After a hard fought battle and over 1,000 votes in the Ukulele Video of Year vote the winner is Rob Pachol (AKA Sanford and Song) with Adrien Sala and Tesia Rhind playing As the Living Do.
The video is the first in Rob’s “Sanford and Songwriter” series where he hooks up with a local songwriter and adds ukulele accompaniment. It’s a real masterclass in how to use your ukulele to enhance a song without overwhelming it. He weaves his lines into the song so deftly that it seems the song was written with them in mind. I learned a lot from watching and listening and it’s a deserving winner.
It was a close run vote all the way and the runner up, Jontom’s Born to Run, deserves a shout out too.
Rob was kind enough to answer a few questions on how the video came to be and tips on how to accompany songwriters with your ukulele.
We’re used to seeing you playing solo, what made you start the Sanford and Songwriter series?
I started the series to freshen up the channel a bit, and to promote some songs by locals who’s material I happen to like, with an emphasis on Adrien Sala’s music.
I also wanted to join the ranks of players trying to pull the ukulele out of its pigeonhole a bit, as far as how it can sound as an accompaniment instrument. Adding ukulele to a song doesn’t mean your song has to end up sounding like a Prius commercial. You know what I mean. (As far as I know there isn’t even a ukulele in that Prius commercial, but you THINK there is!)
How did you get together with Adrien and Tesia?
I’ve known Adrien for awhile, but the three of us came together to play the ceremony at a friend’s wedding a couple years ago. That’s how I met Tesia. I really fell in love with Adrien’s songs and the way our picking styles complimented each other, and then Tesia’s voice.
What sort of preparation do you do before the video? How much rehearsing goes on beforehand?
The only preparation for the songwriter series stuff is my learning the song beforehand, and coming up with a complimentary arrangement. A week or so later we run the song a couple times, then video a few takes. Not much to it, unless the featured songwriter doesn’t like a detail I’m playing, then I have to fudge around a few minutes for replacement parts. (“As the Living Do” was of course video’d by Mike Latschislaw. That’s why it looks so much better than my usual Canon camera junk.)
What are your top tips for accompanying others?
I suppose the first tip is to play in service of the song, and to the songwriter’s wishes. Although this is where things can get touchy, especially if you’re like me and easily grow attached to the parts you create. Adrien and I were recording an instrumental track to one of his songs, and he didn’t like the way I was bending a note. A typical sort of blues bend, but on ukulele I thought it sounded somewhat unique. He thought it sounded “too Winnipeg”. Ha! I fought for the bend, and he acquiesced, but I really should’ve stopped being a jerk and stopped bending. I should just go out and write my own songs full of bendy ukulele if it means that much to me.
Another simple tip is to arpeggiate the chords instead of strumming along. Particularly when accompanying a guitar part. This is where the ukulele can really be used to it’s fullest potential. You can easily do suspended chords over the guitar’s simple major chords and they wont clash. They add a lot of “air” to the sound. If someone is strumming along in D, try arpeggiating a Dsus4 (maybe it’s a Dmaj add 11?) Anyway, the chord position is 0220. I LOVE that chord…
What can we expect from you in 2014? When are you releasing a record?
2014 is the year to get it in gear and record some music. Adrien? Tesia? We did record some demos in 2012 which we intended as a springboard to greater things, but life kind of got in the way. Adrien had a baby girl, Tesia got married and has been working hard on her band Sibyl, and I’ve been waiting for a kick in the ass.