Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Ukulele-Playing 'Survivor' Contestant Sonja Christopher dies at 87

We had the privilege of meeting Sonja a few times. Friends and strangers sent her ukuleles after she appeared on Survivor and she ended up with a nice collection of vintage Martins. Last we spoke with her she was putting them up on consignment. She was lovely person and we'll miss her. Link

Friday, April 12, 2024

Running a Marathon, Playing a Ukulele

Kathryn Walls plans to run the London Marathon this month while playing the ukulele. It's a loving gesture in memory of her sister, Eithne, one of three Irish doctors who died in the fated Air France crash in Brazil, 15 years ago.

Story and video at the link.

Photo: itv News

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Kyle Gray Young's Historic Banjo Method Transcriptions

A few years ago, musician Kyle Gray Young received a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board to transcribe Finnish folk tunes for guitar, and he thought, well, why not piano, banjo, and ukulele, too? He published Ancestral Melodies - Finnish Folk Tunes, a 25-song collection arranged for both standard and baritone tunings. These books are available at no cost, thanks to the CMAB grant.

Since then, he's adapted a number of vintage (as in 19thC!) banjo method books for ukulele. Today he released the music of Banjo Champion, Horace Weston. This and many of Kyle's other transcriptions are free or pay what you want. To get it for free, just enter a zero in the price box. You can also leave a donation of your choice there as well. All editions come with mp3s.

Horace Weston was considered to be the finest banjo player the world had ever seen. Weston performed extensively throughout North America and Europe from the 1860s until his death in 1890. He was one of a few African Americans in the 19th century who performed in minstrel shows, largely to White audiences.

Horace Weston was also the first African American to get credited for his banjo compositions. In the 1880s, S.S. Stewart published a couple dozen of Weston's banjo tunes. All 24 of his banjo solos and duets are presented here in crystal clear tablature for re-entrant ukulele. These are very challenging and not suitable for beginners. You will most likely need a tenor ukulele for some of the arrangements that use the higher frets. Certain tunes like Home Sweet Home are almost unplayable, but that's pretty much how the banjo version is too. There are many reasons why Horace Weston was The Champion Banjoist of the Entire World.
Here is a link to all of Kyle's ukulele arrangements. Link
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