Saturday, June 30, 2007

50 Years and 26 Miles

Betcha didn't know that the Four Preps' classic "26 Miles" was written on a uke! And on July 15, on Catalina ("the island of romance, romance, romance, romance..."), you and your uke can join in celebrating the 50th anniversary of this beach classic. July 15, 2007, there will be a concert at the Descanso Beach Club featuring the New Four Preps (including the original lead singer and uker Bruce Belland!), during which there will be a strum-along performance of 26 Miles.

More information about the concert and tickets can be found at the Catalina Island Museum site. And before you go, you can learn the song, along with additional ukulele-themed lyrics by Belland, in Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Beach Party.
So lovers of the world unite!
Take a uke along on your date tonight,
'cause with some luck pluckin' there's no lady who'll fight...
romance, romance, romance, romance.


"Uke Can Change The World" has been Jim Beloff's mantra for over a decade now. And now it has even more meaning. Flea Market Music is offering an exclusive, the "UCCTW" Flea ukulele. For each one sold, a donation will be made to UNICEF. We've envisioned one or two ukes that never were, but this is the real deal. Again, exclusively at FMM. Link

Ukulele Club Opens New Doors to Music

What do you do when the doctors say you only have seven more years of vision left? Have the foresight to learn to play the uke. Kindred spirits and full blown ukulele club follows. Now meets every Thursday at Trinity Lutheran in Alameda, CA. Link

Friday, June 29, 2007

Martin Collection Photoset

A Canadian collector's Martin instruments, including a nice range of ukes, all lovingly photographed in this Flickr photoset. If you're a true Martin fan, you'll want to make this gallery of Martin headstocks your desktop image!

Lunch with Robert...and Zoe

Robert Wheeler showed up with ukuleles and beer and we sat in the back yard with the cats, cherries and my daughter Zoe, who helped me test the sonic capabilities of some of the ukuleles.

Robert describes the luncheon ukuleles thusly"...a simple thought, "bring ukes (early) that have slotted (as opposed to (latter) itty bitty drilled holes) wooden pegs, to lunch." ...... Four have labels, one doesn't. Should be a piece of cake to ID the damn things. The Martin flesh searing stamp ....... busy S,S, Stewart blue paper .....triangular Sammo head logo and artful paper, brown tones, label ....... the simple early white Supertone, maker not identified (this is not helpful) ......... and then, in attached pics, on the left, no ID ........ but familiar head silhouette ....... on two of my wall hangers, a 30's "elaborate" blue Supertone label and one with "Winner" trade mark on head ... which doesn't help tell us who, were ....... as ...... according to the King, this mark is for Manhattan Band Instrument Co. Inc. (who also has uke marks .."SUPERUKE" (Look!! Up in the sky!!!!) - "FOURLEAF CLOVER" (Ukes for the Irish Ukulele Festival) .... and sensing that MBI Co, didn't make the thing ........ as 19th Century music business practice .... "...... Many music stores, large and small, were able to order a quantity of instruments from major manufactures (Conn, Buescher, Holton, King, Martin, York) with their names inscribed on the ...." (Ditson being a example that we all know and love...)"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Noir Gotham Deluxe

This just in from Bliss Blood in New York:

It's ukulele season in Gotham, so come to Mo Pitkin's Saturday night for another installment of Ukulele Noir to see some of the city's most unique uke performers.
read about it here, see the poster...

Craig Chesler will be filling in for Craig Robertson as Emcee, playing a set, and sharing the stage with Nightcall, Sweet Soubrette, and Meaghan Farrell.

Nightcall is retro revivalist (& Moonlighter) Bliss Blood's latest project. Playing her trusty ukulele, Bliss is accompanied by Peter Maness on upright bass and Stu Spasm on electric guitar. They play 1960's film music (think 007) and originals in the style of "crime jazz."

Sweet Soubrette brings a fresh new voice to the singer/songwriter scene with a femme-fatale-and-ukulele act that walks the narrow line between ironic and sincere. Tongue-in-cheek lyrics and melodrama notwithstanding, these torch songs just might be in earnest. Sweet Soubrette is Ellia Bisker on vocals and ukulele.

Meaghan Farrell is a young singer/songwriter from Jersey who has been stunning audiences in New York and Boston with her original compositions.

Saturday, June 30, 2007 Midnight $10
UKULELE NOIR Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction ; 34 Avenue A (between 2nd & 3rd Streets)
New York, NY 10009
Hope to see you there!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When the ukulele was Art...

"A statue from 1939 Treasure Island Fair, by Adaline Kent, "Young Boy with Ukulele"."

(thanks, founder)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Makin' music

A warm night in Ukuleletown. Out in the back yard hot breezes are blowing through the leaves of the cherry tree. The cherries aren’t quite ripe yet, but they will be in a week or two. The cherry tree bears fruit every two years. Every two years. You have to take the long view if you want cherry pie from my back yard.
So in the meantime make some music. Pick up your (cheap, custom, vintage, new) ukulele and make some music. It’s dark and down the street a Portuguese couple is fighting or making love, dogs bark tiredly and the grasses rustle with small creatures. It’s all music. Make your own.
That's why you have a ukulele in your hand: to make music with. Not to make money, not to get famous, not to improve your social life...but to make music. All those things are nice if they happen...but right now you can make music. You can always make music.
The next afternoon the sun is shining through the livingroom windows. Robert Wheeler shows up with beer and ukuleles. Davis Sweet shows up with a hat and two ukuleles. We’re tradin’ songs and makin’ music. In Ukuleletown, this is what happens in the afternoon when it’s quiet and the Portuguese lovers are sleeping, the dogs are sleeping and small creatures are burrowed deep in the warm earth.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Don't quit harping

Man, this is a killer article by Gregg Miner, (with lotsa cool pics):

“Harp Ukulele” – the name alone seems a contradiction in terms. Yet once upon a time in America, this unlikely hybrid (or perhaps “variation” is a better word) was dreamt up and produced by not one, but two, unique individuals – separately and in completely different forms....."

the whole article

(thanks, Ben!)

Tiki Oasis 7: Hawaii-a-Go-Go!

All systems are Go-Go for this year's edition of that rum-infused lost weekend of Paradise-Pop, Tiki Oasis.

This year it's August 16-19 in San Diego at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. But don't let that bland chain hotel name fool you, it's the former Hanalei Hotel, awash in Polynesian pulchritude.

Of special interest to uke players, Judd Finkelstein, aka Iuka Grogg, and leader of the Island of Napa's own Maikai Gents, will be hosting a ukulele jam session (aptly titled Iuka Grogg's Ukulele Fantasy Camp). The jam is on Sunday, August 19, 2007, in the atrium of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. No cost, just bring your uke.

Complete information about Tiki Oasis 7 is at the following link, including reservation and schedule deets. Bring your rubbah slippahs and your go-go boots!


Photo credit: David R. Bennion, Mind's Eye Photography (Thanks, Otto!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

many ukulele minutes

This just in from Peter Hurney of Pohaku Ukuleles...
"Hello Radio Audience,

This month’s episode of Alternate Tunings will be a little different than what you’re used to. Our crew has been out of town on special assignments so in lieu of an episode on a unique and unusual musical instrument this show will be the “All Ukulele Minute Edition”. Songs culled from past episodes along with new material.
My special guest host for this show is Miss Kitten on the Keys and if you don’t already know and love her you will by the time the show is finished.
That’s this Wednesday, June the 20th at 9:00am West Coast Time on KALX 90.7 FM in Berkeley. Don’t miss this one.
And for those of you out of our viewing range KALX has a live web stream at "
da stream.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Risa's Uke Surfer

Risa Musical Instruments (makers of the ultra-cool Uke Solid) have a new site. Check it out! Link

Uke Lamp Project

Hey, Dads out there! Get a new jigsaw for Fathers' Day? Here's a swell project for that tiki bar. And the best part? No ukuleles will be harmed in the making of this swell lamp from the July 1954 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. Link

(via Finkbuilt)

Strangely, We Agreed With Simon...

A Britain's Got Talent contestant and George Formby impersonator was bounced off the show this week after it was learned that he's on the sex offenders' register, presumably for offering a young boy a Little Stick of Blackpool Rock. Eew. Link

UK Uke Shortage

Apparently the 3rd Wave has finally crossed the pond in a big way, and, inspired by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and fueled by YouTube, Britain is besieged with a dearth of plangent playthings. Link

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Craig Robertson Songbook

Yep, I did available for you plunking pleasure, a 43 page Songbook that includes the Lyrics and Chords to 20 of my original songs and ALSO posters from the Ukulele Noir shows. The Songbook is in high resolution PDF format and will be delivered on a CD (cause it's VERY big). You may either view it on your computer, or have it printed. All the images are high resolution. (and it's only 9.95 plus shipping...dollars, that is)
for a low resoution, five page sample:
and for the oh-so-convenient order page:

My new CD "That Dress" is now being mastered, and, hopefully, this will defray some of the...anticipation

The Bean Sprout Banjo Ukulele

This in from BAS member Aaron Keim: “Check out the new banjo ukes I am making. I think they are really something special…”

“Finally a Banjo Ukulele that is ready for the 21st century! Bean Sprout banjo ukuleles are loud and bright but with a woody depth. Just what you need to cut through the band and get the volume you need, while producing the pleasing sound that you want!”

(I want you all to know I really resisted making any stupid puns about “jack and the bean sprout”…)

the site.

Fountain Pen Fanaticism Parallels UAS

There's a discussion thread on The Fountain Pen Network right now about ukes. One poster has noted a parallel between Pen Collecting and UAS, aka Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome. This must be true, because I'm a fountain pen fanatic myself.

If you've popped over here from the FPN, welcome to yet another circle of hell! (Oh, and I'd check out Peter Thomas's ukulele books for inspiration on the pen box project...) Link

Learn to play like John King

From a great recent article by John King, titled The little twanger has a voice and, yes, indeed, it sings
“Let me tell you a secret. The ‘ukulele is Portuguese. It’s true. A trio of Portuguese woodworkers from the island of Madeira, who emigrated to Hawai‘i in 1879, began making the little four-string guitars in Honolulu in the 1880s. But they didn’t call them ‘ukuleles back then; instead, they used the instrument’s Portuguese name: machete (pronounced mah-SHET)….”

read the whole article.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

CD Release Party for Steven Strauss

This Sunday, June 17, take your dad, or dads drag your kids (it is Father's Day, after all) to Mike DaSilva's in Berkeley for the release party for Steven Strauss's new CD. Festivities start at 5pm, and if you attend the concert you can buy the CD for half price! Sweet. Check out Steven's blog for extensive liner notes. Some fascinating back stories on the tunes! Link

Sunday, June 10, 2007

UkeCast - The Ukulele Podcast

We've been remiss about not blogging about Ukecast earlier. This ukulele podcast is an offshoot of, and is now up to episode 218 (as of this post). Subscribe free via iTunes in either a music-only or enhanced version with color pix to accompany the music (if your iPod is so equipped). Link

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ukulelia Can Make You Famous, er

A few days ago we blogged about Hailey Wojcik, a former Lansing, MI uker who has taken her act to the Big Apple.

Sez, Hailey, Jason Tagg from Sonic Uke saw her write-up on these pages and offered her a slot in TONIGHT'S New York Ukulele Cabaret:
Saturday, June 9 2007
Stage 43 at Jimmy's
43 East 7th Street
East Village, NY
Hailey promises there'll be some new song on her MySpace page soon, perhaps even some music videos, too. Rock on, Hailey, and break a leg tonight!

Big show. Don't miss it.

UPDATE: Nipper sez you can catch Hailey on the latest Ukecast podcast (number 218). (Thanks, Nipper!)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I think I heard Lucinda, she was cryin' in the rain.

A rainy night in Ukuleletown. Lean against the brick wall outside Louies. Close your eyes and listen… yeah. Whattaya hear? Plunk, plunk, plunk. Raindrops? Someone pickin’ on a ukulele? More like it. But it’s mean and growly, kinda dirty…like someone ran the sound through a meat grinder.
‘cross the street there’s a window with no curtains. Light so bright it all seems black and white. Man playing ukulele through a small amplifier.
He's called Waitswatcher.
dig it

Monday, June 04, 2007

MAUI 2007

East Coasters will want to check out the 5th Annual Mid-Atlantic Ukulele Invitational (MAUI) this weekend in Annapolis, MD. Complete details here.

Ukers Make Front Page

Santa Cruz ukers Donna and Peter Thomas made the front page of the SF Chronicle this morning with a story about their trek which retraced the footsteps of John Muir on his hike from San Francisco to Yosemite.

Here they are near the beginning of their journey, kicking it off in due form, with ukes. I don't believe they took ukes with them on the trail. We'll give them a pass on that, since Muir, hiking in 1868, would not have had one.

They're writing a guidebook about their trip. Let's hope it comes with tablature. And that no ukuleles are harmed in the process.

Congrats, Donna and Peter! Link

scary marriage

From Belgium and Sweden comes a killer new band, “Ideal Husbands”. Lyrics and production by Sandrine Collard and vocals by Louise Peterhoff with Benjamin and Boris on everything from ukulele to vibraphone and lap steel, they have a (slightly twisted) Hawaiian sound that is great. The song “Terrified” is…wow.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Nui 'Ukulele Club

Attention Chicagoland residents! Whether you're a Sox or Cubbies fan, you'll find common ground at the Nui 'Ukulele Club. Working in partnership with the Chicago Park District, they host free classes for both beginning and intermediate/advanced players. The best part? Free parking. Link
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