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Ukuleles at NAMM 2016: Friday Links

This year’s Winter NAMM (the big music instrument trade show) had plenty of new ukuleles to gawp at:

– The uke that’s really lubed my wallet-slit this year is the 2016 Kanile’a Platinum. I’m guessing it’s going to be over $3,000 so I’m just going to let my dreams be dreams.

Kamaka Ukuleles are 100 years old and kicked off their centenary with a show at NAMM packed with ukulele stars. I recommend watching PBS’s Kamaka documentary to catch up with their long history.

Scooped cutaways seem to be the new hotness this year. As well as Kanile’a, aNueNue has the Super Lani, Kala has a new scalloped series and Rebel have the new Livingston tenor. (Also hot: comfort edges.)

– Blackbird have long been experimenting with materials used in their instruments. The latest is the most unusual yet: the Ekoa ukulele made from linen. You can find out more in this factory tour video.

– At the goofy end of the spectrum are Ayers’ Zodiac ukuleles.

– And this year’s wackiest idea goes to Bugsgear for this thing that has a speaker in the soundhole so you can play along with a backing track.

– Deering have launched a tenor banjolele. Mim tested one out.

8 Best David Bowie Intros (Tab)

I’m making this a dual tribute to Bowie and Mick Ronson. Ronson was Bowie’s guitarist for his greatest string of albums between 1970 and ’74. He was the perfect foil for Bowie providing a hard-hitting rock edge to Bowie’s artsy-fartsyness.

As well as being massively underrated as a guitarist, Ronson doesn’t get his due as an arranger either. He created epic string arrangements for Bowie songs like Life on Mars and Starman but perhaps his most iconic arrangement was for Lou Reed’s Perfect Day (on which he also played piano).

Rebel Rebel

A video posted by @ukulelehunt on


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Ziggy Stardust

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Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes

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The Jean Genie

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Ashes to Ashes

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The Man Who Sold the World

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Ukulele Festivals 2016

Here’s the preliminary list of 2016 ukulele festivals. If you know a festival that needs adding send me a message or leave a comment on this post with the details.

USA and Canada

Allegheny Ukulele Soiree

Location: The Laurel Lodge, Altoona, PA
Date: April 15 to 17, 2016
Performers: Gerald Ross, Paul Hemmings, Skye Zentz, Colin Coleman and Mim.

Ashokan Uke Fest

Location: Conservation Hall, Ashokan Center
Date: May 27 to 30, 2016
Performers: Victoria Vox, Paul Hemmings, Gerald Ross, Del Rey.

Blackwater Ukulele Festival

Location: Cypress Gardens
Date: September 18, 2016
Performers: Nathan Miller, The Charleston Hot Shots, The V-Tones of Charleston

Denver Ukefest

Location: Swallow Hill Music
Date: May 12 to 14, 2016
Performers: Leftover Cuties, Victor & Penny, Victoria Vox, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Lil’ Rev, Stuart Fuchs.

Great Minnesota Uke Gathering

Location: El Rancho Mañana Campground near Richmond, Minnesota
Date: June 3 to 5, 2016
Performers: Lil’ Rev

Menucha Ukulele Band Camp

Location: Menucha Retreat and Conference Center in Corbett, Oregon
Date: March 28 to April 1, 2016
Performers: TBA

Mighty Uke Day 6

Location: TBA
Date: May 13 to 15, 2016
Performers: TBA

Mini Uke Day

Location: Trinity House Theatre, 38840 W. 6 Mile Road, Livonia, MI
Date: November 5, 2016
Performers: TBA

Palm Strings Ukulele Festival

Location: Hilton Palm Springs
Date: February 25 to 27, 2016
Performers: Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, Victor & Penny, Aaron & Nicole Keim, Dani Joy.

Port Townsend Ukulele Festival

Location: Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington
Date: September 28 to October 2, 2016
Performers: TBA

Reno Ukulele Festival

Location: Nugget Resort, Sparks Nevada
Date: April 14 to 17, 2016
Performers: Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, Abe Lagrimas, Jr., Del Rey

Rocky Mountain UkeFest

Location: Durango, Colorado
Date: July 7 to 9, 2016
Performers: The Leftover Cuties

South Florida Ukulele Fest

Location: ArtServe, 1350 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Date: March 18 to 20, 2016
Performers: TBA

Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway

Location: Sirata Hotel, St. Petersburg, Florida
Date: November 4 to 6, 2016
Performers: TBA

Tunes in the Dunes

Location: Lincoln City Cultural Center, 540 NW U.S. 101, Lincoln City, OR 97367
Date: September 16-18, 2016
Performers: Lono, Jim D’Ville, Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel, Aaron & Nicole Keim.

Uketoberfest 3

Location: Interlochen Center for the Arts, 4000 Highway M-137, Interlochen, MI 49643
Date: October 1, 2016
Performers: TBA

Ukulele Festival of Northern California

Location: Chabot College Performing Arts, Center, 25555 Hesperian Boulevard, Hayward, CA
Date: April 24, 2016
Performers: TBA

Ukulele University

Location: Bend, Oregon
Date: July 15 to 17, 2016
Performers: Ben Bonham, Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, Jim D’Ville, Cinda Johnson, Aaron and Nicole Keim.

Utah Ukelele Festival

Location: Willow Park 450w 700s in Logan, Utah
Date: August 6, 2016
Performers: TBA

West Coast Ukulele Retreat

Location: 800 Asilomar Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, United States
Date: May 4 to 8, 2016
Performers: TBA


Location: Midland Free Methodist Church, 5821 Eastman Ave, Midland, MI 48640
Date: March 11 to 12, 2016
Performers: Todd Baio, SUGAR


Great Waikoloa Ukulele Festival

Location: Kings’ Shops and Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort
Date: March 5, 2016
Performers: TBA

Uke Ohana

Location: Pu’u O Hoku Ranch & Halawa Valley, Molokai, Hawaii
Date: May 27 to 31, 2016
Performers: Lono

Ukulele Festival

Location: Kapiolani Park, Waikiki, Oahu
Date: July 17, 2016
Performers: TBA

Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii 2016

Location: Kaka’ako Makai Gateway Park
Date: February 14, 2016
Performers: TBA

United Kingdom and Ireland

Cornwall Ukulele Festival

Location: The Mill, Branwells Mill, Penzance, TR18 2LQ
Date: February 7, 2016
Performers: Phil Doleman, Dancing Flea Orchestra of West Cornwall

Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2016

Location: The Lawrence Batley Theatre, Queen’s Square, Queen Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2SP
Date: May 27 to 29, 2016
Performers: The Quiet American, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Trinity Vogue, Yan Yalego.

Great Southern Ukulele Festival – GSUF

Location: The Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, UK
Date: October 15, 2016
Performers: TBA

Hoylake Summer Strum

Location: Hoylake Rugby Club, Carham Rd, Hoylake, Wirral CH47 4FF
Date: July 8 to 10, 2016
Performers: Wirral Ukulele Orchestra

Isle of Wight Ukulele Festival

Location: Medina Theatre, Fairlee Road, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2DX
Date: July 22 to 24, 2016
Performers: Sara Spade and the Noisy Boys, Dead Mans Uke, Mersey Belles, Ukulelezaza, EdwardAlice, Andy Eastwood, Krabbers, Chonkinfeckle, Peter Moss

Lincoln Ukulele Festival

Location: Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK
Date: April 10, 2016
Performers: Mike Krabbers, La Bella Band

Rye Ukulele Festival 2016

Location: Cinque Ports Pub, Rye
Date: July 3, 2016
Performers: TBA

Uke East 2016

Location: TBA
Date: TBA
Performers: TBA

UNICEF 2016 – Ukulele Festival

Location: Berkhamsted Civic Centre
Date: February 27, 2016
Performers: TBA

Ukulele Festival of Great Britain

Location: Cheltenham Town Hall,Imperial Square, Cheltenham GL50 1QA
Date: June 17 to 19, 2016
Performers: TBA

Ukulele Festival of Scotland

Location: Easterbrook Hall, The Crichton, Bankend Road, Dumfries DG1 4TA
Date: 6-8 May 2016
Performers: James Hill, Zoe Bestel, Krabbers, Ukulollo, Manitoba Hal, Zahra Lowzley, Mother Ukers.

Ukulele Festival of Wales

Location: Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill SA3 2EH
Date: June 24 to 26, 2016
Performers: Flea Bitten Boy, Pete Moss, Michael Adcock, The Ukulele Uff & Lonesome Dave Trio

Winchester Ukulele Festival

Location: Winchester Rugby Football Club, North Walls Park, Hillier Way, Winchester SO23 7SU
Date: June 4, 2016
Performers: Manitoba Hal, Phil Doleman, Les Poupées Gonflées, Zoe Bestel, The Hedge Inspectors, Liam Capper-Starr


None yet. Send me a message if there’s one I should add.

Czech Ukulele Festival

Location: Ún?tice (Prague-West District), Czech Republic
Date: July 29 to 31, 2016
Performers: TBA

Australia and New Zealand

Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival

Location: Carrington Hotel, 15-47 Katoomba Street, Katoomba NSW
Date: February 12 to 14, 2016
Performers: TBA

Folk Redlands Ukulele Convention

Location: Capalaba Indigiscapes Centre, Rynnymede Rd Capalaba QLD
Date: August 20 to 21, 2016
Performers: TBA

Lauder Ukulele Festival

Location: Lauder Green, Lauder, Omakau (Central Otago, NZ)
Date: February 6 to 8, 2016
Performers: TBA

Newkulele Festival

Location: Newcastle Jockey Club, Newcastle Racecourse, Broadmeadow
Date: October 21 to 23, 2016
Performers: TBA

Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival

Location: Kenilworth Showgrounds and Township
Date: April 14 to 17, 2016
Performers: TBA

David Bowie – Life on Mars (Chords)

David Bowie – Life on Mars (Chords)

Bowie played a huge part in my musical development. Back in my school days, the first band I was ever in was basically a Ziggy-and-before Bowie tribute band. I learnt a whole bunch of fancy chords from Life on Mars. And there are many, many chords in it (just one chord short of the record-holding So Long and Thanks for All the Fish).

The song is a real masterclass in using chords. So many of the chord changes involve changing just one or two notes (something I’ve done my best to preserve for the uke version). That’s particularly true of my favourite section of the tune: the pre-chorus. It creates a huge build up of tension by having rising chromatic notes (on the C-string then the E-string) against a fixed background.

For the chords in the pre-chorus (one other) I’ve suggested chords that only use three strings to make things a bit easier. I do that by bringing my thumb around the neck and use it to mute the g-string (an X above a string on the chord diagram means it’s muted).


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More Bowie tabs and chords

James Hill, ings: UkeTube

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$300,000 Ukulele: Friday Links

– Madonna’s ukulele sold for $300,000 at an auction for Haiti. They could have saved themselves $299,700 and bought it on Amazon.
Zombie Ukulele.

– A selection of classical ukulele tab books for solo and ensemble ukulele. You can buy them in physical form or get the PDF version on a pay-what-you-want basis.
– Apple has released a free iOS app Music Memos. It’s a nice app for making a quick recording of any musical ideas you have. As well as being able to do some basic editing, add notes and the option to automatically add (slightly cheesy) bass and drums, it’ll attempt to work out the chords you’re playing. In my experience it does a reasonable job with major and minor ukulele chords but it does have a bit of trouble with 7 chords.

New Releases
Matt Griffo – My Brother’s Friend Jerome.
– Danielle Ate the Sandwich wrote, recorded and produced an album in 24 hours.
Tiki Cowboys – Island Dreams.

Helen Arney extends Tom Lehrer’s chemical element song with the new elements.
Full show of some great musicians playing timples, ukuleles, cavaquinhos and other uke-adjacent instruments (via @HermanVDC).
I Rettiloni.
Squeeze do a bit of lyric changing to heckle David Cameron on The Andrew Marr Show. He must be getting used to ukulele heckling by now.

Uke for Xmas? Read This!

When I got my first ukulele, I was completely clueless. This was in those dark, long forgotten days before the internet had been discovered. I didn’t even realise that the strings weren’t supposed to go thickest to thinnest and restrung it.

But you can save yourself from the social disgrace I experienced. I’ve put together a free mini-ebook covering the basics that every first time uke owner needs to know. Here’s what it contains:

Five Things to Know
Five Chords to Learn
Five Patterns to Strum
Five Songs to Play
Five Websites to Visit
Five Things to Get Free
Five Things to Buy
Five Videos to Watch
Five YouTube Channels to Subscribe to

You can download it free by clicking here:

So You Just Got Your First Ukulele (PDF)

And get playing by following the beginner ukulele lessons.

If you’re not new to ukulele but know someone who is feel free to pass it along. It has a Creative Commons license so distribute it as you wish.

Merry Christmas! See you in 2016

Merry Christmas, Chanukah Sameach, Happy Holidays, Io Saturnalia and Happy Holidays! (If you’re into that kind of thing.)

If you’re after some Christmas music and you’re as Spotify user here’s my Christmas Ukulele playlist. Or if you’re sick of Christmas music my playlist of ukulele selections from 2014.

Don’t forget my chord theory ebook How to Play Ukulele Chords is being taken down at the end of the year. You can buy it here until then for the reduced price of $7 (down from $17).

That’s it from me for this year (other than the ebook for new ukers). I’ll be back at the end of January 2016 (year of the unnecessarily difficult F7 chord).

If you can’t bear to be without a steady stream of uke, I’ll be posting bits and pieces on Tumblr, UkeToob and on Twitter.

Christmas UkeTube 2015

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