Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
If you don't have a uke stand, get one. (And if you have a different make that you like, post it in the Comments.) You'll find that you'll play your instrument a lot more when it's within easy reach. Link
Monday, December 26, 2011
- Five Things to Know.
- Five Chords to Learn.
- Five Songs to Play.
- Five Websites to Visit.
- Five Things to Get Free.
- Five Things to Buy.
- Five Videos to Watch.
- Five YouTube Channels to Subscribe to.
The only glaring error we've found in Al's book is that Ukulelia is not included in his Five Websites to Visit. But we forgive him. Link
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
(Photo by Tara Malpass)
Here's Danielle Ate the Sandwich with a lovely version of The Christmas Song. I love her effortless singing. Enjoy!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Monday, December 05, 2011
© Lil Rev/Patchwork Poems 2011
When out on the road, or flying the friendly skies
A man needs a standard that he can live by
There’s 10,000 Maniacs banging away
Playing louder and faster than Jake ever played
Now speed is a wonderful and curious thing
Likewise, the notes, that one can make ring!
But, then there is taste, some call it soul
Listen to Lyle Ritz, perhaps then you’ll know
It was at the New York Uke Fest, Bill Tapia said to me
Sitting so cool, at 103!
He said “Rev can you tell me, cause I don’t understand
Everything sounds like a scale! What’s going on man?”
He said “first there’s the melody, you gotta play it once or twice
Then play around it, as that’s always nice!”
“Then it’s back to the melody in a few different ways
Then go on and take it to some other place!”
“Now it’s back to the melody so people can hear
No matter where you go, it’s always near!”
I’m not talking about this Steve Vai sort of thing
I’m talking about taste if you’re gonna make it swing
Now the great James Hill is one who would know
Sometimes you gotta say…Go Cat Go!
But after a while even James would agree
Ten million notes, makes you a one trick pony!
With all due respect that’s why I say…
…Thank you Mr. Tapia for showing us the way!
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Next will no doubt be a petition to the Michigan Senate to change the state nickname to "Great Ukes State", and the motto to Si quaeris ukulele amoenam circumspice. Rock on, Dave! Link
Friday, December 02, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
"It's made out of wood native to, and harvested in California. Redwood top (recycled from our old farmhouse), CA walnut back, sides and neck (cut and milled locally by a friend's stepfather), mesquite (from a dead stump found in the Mojave by friends) and oak binding from a big tree that fell in Roseville."
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
...there will be the world premier of my new video for "Tarzan's Song" shot and edited by Hugh Mackay.
...in Citrus Heights, California. I don't get out to the Left Coast that often, and this will be the first time I've ever performed anywhere near Sacramento...so come on out. Tuesday, December 20th at 7pm. (I'll be the one in the nice fedora)(this is my 'arrogant attitude' photo!)
Saturday, November 12, 2011
"Courtney Welbon had to memorize the “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet for school and decided that she’d have an easier time at it if she turned it into a song. It’s now a light and cheerful work."
Now: to pick or not to pick. Not. Srsly. No picks, please.* Link
* The only Thou Shall Not in my book. Unless you have arthritis, which compels one fellow I know to use a felt pick. I'm even beginning to (grudgingly) turn the blind eye when professionals who insist on playing Red Mahalos neglect to properly tune up. (Amanda P, are you listening?) But picks? I'd prefer they be banished to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Shown here is a soprano model, which sells for $49 Canadian.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
While searching for a uke version of Your Feet's Too Big for my post below, I ran across a series of videos by Ukulele Katie, a stage-4 cancer patient who demonstrates unflappable spirit in the face of her disease. Here's the Waller tune, but also check out Terminal Cancer Blues.
I note that Katie has not posted anything for a while. Does anyone know her status?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Saturday, October 08, 2011
"A believer has his cheeks pierced with two ukeleles at the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket Thailand. During the festival people pierce themselves with swords, or other objects, and many undergo painful procedures for the sins of the community to take over."Link
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Monday, October 03, 2011
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
One of the songs on my “Perfect Wife” CD came into being because of irksome neighbors. At the place I was living last year, the back yards butted up against the back yards of the houses on the next street over.
Every warm evening, the house diagonally behind ours would have a backyard party which usually consisted of lots of beer, kids and an over-the-top car stereo cranked flat out. The music they most often listened to was generally south of the border ballads with very heavy bass lines.
Very heavy. In my studio on the second floor I could see the windows vibrate from the bass.
I had the windows closed one day and I was trying to write a song for the Perfect Wife CD…but all I could hear, even with headphones on, was the the bom bom-bom ba of the bass from the car stereo in the other yard.
After getting frustrated by trying to ignore the sound…I finally just gave in and wrote a song using that bass line.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
"Please join Tippy Canoe and friends this coming Saturday, September 17th for a special House Concert in Elk Grove [CA] hosted by the one-and-only Ukelele University.
This is completely Open to the Public and will also feature the incredible Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman (of The Real Nasty)."
This is the first full CD by the Cincinnati duo Shiny and the Spoon, Amber Nash and Jordan Neff.
Yahoo! ‘Bout time. The CD contains 13 songs, 11 of them originals. This is a very comfortable CD to listen to. The blend of Amber and Jordan’s voices makes any sugar in my coffee unnecessary.
The sound they achieve on this CD is probably somewhere in the Folk area…but it is by no means limited to just folk. Guitar, ukulele, bass, piano, slide, drums…all make their way into the various arrangements to good effect.
But it’s the vocals that kill on this CD. The vocals. The vocals. And the songwriting.
Here are a few that stuck in my head as I listened:
The fourth song, “Killing the Flowers” has a great lyrical arc and a nice bite
“Black Nag” is a cool story that drags you into itself
“Run” would be my hands-down favorite for a driving-cross-country-song.
“Thirteen Crates” does that down home boogie so well.
“Bread and Butter” Killer, killer harmonies.
How can I dislike a Malvina Reynolds song? “No Hole In My Head” is a lovely rendition of a song from a much overlooked songwriter.
For me, the true measure of a CD is if I hear a song that I would feel comfortable (sometimes even compelled) to cover. On this CD “I Hear Ghosts” is that song. “…their words are like wine I just can’t stop drinking…” Works for me.
Go buy this CD. Put down your mouse and do it now.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
Jame Hill’s new CD
I’m going to say right off the bat that I don’t think there is a better ukulele player today than the Canadian James Hill.
Having said that, I won’t have to mention the ukulele again. On his newest CD “Man With A Love Song”, the ukulele is just one of many instruments he plays to make the music he makes.
And he has truly made music on this CD. The 13 songs (with one reprise) are tight and confident. His voice, also is more confident. The sound swings from bluegrass to, well, swing to sultry shuffle. These are all great songs and it isn’t hard to see why he put them together on this CD.
His musical partner, Anne Davison, supplies honeyed harmonies, cello and violin; supporting but never overpowering James.
The first song “Hand Over My Heart” (good pun) starts off with a bang and never looks back. If you’re looking for that breathtaking instrumental work, you get it in spades on this cut.
In the second song we’re introduced to Anne’s killer harmony singing and cello playing.
The best written song, for me, is the eighth cut “What Would You Have Me Do?” that opens with “The lady is too fat for words/ but she sings like her life is on fire”. Damn.
Although all the songs are definitely worth listening to, I’m just mentioning a few that stuck with me. The ninth cut, “Indecision Rag” tosses you in the rollercoaster and takes off, never looking back. Relentless.
Lyrics are always a benchmark for me, and the writing on this CD is topnotch.
But…the song I would cover, the one that grabs me by the throat is the final (two) cuts “Voodoo Forever, Aloha”. I’m a sucker for a song in 6/8s time and a spooky lyric.
Quit reading this and go buy this CD.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Only 5 more days! My newest CD "Dancing on the Edge of the Knife" will be available on Bandcamp as a 'name your price' download. Starting in September, it will be $15 a download. Here is my song about imprisoned Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo from the album
(all proceeds from the sale of this CD go directly to Amnesty International)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Once you get past the silly title (Ukulele for Dummies), you realize that Al Wood (who runs www.ukulelehunt.com) has actually put together a marvelous compendium of ukulele knowledge that takes you from novice to expert. I'm not always a fan of 'teach yourself an instrument' books, but this one of Al's is, really, a ukulele bible. A great reference, with an included audio dvd, and some very witty writing that makes it fun to read.
Go get it. Now.
Ukulele for Dummies
Monday, August 22, 2011
For those of you who do NOT live in Boston. (is there a world outside of Boston? I've heard one exists, but I'm not convinced) You will be able to tune in to a LIVE (well, undead anyway) Noir Cabaret show at Passims in Harvard Square.
Here's the show poster, and this is the link to Passims Concert Window.
The show will start at 8pm, Boston time, and will have some cool performances from New England musicians. Lots of different instruments and a variety of approaches to live music.
Tune In, Turn On, and Drop What You're Doing.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Thursday, August 04, 2011
The top is made of a sandwich of Nomex® and spruce, bent into a bow shape. Nomex is a lightweight, ultra-strong high-tech material used in the manufacture of aircraft.
Read more and see a video of the uke in action here.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Please vote for Caroline Joy at this link.
CJ is also appearing this weekend in Chico, CA at Bustlino's along with the Fabu Uni and her Ukelele. Link
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
A while back I corresponded with Steve Nutter (yes, that's his name) about the project:
"TUBUP is a bonkers project that seems to be taking on a life of it's own since we started it in May last year. It seems that it's not just about kids either...adults seem to have as much fun with the project as well! We're not directly connected with Utterly Butterly, although they provide us with their reject tubs, and let us use the name. Good marketing for them I suppose! They have contributed financially to a few "one off" gigs that we've done, like Children in need Cardiff. The great thing is that the ukes actually work really well and it's fab fun!"More information, including sounds, video, and instructions for making your own margarine tub uke are at this link.
Uker, educator, and luthier Geoff Davis's daugher Phoebe was recently crowned Hamilton County (Indiana) 4-H Fair Queen. Proud Papa Geoff sez that Phoebe didn't get to show off her ukulele playing to the judges because they eliminated the talent portion of the contest this year.
Here's a nice profile of Phoebe, which, befittingly, spotlights her uke playing. Link
Congratulations, Your Majesty!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I'm thrilled that Eddie Vedder covered (with Cat Powers) the old chestnut "Tonight You Belong to Me" on his Ukulele Songs CD. I'm hoping that its inclusion will help the latest generation of uke players discover the goldmine of early 20th Century music, rather than getting stuck on "Hey Soul Sister."
But I'm even more thrilled about this video of Ukulele Sweetheart Zooey Deschanel (and Ben Schwartz). I do believe this is the first video we've posted of Zooey actually playing. Her arrangement sounds much like the one Vedder plays. (Anyone have a copy?).
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
"Ledward "Led" Kaapana is a master of the two leading string instruments in Hawaii: the Hawaiian ukulele and ki ho'alu, the slack key guitar, a finger-style guitar art form that originated in Hawaii. This talent, combined with his vocal skills in the baritone and leo ki`eki`e (falsetto) range, have made him a legendary performer who has been entertaining audiences in Hawaii and abroad for more than 40 years."Link
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
You can't cross the street these days without stumbling over some article about Eddie Vedder's new CD Ukulele Songs. So we haven't been too anxious to repost them all here. This, however, is pretty special. EV was on Letterman last night. He's playing a Mya-Moe uke made for him by Aaron Keim. E Street Band fans will notice something else about EV's uke. Sweet. Link
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I like the night there best right after a warm rain. But then, I would, wouldn't I?
come to the All Asia Cafe in Central Square on Sunday June 26th and see how dark swirls of color can be transformed into music...
Sunday, June 05, 2011
I love Randy Newman's music. And I've always wondered if one could do justice to his unique chord structures on the uke. I wonder no more, and marvel at BlueDean Carcione's arrangement of "You've Got a Friend in Me." If anyone can help us out with a tab, you'd earn our undying gratitude. Link
Saturday, June 04, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Instead, I said the equivalent of "Heh, I was just kidding, even though Schwartz is getting one. I guess I'd just like some Tinker Toys."
Didn't want to hear her say "You'll shoot your eye out."
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Mike Upton and Rick Carlson from Kala Ukuleles have been invited by NAMM to participate in their Washington DC Fly-In as delegates to advocate music education in schools.
"Music education advocates will be meeting with members of Congress and the Senate and have been asked to participate in a drum and uke circle outside the Dept of Education bldg on Tuesday 10:30 am - "Strumming and Drumming for Music Education" -with VA area middle school students and Department of Education personnel. We have shipped 70 ukuleles for the occasion. The Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be in attendance (Update: Assistant Secretary Peter Cunningham attended on his behalf) and we will present him with a red, white and blue Kala ukulele!"Shown here is Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach at the Dept. of Education, Peter Cunningham, joining Marcy Marxer and Cathy Fink in strumming the custom Kala. (Something tells me that if Secretary Duncan want that uke he's going to have to wrest if from Cunningham's hands! And who would blame him?)
Read more about the event and the dignitaries who attended on the NAMM site.
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Friday, May 06, 2011
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Monday, May 02, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
The Madeiran rajão is one of several ancestral instruments to the ukulele. While the machete gave the ukulele its form and scale, it was the rajão that contributed the re-entrant (or my dog has fleas) tuning. The machete is tuned to Open G while the five-stringed rajão is tuned DGCEA. Lose the fifth (D) string and you've got the C uke tuning.
Here is an article (in Portuguese) on the Cordofones Tradicionais Madeirenses blog. (A Google-translated version of the page is here, but it's dodgy.) Enjoy this video of Vitor Sardinha playing Arrivederci Roma (and be sure to stay for the surprising reveal at the end). Link
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Hitachi is running a contest in New Zealand to promote its heat pumps. To win, entrants have to upload a YouTube video of themselves performing the Another Hitachi Day jingle on the uke. After March 29th, the video with the most views wins $10,000. A fun idea, isn't it?
There appear to be loads of school groups entered, but at the time of this post, the contest seems to sliding into the "unintended consequences" pit of the internet (natch) with the top videos featuring boobies and naked men. And because Hitachi is also manufacturer of the popular (in select circles) Hitachi Magic Wand, YouTube helpfully serves up some inappropriately off-topic "related" content.
Our vote is for the entry by the Uruti School, a school of only 8 students (video above). Link
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
"In thinking back to my initial foray into uke, and the shocking instrument I ended up with (he bought a bottom-of-the-line Mahalo–the Yugo of ukuleles –ed.), I thought I'd start a blog about the uke in general, but with a slant aimed at providing beginners, or those interested in getting a uke a solid set of advice on the pitfalls."Barry's book is available on Amazon in both ebook and paper editions. He was kind enough to send us a draft of the ebook. While the book is indeed aimed at absolute beginners, it is in fact pretty comprehensive, covering all the issues likely to nip a the heels of someone starting out: everything from how to pick out your first uke to advice on humidifying your instrument and fingernail care. It is not an instructional guide; there are plenty of how-to-play books out there. It's more of a user's guide, filled with the kind of info you'd eventually pick up from hanging out with a bunch of veteran players for several months but which is all a mystery to someone starting out by themselves. (Note: price advice is given in £s)
We could find only one flaw in the book. And that is that Barry somehow forgot to mention Ukulelia in his list of online references. Despite our (feigned) outrage at this slight, we think Barry's book adds nicely to the available literature for newbs. Don't forget to check out Barry's blog, Got a Ukulele, too. Link
Monday, April 11, 2011
As you will recall from our earlier post, Steven Strauss recently had several ukes and other miscellaneous musical equipment stolen from his car.
"A bunch of my friends responded to the theft of my ukuleles with expressions of support, for which I'm so grateful. Many said they were interested in attending any musical event whose express purpose would be to get some good working gear together for me, especially ukemaker Michael DaSilva. Mike is hosting a concert for my benefit this Sunday afternoon at four."
An impromptu ukulele concert with Steven Strauss and friends(Thanks, Carol Siegal!)
Time: Sunday, April 17 · 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Place: DaSilva Ukulele Co.
2547 8th Street, #28
City: Berkeley, CA
Update: Mike DaSilva has enabled you to make a PayPal contribution to Steven's uke fund at his site. More details here.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Thursday, April 07, 2011
"First, I got a business card. Next—nothing. That’s all I needed—$56 on the credit card. I started handing the thing out all over town: “Chico Uke-O-Gram, bike-messenger service, 864-1604, Send your friend a song.” Very simple, and a picture of a uke on it. The reactions were mostly the same: There’s a 3.5-second delay as the brain struggles to compute Uke-O-Gram, then the “oh yeah” look of comprehension, then a comment, like “Cool!” or “I love it!”"Link
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Received the following communique from Martin's PR agency by way of Michael Simmons:
Tomorrow at the big Musikmesse fair in Frankfurt, Martin Guitar is unveiling six new ukulele models. As Chris Martin IV says, “We are excited to bring these new ukulele models to the music community and to debut them in Frankfurt. We are in the midst of a new renaissance for ukuleles, and are confident our new models will meet this demand while upholding the quality and standards Martin owners have come to expect.”The new models being unveiled include (per the Martin site):
- 2 Uke – features a solid mahogany body, solid East Indian rosewood fingerboard and newly-designed bridge, with an applied dovetail neck to body joint, black tusq nut and black compensated tusq saddle, friction peg tuners with white tuner button and a satin lacquer finish.Also includes grained ivory top binding, and beautiful hand inlayed black and white wood fiber rosette.
- 2 Concert Uke – features characteristics of the 2 Uke, but in concert size, and with black tusq nut and saddle, geared peg tuners and black tuner button.
- 2 Tenor Uke – features characteristics of the 2 Uke, but in tenor size, and with black tusq nut and saddle and a tie-block bridge.
- 2K Uke – includes solid flamed Hawaiian Koa top, back and sides in a satin lacquer finish, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, black tusq nut and compensated tusq saddle, friction peg tuners and white tuner button. Similar to the 2 Uke, this model includes grained ivory top binding, hand inlayed black and white wood fiber rosette.
- 2K Concert Uke – features characteristics of the 2K Uke, but in concert size with black tusq nut and saddle, geared peg tuners and black tuner button.
- 2K Tenor Uke – features characteristics of the 2K Uke, but in tenor size with black tusq nut and saddle, geared peg tuners, black tuner button and tie-block bridge.
The above ukes are all manufactured in Martin’s Nazareth factory, strung with Martin ukulele strings and feature a unique, pressed stamp at the back of the headstock.
For the full press release click here.
Monday, April 04, 2011
Friday, April 01, 2011
"A Martin 1K from the early thirties, a RISA solid electric soprano (low G with plenty of damage to pickup et al), a DaSilva James Hill Tenor (low G), a Harmony Baritone with a purple non-wound low string, a couple of amps"
More info and to report
Devoted Ukulelia readers will recall that back in October of last year, we reported that luxury retailer Neiman Marcus was selling gourd-backed ukuleles made by luthier Danny Ferrington in its famous Christmas Catalog. In our article, we made a snarky remark about Neiman Marcus's copywriter erroneously claiming that the ukulele was "created in the Hawaiian islands by Micronesian immigrants in the 1870s". Well, this morning, we are eating our words.
In an article submitted to the Hawaiian Journal of History, a very different story about the ukulele's origins is being told. According to the article's author, the ukulele did not originate with the Madeiran Machete, as had been previously thought, but from the Micronesian Ni’hi.
The Micronesian Ni'hi is a rhythmic instrument made from a dried gourd, and was originally strung with crude shark-gut strings. They were discovered in 1877 in a market in Palau by Egbert Marcus, younger brother of retail tycoon Herbert Marcus, while traveling on business, looking for exotic items for his brother’s Dallas store. Marcus was enchanted by the indigenous instrument and purchased several gross, intending to sell them at a significant markup upon his return to Dallas.
On his ill-fated return trip, Marcus stopped in Hawai’i. Little is yet known of his stay, but it seems that he presented King David Kalakaua with one of the Ni’hi, presumably as a token of gratitude. After departing Hawaii in early 1878, his ship, the Fumiste, was lost at sea, and no further word of its passengers and crew is extant.
Now is when the Ravenscrag and its Madeiran passengers enters the story. Students of ukulele history will know that the Ravenscrag arrived in Hawaii in 1879, bringing with it future ukulele builders Joao Fernandes, Augusto Dias, Jose do Espirito Santo and Manuel Nunes. After arriving in Hawaii, Nunes and the others encountered Hawaiians playing Ni'hi, which had by then become wildly popular.
Nunes apparently unimpressed, derided the crude instrument, stating that it appeared to made out of a "big pea". (Linguists are now speculating that he called it a foder ervilha, or f***ing pea, which was reported in the contemporary journals as the more polite "jumping pea". A typesetting error in the Honolulu Star rendered it "jumping flea", and hence ukulele.)
The rest of the ukulele's history continues along its more familiar path from there, with Nunes, et al, reinventing the Ni'hi (now ukulele) along the lines of their traditional Madeiran instruments. As for Egbert Marcus, the story of his travels eventually reached his brother Herbert on a visit to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, which featured Hawaiian musicians playing the ukulele, and regaling visitors with stories of the "Ni'hi Man" Marcus who first brought the diminutive instrument to their shores. Link to full story here.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
It's primarily a Hawaiian music event, but ukulele players of all stripes will find kindred spirits there. Al Dodge and Robert Armstrong usually make the scene, as do the Sundodgers and assorted camp followers. (That would include yours truly.)
Sunday, April 3, 2011Ukulele Festival Site
Chabot College Performing Arts Center
25555 Hesperian Blvd.
Hayward, CA 94545
10am to 5:30pm
Thursday, March 24, 2011
And in case you're curious, my old Ringling roommate with the uke is Michael Goudeau, and Tuba Heatherton taught me my first song ("I Like Bananas").