Monday, October 31, 2005

Benny Chong

Recent review from the Star Bulletin of Benny Chong's first solo uke CD.
"Benny Chong has been known for more than 40 years as the guitarist who helped make Don Ho & the Aliis one of the biggest acts in contemporary Hawaiian music. It has only been in the last few years that Chong has stepped forward as an ukulele virtuoso -- although his solo recordings have only been on a compilation album. This is his long-awaited debut as a solo artist. Chong proves worth the wait."
Byron Yasui wrote the liner notes. Song clips at the review page. Benny's site in progress is here. Link

Pierce Brosnan Bonds With Uke

According to this profile in this month's Travel + Leisure, Pierce Brosnan carries a uke with him whenever he travels! Link

Friday, October 28, 2005


Happy Halloween, from Mark and me here at Ukulelia! Link

Cliff Edwards Tattoo

Check out Uke Jackson's new tat! Efin great! Link

Ukulele Dick: Helping Keep Santa Cruz Weird

If you're on the Left Coast this weekend, check out Keep Santa Cruz Weird at the Rio Theatre on Saturday, October 29th.
" your local deviant, and indulge your own flair for the denial of normalcy by attending this showcase of local weirdness."
The Ukeaholics and Oliver Brown are on the bill, too!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Folk Uke Grammy Nominations

Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson's first album, "Folk Uke" is on the nominating ballot in several Grammy categories this year. If you're a voting member and a uke fan, your mission is now clear! Link

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Midwest Ukefest This Weekend

And if Big Sur is too far a drive for you, you'll want to check out the Midwest Ukefest in Indianapolis this weekend! Link

Buring Uke 2005: Big Sur This Weekend

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz is holding its 3rd Annual campout at Big Sur this weekend:

"This Friday Saturday and Sunday October 28th, 29th, 30th
Plaskett Creek State Park at extreme south end of Big Sur coast
60 miles South of Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road intersection
Cost: $20 per person..."
Sounds like a most excellent time! For info, contact Andy Andrews.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

KoAloha Feature in Delta-Sky Magazine

An anonymous cow-orker left this month's Delta inflight magazine on my desk yesterday. There's a nice (but brief) profile of Papa Okami and the KoAloha folks. And the illustration? The first aloha shirt-worthy portrait of an 'uke luthier I've ever seen. Shown at left, it's by Tracy Walker (click on her name for portfolio). Link

Jens Lekman

A quick post while I'm playing the waiting game here at Jury Duty. According to this concert review, Jens seems to be a kind of Swedish Stephin Merritt. His site is a bit spartan, but I also haven't had a chance to check out the mp3s yet. Link

Friday, October 21, 2005

Indiana University Sheet Music Collection

Here's yet another wonderful online source of vintage sheet music, much of it with ukulele arrangements (chords). A nice feature of the IU site is that you can elect to search for only digitized records, thus saving you from having to scroll through pages of returned records without scanned sheet music images.

Here's a tip, too: do a search on "Singhi" and the results will include all the music with May Singhi Breen uke arrangements. Link

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Yiddish Hula Boy: Oh, Boy!

Okay, class: mandatory viewing. The one and only Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys perform in this talkie short subject. Aloha, Oy! Link

Pix from Uke Out at the Knock Out

Rev. Jon Pekele Kamalani Thysell attended last Friday's Uke Out in San Francisco and writes about it on his blog:
"The Uke Out at the Knock Out was great last night. First we ate accross the street at a little Japanese restaurant. The Knock Out turned out to not be a concert, but just a bar. It was a little crowded and hot in there, and they didn’t start until late, but the music was great.

The first guy, Cracker Jack Salteen, sounded a little awkward, but at least he acknowledged it. The best group had to be the Paper Dolls who went next. Those girls could sing, and definately took the attention of the crowd. They threw in some Prince and Boy George and it was great. Dimestore Dandy was good, he could sing and his songs were great. He even had a kazoo inside of a tin can around his neck. Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen were great too.

The end was great, as the Paper Dolls joined the Paddlemen onstage as the Sweaters, and they did some great doowop numbers. Check out the photo album."

Sorry I missed it! Link

Pagan Uke Movie Pic

Tikimeister Otto von Stroheim pointed me to this photo of silent screen siren Renee Adoree, shown here with Ramon Novarro in a still from what I guess is probably from "The Pagan." Note the authentic polynesian beret Renee sports while Ramon restrains his curly locks with one of Renee's garters (or a headband from Ben-Hur--I can't tell which). Apparently Ramon was just about to offer Renee a bite of his sugar cane when director W. S. "One Take Woody" Van Dyke yelled "cut!"
(Thanks, Otto!)

Nickel Creek Adds Uke to Mix

My pal Tuba is on tour helping the Ditty Bops open for Nickel Creek. Here is a link to the tour schedule. By all means see the show, if only for Tuba and the Ditty Bops. Treat enough! But we also hear that Nickel Creek fiddle player Sara Watkins (pictured) has been picking up the uke of late. Link

Monday, October 17, 2005

UKULELE! Magazine

Rufus Yells and Phil Powell are planning a British ukulele magazine entitled, well, UKULELE! They seek contributors and advertisers. Link

Friday, October 14, 2005

ALO, Animal Liberation Orchestra

Just in time for Friday: Liberation is here! Check out ALO, the Animal Liberation Orchestra, a hot jam band from San Francisco. There's a sprinkling of uke in their music; "Time & Heat", for example. Link

Direction from The Boss

No excuses now, people. You've all received the memo. The Boss has spoken:
"It's time to bring the ukulele back; size does not always count"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

KoAloha Anniversary Party

Another Star Bulletin piece with lots of great photos from the KoAloha 10th Anniversary party last August. (Eh, Papa, invite us out fo' da 15th, yeah?) Link

KoAloha Profile

Great profile on the KoAloha company in the Star Bulletin. Happy Anniversary! Link

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Dangerfield of Instruments?

A review of last weekend's festival in Nova Scotia:"
"It's not easy to love the ukulele. The instrument has a bad reputation, a tricky name to spell and very little street cred.

To make matters worse, record-breaking rains made the First International Ukulele Ceilidh in Liverpool last weekend nearly inaccessible to anyone travelling from Halifax."

Sounds like it was a great event, despite the weather... Link

Boing Boing: Ukuleles made from demolished buildings

Mark posted this over on BoingBoing, and it's one of the most imaginative uke ideas we've come across recently.
'Japanese artist, Nabuaki Date, make ukuleles out of parts of soon to be demolished houses and buildings. The ukulele is then given to the owner of the house as a physical and acoustic embodiment of its memories and history.

'They are beautifully crafted and unique. If you follow the links to the flickr page you can find a few more that I have scanned in.'

William H. Macy Caught Ukin'

The family and I recently watched the action/adventure movie "Sahara." It's worth renting, and if you do, be sure to watch the "Wrap Reel" in the bonus features. There's a quick clip of William H. Macy strumming his Flea ukulele in his trailer. Link

Lyle Ritz Featured on "Lost"

My wife and I have gotten hooked on the ABC series "Lost." (Somehow we missed it entirely last year, but have been watching the first season on DVD.) Last night we watched the episode titled "Homecoming" on Disk 4. Lyle Ritz's classic arrangement of "Lulu's Back in Town" is featured in the soundtrack during Charlie's ill-fated sales presentation. Link

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Uke Community Photo Album Additions

Catfish Carl's Ukulele Community Photo Album is worth checking out periodically to see who's new. Today I noticed a fun photo of Robert Wheeler (founder of ukulule consciousness) sitting in the highly unusual bathroom at Mike DaSilva's studio in Berkeley (must be experienced to be believed). Sez founder:
"While I have seen one other tone wood hand crafted toilet paper holder in my ukulele travels, rosewood or mahogany, at C.F. Martin in Nazareth, this is the first koa one I've seen.
Scroll down on the page to see the giant scale pineapple uke (shown here) that the guys in the Santa Cruz Uke Club built for this year's "Burning Uke." I can't believe they'll actually torch this baby. But they will! Oh the Uke-manity! Link

Baby We Were Born to Uke

Evidently The Boss has been strumming the uke in recent performances. Anyone found pix? Link and another Link

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Trio of Three Nunes Pin Bridge Ukes

Check out this set of three rare Leonardo Nunes pin bridge ukuleles (concert, tenor, and soprano). Frank Ford points out that the concert is labeled a "radio tenor." Link

Ukulele Cinema World

Okay, one last gem from poking around on The Call of Ukulele (see post below). This page chronicles the uke appearances in movies--both American and Japanese. This guy at right from 1956 is my new hero. Link

The Call of Ukulele

We're a big fan of The King David Ukulele Station, Bertrand's ukulele blog from France. (Even if he does frequently scoop us!)

Here is what appears to be Japan's answer to Ukulelia (and where I've found links for my last two posts): "The Call of Ukulele" ("It's a gateway of ukulele web sites!")

It's in Japanese, but with enough English headers that most folks from this hemisphere should be able to poke around with no trouble. There's a bevy of links to Japanese luthiers, performers, events, etc. Well worth a perusal, and definitely a bookmark! Link

Majesty Ukes

Yusuke Kawakami is an ex pat luthier from Japan, influenced by Larivee, and now living and building in Vancouver. Link

Asturias Ukes

Asturias Ukes are based on classic Martin designs. Wonder how they sound for the price... Here's a link to their site (in Japanese). Link

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Uke for Troops Money Stolen

I ran across this post by Uke Jackson over on the Fleamarket Music Bulletin Board and thought I'd republish it here in hope that the money might be recovered, and that the larger uke community might be interested in supporting the cause. What a shame...
"A detective in the Coronado Police Department has asked me to lend my voice, as it were, to the investigation regarding the disappearance of several thousand dollars at the San Diego Ukulele Festival. This money was destined to buy ukuleles for troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The police also asked me to make it clear that Cathy Michalski was the direct victim of this crime. She is not a suspect.

Whoever stole this money is believed to have come to the festival as a ukulele player. If you or anyone you know has information regarding the disappearance of this money, please contact the Coronado Police at 619-522-7347.

Right now, we have requests for far more ukes than we have money. This is not about supporting the war. It is about the gift of ukulele to young folks in harm’s way on a daily basis.

Anita Coyoli-Cullen is in charge of Ukes for Troops. She is currently using as the web site, while I am in the process of transferring and to her name. She is in the process of receiving 501 3c not-for-profit status. Shirley Orlando does the fulfillment.

Neither of these fine ladies makes a penny for their efforts. If you want to donate, every $20 buys a uke that is sent over there (songbook and postage incl). Every cent raised goes for getting ukes in the hands of the troops who want them. There are no administrative costs taken from the funds raised.

All donations made now are tax deductible through Operation Home Front. Checks should be made payable to Ukes for Troops and sent to the address on

Please, if you know anything at all about the missing money, contact the police at the above number. If you actually know the individual who stole it, get that person to return it anonymously or through an intermediary.

The return of the money would likely end the matter now, and it would let us fulfill our promise to some young people who want to play ukulele."


Hukilau 2005

Otto sez I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you of this mega-tiki event in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend! The event site has loads of links to performer sites. Check it out! Link
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