Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fatty Arbuckle on Taropatch

Ladies and gentlemen, for your holiday enjoyment, Roscoe Arbuckle on Taropatch.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Kamaka Centennial

Nice article on Kamaka Ukulele's 100th anniversary this year. Link

Aloha, Mr. Trentlage, Composer and Banjo Uke Player

Sorry to learn of the passing of Richard D. Trentlage, erstwhile banjo-ukulele player and composer of the beloved Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle.

Read about Mr. Trentlage's storied career and see one of the original TV spots at he The New York Times.

Here's an article from the 50th anniversary of the song in 2012.

And finally, a link to the final resting place of Mr. Trentlage's Werco banjo-ukulele (pictured above), upon which he composed The Oscar Mayer Wiener song, at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

(photo: Wisconsin Historical Society)

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Penultimate Tribute to Bob Dylan

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain member Peter Brooke Turner''s alter ego Tony Penultimate in a little Dylan tribute, shot in an airplane lavatory. Congrats on The Nobel, Bob. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Todd is (Ukulele) Godd

Ukulele demi-god and erstwhile rock star Todd Rundgren was recently artist-in-residence at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Before he left, he gifted the children at the local homeless shelter with ukuleles of their very own.

The gift was made through Todd's Spirit of Harmony Foundation.

Here is a link to a story in the South Bend Tribune.

Well done, sir. Hats off!

The above video is Todd performing his version of an ancient Hawaiian war chant. Which you may recognize.

Friday, September 02, 2016

UkeFest Virginia 2016

Ukulelia's Smeck Scholar in Residence, Rachel Manke, sez, don't miss UkeFest Virginia, Saturday, November 5, in Richmond. Early bird prices are in effect until October 1st!

Complete details at this link

Thursday, August 25, 2016

James Hill Workshop: Lafayette, CA

East Bay ukers take note: James Hill will be conducting a workshop at Lamorinda Music in Lafayette, CA on Sunday, September 18, 2016.

Details to come. Advance registration will be required. We'll post a link shortly.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ukulele Chord Poster by Aaron Taylor-Waldman

Adam Varga dropped us a note to point us to this swell chord-chart-cum-art-poster his friend Aaron Taylor-Waldman created.

Baby not included.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ukes Needed for Geoff Davis's New School

My very first post on Ukulelia (15 years ago!) was about the Key Strummers, a delightful Hoosier Hotshots-style kids' band put together and led by Indiana teacher Geoff Davis.

Geoff's at a new school this year, and is looking to re-create the kind of amazing program he had with the Key Strummers. If you have an extra ukulele laying around (and, frankly, who doesn't?), please consider sending it to Geoff for his students.

Here's Geoff initial plea, reposted with his permission from Facebook:
Way back in 1999 I began teaching at Indianapolis’ most progressive school, the Key Learning Community. My favorite part of the program was “Pods” — an opportunity for teachers to design an enrichment class focused on one of their passions.
My Pod Class was to be jazz band. I’d been playing with Indianapolis Dixieland bands and wanted to give kids an opportunity to learn to improvise and play traditional jazz. When my students appeared at the door I knew that the plan had to change. My students were all 10 yrs old and younger and had almost no experience playing an instrument.
It didn’t take long for me to change the plan. My first instrument had been the ukulele. I knew that, with the uke, I could teach these kids the basics of rhythm and chord changes.
We had no budget and no ukuleles. I went to the — very young — internet for start-up resources. There was no Donors Choose — no Facebook or Instagram. I went to the, then, center of the ukulele universe -
We began by passing one ukulele — my first uke — around a circle while each student played a chord or two. Soon ukes trickled in. Two came from California and a pair from Hawaii. By Thanksgiving we had an instrument for every student. We played “Five Foot Two” for a school program and the Key Strummers were born.
The rest of the story is the makings of ukulele legend. We became the Governor’s favorite band. We opened the State Fair — for years — playing the National Anthem on ukulele. We travelled to San Antonio and Louisville and all over Indiana. There was no audience we didn’t play for — including a spot on A Prairie Home Companion. It was a great ride! We even hosted the (Original) MidWest UkeFest and headlined James Hill, Jake Shimabukuro, Lyle Ritz, Bryan Tolentino and many others.
Times changed, schools changed, education policy changed and the Key Strummers became unsustainable. Teaching, at all, became very difficult. Last June the Key Learning Community shut its doors for good.
This year I joined the staff of Francis W. Parker Montessori School 56 — a loving school with a long name. When I was hired there was on stipulation — organize and develop a program like the Key Strummers. I had found a school that recognized teacher passion and sought to use it to enrich children’s learning. After eight years of struggling to survive as an educator I’ve again found a school family.
Tomorrow the “Uke Club” — the first step in a new ukulele program — will meet for the first time. I expect twelve students. We have 4 ukuleles. We will begin as the Key Strummers did — passing ukes around the circle.
I am making the plea that I made 16 years ago. If you have an unplayed ukulele in the closet, under the bed or the attic. There are a bunch of inner city kids that are eager to become strummers.
Contact Geoff Davis via Facebook, or ship a uke to him care of this address:
Francis W. Parker School 56
2353 N. Columbia Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46205

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

One Day in Maui...

Local Maui uker covers Matisyahu's "One Day", not realizing Matisyahu is standing right in front of him.


Matisyahu invited him to come play with him in LA. This involved getting some special permission from the DA's office. Weird! Link


Here's a link to a video clip of the performance! Link

And...he's back in jail. As he promised the DA. Nice to know he's a man of his word. Link

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Meet Jake. Amateur Instrument Repairman

Check out this great project to restore 100 Kamaka ukuleles for Hawaiian schools. I think you'll recognize the repairman. 

Chase Shimabukuro Shreds!

Remember: no matter how hard you try, you will never be Jake Shimabukuro's son. Unless you're this kid. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome Visualized

3D medical animator John Liebler has rendered the UAS virus for the benefit of mankind in general, and ukulele players in particular. 

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Tiny Tim by Diane Arbus

We'd not seen this portrait of Tiny Tim that Diane Arbus shot around 1966. Looks like he's holding a Maccaferri Mastro banjo ukulele. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Na Hoku for Tolentino and Ohta

Bryan Tolentino and Herb Ohta, Jr. won Ukulele Album of the Year for "Ukulele Friends" last night at the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts' 39th annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

Congratulations, Bryan and Herb!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Grand Northern Ukulele Festival

Should be grand!

May 27 to 29, across The Pond. 

Lil' Rev's Scatter the Ashes Tour

Lil' Rev will be heading to the West Coast for several weeks in what he's dubbed the Scatter the Ashes Tour. Try and make one of his many dates in Washington, Oregon, and California as he brings his joyful love of the ukulele and celebrates the life of his beloved wife, Carol. Info on workshops and concerts is at the link.

UUOGB in 1988

h/t to Hester Goodman for this one from the vault. Here's the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on the BBC from 1988.

Monday, May 23, 2016

CNC Milled Ukuleles

At Maker Faire this weekend, the CNC Router Parts team was demonstrating their equipment and technology by crafting ukuleles. The bodies were milled out of solid blocks of maple. The faces were plate steel. Fingerboards milled aluminum. Kind of a National meets the Dixie Banjolele Akulele. 

I've put out feelers to see if anyone played one. Or scored one. Let me know if you did. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Jerk Organist Trolls Uke-Playing Bishop

In Uke-umenical news (Crisis in the Church Edition), Roman Catholic Bishop Donald Hanchon found himself shut down by an organist who didn't appreciate his performance of This Little Light of Mine from the pulpit during a Confirmation Mass in Detroit on Tuesday.

Video at the link. Link

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

William H. Macy Self-Soothes With the Uke

If you read Ukulelia, you probably know that William H. Macy plays the uke. Here's an interview in which he talks about the importance of music and the ukulele in his life. His wife, Felicity Huffman, says he uses it to "self-soothe".

A little bittersweet anecdote about Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, too.


BBC Arts - How the Ukulele Conquered the World

We somehow forgot to blog this terrific feature on the history of the ukulele from the BBC from 2015. What's nice is that the timelines feature the 80s and early 90s when ukulele was decidedly We owe a lot to the geniuses and oddballs who kept the garden watered and ready for the current spring.

BBC - BBC Arts - How the Ukulele Conquered the World

Perry Botkin Plays Lover

Some time ago, we wrote about Perry Botkin, legendary orchestral guitarist--and uker.

Check out this post for some great background and videos.

One commenter on the post asked if anyone could find a copy of Botkin playing Richard Rogers's Lover.

Courtesy of the mysterious "Lightnin'", here is the recording from the original Decca 78. Botkin absolutely kills it.

Little Dancing Girl - Gerald Ross

Here's a terrific rendition of the Hal Roach soundtrack classic Little Dancing Girl played by Gerald Ross. If you've ever watched Laurel & Hardy or The Little Rascals, you'll recognize it instantly!


Most Influential Ukulele Players

This list should really include Jim Beloff. 

Kala Profile

Nice profile of Kala yesterday in the North Bay Business Times. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Songs From a Random House on NPR

A little reminiscing about when the 3rd Wave hadn't quite hit the mainstream. 

Here's Songs From a Random House on Weekend Edition from 2005. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

TyDe Ukuleles

Don't know these guys, but I'd like to hang with them. They sound like good folks. Anyone play their instruments? Link

Here's a profile in the Reno Gazette Journal.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Play Ukulele by Ear Workshop with Jim D'Ville at Lamorinda Music

Come join Jim D'Ville for a special ukulele workshop in the Big Room at Lamorinda Music in Lafayette, CA, on January 27th. He will be offering a tailored program for us combining two of his most popular workshops: 

  • Strumming Ukulele By Ear: Free yourself from memorizing Down-Up patterns! Starting with the basic index finger strum Jim will start you on the road to strumming what you hear.
  • Play Ukulele By Ear Vol. 2: Chord Progressions & The Circle of 5ths Being able to hear and identify chord progressions will go a long way toward demystifying music. Before you know it you'll be hearing and recognizing dominant seven and diatonic chord progressions. This exciting workshop will open your ears to the way all songs work around the Circle of 5ths. Knowledge of chords C F G7 A7 D7 E7 Am Dm Em is helpful.

When: Wednesday, January 27 7PM - 8:30PM
Where: Big Room, Lamorinda Music
Who: Open to Advanced Beginners and up
Cost: $25

Lamorinda Music website.
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