Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kamaka Factory Tour

If your summer travels take you to Oahu, be sure to take a (free!) tour of the Kamaka factory. Then send us a photo of you, Sam Jr., and your "ukulele hole"! Link

Friday, June 26, 2009

Zooey Deschanel Honored With Nova Award

Zooey Deschanel received a Nova award at the Maui Film Festival. About the uke, Zooey sez:
"'I always thought it was such a nice sounding instrument and very portable, and I love that it was so popular in the '20s,' she said in a private interview before a public question-and-answer session. 'I thought it was such a nice sound that I didn't want it to lose its place in pop music today, so I just wanted to learn it. I'm not a great ukulele player, but I've played it a lot live.'"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dominator T-Shirt


UkeToob.com: Jake Shimabukuro - Video Interview

Finally, Jake interviewed by someone who plays. And nice to hear Jake give props to Dominator! Stay tuned: a tab book appears to be in the works. Link

Handmande Fretboard Stamps

Shelley Rickey makes and sells several ukulele-themed items which she sells in her Etsy store, The Jumping Flea Market. She has a uke playing stuffed dog named after John Kavanaugh for sale, but my favorite items are these fretboard stamps, painstakingly assembled using tweezers and bits of rope. Guaranteed to Swoon! Indeed. Link

Ukes Without Borders

Proving once again, the ukulele knows no boundaries. Link

New Ukulele World Record

851 ukulele players amassed in London's East End on Saturday to set a new world's record for most ukuleles played at once (which is 850 more than what my family would consider sufficient). The old record was 401, established in Stockholm in 2007. But will it remain the record for long? Not if these guys have anything to say about it. (And remember, the old Chicago saying, "uke early, and uke often.")


Here's a video of the event. And here's a Flickr set from the event. (Photo credit: Su-May)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ukulele Loki: Prague

Bill "Rock That Uke" Roberston sez:

"I've been wanting Aaron "Ukulele Loki" Johnson of Denver, CO, to make music videos of his songs for ages. He's finally started doing it--to great success, I think. Aaron's music has this Brechtian cabaret quality to it. Fun and celebratory with an undercurrent of moodiness.

I learned about Aaron through my "Rock That Uke" promotional doings, but we only met face-to-face when the movie was screened at the Denver Uke Fest at Swallow Hill a couple of years back. I was surprised at how young he was, given his music. He's very funny, unbelievably energetic and, well, there's no other way to say this...cute as a button.

Ukulele Loki's Gadabout Orchestra is doing a West Coast tour soon. Check them out."

Indeed we will.

Les Pieds Dans L'eau: The simplest song ever...

Uncle Emile has done it again: another uke themed illo, this time in reference to the old chestnut, Ja-Da. His his latest is a cutie, too (although perhaps NSFW, which is why I've blogged this one). Link


This from Graham Machlachlan:

"Blipalele is the house ukulele band of Blipfoto.com.

We are a community of photographers around the globe who post an image each day, to cut a long story short, we discovered that there were a number of ukulele players in the community, so we asked them to submit a recording and a supporting video. Well here's the result. Just a piece of ukulele fun from Europe and Scandinavia. We're hoping it will be that start of a summer of plinking fun.

Lets know what you think."

I think it swings...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Portland Ukulele Big Band

Jim D'Ville posted this terrific video of the inaugural performance of the Portland Ukulele Big Band. Sez Jim:

"James Hill presented a three-day workshop at this year's Portland Ukulele Festival entitled "Ukulele Big Band". James wrote a big band arrangement of Alexander's Ragtime Band and then taught the different "horn" parts to the class. On day three, the Portland Ukulele Big Band made its debut performance in the Student Union at Reed College. You had to be there! The sound was incredible. I can't wait until next year to hear The Portland Ukulele Bigger Band!"
What a great concept. They really swing at the end. And a fun video, too. Many well-known ukulelists make appearances! Link

Update: I just got off the phone with Jim D'Ville. Jim filled me in on how this all came together. A jet-lagged, but indefatigable James Hill got up at 4:30 am Portland time (James came from Halifax) and cranked out the whole arrangement in seven or eight hours. You may know James as an amazing player, but as Jim pointed out, he's an equally passionate teacher. So his arrangement was written not only in layers, but broken down by skill level, so uke players of all skill levels could play in the band. Then, if you can believe it, everyone learned it in something less than four hours over three days. Incredible. And as D'Ville was quick to point out, the sound quality on the video does not do the performance justice. (He shot it in video mode on his still camera.)

What will James do next to top this arrangement? Why think small. I have just two things to say. Stan. Kenton.

The Ukulele States of Australia

Oz likes acronyms. CHUM, HUG, PUG, SSCUM, PUK, YUM, GULP, BUMS, et al. Click the image for full size. More here.

Kate Micucci - Let Us Be Happy Together

Ukulele quote of the year (thus far): "The ukulele makes me horny." Link

(via Uke Hunt)

Chicago becomes Ukuleletown on June 27th

All right, all you purveyors of ukuleledom who live in the Chicago area...Craig Robertson is bringing Ukulele Noir to the Legal Grounds Coffee House in lovely Maywood, IL. Parking is free and it will be a night of the darker side of the ukulele.

dig it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009


They play, you sing. Karaoke meets the UUOGB. And from the sound of this article, is seems like it's a real hoot. Link

Friday, June 12, 2009

Full Tilt Smeck!

Found this through Ukester Brown's new YouTube Channel. I like that krouk has indicated the kind of uke he's playing (Martin 0), the strings (Worth) and the tuning (D). Gotta tune in D if you want true Smeckiness! Link

Uni Gets Her Rock Star On

Uni got the full rock star reception in Auckland, NZ schools. New Zealand schools are stocking up on ukes, courtesy of the Play it Strange organization. Link

(What does Uni make you think of, btw?)

UUOGB Proms Update

From the Beeb:
"The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is to perform at the Proms. The audience have been invited to bring their ukuleles with them and play along. Members of the orchestra show what a ukulele should sound like and Matthew Reynolds, owner of the Duke of Uke specialist shop in Spitalfields, east London, discusses the appeal of the instrument."
They're even providing online lessons! (Wot? "Not Available in Your Area" Bollocks!)


Actor's Theatre Benefit

Jayme Kelly Curtis and Ukulele Dick will be part of the star-studded line up for this Santa Cruz benefit. Link

Tippy Canoe - The Timeless Romantic

A smoky bar in Paris, Tippy Canoe, and you. Link

Rachel Goodrich

Meet Rachel Goodrich, another indie chick, bit by the four-stringed flea. Link

Bete Noire...

This just in from Tim Sweeney:
"Nancy and I just got back from Vegas where Bette Midler has a new show.Bette apparently plays a rhinestone encrusted flea uke in her show, and in the gift shop outside the theater a replica of it is for sale for a mere $3000. no lie."

Lemme see now...Bette Midler+Vegas+rhinestones+flea=$3000. Somehow I have no problem believing that.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sign of the Times

Kaimuki District, Honolulu, HI. Photo by Johnny Action! Link

The Maestrosities

Meet The Maestrosities, a clown band fronted by The Maestro (aka David Gochfeld aka David Berent), a self-absorbed ukulele player. (Well I'm assuming he fronts the band. He is the ukulele player, after all.) Link

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Frank's Ukulele Bash in Provincetown, Cape Cod

This weekend Mary J. Martin hosted the annual ukulele remembrance for her sweet husband Frank, who passed away two years ago. We all also sang a song for the will-be-missed John Kavanagh.

In the photo, from left to right:
J-Boy, Tom Harker, Cecily Miller, Moose Karloff, Dana McCoy, Mary J. Martin, Craig Robertson, Jamie Scandal, Patsy Monteleone, Hot Time Harve and Reggie Wingnutz.

Johnny Marvin

While we're eefin' around this morning, let's post a couple of Johnny Marvin videos, too. Here's I Still Love You, with Johnny on uke, plus a little something extra for Robert Armstrong's amusement. And here's a link to a second video, If You Don't Love Me.

Jack Pepper

Pat Cashin posted another Jack Pepper video over on his Clown Alley blog today, and it reminded me that I'd been meaning to blog this one. Jack Pepper was once married to Ginger Rogers (they had an act called "Ginger and Pepper.") I guess he must have loved his uke more than Ginger. Nice pants. Link

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Oscar Mayer Banjo Uke

Oh, I wish that it would go to a museum
That is what I'd truly like to see,
The Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum,
The perfect place for this old uke to be.


I Like You

I've blogged this before (sans video), but I really like I Like You. It's a catchy song originally done by the great Sol Ho'opi'i (original here). Janet Klein likes the song enough to have included in on two of her CDs, Come Into My Parlor and Put a Flavor to Love. Here's Geoff Davis with his uke arrangement, which you can find here, along with a slowed-down video for learning. Dav also did a transcription of Geoff's video version, which you'll find here.

Ah HOO, those-a big-a blue EYES!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Les Talsma

Dave Talsma just finished this sweet axe for Maestro Gerald Ross.
"Full electric tenor (a'la Les Paul). Flame maple top, chambered mahogany
body, mahogany neck, Mi-Si pick-up with tone and volume controls...and boy does this one sound and play great."

Update: hear it in action, played by Gerald "Mr. Lucky" Ross.

Build a Pineapple Uke in Four Days!

Rick Turner, maker of the luscious Compass Rose ukes is offering an opportunity for you to build a uke in his shop:
When: July 11 & 12, 18 & 19
Where: Rick Turner/Renaissance Guitars workshop at 815 Almar, Santa Cruz

Time: 10:00 AM until about 5:00 PM each day, 45 minutes for lunch and glue drying

Cost: $400.00 which includes materials, strings, and fun

I'm planning on offering my "Build a Pineapple Ukulele in Four Days" on the weekends of July 11th and 12th, then 18th and 19th.. I’ll be accepting a maximum of seven students, with a minimum of five. This will be a uke-specific course building a "pineapple" style soprano uke with a Western red cedar top and mahogany back, sides, and neck.

To reserve a position, please send an email to info.rtguitars@gmail.com and one of us will get back to you with a confirmation. Phone in the office is 831-460-9144, please leave a message. If you can’t make it, please tell your friends, and I’ll keep you on an “interested” list.

The result is a great sounding instrument!

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours (Tab and Chords)

Woodshed has posted the tab and chords for Jason Mraz's I'm Yours. It seems that all the kids are playing it on their ukes these days. I can vouch for the fact that it's the one ditty I can play when my girls' friends are around that won't get me banished to the back bedroom.

Al's version is presented in a more uke-friendly key than the original. I play it in the original key, and think it makes it easier to dampen the strings to get the rhythmic sound, but this verison has chords that pretty much anyone can learn in a few minutes, and so who knows, maybe might insprire yet another whippersnapper to pick up the uke.

Al has also graciously included diagrams for the Twiddly Bits so you can play the intro like a pro. Link

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Everyone Loves Bacon

Annie Bacon is an Oakland (CA) based musician. She picked up a uke back in December, and immediately wrote this song. The video was shot at the Redwood Valley steam trains at Tilden Park. Brings back a lot of memories. I think we should do a big meet-up and fill the train with uke players some day. Link

Nerac Uke Fest

Heading to France in July? Vive le Nerac Uke Fest

NY Uke Fest 2009

In case you'd like to see a few pix from the 2009 NY Uke Fest, Joe Houghtaling has posted 1,748. Link

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Complete Ukulele Guide to the Moustaches of the World | Xylocopa

Cory Doctorow over on our Big Sister Site blogged this today. Built by Andrew and Michele of Xylocopa, it features wood inlays of the 25 major moustache groups so you can categorize the hairy-lipped members of your audience! Perfect for this song, too. Link

Lyle's Style

This new instructional DVD from Lyle Ritz seems to be a video version of the Lyle Lite book. Worth checking out, no doubt.
"Lyle displays techniques and tips he's developed over a lifetime of performing. Learn how to play rips, parallels, bent notes, fills, falls, slides, slurs, rogue chords, and deceptive resolutions. Songs include: "Beautiful Dreamer", "Avalon", "Brahms' Lullaby", "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", "My Melancholy Baby", "Shine On Harvest Moon", and Lyle's own "Bb Blues In C". Also includes a PDF file providing the lyrics, melody line, and ukulele chord grids of the songs featured. Also includes an interview with Lyle by Jim Beloff, plus a bonus duet with daughter, Emily. 75 min."


Friday, June 05, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues Store is Open

If you've been waiting to buy a copy of Nina Paley's marvelous animated feature Sita Sings the Blues, wait no more. Pre-downloaded DVDs are now available, as are special numbered artist's edition DVDs, signed by Nina. Wot's the ukulele connection? Well just that Nina's Sita is voiced using vintage recordings of Annette Hanshaw. We like Annette Hanshaw, that's all!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Kathy Sparling's Embroidery

Continuing with today's Maker theme, here's Kathy Sparling from Dodge's Sundodgers with a chanty about tea towels. I like this comment from the post: "You are an angel sent from the heaven I don't believe in." Relax, fellas. She's taken.

(Thanks, Michael!)

The Uke Troupe!

More papercraft fun, this time a collaboration between Ben the Illustrator and Jack "Horrorwood" Hankins. Link

Monday, June 01, 2009

Recent Suit Reweave

Al Dodge posted this recent snapshot of himself, Robert Crumb, and Robert Armstrong playing some of Al's Kaleponi ukes. Which led us to Kaleponi Ukuleles (and prompts the question, "why did Al never mention this?"). Which explains a lot, including blowing the punchline for the old joke:
Q: What is the least-asked question in the English language?
A: Is that the banjo player's Porsche?

Good News from Michigan

Yeah, yeah, I know GM filed for bankruptcy and all that. (But Ford is still floating, and let's all remember that Ford used to have a house Hawaiian band, so draw your own conclusion.) Yet according to Stan Werbin from Elderly Instruments in Lansing, uke sales are up! Link
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