Friday Links

That crack when Steve Martin stands up after singing Tonight, You Belong to Me? It’s the sound of a foot going through a Martin ukulele.

I wrote a bit about ukulele songs and cultural appropriation. The short version: the mock-Hawaiian songs from the early years of the ukulele-boom are really horrid.

Amazon US are offering $3 off my book Ukulele for Dummies (click where it says ‘Clip this coupon’).

The book of Ralph Shaw’s blog, The Ukulele Entertainer is out now.

More free Christmas ukulele tunes from Patsy Monteleone and Shiny and the Spoon.

Will from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain discusses the tracks of his years.

Oh shit, I own a Mahalo.

Good news for Aquila, bad news for cows. They can make real gut strings again (via @danieladuck).

It’s the best day ever to be a bartione player.

Learn pieces quicker backwards.

Ryan Gosling is Time’s Coolest Person of the Year mostly due to his ukulele playing.

Un Ukulélé pour Junior (you can buy it here)

View Comments


  1. L.Bo Marie December 16th, 2011 2:18 pm

    That Mahalo picture and it’s comments have kept me laughing all week!

    And, why didn’t I think about the “learn backwards” thing? It make so much sense! PLUS, if you do get to a tricky bit- you’ll know the end so well, if you play for someone and screw something up in the middle- the end will be so awesome, they’ll forget the fiddly bit.

  2. Herman December 16th, 2011 2:47 pm

    I’m used to practice backwards memorizing with success. And often I use this technique while I’m teaching as well. As far as I now the Idea Is from Spanish origin so I call it the Spanish way!
    Even for practising without memorising it helps not to run over your mistakes.

  3. pepamahina December 17th, 2011 1:33 pm

    The free Christmas downloads are delicious, thank you so much for those. To pile on, love the backwards thing too, why didn’t I think of that?

  4. Woodshed December 17th, 2011 11:31 pm I think everyone who owns a Mahalo should recreate that shot.

    Herman: I’m definitely going to start using it!

    pepamahina: You’re very welcome!

  5. Ron Hale December 18th, 2011 6:40 am

    Tin Pan Alley Hawaiian songs are horrid, are they, Al? Horrid as songs or horrid as “Hawaiian”
    songs? Those of us not caught up in music/cultural purity issues see them as fun.

    Are we revisiting the ‘which musicians are Hawaiian enough to make Hawaiian music and win Hawaiian Grammy awards’ question again here?

    Are you still mad at Paul Simon for playing with South African musicians? Was he some sort of cultural thief? Perhaps he was a talented one and the Alley types were hacks.

    The Alley Hawaiian-sorta-like songs were the best they could do then. Those were different times and after a century or so people should be able to see past the cultural naivete of the era and just have fun with the music.

    Just recently there was an issue here in the Bay Area surrounding an ad by Travelocity. The text next to the gnome was something along the lines of “Hula is something best done far away from anyone you know.” Or some such.

    Some local Island musician saw it and freaked. Posted. Tweeted. And whatever other digital silliness people do these days. The ruckus reached the Hawaii blog on the online version of the major newspaper for the area.

    The area Hawaiian community evidently was in an uproar over the disrespect shown to their sacred dance. Well, you get the point.

    When I read about the fuss and saw the actual ad and how innocuous it was, well, I had to wade in.
    And not in support of all the offended Hawaiians.

    People get offended over nothing these days. And this ad, as I saw and still see it, was nothing.
    The ad was pulled by the way after the “pitchfork and torch-wielding mob” (my words) went on its rampage.

    And back to the Alley. These songs are nothing to get worked up about. Unless you have a surfboard-sized chip on your shoulder and are looking for something to get worked up about. Lighten up.

    Impurity and impurists (me, for one) always triumph eventually. Nothing stays pure forever. Certainly not music.

    Jeff thinks it’s the best time to be a bari player, true. But is there any modern day Arthur Godfrey playing on TV and pushing the instrument?
    Sure we have videos now but we don’t have a Godfrey.

    Irony here. We have more bari players than in AG’s day, but the instrument was ingrained in the public’s consciousness then in a way that it isn’t today.

    Thanks to AG the bari wasn’t the neglected sibling of the other ukes that it is today.
    And it is that today.

    Speaking of playing backwards, didn’t Ian Whitcomb learn to play a right-handed uke upside down?

  6. Woodshed December 18th, 2011 7:27 am

    Ron Hale: No, horrid as in read what I wrote.

    I think the contrast with Paul Simon is a good one. He treated Africans with a lot more respect than the Tin Pan Alley writers treated Hawaiians. He used African musicians (and paid them decently and properly credited them as co-writers), he didn’t use any fake African language, or turn African women into sex objects.

    Ladysmith Black Mambazo still sing Homeless. How many great Hawaiian musicians do you know cover Ukulele Lady?

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