Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rush Hour in Ukuleletown

It's 2am and I'm camped out on a barstool in Louie's Bar and Grill. I'm drinkin' Rye Whiskey neat tonight. No chaser, no ice. Louie is behind the bar and tellin' me how crowded the place is during the day; why, he's had to hire an extra cook and waitress to keep up.

Great, I say.

Yeah, Louie continues, and a lot of the new people are from far away -- France, England, Germany, Australia -- you know: far away. They play all kinds of ukuleles, all kinds of styles. The "scene" is exploding. This is truly the "Third Wave".

Great, I say.

Louie asks me what was the "Second Wave"?

Arthur Godfrey, I say.

Louie asks me what was the "First Wave"?

Roy Smeck, I say.

So who's the "Third Wave"? Louie asks.

Jake and Iz, I say.

Louie laughs. Sounds like a kid's cartoon show. Then he goes back to polishing glasses behind the bar. Everybody's movin' into Ukuleletown from all over, he says. Everybody has a ukulele and a webcam.

He tells me to drink up, he's gotta close soon. Gotta get up and bake croissants for the lunch crowd.

Great, I say.


Anonymous said...

I'm not one to like living in a big town, but the people are nice here. Ukester Brown

ronhale said...

I wonder if the general, non-uke
public associates any of today's
3rd-wavers as strongly & you might
say as monolithicly with the ukulele as was the case with Arthur
Godfrey. Godfrey WAS the ukulele (think uke, think Godfrey - think Godfrey, think uke), & Tiny Tim the same for his time.

Now, all ukers may think Jake- think uke, but not all ukers will
think uke-think Jake, there are just so many more players, more styles, than in earlier waves that no one person owns the wave like Godfrey did his.

My first exposure to Iz came from a Makaha Sons of Niihau cd, the live one from Hank's Place. Yes,
he played the uke, but the association in my mind was more of the generic Hawaiian musician playing the uke(I lived on Oahu for a couple of years pre-statehood & must have gotten my love for the music then),than Iz playing the uke,& yes this was long ago (I heard the cd in the mid-80s) before Iz became IZ, but does the general public associate him primarily with the uke, or the uke with him? I tend to think that Iz has transcended such petty concerns as what instrument he may have played as far as the general public is concerned. Now ukers may see him in uke-terms (the video of him picking White Sandy Beach on the beach will always be one of my musical joys), but I wonder if civilians do.

I wonder what the answer to who's the third-wave will be once this wave is over. Are there just too many people in this wave to settle on one or a few, will one of the young players(other than Jake, perhaps) mature into the symbol of the wave, or will someone entirely new come along (ala the Beatles) to redefine this wave, or perhaps inaugurate the 4th-wave.

Anonymous said...

The non-uke music is always superior to listen to. YOur blog could not have made it clearer.
----Mesa Boogie Music is On.Dance, Dance, Dance!

Craig Robertson said...

Re: "Mesa Boogie":

uh...that's not what I was implying...sorry I didn't make it clearer.

Gary said...

Personally, I prefer non-non-uke music. Sometimes.

Gary said...

Craig, I was giving the 3rd Wave some thought and I think we should also credit Troy Fernandez. A lot of players from Hawai'i I've spoken to were inspired (by his work with Ernie Cruz, Jr. in the Ka'au Crater Boys) to rethink and return to the uke. Their "Valley Style" CD came out in '93, and Iz's "Rainbow/World" wasn't picked up in Meet Joe Black until '98 (and then in the eToys commercial, if you remember that...).

For what it's worth.

Maybe we need a category of "da guys behind the wave"; players not as universally popular that fueled the fire.

Craig said...

Good point, Gary. I have a tendency to ignore the Island players because I don't listen to them much. My bad.

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