Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tonight You Belong to Me: World's Greatest Version

Let's start the new year right. And by "right", I mean with the world's greatest rendition of "Tonight You Belong to Me." Courtesy of Benjamin J. Ames and his four-year-old daughter.

(h/t Jeff West aka Humble Uker)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Coming Soon: U900 Tuners

Looks like we'll see U900 clip on tuners in 2014. I have more tuners than I need already, but how could I resist these? Normally I say "tune it or die," but in this case I think I'd say "tune it and be cute!"

(h/t Woodshed)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Song: Brittni Paiva

Here's a little something to make today and tomorrow especially merry: Brittni Paiva's tabbed version of The Christmas Song.

Merry Christmas from Ukulelia. And may Santa bring you the uke of your dreams tonight. Link

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Ukulele Handbook

Bumped into this book on a Christmas shopping trip. Looks like a fun book, and quite nicely done. Not novel enough to buy a copy (although if it shows up on the morning of the 25th I'd be happy), but perhaps you'd like to check it out. Link

West School Ukulele Club

How cute are these kids? From Hingham, MA, 1924 Link

Thanks, Ukester Brown!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The 3D Printed Ukulele

Check this out. A 3-D printed ukulele based on an open source design. Now if this guy would print himself a tuner... Link

Here is a link with more information on the open source design (apparently the link accompanying the YouTube video is incorrect). Link

Thanks, Shelley Rickey!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yule-K-Lele Special Offer | Hallmark Stores

This is kitchy enough that I just might have to have one. It's evidently some sort of digital toy that plays six Christmas songs when you "strum" it. $14.95 with each purchase of three Hallmark cards. (The shag carpeting from my sister's 1970's bedroom not included.) Such a deal.


Thanks, Ukester Brown!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Letter to My Community After My Child Was Lit on Fire | Karl Fleischman

Agender uker Sascha Fleischman was badly burned. Strum a cheerful song in your heart for their recovery.


Sunday, November 03, 2013

New Tuners or Not?

Ukulelia readers,

Looking for the wisdom of the uke crowd here. I just acquired a sweet mid-1920s Style 1 Martin Soprano.

It's in amazing condition and came with its original wooden tuning pegs.

So here's my dilemma: to replace the tuners or not. I bought the Martin as a player, so I'm inclined to replace the tuners (saving the originals, natch). But the wooden pegs actually work pretty well (they haven't slipped on me yet). But they do take some finesse, and I'm worried they may become an albatross during a performance.

So what to do? Replace or not?

And if replace, do I go whole hog and get Peghead tuners? Would they require any modification to the peg holes (which I kinda think I should avoid–right?).

Chime in on the comments. Love to hear your thoughts.


3D printed ukulele! - Boing Boing

If you have nothing else to do. And seriously NOTHING else to do, check out this video of a 3D printed ukulele over on our big sister blog, Boing Boing. Link

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Aaron Keim Tabs and Workshops

Quiet American Aaron Keim has graciously posted a series of tabs and workshops on his site. If you're looking to learn clawhammer style ukulele, this is your ticket.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Plug for GoChords

Now that I've found myself pressed into service as a teacher of the ukulele, I find that I often want to create my own arrangements to illustrate a technique or enable a particular teaching moment. Sometimes it's just a matter of changing the key of a popular tune to make it more friendly for beginners.

In any event, I started using GoChords about a year ago. It's a super-easy-to-use tool that lets you drop chord diagrams onto a page to create your own arrangements. To arrange a song with lyrics, you simply paste in the text with line breaks and you're able to drop in diagrams between lines and drag them to their proper places to indicate the chord changes. Once your arrangement is complete, you can change key with a single click, which is a boon for ukulele teachers whose students want to learn a pop tune that's written in a decidedly uke-unfriendly key.

I have a few quibbles with GoChords. For example, it currently only offers first position chords, so it's not much help for intermediate or advanced arrangements. You can create your own custom chord shapes (I've created the 2020 Hawaiian D7 chord for my library, e.g.), but custom chord shapes are static, and do not change if you change the key. But these are small complaints, and since I have been using the free version, I felt as though it would be impolite to gripe.

Yesterday I returned to GoChords to print out some music for a student and learned that they've decided to migrate to a subscription-only model. It didn't take me long to do some mental calculation and conclude that the time and hassle that GoChords saves me is well worth $50 a year. (You can also subscribe for $5 a month.)

GoChords has many features that I haven't taken advantage of. (There's a tablet version and auto-scroll capability, among others.) And I hope that by moving to a paid model they'll have deeper pockets for feature development (like a full set of chord inversions). But I'm happy to now be a paid subscriber.

Check it out. GoChords site.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Ian Emmerson plays the World's Smallest Uke

Heck, I'd be happy if I could play that chestnut on a standard size soprano. This made my Saturday morning. Enjoy. Link

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sonya Cotton

Bill "Rock That Uke" Robertson suggested we check out the frequent baritone-uke-playing Sonya Cotton. Lovely voice, but the bari sometimes gets lost in the mix. Still, as Bill "The Deer Head" Robertson says, her voice is hauntingly beautiful...


Kanile'a Ukulele at Lamorinda Music

Join Joe & Kristen Sousa, owners of Kanile’a Ukulele of Hawaii, for a very special ukulele workshop:
  • History of Kanile’a and the ukulele
  • Learn how the remarkable Kanile’a ukulele is built
  • Q&A with the owners
  • Brief group ukulele class (bring your uke if you have one!)
  • Live music by Joe Souza with a Hula by Kristen
  • Dessert and coffee provided

When: Thursday, July 25th
7:00PM – 9:00PM
Cost: $10
81 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, CA
RSVP: 925-385-0963

See you there!

Friday, June 21, 2013


Why sing to a canned track when you can croon backed up by a ukulele band? My friend Randal says this is another good reason to cross the pond and visit him. I'm inclined.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Martin Ukulele Book

Tom Walsh and the late John King have written the biography of the Martin ukulele. Fun fact: the famous dreadnaught guitar body shape? Created first for a Martin uke prototype.

I'm off to find a copy... Link

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ho'omaika'i 'Ana, Brittni!

Congratulations to Brittni Paiva, winner of two Na Hoku Hanohano awards for 2013. Brittni received top honors for Instrumental Composition (Tell U What, from the album of the same name) and Ukulele Album (also for Tell U What). Link

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stars and Stripes Forever

Thinking about Memorial Day, John Phillip Sousa's march Stars and Stripes Forever has been running through my brain.

The march's trio is a ukulele classic, and has been a signature piece for many players throughout ukulele history (composed in 1897, the ukulele's 18th year). The first reference I've found to its ukulele performance is in 1910, by Antonio Abreu Santos (aka "Batata" or "Potato") who played it to great effect at a performance at the Honolulu YMCA. (This, from Jim Tranquada and John King's seminal The 'Ukulele, a History, and, if you don't own a copy, go to your local bookstore and buy/order a copy now.)

Other notable versions have been played and arranged by Bill Tapia (who at 10, played it for WWI troups in Hawaii), Jesse Kalima, Roy Smeck, and Bobby Henshaw, and others.

Here are links to reference recordings, videos and tabs. If you know of any others, please leave a comment and I'll add them here. In particular, if know of a tab for Bill Tapia's Stars and Stripes/Sweethearts on Parade medley, let me know with all speed and I will be forever in your debt. It's my personal favorite among the bunch. (Bonus points if you've worked out Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.)

Bill Tapia

Roy Smeck 
(Smeck student Vincent Cortese plays Roy's version)

Jesse Kalima

Bobby "Uke" Henshaw

Jake Shimabukuro

Balsa Bill Yerkes


Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Ka Palapala Poʻokela WINNERS! | Hawaii Book Blog

Jim Tranquada and John King's definitive history of the ukulele has been awarded the 2013 Ka Palapala Po'okela Award for Excellence in Special Interest Books.

If the ukulele is your Special Interest, you must own a copy of this book.

Congratulations, Jim. Wish that John were still here to congratulate him as well.  Link

Friday, May 10, 2013

MAKE | How-To: The Panjolele Cake Pan Ukulele

Ukulelia Founding Publisher Mark Frauenfelder and Editor of MAKE Magazine points us to a how-to article on making your own banjo uke using cake pans. Aesthetically better than a bed-pan uke. Enjoy! Link

1st Annual Sebastopol Ukulele Festival

Hey, NoCal Ukers. Here's a brand new festival to check out. It's the first evah Annual Sebastapol Ukulele Festival.

Saturday, May 25th, 2013.

Link to Facebook

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Ocean Magazine Ukulele Feature

About half of the current (April/May 2013) issue of Ocean Magazine is devoted to the ukulele. Read it online here.

Oakland’s Ukulele Love-In

Mana Maddy. Photo by Sara Bernard
I live just thru the Caldecott Tunnel from Oaktown. How is it that I just heard about this?

Nice article and podcast post about Madeline Tasquin Streicek (aka Mana Maddy) and the East Bay Ukulele Love-In, a monthly jam she hosts at Actual Café in Oakland.

Next gathering is Saturday evening, May 11, 2013. Then the group will be on hiatus until September, resuming on the second Sunday of the month. So if you'd like to overdose on Ukulele Love next Saturday, come to my Ukulele Jam in the Big Room at Lamorinda Music in Lafayette (jam at 3:15, preceded by a free intro class at 2:00). Then let your uke cool down and head back through the tunnel to meet up with with Maddy.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ukulele Magazine

Have you read Ukulele Magazine? It's put out by the publishers of Acoustic Guitar Magazine. It strikes me as being written primarily to a guitar-playing audience.

What do you think of it?


Most Inane First Line of an Article About Jake Shimabukuro, Evar

If you've been reading Ukulelia or following Jake Shimabukuro for a while, you know that pretty much every article written about him is the same. The ukulele is not a toy, he's the Jimi Hendrix of the uke, blah, blah, blah.

Finally we have something new, if only because it contains the most inane first line ever written in an article about Jake. Behold:
"How do you say ukulele in Hawaiian?" 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Aloha Bob Brozman

Just learned that Bob Brozman died Wednesday. How could someone filled with so much music depart so soon? I'll post more when I get over the shock. Link

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mumford & Sons Visit Mya-Moe

The super-nice folks at Mya-Moe build some of the most remarkable ukuleles I've ever seen. I don't own one (yet!) but strummed a few at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival last year. Mya-Moe ukes are so light I'd wager you you could suspend one in mid-air with a mylar party balloon. It's freaky. They have a great website (the only ukulele builder site I know that posts the daily lunch menu) and are worth following on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Be sure to watch their weekly video posts on what's happening in the shop. Here's one in which Mumford & Sons stops by for a visit.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Uke Playing T-Rex Dating Game

Pretend you're a girl with a crush on a ukulele-playing T-Rex. Play it here.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Two Thumb Picks Up!

"Mad Dog Time" should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor."

--Roger Ebert

(Thanks, Steve!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Steven Tyler and His Carry-on Uke

Not just any uke. A cigar box resonator. If you want to be inconspicuous, Steven, stick with a Red Mahalo. (Anyone know the maker?) Link

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Last Hurrah with Tippy Canoe

Michele Kappel-Stone writes: 

I'm not sure if you knew this, but I retired (alter ukulele ego) Tippy Canoe last June as a performing act and stopped teaching back in the Fall. 
By special request I'm doing one last hurrah for Tippy on Tuesday, March 26 at an Art Beat Foundation (Oakland, CA) hosted reading and signing for Seattle author Andrea Savar. 
Here's the link to the Facebook Event page with the full details: 
I know what you're thinking, "how can we miss her, if she won't go away?" 
I'm doing a set by special request of the author and really don't have any plans to pick things back up since I've moved on to other bands. 
Andrea was inspired to write her book after visiting her old hometown of Pt. Townsend, WA when accompanying my friend Antonette G and I there on tour, so we're revisiting the magic of that time and sharing this wonderful book with the Bay Area. It'd be great to see some uke friendly faces in the crowd. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

NAMM on Ukeeku

Didn't get to NAMM? Ukeeku did.

Making Martins, 1925

Songbird Janet Klein’s Hotsy-Totsy Music Designs

New interview with ukulele chanteuse Janet Klein. The biggest news? The new Janet Klein banjo uke! Almost as cute as La Klein herself.
The cartoon artist Thom Foolery and I have collaborated on a design for a novelty "banjolele" that we will be debuting this week. It is called the Kleinette Firefly Flapper Banjolele, and will be available to the public February 7th! With luck and a song, I am hoping to find a publisher to help me produce a Flapper Songbook, for aspiring ukulele-istes."

Tiptoe Though My Shoe Slips

Richard G's site features lots of great uke arrangements, and also a rotating assortment of vintage uke pictures (warning: some NSFW). Hadn't seen this one before. Link

Thursday, January 10, 2013

James Hill Ukulele Initiative: Early Registration

Early registration is open for James Hill's ukulele teacher certification program. Early birds save $150 (Canadian). I would so do this if I had the available time.

James Hill Ukulele Initiative
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