Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Duets for One: James Hill

Oh boy, it's here. The latest book in Jumping' Jim's Ukulele Masters series has just been released.

It's James Hill's Duets for One.

My fellow students in the James Hill Ukulele Institute (JHUI) Ukulele in the Classroom Certification Program and I have known that this was in the works for a couple years. Of course, James being James, he neglected to mention that it was coming out under the Ukulele Masters imprimatur. (It's his Canadian side.)

Duets for One advances the techniques that James teaches in the JHUI as well as through his online The Ukulele Way series. It's a style of solo playing that really makes you sound like two players: one on melody, the other on chords and rhythm.

The first 50 copies sold on the Fleamarketmusic site are numbered and signed by James. I can't wait to get it.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Emergency Ukes at Burning Man

Over on Ukulelia's mother site, Boing Boing, our friend and Playa Plucker Rusty Blazenhoff posted a piece about Justin Lange's art installation from this year's Burning Man: a red emergency callbox containing "emergency" ukes.

Maybe our neighborhood Little Library needs to start lending ukuleles, too.

Al Wood will be chuffed to learn that his Uke Hunt logo served as inspiration for the graphic on the back of call box. (I actually don't know whether Al would be not, but I'm always pleased to have the opportunity to say "chuffed.")

Photo credit: Rusty Blazenhoff

(Thanks, Your Fluffiness!)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Ukalele Daly

This is a new one on me. Never popped up in a search before, most likely due to the non-standard spelling.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


In answer to the unasked question: what kind of ukulele would Spock play?


Sunday, July 02, 2017

Lil Rev's West Coast Tour

We got a note alerting us to Lil Rev's West Coast itinerary for the summer. I may try to make the July 22 workshop at Gryphon. Here are the deets:
7-6-17- Sumtur Amphitheater, Papillion, NE
7-8, 7-9-17: Swallow Hill Music Org Denver, CO
7-14, 7-15: Uke U 6 Bend, OR
7-19-17: The Strum Shop, Roseville, CA
7-20-17:Cool Hands House Concert, Grass Valley, CA
7-21-17: Funstrummers, Modesto, CA
7-22-17: Gryphon String Instruments, Palo Alto, CA
7-24-17: SLO Strummers San Luis Obispo, CA
7-25-17: Magnolia Concert Series, Larkspur, CA
7-27-17: KC Turner House Concert, San Francisco, CA
7-29-17: Play Uke Concert Series, Minden, NV
8-5-17: KC Ukers, Mission, KS.
More tour date info at: www.lilrev.com

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Sunshine Ukulele Film

Filmmaker Graham Jones has released what he calls an "anti-feel good movie" titled Sunshine Ukulele, “about a young Irish boy who receives the gift of a ukulele from his uncle and proceeds upon a comic, suburban, mini-odyssey”:
"I wanted to make a film about the impact of the internet upon music and movies. The web has caused some problems, but it has also brought gifts. We’ve all migrated online nowadays, art and entertainment have become increasingly unmoored and rudderless – it’s easier to distribute our work, yet harder to make a living out of it. This is a rather paradoxical, bittersweet era that we are living through together. So I wanted to really riff on that in a film – ask what it all means, not merely for artists but ultimately for children and young people."
We'll post more when we've viewed the film.

Here is an interview with Jones.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Romero Creations "Uke Board" Skateboard by Sector 9

If you dream of shredding like Daniel Ho instead of Jake Shimabukuro, here's your ride.

Pepe Romero and Daniel Ho have a new design for Romero Creations! The Uke Board is a 24" long, 17" wheelbase skateboard made in San Diego, USA at the Sector9 factory. This is a limited edition, has soft 59mm Sector 9 wheels, tail flip, deck concave and a little nose flip as well. This thing rides smooth and fast and is SO fun!
MSRP $169 
Elderly has 'em. Link

Friday, April 07, 2017

An 'Obscenely Optimistic' Ukulele Jam : All Songs Considered : NPR

Jeremy Messersmith on NPR today. The music's growing on me, even if I can't yet bring myself to appreciate his technique.

Reminds me a lot of Stephin Merritt. It's like Stephin without the dark turns. Link to NPR featreu.

Sign up on Messersmith's site and you can download his songbook, 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro-Folk Record For The 21st Century And Beyond.  He's encouraging people to record and post their own versions. Link to Messersmith's site

Seems like lots of people are doing covers. I like this one of "Everybody Gets a Kitten". Link

Thursday, March 30, 2017

It's a Miracle, You Fool...

Ukulelia's resident Multi-Instrumental Genius and Master of Making Everything Look Effortless, Rob Bourassa, offers this original tune. Check out Gary Zimnicki's sweet Maccaferri tenor at 2:25.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Island Ukulele Of Kauai

One of my students has an Island Ukulele, and I never knew they had a website. Now I do. Sweet instruments built on Kauai. Link

Monday, March 27, 2017

Beansprout Musical Instruments

Aaron and Nicole Keim's new Beansprout uke site is up. Check it out.  Link

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ukulele Sighting

We just saw Jordan Peele's Get Out. There's a little ukulele sequence. And it ain't pretty.

Great film, though. Highly recommended. Link

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ukulele on a Wire, 1929

From the amazing Moving Image Research Collections at the University of South Carolina, here are outtakes from a 1929 Fox Movietone newsreel showing tightrope walker Jimmy Terry walking 39 (45?) stories up between two buildings in Chicago.

Jimmy plays the ukulele and sings "I ain't gonna walk ropes anymore" to the tune of It Ain't Gonna Rain No' Mo' at around 7:30. Keep watching for the moment when he drops the uke.

The full Movietone newsreel plays from 10:30 on.

Link to Video

Image of Jimmy Terry's walk from Modern Mechanix, January, 1930

Friday, March 17, 2017

Real Ukulele Hero

98 year old Tom Boardman crafted a ukulele out of Red Cross boxes and telegraph wire when he was a prisoner of war in Thailand during WWII.
A TV program(me) featuring an interview is scheduled for this weekend. If we find video, we'll update this post.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Popuband Smart Ukulele Exceeds Crowdfunding Goal in One Day

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact on the popularity of ukuleles this automated teaching instrument will have. As a teacher, I'm conflicted. Just so long as they don't promote bad habits that I have to un-teach. Or maybe I should look at that as job security!

Watch out guitarists. They're coming for you next. Heh, heh. Link

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017


New workshops (and soon-to-be-released book) from Daniel Ward:

For the last year, Daniel has been writing “studies”.  If you are someone who has dipped their toe into classical music, you know that these can sometimes stand alone as solo performance pieces (think Villalobos) or be exercises to strengthen your playing (like Hanon for piano). Daniel’s split the difference.  They are simple pieces to play in loops, beautiful to listen to, calming and centering to play. Students and festival workshop participants have been enthusiastic about them, so he’s working on putting them together in a book.
Read more about upcoming workshops Here

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Obituary For Lyle Ritz

The Honolulu Star Examiner has a nice remembrance of jazz ukulele legend, Lyle Ritz. Link

UPDATE: Here is a story on Hawaii Public Radio. Link

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Aloha, Lyle Ritz

Word reached us today that ukulele legend Lyle Ritz has died. Until we can find a fitting obituary, here is a link to his Wikipedia page. Lyle Ritz - Wikipedia

Tiny Tim Was a Hockey Fan

Who knew? And a Maple Leafs fan, at that. Link

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ukuleles at the South Pole!

Check out this video tour of the scientific station at the South Pole. At 2:19 there is a tour of the music room, which features at least three ukuleles.

We see a blue Dolphin Makala, a mystery tenor and a Vita-Uke model of unknown make. Maybe an Ohana? But it would be super cool if an original Vita-Uke was being strummed at the bottom of the world.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Antebellum Instruments: 1952 Regal "Tara Guitar" Baritone Ukulele

While we're chatting about Wendell Hall, here is a rare instrument that was mentioned by The Red Headed Music Maker in one of his method books. There's some speculation that Hall coined the name Tara Guitar and was associated with Regal's manufacture of them. (Regal did make WH signature ukes.) Despite its name, it's a baritone uke, but Wendell recommended tuning it E-A-C#-F#. Lots of fine pics at the link, along with some historical commentary in the comments section. Link

It Looks Like Rain: Frank Ferera, Ukulele

Apropos of this weekend's stormy weather. From the UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive, here is Frank Ferera on ukulele backing up Ernest Hare singing Wendell Hall's comic song, It Looks Like Rain. (Which I'm guessing is an attempt by Wendell to follow up on the success of his It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'Link

Would you like the original sheet music? Ok. Here.

How about It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'? Oh, alright.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Jake Shimabukuro On Pedals

At an earlier time in his career, Jake Shimabukuro eschewed effects, going for a purer sound. He's now returned to the world of pedal effects, albeit with a more mature approach and considered curation.

This interview is worthwhile watching if only because it's to hear Jake speak about something other than the old tropes that every interviewer drags out.

Video at the Link

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lil Rev GoFundMe for New CD

Got a nice note from Marc Revenson, aka Lil Rev, who is launching a GoFundMe fundraiser for his next recording.
Sing Song Daddy is a collection of 15-20 original tunes composed for ukulele and voice, with accompaniment. The songs speak of love, loss, redemption, renewal, blues, friendship, polarization, compromise, contemplation, labor history, ukulele madness, humor, miracles, the vaudeville era, civil war, and so much more. Some are songs i have danced around with out on the road and others are fresh from pen to paper. None of them have ever been recorded before. This record will pick up where Happiest Way To Be Sad left off but with a whole lot more true grit, back road, no holds barred, take no prisoners kind urgency that has been our life the last couple years. 

Here's the GoFundMe Link.

If you're a fan of Lil Rev, please consider supporting him. If you've never heard of Lil Rev, where have you been? Here's a YouTube video to whet your appetite.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Aloha Uncle Eddie Kamae

With great sadness, we note the death of legendary Hawaiian musician and ukulele great Eddie Kamae yesterday at age 89.

Uncle Eddie was a co-founder of the Sons of Hawaii and an inductee of the Ukulele Hall of Fame. He inspired generations of ukulele players and Hawaiian musicians. You have probably played his lovely "E Ku'u Morning Dew". Here is a virtuoso ukulele version by Troy Fernandez.

Here is a link to Uncle Eddie's album "Heart of the Ukulele", which showcases his amazing tremolo style of solo playing.

Early obituary at Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Image credit: Ukulele Hall of Fame

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Kiss My Pineapple

Al Wood found the covers of two 'zines from the dawn of the Third Wave of ukulele popularity. Way back in the late 20th Century!

A call on the cocoanut wireless to Bill "Rock That Uke" Robertson revealed that these are the only two issues of Kiss My Pineapple

Kiss My Pineapple was published in the early 90's by the punk band Pineapple Princess from San Francisco--a duo comprised of Beth Allen and Pamela Schulting. Pineapple Princess is featured in the documentary Rock That Uke. Which Bill sez is still for sale and available in the equally arcane Dee-Vee-Dee format. Contact Bill via the RTU website.

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