

Recording is a terrifying experience to most musicians. It's an arcane science that drips incomprehensible techno-jargon and obsessive sonic attitudes. But it doesn't have to be that way, it can actually be fun...with a little forethought and foreknowledge.

Where do you get it, you may ask? A young lady named Sarit Bruno steps up to the plate and offers...Audio Fanzine. A little bit of everything you need to know to make music. All linked together with astonishing panache. And there's even a ukulele section. Check it out.

edit: I was reminded by a email yesterday that Sarit is female.
Basic research, basic research...

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Elusive and Mysterious Uke McGluke

Anyone ever run across a copy of the "Uke McGluke" songbook referenced in my post just below? Kawika has a reference to it in his authoritative listing of vintage ukulele instruction manuals.

But that's all I can find. You?

A Zepp-load of Zippy Uke Ditties!

Check the swell ad for uke songbooks I discovered on the back of the sheet music for When My Sugar Walks Down the Street.
"A Zepp-load of Zippy Uke Ditties brought in by the zephyrs of demand!...Uke McGluke is The Duke of All Ukists. He is to Ukuleles What Corn-Beef is to Cabbage...The UKULELE in the HOME is a SIGN of HAPPINESS."

Indeed! Link

Live From the Cicada Club

Live from Maxwell DeMille's World Famous Cicada Club in Los Angeles, California, through the Miracle of Electronic Television, it's Ian Whitcomb and The Bungalow Boys. Two hours of musical entertainment, for your dancing pleasure! Set One. Set Two.

Ian and the Boys will be back at the Cicada Club on April 5, 2009! Link

(Thanks, Ian!)

Words from the Master

So I told my erstwhile uke-teacher Robert Armstrong that I signed up for the workshop with (Robert's fellow Cheap Suit) Bob Brozman. He gave me some sage advice and I thought I'd share it with you all:
Me: "Going to sit at the feet of Brozzle in April, see what he knows about the uke, if anything."
Bob: "Helpful tip: pay more attention to what his hands are doing."
Words from the Master...

Ukulele Loki, 'Stache Man

Ukulele Loki and his facial hair will be performing in support of a local cancer charity tonight in Boulder. Put on a (stiff) upper lip and turn out for the cause. Link

Laser Cutter Printed Ukulele

A new dawn of print-it-yourself uke lutherie? Ukulelia's big sister, Boing Boing points us to this flying-V ukulele, built using open-source plans, plywood, and a LAZZZZOR! Link

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Baritone Ukulele Hunt

Uke Hunt spreads it's ukey tentacles across the web. This time, no baritone uke is safe. Is there nothing that Al Wood won't do to remain the number one uke site in the world (and to keep your beloved Ukulelia floating down around number 9)? Apparently not, and the uke world is a better place for it. But remember, Al, there is only one Dominator. Link

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taimane Clips

Buried in the comments, Uke Gal's clips from Taimane's show last week at 111 Minna.


Michael Simmons sez "Jughead plays the uke. Who knew?" (Looks suspiciously like a Steve Martin routine to me) Link

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brittni Paiva at DaSilva's Sunday

Carol "Uke Gal" Siegal reminded me that Brittni Paiva will be at Mike DaSilva's shop tomorrow, Sunday, March 22, for a workshop and concert.
Ukulele Workshop 2-3pm $20 (includes concert)
Concert 3:30-4:30pm. $10
Cash or checks only.

KIDS (16 and under) FREE!

We scheduled this program to be as kid friendly as possible as Brittni is a great example of what can happen when music is part of growing up.

Brittni will be performing with her ukulele and guitar as well as highlighting some new material.

(Thanks, Carol!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Taimane Rocks

Had a great time hearing Taimane Gardner play yesterday. Advanced players will be interested to know that she plays a custom 8-string Kamaka Tenor ("Liliu VIII") strung with only 6 strings. It's tuned GCEA, with the G and C strings doubled. The extra space surrounding the E and A strings gives her more room for solo work. Here's a nice video profile with some close ups of her technique.

Taimane has put together several medleys that are quite ingenious...and beautiful. This one is Led Zeppelin Meets Beethoven.

If you get a chance to see her, don't miss it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ukulele Player Magazine : Number 4

Ukulele Player Magazine issue number 4 is out. We were happy to see an interview with Ukulelia pal Dave Talsma is featured. Download as a pdf from this page. Link

Ukulele Forum Rap

I don't know how or why, but Gerald Ross brings us Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain reading random ukulele forum posts. I like this. Is this normal? Link

LoPrinzi Nova

Check out this Nova model LoPrinzi with Thurman Multi-dimensional Sound Ports! More sound? Or more dust bunnies inside your uke? Link

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hooray for the Irish

And Hooray for Johnny Marvin! Link

(Thanks, Jon!)

True Love Don't Weep

Listening to the new CD by James Hill and Anne Davidson is like having a shower of melodies and harmonies raining down on me from somewhere up in Canada. "True Love Don't Weep" is the name of the CD. I like rain, it washes away all of the trials and tribulations of your past and leaves you clean and shiny, facing the future.

And this is how I feel about this CD; his first full length collaboration with cellist Anne Davidson is like being baptized all over again (if music is your religion, otherwise it's just like falling in the river...). James and Anne do some killer harmonies, weaving their voices in and out on songs "One More Lie to Love" (by James) and Oh! Susanna(a sensational arrangement of the song by Stephen Foster).

I don't think I have to talk about James great technical proficiency on the ukulele...I was impressed by his tasteful restraint on this CD. That, and his amazing slide work...yow. Anne's cello is a lovely counterpoint to the ukulele, and both instruments get plenty of space to work.

Of course, having musicians like John Kavanagh, David Myles and Chambers Doane watching your back doesn't hurt at all.

What slammed me in the face about this CD was...the vocals. James' and Anne's voices are welded together on some songs and soar apart on others. Darker than any of his other work (and I DO like that), "True Love..." is still extremely accesible.

Go. Go buy it now.


Monday, March 16, 2009

May Singhi Breen

From 1939, here's May Singhi Breen and husband Peter De Rose.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bushman Ukulele Luau

What's better than a uke fest? A FREE uke fest. Check out the Ukulele Luau sponsored by Bushman Ukuleles in Nashville, Indiana (repeat, Indiana), May 8-9, 2009. Link

(Thanks, Tim Szerlong!)

Sophie Madeleine's "Love. Life. Ukulele." album - Boing Boing

Mark Frauenfelder writes today about Sophie Madeleine and her new album, Love. Life. Ukulele. over on Boing Boing. She's released it on a name-your-price basis. Hope she sells a bunch.

Video from the Waikoloa Ukulele Festival

Here's a news page with video from the recent ukulele festival on the Big Island. Featured in the video is Nicholas Acosta, of whom we've written before, a 12-year old ukulele wiz who plays beautifully despite having been born without a right arm below the elbow.

Also on the video is Boo Takagi (nice double neck!) and lots of Ohta-San (beginning about the 12:00 mark). If you've never seen Ohta-San play, do give this a watch, especially if you're used to the pyrotechnics of players like Jake Shimabukuro. Ohta-San is a study in restraint, and will show you how much beauty you can gently coax out of an ukulele. Of course, he's the Master, and makes it look easy, but it's a wonderful style to develop. Link

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bob Brozman Workshop

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz has announced a workshop with Bob Brozman on Saturday, April 4, 2009, 2-5pm
$65 for the 3-hour class
$80 for 3-hour class plus an extra hour of advanced and more personalized instruction
Workshop size is limited to 30. For information, call Haley S. Robertson at (831) 336-0304 or email

Abe Lagrimas Concert & Workshop

Abe Lagrimas, Jr. will be at Island Bazaar in Huntington Beach, CA this friday, March 13 for a workshop and a concert on March 14. Get details by calling the shop.

Taimane Gardner in SF

Patrick Spargur dropped us a note to let us know that Taimane Gardner will be playing live (and free) next Thursday, March 19th in San Francisco. Primo Beer is free if you get there early (real early, sez Patrick). Taimane will be starting on the early side and champion big wave surfer Garrett McNamara will be speaking at 7pm.
March 19, 2009
111 Minna
San Francisco
5:00 - 9:00

The event is free, but space is limited.
RSVP by March 16th to
Taimane, and a lot of other Hawaii musicians, will also perform the next night at Gordon Biersch at around 7 or 8. It's all part of a big promotion being run by our good friends over at the Hawaiian Convention and Visitors Bureau. (Hi, Jay!) Check out the promo site and enter the contest. If you win, just remember who your real friends are.

(Thanks, Patrick!)

Big Sale at Bounty Music

Tim Hodge alerted us to a big sale going on over at Bounty Music. All kine deals at around 50% off. The list he sent me is too long to repeat, but I bet if you contacted the store, they'd send it to you. (And don't forget my birthday is coming up in May. You could save $2,200 on that Martin 5K you've wanted to get me! At $2,999, it's still $7,001 cheaper than this old thing.) Link

(Thanks, Tim!)

Dent May Watch: Day 23

I'm still trying to figure out if he's serious about playing the ukulele, or whether it's mainly an ironic prop for his (arguably marketable) hipster Truman Capote persona. In this interview, it seems that he's being a bit more definitive about it:
"May says he's open to new sounds and ideas - maybe a detour into R&B or electronic music, he says - but for now, he'll keep playing ukulele until people realize it's not a joke.

'I do think the ukulele deserves to be taken more seriously,' he says. 'It's misunderstood, but that's one of the reasons I wanted to play it in the first place.'"

Since he's playing in Beantown, I suspect Craig is already standing in line for tickets. Link

Lone Star Uke Fest

Listen up, y'all. Grab your boots, spurs, and Kamaka and head to Dallas for the Lone Star Ukulele Festival and Music Camp 2009. April 30-May 2. Nice line up of performers and instructors. Just don't let them convert you to a baritone uke player. I suspect they will, since everything's bigger in Texas. Link

(Thanks, Kathy!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sundodgers' First CD Released

Mike DaSilva has produced the very first CD for Al Dodge's Sundodgers. Sez Mike:
"When I began building ukuleles almost 5 years ago, I had no idea that it would also lead me to a close friendship with one of my longtime musical heroes...

...Before I had any interest in ukuleles, as far back as the late 70's, I was a big fan of The Cheap Suit Serenaders...I remember going to the original Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, which could maybe hold 20 people in the audience and just simply having the best time enjoying the musical antics of Allan Dodge, Robert Armstrong, Bob Brozman, Terry Zwigoff and Tony Marcus. I went to see them as much as I could and pretty much wore out the two LPs of theirs I owned...

...Now, fast forward to 2005. I end up meeting Al Dodge at a 78's record swap (quelle suprise, ed.) where our mutual uke interests prompts a subsequent visit to my shop. Before I know it, Al is visiting the shop regularly, sharing his vast music and instrument knowledge, introducing me to his friends and quickly becoming an important sounding board for my fledgling ukulele business."
Mike produced the CD at his shop which doubles as a performance space (great acoustics–must be all the koa dust). Under the Sun is available from CD Baby, or as a download from Digstation. No word on when it'll be released on 78s. Link

The New Champions of the Ukulele

In which the Guardian informs us that Dent May is "chief" among "a clutch of artists" who are rescuing the ukulele from cringeworthiness. Humph. But Woodshed gets a nice plug, as do Amanda Palmer, Arms, Rachel Unthank, Taylor Swift, Ratatat, and Phosphorescent. Jens Lekman, not so much. Beardo, indeed.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Ohta-san and Roy Sakuma

Nice video of Roy Sakuma and Herb Ohta playing Song for Anna at the Waikoloa Ukulele Festival. Can anyone identify the uke that Roy is playing? Link

Cabaret Freaks

...with a ukulele, natch.

Pia Tedesco puts on Pia Tedesco's Cabaret in Madrid, Spain on some sort of regular basis. She writes the music and performs in it...

...with a ukulele, natch.

Pia's MySpace Site

Sita Sings For Free

Sita is now free! Watch it with all haste. Tell all your friends. Send paper bags of money to Nina! Link

Inland Empire Uke Revolution

With names like RULE, Inland area uke groups are training new recruits. Link

What's the opposite of Noir?

The Suncoast Ukulele Festival, of course, but only weather-wise. April 8-11.

Organized by the lovely Nina Coquina with some interesting guests and workshops.

An excellent excuse for me to wear that neglected panama hat. Do I know any happy songs? no.

A great location at the perfect time of year. (It's sleeting here in Boston today!) Pack up the significant other, the kids and a couple of ukes and head on down to Nokomis, Florida.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

NorCal Ukulele Festival

It's that time again, NorCal Ukers. The 16th Annual Ukulele Festival of Northern California is Sunday, April 26th in Hayward. Mark your calendars! Link

Dynamic Duo

The father/daughter team of Steve and Amanda, otherwise known as The Barnkickers, have released a new CD "Up Before Noon".

If you want to be cool and make sure people like you, go to their website and get it...

The Barnkickers

Saturday, March 07, 2009

La Poulpe

I have no idea what this charming french ukulele player is singing about, but, whatever it is, I'm buying it.
Extraits divers live


Friday, March 06, 2009


If you have Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome, I highly recommend that you never, ever, click here.

Rene Ravenel's KazooKeylele-Ukulele

Kevin Rexroat was kind enough to point us toward this clever toy piano/ukulele/kazoo mashup constructed by Rene Ravenel.

Les Pieds Dans L'eau

Francois, aka Uncle Emile, is a deeply-addicted French illustrator and animator. He's created some lovely uke-infused images, many of which you'll find here.

Gerald Ross Soundtrack

Gerald Ross sez:
"I just scored and recorded the soundtrack for a video produced by Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for patients in their Parkinson Disease program. The video's topic is quite an important one - "Driving with Parkinson's Disease".

I used my Talsma ukulele as the lead instrument. I also play guitar and bass on the tracks.

Beth Israel wanted some "mellow mood" incidental music as well as some fast driving music.

Have a listen and a look."
Driving with Parkinsons

Never Shout Never

A bit too pop for moi, but if this'll get all the kids playing, why not. Meet Christopher Drew, aka Never Shout Never. Uke playing on the track Your Biggest Fan. Link

KoAloha Ukulele - Finest Handcrafted Ukuleles in the World

The KoAloha Ukulele Story, an animated documentary short film based on the life of Alvin Okami, has won the 2009 Honolulu International Film Festival's prestigious Gold Kahuna Award for Excellence in Filmmaking.

Can't wait to see it! Link

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Freddie and George

I'm having a bad week. And this cheered me up immensely. So I'm sharing the love. Freddie Mercury and George Formby performing "With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock." (...with me nipple clamps and leather shorts...)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Ukulele Social Club

Go be sociable! It's the usual suspects, this time hosted by Marcy Marxer. Link

Roy Smeck Tabs

Ukulele Dav has cracked a bunch of Roy Smeck chestnuts and has posted the tabs and reference mp3s on his site. Also included are some Bob Brozman (Ukulele Spaghetti) and Vincent Cortese (Waltz of Yesteryear) favorites. Click on the title of the tune for more information about the tablatures.

I am particularly grateful for Dav's transcriptions of 12th Street Rag. I've set proficiency on this standard as my next challenge. It seems to be all right hand, and a good opportunity to put together all the bits and pieces of more complicated strums that I've been working on, but which, alas, still remain as bits and pieces.

As reference links, Dav has found all the useful stuff I've been bookmarking, too, including Woodshed's collection over on Uke Hunt, Dominator's transcription of Fleastomper's version, and Marcy Marxer's extremely helpful video lesson over on YouTube. Finally, Dav lends a hand with the basics with this pdf, showing the characteristing melody strum, and this midi so you can hear it at learning speed.

Three cheers for Dav! Viva la Smeckeries! (via King David Ukulele Station)
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