Monday, August 31, 2009

DaSilva Newsletter

Luthier and Ukepressario Mike DaSilva has tons of stuff going on these days. If you live in or near the San Francisco Bay Area, you'll want to subscribe to Mike's newsletter. He'll keep you up to date on all the concerts, workshops, and other events happening at his Berkeley studio. Link

UkuFingers iPhone/iTouch App

Now you can let your UkuFingers do the walking. Swell new app for iPhone and iTouch.
"Uku Fingers is more than an ukulele chord chart that shows you one way to play each chord. It shows you ALL the ways to play each chord – anywhere on the fretboard. Chord forms are color coded to quickly and easily find which inversion or fretboard placement makes the most sense. You can look at multiple chords together so you can see how they relate to each other (like the chord progression of a song), or how you can play chords at a different part of the neck to help with arrangements. You can also show scales along with the chords to find melodies or embellishments. Once a chord progression is loaded in, transposition is as easy as pressing a button. It even will show you relative pitch or the note names. Uku Fingers helps you to be a better player."

Susie Asado

Meet Susie Asado, aka Josepha Conrad, a songwriter, poet, lover of sweet tea, and ukulele player from Berlin. She has some US shows coming up, notably September 7, at Cake Shop in NYC.

Be sure to check out this amazing video of her song "Hello Antenna," a cut-paper animation by Veronika Samartseva and Anna Samoylovich. Link

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Uke Time in Vermont

Vermont brought us Ben & Jerry. Now Jennifer & Jim. Link

Hiram Bell Rings Widely

Bay Area ukulele master Hiram Bell will perform tonight (Saturday, August 29, 2009) at Biscuit & Blues in San Francisco. Check out this article for links to his upcoming workshops and classes, too. Link

Happy 100th, Lannie Ruth!

Further evidence that ukulele playing leads to a long and happy life. Link

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ukulele Quote of 2009

UOGB Music Director George Hinchcliffe is hereby awarded the Golden Cliffie for the Ukulele Quote of the Year:

Hinchcliffe on the broad demographic appeal of the ukulele:
“I noticed many groovy, fit young people in the queue for tickets for our Proms concert, the kind of person I used to be,” he said yesterday."


Wellington Ukulele Orchestra National Tour

It's a good day when you can feature the word "chuffed" in your blog post:
"The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra are chuffed to announce their national tour in support of a brand new record, The Dreaming EP, which will include towns that have not yet hosted the wildly popular strummers."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shelley O’Brien | Ukulele Hunt

Woodshed has a nice interview with Shelley O'Brien today. Link

Aloha, Killian

We were indeed saddened to hear of the passing of young uker Killian Mansfield. As you may have read earlier on Ukulelia, he recently released a CD, proceeds from which will support the foundation named in his honor. Please buy one.
"Killian Mansfield, 16, of West Shokan, NY, artist, musician, humanitarian. He waged a valiant battle against a rare form of cancer armed with an infectious sense of humor and a life force to be reckoned with.

"He took up violin at age 3 and continued his dedication to music, winning an award for his elementary school music program (PS 24 in The Bronx, NY), and participating in what he called “an outstanding string program,” at Onteora High School. As a participant of the Fiddle & Dance camp run by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason at the Ashokan Center, he picked up the ukulele — an instrument that enabled him to continue playing music despite the limitations cancer imposed on his body, and made such an impact that a Pavilion is named in his honor.

"He loved the ukulele for its simplicity and ability to encourage egalitarian musicianship in young and old, professional and beginner. His philanthropic devotion was similar in its focus on empowerment. He wished, “more kids with cancer knew that choosing to eat well and doing acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy and the like can make them feel better.” He started the Killian Mansfield Foundation to help children with cancer and other serious illnesses through health care that treats the whole child- mind, body and spirit.

"In the last few months of his life with the assistance of world class musicians like Dr. John, Kate Pierson, John Sebastian, Todd Rundren, Levon Helm and many others, he summoned up all his fading strength and recorded Somewhere Else to benefit his foundation, and to send another message of empowerment for seriously ill children and teens."

Friday, August 21, 2009

All Tied Up...

For those of you who, like me, really like rope binding on a ukulele; this custom ukulele from luthier Peter Hurney of Pohaku Ukuleles is the bee's knees.

Ukulele Sales Soar

Sales of ukuleles in Glaswegian Music Shops are up 500%. Suddenly, the uke is suddenly suddenly cool, again. (I always wanted an excuse to say "Glaswegian." Link

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shelley O'Brien: Uke Goddess of the North

Meet Shelley O'Brien, a Toronto-based, B.C.-raised ukulele player.
"She recently released an enchanting album of quirky pop music, You, Me and the Birds , and is currently in Europe carrying her custom-made 'uke' toward the Second Helsinki International Ukulele Festival (Aug. 21-23), where she'll be the lone Canadian representative."
I guess James Hill is otherwise engaged. And the second Helsinki festival. Cool! Link

Ukers Invade Moose Lodge

Okay, all you Oddfellows, Shriners, Rotarians, Elks, Lions, Knights of Columbus and Knights of Pythias out there. Get with the program! Link

More Proms News

"Afterwards, in one of the slower numbers, the audience replaced lighters aloft with ukuleles aloft which was a strangely poignant sight.

"I bet U2 don't have that"

With video: Link

A classical critic's take:
"More than 1,000 people, including Proms director Roger Wright, had brought their own ukes along for a communal performance of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth. It sounded curiously Venetian, a bit like a serenade. As a non-uke person, I ended up rather wishing I played one. Tremendous."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Drop Baby Drop

I've been enjoying the hell out of Lil' Rev's latest CD, Drop Baby Drop. It's loaded with rare blues, rooted originals, novelty, old time country and rusty old tin pan alley classics performed on concert, baritone, banjo- and resonator ukuleles.

Rev sez the CD is available for $17 postpaid:
Lil' Rev
P.O. Box 71362
Milwaukee, WI 53217
Highly recommended! Link

Back to School, Uke Style

Now this would make heading back to class a little sweeter. Link

A Night of 1,000 Ukuleles at the Proms

I read the news today, oh boy. Now we know how many ukes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. Link

(Sorry, Mr. Bradbury)

And an interview with the Beeb. Link

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Killian Mansfield: Somewhere Else

A couple of nice folks dropped us a note to let us know that Killian Mansfield's CD Somewhere Else is out and moving up the charts. From the press release:
"SOMEWHERE ELSE is the dream project of Killian Mansfield, a 16-year-old ukulele wiz from Woodstock, NY who has an advanced and rare form of cancer. Recorded In a window of time between a long hospitalization last winter and entering hospice care this spring, SOMEWHERE ELSE is an eclectic and uplifting labor of love. The album includes original songs and eclectic covers performed by Killian on 'uke' with critically acclaimed singers and musicians including Dr. John, Kate Pierson, John Sebastian, Todd Rundgren and Levon Helm. SOMEWHERE ELSE is a benefit recording for the Killian Mansfield Foundation, which supports integrative therapies like acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and nutritional advice for children with cancer."
Paul Overton has more information over on his blog. And here's Killian's parents' blog, with a recap of their appearance yesterday on (fellow cancer battler) Don Imus's show. (Killian was not feeling well enough to go on-air.)

Go buy Killian's CD now! There's a movement afoot to keep it in the top 100 albums on Amazon, and it seems to be successful! (It's also available on iTunes.) Proceeds benefit the Killian Mansfield Foundation and the Hope & Heroes Children's Cancer Fund.

(Thanks Paul and Barbara!)

Langley Ukulele Ensemble Tours Hawaii

It's been a while since we checked in with the Langley Ukulele Ensemble. They've been a busy bunch, releasing three CDs this year and now just returning from a grand tour of the Islands.

Who would have thought that a bunch of haole kids would make such a splash on the local scene? Here's a great article about their trip. And I defy you to watch the slideshow video and not get chicken skin. Link

Financial Times on the Uke

Continuing the trend of ukulele stories popping up in the mainstream business press (of all places) is this piece on the UK uke scene from the Financial Times. Includes some scandalous errors for such a highly regarded rag (Blackpool Rock, not Brighton, fer George's sake), but they are square on the Masonic reference. (You'll just have to take my word on that one.)

Now if we can just make the cover of The Economist, we will have arrived. Link

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Amanda Palmer - Creep, live at Wanderlust

Hey, look. Amanda Palmer does play something other than a Red Mahalo. And without a pick. It's a new day. Link

(Btw, Creep is the title of the song she's playing, not an expression of our opinion about Amanda --ed. )

George Harrison Tribute Concert

Another installment in the Ray Bernard/George Harrison story. Link

Eat, Love, Pray...Uke

Maybe this'll finally get my daughters interested in the uke. Looks like James Franco will be seen serenading Julia Roberts in their upcoming flick, Eat, Pray, Love. What's he playing? My best guess is an older Bushman Tenor.


Update: Woodshed points out that James is indeed playing a Bushman Tenor. Morover, it's Jen Kwok's Bushman Tenor. More on Jen here. (Thanks, Al!)

Monday, August 03, 2009

creative urge+ukulele=song

"i found a ukulele yesterday so i wrote a song on it this morning, and this is it! [i've never played a ukulele before..."

...and that's one of the reasons that the ukulele has gotten so popular lately; in the hands of a talented person, it can sing sweetly. The better you get at it the better it sings.
This is Jose Vanders

Ukulele 101

If you don't have this song by Kelli Rae Powell in your repertoire, then toss out that tired old version of "Five Foot Two" and replace it with this song.

Her website

Lest we forget what a great ukulele player Woodshed is...

go to his site and learn something.


What's up with Chicago lately?

Goin' under the web moniker of "Lisaxy424", this lovely maiden makes her way into Ukuleletown by way of Chicago. Great pushy sultry voice...check out her videos.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Top 50 Ukulele Sites