Ten Years of Uke Hunt

This week marks ten years since I decided the best use of my time was to start a ukulele blog and call it “Uke Hunt”.

Since then the blog has had over 2,000 posts, over 27 million visits and more than 115 million page views. That’s equivalent to everyone in Australia visiting the site and checking out a few pages. It’s insane. And as much of a shut-in, loner as I am there’s a huge number of people I’m pathetically grateful for helping me make it this long.

Thank You!

Firstly, I have to thank my mum, dad and brother. They were way more supportive of me when I told them I’d quit work and decided to be a ukulele blogger than I had any right to expect. My dad died in 2010. Not long before I landed the Ukulele for Dummies book. It’s a real shame he didn’t get to see me do an actual, legitimate thing.

Secondly, I have to thank my fiancée, Carrie. I met her through this blog and it was worth ten years of work just for that. Without her love and kindness keeping me on the right side of sanity the blog would be long dead by now.

I’m really blessed to be part of a world that is as encouraging and enthusiastic as the ukulele community. The success of the site is entirely down to all of you for your support over the years. I have a complete lack of stick-to-it-iveness (Uke Hunt is the longest job I’ve ever had by a factor of about 5) so I’m pathetically grateful to everyone for:

Reading: It’s such a thrill for me that people find the site useful.

Most people assume I’m a ukulele advocate and think everyone should play it. But I’m not one of those, “If everyone played the ukulele there’d be no wars,” types. Ukuleles are great but the success of the ukulele isn’t something that gets me out of bed in the morning (metaphorically, I’m writing this in bed – I’m not an idiot).

What really gets me excited is helping people to feel accomplished and proud of themselves. Like this. Or playing to entertain their friends. It’s such a buzz to be able to help people with that. Music if difficult. You should give yourself a pat on the back when you master a tune.

The amateur psychologist would say the real motivation is that if I make enough people feel accomplished and proud of themselves then eventually I’ll feel accomplished and proud of myself. Maybe in the next ten years.

Feedback: commenting, emailing, tweeting and reviewing: I judge the success of a post almost entirely by how much of reaction it gets in comments, emails and on YouTube. That feedback is so important to me.

There are a few people who have been commenting on the blog for most of its existence. I’m particularly grateful to those people for still popping round and saying hello.

Spreading the word: Telling people about the site is absolutely the best way to support it. I put the growth of the site entirely down to people recommending it to other ukers.

Buying: It’s my nightmare that one day I might have to get a proper job. So I can’t thank enough those people who spend hard earned money on my ebooks. I’m not one of those people energetic and productive enough to do a day job and run a side project. There’s no way the site could exist without your financial support.

Getting involved: There are so many clubs and groups and festivals I can hardly keep up. Add to that the number of people writing blogs, tabbing and doing YouTube tutorials. It’s staggering and it all makes playing the ukulele a better experience.

Playing: It’s a huge inspiration to watch people playing on YouTube and listening to the records. Just watching random YouTube videos gets my brain firing. If you do something cool I’m very likely to steal it.

The Archives of Uke Hunt

Year One

In my head I remembered the blog taking a while to settle into a rhythm. But looking back I’m surprised how quick it got going. By July 2007 Friday Links and Saturday UkeTube were already in place and by the end of 2007 I’d released my first three ebooks: Ragtime Ukulele, Ukulele Chord Progressions (both no longer available, I’m afraid) and the first Christmas Ukulele (still available in updated form).

The first year included the big two: Somewhere Over the Rainbow and a tutorial for While My Guitar Gently Weeps (with a doomed plea for people to work up their own versions).

Beirut were a big impetus for me starting the blog and I got cracking on those with Elephant Gun, Postcards from Italy and The Penalty.

Plus a couple of tabs I still like: Carl Ray Villaverde – Tears in Heaven and Brian Hefferan – Sailors Hornpipe

Year Two

The How to Play Blues Ukulele ebook was released. Which I updated a little while ago and I think is my best ebook.

Tutorials on:

The Blues Scale
The basics of strumming
10 Reason It’s Easier to Learn the Guitar than the Ukulele

Tabs and chords:

Tonight You Belong to Me (The Jerk Version)
The Office: An American Workplace Theme
Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945
Whose Line Is It Anyway? – Hoedown
Star Wars – Cantina Band
Davy Graham – Angi

Year Three

The How to Play Ukulele Strums ebook came out in July.

This year brought the very sad death of John King. He was a massive influence on me. Easy the biggest influence when it came to how I arranged tunes for the ukulele. I wrote up a post about all the things I learned from him in tribute.

A guide to strumming notation and 10 things I wish I’d known about ukuleles (before I bought one).

Tabs and chords:

David Beckingham’s take on In the Mood: David is a fantastic arranger and I’m really proud that he generously lets me share his tabs here. Find all his tabs here.

Robert Johnson – They’re Red Hot (Chords)
John King – Larry O’Gaff (Tab)
Harry Potter – Hedwig’s Theme (Tab)
Sigur Ros – Hoppipolla (Tab)
Iron & Wine – Naked As We Came (Tab)
Keston Cobblers’ Club – You-Go (Chords)
Elliott Brood – The Valley Town (Tab): Such an under-appreciated band. Their debut EP Tin Type – with songs like Oh Alberta and Only at Home – sounds like the blueprint to every Mumford and Lumineers song.
Upstairs, Downstairs Theme (Tab) which ended up being played on Radio 4.

Year Four

This year’s ebook was How to Play Classical Ukulele and I tabbed up the entirely uke-inappropriate O Fortuna to go along with it.

Discussions on why you should give a crap about copyright terms and 10 things you hear about ukuleles that might be bollocks.

Tabs and chords:

Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Tamacun
Duelling Banjos
Bjork – It’s Oh So Quiet
Top Cat and Fraggle Rock
Mumford and Sons – The Cave
Ellie Goulding’s Starry Eyed
Willie Nelson’s Crazy and Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy
John King’s Swallowtail

Year Five

No ebook this year because I was busy burning myself out writing Ukulele for Dummies an actual, proper, dead-tree book.

The 13 most useful strumming patterns.

It emerged that Obama’s birth certificate was signed by one U.K.L. Lee.

Tabs and chords:

Moon River
King of the Hill theme
The Burning Hell – I Love the Things That People Make (Chords)
Amanda Palmer – Ukulele Anthem (Chords)
Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Chords)
Sherlock’s Theme (Tab)
Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know (Chords)
Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Tab)

Year Six

I released my second book of Christmas tabs which I almost called Christmas Ukulele 2: Yuletide Boogaloo. Not doing so was probably the worst business decision I’ve ever made.

Three weird-ass scales

Tabs and chords:

Bob’s Burgers theme tab which briefly appeared in an ad for the show.
Taylor Swift (ft. The Civil Wars) – Safe and Sound (Tab)
The Muppet Show Theme (Tab)
Pi for Ukulele (Tab)
Elvis Costello – Shipbuilding (Tab)
Mike Love – No Regrets (Chords)

Year Seven

Great books by ukulele playing authors.
Three more weird-ass scales.

Tabs and chords:
The xx – Intro
WIUO – Afternoon Delight
I Am The Doctor
Gustavo Santaolla – The Last of Us Theme
A bunch of Pete Seeger songs
La Vie en Rose (Chords)
Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Chords)
Lorde – Royals (Chords)
Mr Moustafa from Grand Budapest Hotel (Tab)

Year Eight

Finishing off the Christmas tab ebook trilogy with Christmas Ukulele 3: Return of the Maji. Along with new editions of Ukulele Strums, Slide Ukulele, National Anthems and second edition of Blues Ukulele.

Tutorials for no hassle chord changes and lots of hassle strumming patterns.

Jonathan Lewis launched his excellent ebook of campanella arrangements of Irish tunes and wrote his introduction to campanella for Uke Hunt.

Tab and chords:

Pharrell’s Happy
Uptown Funk
Led Zep’s Rain Song
Medley of Arctic Monkeys AM album
the Nun Song from Orange is the New Black
Joe Brown’s classic version of I’ll See You in My Dreams
Frasier theme
Serial theme
Massive Attack’s Teardrop
Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel

Year Nine

Tutorials:

Prince’s favourite chord trick
The easiest ways to improve your playing.
For Halloween some spooky ukulele sounds and a roundup of spine-chilling songs.
The most iconic strumming patterns

Tabs and chords:
Dave Brubeck’s Take Five: One of my favourite tabs which is lucky because it took me years to get to that stage.
Various songs from Steven Universe and all my Steven Universe tabs here.
ABBA’s Waterloo
Happy Birthday to You finally got released from the fraudulent clutches of Warner/Chappell and I celebrated with chords and two tabs of the tune.
David Beckinham’s superior version of Tiptoe Through the Tulips
A group arrangement of the Ghostbusters theme
Medley of songs from the Back to the Future trilogy
Damien Rice’s 9 Crimes

Year Ten

Release of my most recent ebook with tabs of traditional American tunes: Songs of the States.

The best chord progressions of all time.
Chuck Berry’s Major and Minor Pentatonic Trick.

Tabs and chords:

Tallest Man on Earth – King of Spain (Tab)
Prince’s Purple Rain
– Commemorating Leonard Cohen with Hallelujah and Suzanne.
Pure Imagination in tribute to Gene Wilder.
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Tab)
Radiohead’s Paranoid Android
– After playing Life is Strange the inevitable Max and Chloe Theme (Tab) and Foals – Spanish Sahara (Chords).
The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (Chords)

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