Saturday, February 28, 2004

George Kia Genealogy Pages

I recently stumbled across this wonderful site that Vicki DeLeo has built that includes some interesting information about her great-grandfather, George Kia Nahaolelua, one of the pioneering Hawaiians that introduced the 'ukulele to the mainland. Vicki has one page devoted to her great-grandparents, and one specifically to George Kia. Many of the images on Vicki's site are fairly high res images. Ukulelia readers will find the early (1907) ad of particular historical intererest.

If you have family from Hawaii, be sure to check out her genealogy information; she's looking for help in filling in some pieces to the puzzle. (Mahalo, Vicki!) Discuss

Friday, February 27, 2004

Free Hawaiian and Uke Borders

Niele Hawaiian Girl Graphics has a whole slew of tropical-themed graphics for use on your personal web site. There are some nice 'ukulele-themed borders here. (Beware the pop-ups) Link

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Elmo Aardvark

Perhaps some kind Ukulelia reader will clue me in, but I have no clue what this is all about. An apocryphal animated aardvark? In any event the music is swell. "Wild cartoon music for very smart eccentrics, written and produced by legendary Disney voice actor/composer Will Ryan." Check out some of the guest stars:
. . . Elmo Aardvark himself, in thrilling vocal gymnastics, mind-boggling Gleehorn stylings and breath-taking prestidigital synchopations personally performed upon the legendary Kokomo Ukulele!

. . . Chart-topper Joanie Sommers as she performs the long-unavailable follow-up to her hit song, "Johnnie Get Angry", namely that musical interrogative "Why Can't Johnnie Be Like Elmo?"!

. . . Saturday Night Live's Victoria Jackson as she warbles an unforgettable ode to the Spirit of Fine Ukulele Craftsmanship!

There are three related CDs, including this one and this other one. As a tuba player, I especially like "The Moonlight, a Tuba and You".
Link Discuss

The Mysterious Heftones

Meet the Heftones, two bands in one--and more! There's The Fabulous Heftones, a Tin Pan Alley/Cliff Edwardseque duo and The Heftone Banjo Orchestra (featuring banjo ukes, natch, but with a suspiciously "cloned" look to the personnel...). And then (somewhat off topic, I'll admit, the Heftone String Bass. Actually a bass banjo. Weird, but it sounds cool.) Link Discuss

What is a Ukulele?

Is it "the most unthreatening thing you can make out of wood"? "The puppy of the stringed instrument world"? Or "the king of the instruments"? Here's what Google thinks. Link Discuss

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Backstory: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Here the fascinating backstory about how Buddah Iz recorded his now-famous version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World." Link Discuss

Esera Tuaolo

Esera Tualo is a former professional football player from Hawaii. He's also a courageously out gay man with a beautiful family. Not to mention a talented musician. You may have seen him playing the ukulele in a recent TV commercial for Chili's Restaurant. Here's a link to Esera's website where you can download the commercial. Link Discuss

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Uke Fest West!

At last, full information has been posted for Uke Fest West:
""Uke Fest West" will be held in Santa Cruz, California, April 22nd, 23rd and 24th. This event is being planned, developed and presented through a collaboration of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz and The Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum. And is set to make a full weekend out of the Hayward Ukulele Festival which is on Sunday the 25th."
You won't believe the amazing talent line up:
Bill Tapia, Bryan Tolentino, Byron Yasui, Carmaig de Forest, Dan "Cool hand Uke" Scanlan, Daniel Ho (and special guest), Hiram Bell, Ian Whitcomb, James Hill, Janet Klein, "Jumpin" Jim Beloff, Joel "Ukulele Eck" Eckhaus, John King, Ka Ehu Kai, King Kukulele, Larry D, Lyle Ritz, Michelle "ukulele Lady" Kiba, Milan Nicksic, Oliver Brown, Ralph "King of the Ukulele" Shaw, Tiki King, Ukulele Dick, Tom "The Ukulele Man" Harker, Waste Of Aces.
Altogether, 4 days of ukulele heaven! Oh, boy! Drop everything you're doing, call in sick, and head for Santa Cruz! Complete information is here at this link. Discuss

Elvis Costello at Grammys

Well, now you can add Elvis Costello to your list of rockers who are strumming. Here's a photo of Elvis performing "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" as part of the tribute to Sting as MusiCares Person of the Year presentation. There's a series of EC pix at the following link, but a subscription is required to download them. Anyone know what make uke Elvis is playing? Link Discuss

Uke Players Win Grammys

Folk singer, music educator, and uke player Ella Jenkins won the 2004 Lifetime Acheivement Award at this year's Grammy's. Here's an article written by Cathy Fink, one half of a duo including Marcy Marxer. Marcy has produced the popular "Ukulele for Kids" video series (you'll find a link to the tapes in the blue column to the right). Cathy and Marcy also won a Grammy this year for Best Musical Album for Children, "Bon App├ętit!"
Link Discuss

Friday, February 13, 2004

Sweetheart Songs

What songs will you be stumming for your sweetie on Valentine's Day? Check in at the uketalk forum (above). Kiss and tell!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I heard through the grapevine that Elderly Instruments is seeing an uptick in ukulele sales in advance of Valentine's Day. Which is, of course, only natural. So, on behalf of Mark and our respective families, I wish you and yours a very happy Valentine's Day. (If my wife would play it, I'd get her one of Joseph Todaro's lovely "Sweetheart Ukuleles"!) Link Discuss

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Serious Ukuleles

The Big Muffin Serious Band and the Serious Ukulele Ensemble are producers of quality ukulele music from the Waikato region of New Zealand.
"'We live in a world where all of the major earth shattering challenges have been faced and met. Everest has been conquered, the moon reached, the four minute mile left in tatters and the Pacific Ocean crossed solo by a man in a chilly bin lid. Given that there just isn't anything left for the rest of us to attempt, we've been forced to downsize and make more personal versions of these mammoth and unlikely tasks, to seek less obvious rewards. The challenge of making complex and listenable music with just 1.5m of nylon strings, 550 grammes of wood and glue and a musical scale of one-a-half octaves may not be dangerous or earth-shattering but it is just as unlikely."
Some funny blokes with some seriously good music. Enjoy. Link Discuss

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Kiwi Kids to Get Ukes

Article today (actually, it's tomorrow there!) in The New Zealand Herald about legendary steel guitar player Bill Sevesi's plan to make the uke a mainstay in local school music programs. Ukulelia Publisher Mark Frauenfelder lived in NZ with his family for a while last year. Coincidence? Link Discuss

Bill Tapia at the Royal Hawaiian

Great article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin about Bill's attendance at the recent Royal Hawaiian Hotel's anniversary.
"Already a musician with several professional years under his belt, Bill Tapia was 19 and playing banjo with Johnny Noble's band at the grand opening of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel three-quarters of a century ago. Friday, he was an honored guest at the hotel's birthday bash."
Link Discuss

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Win a Fluke from CBS!

To promote its upcoming TV movie, "Raising Waylon," CBS is giving away actor Thomas Gibson's autographed Mookulele. (Gibson is perhaps best known as Greg in "Dharma & Greg."
"In RAISING WAYLON, Thomas Gibson's character, Reg, plays the ukulele, and Gibson himself played while he relaxed on the set. He owns three of his own, all made by Jim Beloff at Flea Market Music and The Magic Fluke Company. "
Enter here. Discuss

John King's New CD

John King has released "Royal Hawaiian Music", featuring the compositions of King Kalakaua, Queen Liliuokalani, Princess Likelike, Prince Leleiohoku, Captain Henri Berger, and others. Here's an excerpt from the liner notes:

During the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, Hawaiian music was dominated by four siblings known as Na Lani Eha, the Royal Four. Through their social and political influence, David Kalakaua (1836-91), Lydia Kamakaeha Paki (Liliuokalani, 1838-1917), Miriam Likelike (1851-87), and William Pitt Leleiohoku (1854-77) helped to create and popularize a new musical idiom that synthesized traditional Hawaiian poetics with New England-style hymnody. Harvard ethnomusicologist Helen Roberts wrote that the native Hawaiians “... first obtained an idea of real melody from the hymn singing of the missionaries. In somewhat later times there ensued a period of extensive composing on the part of those Hawaiians who had superior educational advantages and were gifted, like the members of the royal family. These songs represent a period in which the foreign art, stamped with a fresh viewpoint, was being adopted by the Hawaiians, and made to assume distinctive features at their hands.” Due in part to the efforts of the Royal Four, Hawaiian music was in vogue on the Mainland and in Europe by the 1910s, despite one annexationist’s prediction that it would “... never become widely popular.”

Link Discuss

The Scholarly 'Uke

John King and Jim Tranquada's article "A New History of the Origins and Development of the ‘Ukulele, 1838–1915" was published in The Hawaiian Journal of History, Volume 37 (2003). You can order the issue at the Hawaiian Historical Society's site here. Discuss

Monday, February 09, 2004

"Two Ton" Tessie O'Shea

From the BBC, here's a video clip of Tessie O'Shea singing her signature tune and playing the banjo uke. Link Discuss

Friday, February 06, 2004

Ukulele Man!

Meet Tom Harker, aka Ukulele Man. Some fun tunes here. I especially like "Pee Wee, Where Have You Gone?" Did somebody say "wish"? Link Discuss

Jake Pitches Hawaii in Japan

Jake Shimabukaro is the new spokesman in the Hawaii Visitors Bureau's highly successful campaign to attract visitors from Japan. Here is a link to the Bureau's Japanese site, but the pix of Jake and his custom Kamaka Tenor require no translation. There's a short Quicktime movie in English on this page, and more Jake at the My Favorite Hawaii section Link Discuss

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Uke Trek!

Vaughn Armstrong, the only actor who has played 11 characters in the StarTrek series, is also a ukulele player, and performs regularly at fan conventions. And that's probably him playing the sound clip on his site. Here is a link to a fan site with pix of him playing the banjo uke. Link Discuss

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Joe Brown's "I'll See You In My Dreams"

Dominic "Dominator" Pieranunzio has worked out an arrangement based on the "Concert for George" DVD. Can't wait to try it. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for this and other great ukulele tabs. Link Discuss

March 2004 Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Ukemeister Jim Beloff wrote to let us know that:
"...there is a really nice. featurette by Michael Simmons on the uke in the current March issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine. The piece is called "Forever Uke" and is a review of the new edition of my history book plus a look at some of the latest uke stars including Daniel Ho, Jake S. and Petty Booka."
As of this post, there is no link to the article online, and Jim pointed out that our earlier post (below) actually links to the much earlier, 1998 article. If and when the article is posted online, we'll blog it. In the meantime, I guess you'll have to brave the weather and go out and pick up the dead tree edition. Link Discuss

Monday, February 02, 2004

Mystery Bob's Ukulele Singers

"A story of toil, tragedy, suffering, sacrifice and ice cream." A legend, or a band? Who knows? But the downloads are cool. Link Discuss

uke uke a go! go!

For your happy uke life! Lots of unique ukes from the Japanese uke scene. Are you ready to rock? Link Discuss

Tiny Ukers

Bill Robertson's delightful collection of animated gifs of your favorite ukers will be found under the RTU Extras section of the "Rock That Uke" site.

Please note: Bill kindly requests that you not create links directly to the images on the site:

"If you would like to use any of these graphics, please feel free to do so, but help us out by capturing and storing them on your own FTP space rather than directly linking to the image here. The Tiny Ukers' diminutive size makes them perfect for forum IDs and because their KBs are small, it seems like a harmless drain. But the Tiny Ukers' popularity since being uploaded has been stunning, and the effect, data transfer-wise, has been not unlike a ferocious and devastating stampede of lemmings. Ah, the awesome power of the tiny!"
Mesmerizing! Link Discuss
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