Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stars and Stripes Forever


Thinking about Memorial Day, John Phillip Sousa's march Stars and Stripes Forever has been running through my brain.

The march's trio is a ukulele classic, and has been a signature piece for many players throughout ukulele history (composed in 1897, the ukulele's 18th year). The first reference I've found to its ukulele performance is in 1910, by Antonio Abreu Santos (aka "Batata" or "Potato") who played it to great effect at a performance at the Honolulu YMCA. (This, from Jim Tranquada and John King's seminal The 'Ukulele, a History, and, if you don't own a copy, go to your local bookstore and buy/order a copy now.)

Other notable versions have been played and arranged by Bill Tapia (who at 10, played it for WWI troups in Hawaii), Jesse Kalima, Roy Smeck, and Bobby Henshaw, and others.

Here are links to reference recordings, videos and tabs. If you know of any others, please leave a comment and I'll add them here. In particular, if know of a tab for Bill Tapia's Stars and Stripes/Sweethearts on Parade medley, let me know with all speed and I will be forever in your debt. It's my personal favorite among the bunch. (Bonus points if you've worked out Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.)

Bill Tapia

Roy Smeck 
(Smeck student Vincent Cortese plays Roy's version)

Jesse Kalima

Bobby "Uke" Henshaw

Jake Shimabukuro

Balsa Bill Yerkes

Dominator




12 comments:

Bill Robertson said...

Frank Novicki plays it in Rock That Uke, his complete performance of which is one of the dvd's extras.

Ron Hale said...

Poncie Ponce was known for his performance of the piece, Gary.

Towards the end of which a small American flag (hidden until then) shot up from his uke.

He performs it on The Joy of Uke Vol. 1 for Jim Beloff.

These days kids can play it. See the recent YT video by the young Thai KoAloha artist:

Stars stripes forever Ukulele Fingerstyle by Sydney

Gary said...

Bill, I'll have to go back and watch the extras!

Gary said...

Ron. I think that's Jake's version. Which is my least favorite version. Lots of kids today mesmerize Jake's arrangements of stuff and have no idee what they're doing.

I'll be in the music store and will hear some teen ripping up some amazing thing, then ask him what else he knows and--surpise--he knows nothing else.

A good reminder that anyone can learn a trick, if practiced long enough.

Gary said...

Oh, and I don't have the Beloff DVD. I have the latest 2 vol. Brozman set, and wonder if I should ever view it again.

Gary said...

Oh, and I don't have the Beloff DVD. I have the latest 2 vol. Brozman set, and wonder if I should ever view it again.

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