Thursday, July 31, 2008

Candelas Ukuleles

Here's a luthier we haven't run across before. Candelas Guitars is a family enterprise, now into its 4th generation of builders. Candelas started in Tijuana, and is now based in Los Angeles. They build everything from Classical and Flamenco guitars to the full spectrum of Mariachi instruments. And beautiful things we've never heard of before, like a Requinto Jarocho.

Candelas Ukuleles are built by Tomas Delgado. Shown here is a Nunes style Tacote Soprano. The square orientation of the rope binding is quite unique. The top is tacote with cedar sides and back. Tacote (Senecio Albonervius) is a balsa-like wood native to western Mexico and is often used in Mariachi instuments. Just the thing to sing It Happened in Monterey to Annette Hanshaw on! Link

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bob Hope Ukes with Dotty and Bing

Looks like Bob Hope actually knows how to play that thing. And is that a Camp Uke that der Bingle is holding? Of course, this photo proves how clouded in their judgment all ukulele player are. See, given the option of having a babe like Dorothy Lamour in our arms or or uke in our hands we opt for the latter. In this shot, Bob seems to have come to his senses a bit. Then again, in this one, Dotty is noticeably absent. Maybe she went off with a guitar player?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ukulele at the Castle

After a two month break, Ukulele Noir is once again hitting clubs of New England. This week, on Friday July 25th, The Castle Bar in Brighton, Massachusetts will host the next incarnation of this event. For over three and a half years Ukulele Noir has hosted some of the best ukulele performers and songwriters around, and this one keeps that pot boiling.
Appearing are: Ian Schwartz with his new three piece orchestra. This is his first gig with the back up musicians and it promises to be very interesting. Tim Mann, always an interesting songwriter and great singer, Ed Arnold; a new face to Ukulele Noir with a great voice and style, Tripping Lily; a band of four musicians from the Cape fronted by Demetrius and Monica…great harmonies and great songwriting, as always; another session of Ukulele Consciousness with Robert Wheeler…and, of course, li’l ol’ me, Craig Robertson, acting as ringmaster.
Be there or, well, you know the rest…

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mighty Ukulele

Canadian filmmaker Tony Coleman has been traipsing about shooting footage for an upcoming documentary, "Mighty Uke." Here's a video segment from KGMB in Hawai'i about the project. Looks like he's turned up some archival footage of Augusto Dias Manuel Nunes from a 1917 newsreel (Thanks, Jim!). Also, here are several other mentions of the project from around the globe: Langley, BC; Israel; Taunton, UK; NYC, US.

Ukuleles For Peace

Mentioned in the "Mighty Uke" story, and worth spotlighting, is the Arab/Israeli group, Ukuleles for Peace:
"The goal of Ukuleles for Peace is to bring Jewish and Arab children together to play in an orchestra with ukuleles, kazoos and other fun instruments. Paul works with the students once a week in their own schools, and then brings them together for performances. The children sing in Hebrew, Arabic and English. The hope is that playing together will create further opportunities for communal activities, and that parents and members of the communities will get involved in the program."
What the world needs now, is ukes, sweet ukes. What a truly amazing project. Link

Peter and George: The Odd Couple

Peter O'Toole recalls sharing a dressing room with George Formby in the Fifties:
'He kept two ukuleles, tuned to different keys, and I asked him if one was a spare. 'No,' said Formby, 'I find it very difficult to change key, so I don't bother. I just pick up another ukulele.' The phrase became a favourite -- whenever anything would go wrong, I'd say: 'Pick up another ukulele!'.'


Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yester-Ukes! Link

News Flash: Actual News in Jake News Item

Here's a novelty: an actual bit of news about Jake tucked into the usual puff piece.
"Jake Shimabukuro’s newest album — he’s still recording it — will feature a number of cello and ukulele duets, as well as a solo version of one of the Bach Two-Part Inventions (which he calls “the most difficult piece I’ve ever tackled for the ukulele”), and an original four-part ukulele piece that he’s arranged like a string quartet, and on which he’ll play all four parts."

Uke Player Goes on Tour in a Canoe

Christopher Bell seems to be channeling Thoreau. He just hopped into his canoe for a (whirlwind?) tour of the Empire State:
"As a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to my car I take to the seas in my Canoe. In total it is a six-week, 550 mile journey on the Erie Canal and Hudson River from Buffalo to New York City."
I've been streaming his tunes while composing this post. It's really terrific stuff. Check out his CD. And catch his performances if you're along his route. Link

Monday, July 21, 2008

Build a Uke-b-gon

Don't tell my wife about this one, or she'll want me to put one on all my ukes. But here's a little project to build a mute for your uke so you can silently practice strumming and chording. Link

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Koa Tenor/Concert Fan Fret Ukulele

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. It does indeed look like Duane Heilman built this uke from a workshop in the Mystery Spot.

"Can't make up your mind if you like a tenor or concert scale uke better? Well, this new ukulele combines both scales with a fan fret type layout. The treble A string has a 15" scale length and the low G string has a 17" scale length. The middle E and C string fall in between the two scales. All strings intonate well and the uke plays and chords very easily. This type of fret arrangement is the brain child of Ralph Novak and you can see his fine guitars on the web under Novax guitars.

This uke features Koa wood for the top, back, sides and head plate. The bindings are plastic Tortoise shell. The top purfling and rosette are made of reconstituted yellow/orange colored stone with a w/b wood border. The fingerboard, bridge and heel cap are Cocobola rosewood. The neck is Honduran mahogany with a graphite bar truss rod for extra strength and stability. There are 12 frets to the body; 20 in all. The fret board has a slight compound radius for playing comfort. The frets are slightly larger then standard, with a low profile so the notes don't go sharp."

Check this baby out quickly. The ebay auction has ended, but the photos are still up. Link

Gibson Poinsettia Uke

The Gibson painted Poinsettia uke is a real rarity. This guy found one in a pawn shop. It wasn't for sale, but the owner was kind enough to let him photograph it. Isn't it a beauty? Be sure to check out the shots of the fretboard and headstock. (Scroll down on the page for the images) Link

Monday, July 14, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame Winner!

How amazingly cool! Uker Adam Wilbur (and twin brother Fred)[actually, not; see below--ed.] will sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game during tomorrow night's MLB All Star Game at Yankee Stadium. He's the winner of Baby Ruth's contest, held to celebrate the centennial of Von Tilzer's tune. The finalists were chosen by popular vote, which makes this victory all the sweeter. Check out the video, in which he plays his Baby Ruth-ulele. Which is almost as cute as the Dairy Queen Uke. With tuba goodness! Link

UPDATE: He has to leave his ukulele at home? It's an outrage!
"If chosen, Adam Wilbur will get to lead the crowd in the song, but he'll have to leave his ukulele at home. He'll sing with only the traditional organ accompaniment after Josh Groban performs "God Bless America.""

Happy Bastille Day!

In honor of the storming of the Bastille, behold, Le Baguette, made by Owen Jones Keoholaumakani Holt, Jr. at Road Toad Music. Link

Update: Le Baguette is owned by John Pult, aka Sazerac of the Genial Orleanians. View the completed uke here! (Thanks, Nina!)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

UkeIt - The Italian Ukulele

Check out the Italian ukulele scene via UkeIt! In Italian or English. Link

Poking around on the site, I followed a link to Musikalia, identified as a "Sicilian lute maker who produces ukuleles on demand." My guess is that it is better to ask a Sicilian to make you a uke. Shown here, one of Musikalia's ukes with a really unusual Italian folk flair. To see the ukes, click on "all categories" at this link.

Wayne Jiang: Artist Uker

Wayne Jiang is a wonderful painter, and a (southpaw) uke player.

When his two artforms converge, the result is wonderful. I particularly like this painting, entitled Ukulele Room.


Canada Invades Hawai'i

The Langley Ukulele Ensemble has made their annual pilgrimage to Hawai'i. (Eh, hoser, wot wit da kine triangle, eh?) Video at the link. Link

Tiki Oasis 8!

His Imperial Majesty, Tiki King, dropped us a note to remind us that Tiki Oasis: Voodoo Vacation on Zombie Island is coming up soon. August 14-17 in San Diego. Iuka Grogg (aka Judd Finkelstein) will be hosting a free uke jam on Sunday. Lots of rum-infused rascality the entire weekend! When you're there, be sure to pay your respects to The King, as well as Tikimeister and Ukulelia Pal Otto Von Stroheim. (Note the complete absence of ukuleles. Tsk, Tsk.)


The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac

Frankly I'm surprised that Craig hasn't covered Taylor Mac yet. (Okay, not quite Craig's cup of tea, were Craig to drink tea...) But ladies and gentlemen, everyone in between and both: Taylor Mac. Link

Currently performing The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac at Here here.

Gothamist: Julia Nunes

Gothamist interviews YouTube Superstar Julia Nunes. She'll be at the Knitting Factory tonight in NYC. Julia's fan base now officially includes Ben Folds and Molly Ringwald. Link

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

and this from the Archbishop of Uke...

Verily I say to thee: get down with the Four Strings of Faith. Dig the ten commandments of Uke as laid out by Reverend Nipper.
the Church of Uke.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

This from Bliss...

Hello all uke friends,

The Moonlighters are playing in LA in a few days!
Please tell all your uke buddies on the West Coast!


Thursday, July 10, 6:00-9:00pm
Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street, Los Angeles
Free outdoor festival concert!
Also playing: Paula Fuga, Moana, Brittni Palva & Abe
Lagrimas, Jr., Ali Lexa & King Kukulele & the Friki Tikis

Friday, July 11, 8:00 pm
2029 N. Lake
Altadena, Ca. 91001
Reservations: (626) 398-7917
Tickets: $15.00
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