Friday Links: Madame Pamita, Uketopia

The response to the Slide Ukulele ebook has been great – far better than I was expecting. So it’s going on permanent sale at the new price of $7.

Pick up Madame Pamita’s new album Wax Works on a ‘pay what you like’ basis. It’s an excellent album. All recorded on wax cylinders without using electricity. Essential tracks: Do Whatever You Please, Madame Pamita’s Theme Song, Malaria. And she’s touring the UK in May.

The Ukulele Shop is no more. And Ukulele Ireland is spreading the rumour that the Duke of Uke is heading the same way.

In more sad news, Chicago’s Windy City Uke Fest won’t be going ahead this year. But it’ll be back for 2010.

And yet more sad news: Tab-U-Learn has shut its doors.

Ken Middleton’s new site including his tabs.

Uketopia is an excellent new(ish) ukulele podcast with songs, instrument reviews, interviews and various uke chatter. And there’s also the Stretchlinks Podcast from “America’s haymakers of jocularity.”

How to get sopranino tuning on your soprano ukulele.

Ukulele news in Spanish.

Make your own ukulele chord sheets with the help of Kiwi Ukulele

The Baby McGee’s are the cutest thing ever. And the full size version are releasing a 7″ single ahead of their new album in June.

Jack Kirby style ukulele by Ben Towle.

On Flickr: Another ukulele playing monkey, ukulele lamps, Mon ukulele enfin fini

Melissa Polinar – Beyond the Blue Horizon (Chords)


Melissa Polinar – Beyond the Blue Horizon (Chords)

I almost skipped straight past this song on YouTube because I was familiar with Lou Christie’s version of the song and absolutely hated it. But I’m glad I didn’t because Melissa and Yonder Yore‘s version shows it works great on the uke. It’s similar to Over the Rainbow musically and pretty much identical lyrically.

One thing I left out of the chord chart for simplicity’s sake: there’s a passing Eb note (C string third fret) between the Am and D in the, “…only begun,” and, “…beautiful day,” bits

Buy Melissa Polinar on Amazon.

10 Ways to Play an E Chord on the Ukulele

The E chord – the bete noire of all ukulele players. Trying to cram all your fingers into a tiny space on the fretboard. Impossible. So here are ten possible ways to play the E chord. Try them out and see if you like any of them (I don’t).

1) The Way the Books Tell You
picture-125

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Middle finger – G string 4th fret
Ring finger – C string 4th fret
Little finger – E string 4th fret

Disadvantages: A lot of fingers to fit into a small space.

2) The Double Up
picture-126

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Middle finger – G and C strings 4th fret
Ring finger – E string 4th fret

Disadvantages: Takes some practice to get the hang of.

3) The Treble Up
picture-129

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Ring finger – G, C and E strings 4th fret

Disadvantages: You need to have your ring finger leave the strings at a difficult angle so you can still hear the A string.

4) The G-String Block
picture-127

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Middle finger – Muting the G string (stopping it from sounding by resting against it rather than fretting it)
Ring finger – C string 4th fret
Little finger – E string 4th fret

Or with your thumb.

picture-128

5) The Treble Up and Block
picture-130

Ring finger – G, C and E strings 4th fret
A string muted with any finger (including the underside of the ring finger).

If you stop the A string ringing in the triple-up, you will still have and E chord as the G string is giving you the same note. You can use individual fingers along with a mute to make this chord.

6) The Fourth Fret Lay-Across
picture-131

Index finger – Barre across all strings at the 4th fret.
Little finger – A string 7th fret.

Like a C chord moved up four frets. It’s one of my favourite ways to play it.

Disadvantages: The barre takes some practice. Can be a big jump to and from open chords.

7) The Blocked E7
picture-133

Index finger: G string 1st fret
Middle finger: Muting C string
Ring finger: A string 2nd fret
E string open

Like an E7 chord with the middle finger muting the C string rather than fretting it. Or you could use the underside of your index finger to mute the string.

picture-134

Disadvantages: Sounds a bit nasty as you have a big ‘thunk’ in the middle of the chord.

8) E5
picture-135

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Ring finger – G string 4th fret
Little finger – C string 4th fret
E string open

Disadvantages: No major third note so it’s not a major chord. In some songs this it doesn’t really matter.

9) Up the Neck
picture-136

Index finger: E and A strings 7th fret
Middle finger: C string 8th fret
Ring finger: G string 9th fret

The Bb chord shape moved up the neck.

Disadvantages: A long way to travel if you’re playing open chords.

10) Thumb Lay-Across
picture-138

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Thumb – G, C and E strings 4th fret

Disadvantages: Makes changing to and from other chords difficult. Almost always sounds horrible.

Sophie Madeleine /Rocky and Balls – Beard Song (Chords)


Sophie Madeleine – Beard Song (Chords)

Before we get down to business, a little time-sensitive news: The Ukulele Shop is having a closing down sale. It’s a bit of a disaster for UK ukers, but you can pick up a few bargains on the site for now.

orlandosoyyo did some chords up for this on Uker Tabs. It’s a good write up, but I had the chords slightly different so I thought I’d put mine up as well.

One point I differ on is the last verse which, unlike the previous verses, starts with a G chord. It makes for a very pleasing transition from the A7 chord at the end of the middle section (which contains a G note). I was all ready to declare it a genius piece of songwriting. Except she has what might be a ‘wait, am I playing the right chord?’ look on her face at the time.

You can buy this song on BandCamp.

More Sophie Madeleine

Sophie Madeleine interview
Rocky and Balls – I Heart You Online (Chords)
The Stars (Chords)
Take Your Love With Me (The Ukulele Song)(Chords)

Kate Micucci Interview

Kate Micucci is a busy bunny. There’s the TV shows, the solo music, the theatre show, the movies, the duo, the web series and the sandcastles. But I managed to find the time in my busy schedule to ask her a few questions.

When and why did you first pick up a ukulele?

I got my first uke when I was living with my aunt, uncle, and grandpa in Hawaii. It was pretty awesome. Every night I would sleep in a giant chair on the porch. And because I’ve been a piano player all my life, I was really missing playing an instrument, so my grandpa took me to the local music store and bought me a uke. Then I bought a book of old standards and learned a Gershwin tune.

How did you and Riki get together for Garfunkel and Oates?

Riki wanted to write some songs together to make a musical short she wrote called Imaginary Larry. In the short I play Riki’s imaginary friend. And so it made sense that we would sing some songs together. We wrote the songs so quickly and it was really fun. It just seemed like we were on to something.

Any plans for a full length version of Imaginary Larry?

Well, right now they are still in the process of finishing the short. The movie is getting rotoscoped. My character is going to be completely animated. It looks amazing!

Is that a Martin S-O you’re playing? Do you have any other ukes in your collection?

Yup. That’s a Martin! The Martin Guitar factory is right down the street from where I grew up, so I play it proudly. As for other ukuleles, I still have my first uke, which my grandpa bought me. And I have a few toy ukuleles from the 50s. I used to have a banjolele but I traded it in to help pay for my guitar.

When you were making Bart Gets A Room with William H Macy did you get a chance to uke out together?

We didn’t have any scenes together so unfortunately there were no jam sessions. But I always bring my ukulele to work. There is a lot of down time on a set.

Your role in Scrubs seems perfect for you and your music. Was it written for you?

Yeah, apparently it was! Kinda crazy. Being able to go to work and sing and act on such a fun show. I felt like a very lucky kid.

I’ve heard rumours that there’s going to be a Scrubs spin-off series and that you’ll be in it. Any truth in either of those?

I have heard those rumors too. I don’t know what the chances are of Scrubs coming back for a ninth season. But if it ever did, I’d be happy to play The Gooch again. And I loved singing with Sam Lloyd (Ted the lawyer) and his band. In real life, their band is called The Blanks. They have been special guests in my stage show. And if you ever get a chance to see them live, they are so much fun.

What can we expect from you this year?

I hope to have a second EP out by the summer. A movie I am in called WHEN IN ROME is coming out in August. I continue to do my live show called PLAYIN’ WITH MICUCCI at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. And expect a lot more from Garfunkel and Oates. We are currently recording an album and playing shows in LA.

You can buy Kate’s Songs EP on CD Baby

Robert Johnson – They’re Red Hot (Chords)


Robert Johnson – They’re Red Hot (Chords)

Of all the Robert Johnson songs, this one suits the ukulele the best. The quickfire chord changes make it a lot of fun to play. UOGB’s Will Grove-White listed it as one of his favourite songs to play on the uke. But this version wasn’t taken from UOGB’s slow, slinky version but based on James Clem‘s more traditional take on it.

The chords can take a whole lot of changing around. In The Baron’s version he replaces the B chord with an E7 and adds an extra G7 in at the end of the first sequence. Or you can miss that chord out completely and go straight from C to A7 (probably the easiest option for beginners).

Saturday UkeTube: Watercolor Paintings, Cousin Alice

Three old videos from people recklessly making great uke music without tagging it to make things easy for me: Watercolor Paintings (who aren’t, as I first thought, covering Mirah), Cousin Alice and Charlot Webster. Along with plenty of more diligent ukers.

One uker who didn’t make the cut is Aaron Carter (who is now, apparently, successfully wearing big boy pants). Read the rest of this entry »

Window Shopping: Ohana CK-65D, Kala Slimline

The Ohana CK-65D is a bit of a strange beast. As well as the off-centre soundhole, it has a fretboard that is a mixture of rosewood and maple.

I think the Kala travel ukulele is a good idea. I can see how shaving a little off the size could help. But then way make one in tenor size?

I think I might have expressed my surprise at a bamboo ukulele before. But it sounds pretty good in MGM‘s video. But at $1,500 you’d expect it to.

Lovely Keech Banjolele on eBay UK.

Nice paint job on this Hilo.

Friday Links: Killian Mansfield

15 year old uker Killian Mansfield has been putting together an album in aid of children’s cancer charity Hope and Heroes (Killian himself has cancer). The album includes collaborations with some serious musical heavyweights: Dr John, Levon Helm, Todd Rundgren and John Sebastian. If the music is anywhere near as good as the photos, I’m in. You can keep up to date with the album’s release by fanning him up on facebook.

The bill for New York Uke Fest 2.0 is filling up with acts including Tripping Lily, Ukulele Barrt, Victoria Vox, Bill Tapia and Nellie McKay. Friend of Uke Hunt, Tricity Vogue is hoping to go as well and is looking for free/cheap accommodation. If you can help her out, you can contact her via her website.

If you live in and around London, you can keep up to date with the latest happenings via Mighty Ukulele. And wherever you are, they’re also looking to keep their teacher and club listings up to date, so get in touch if you want to be added.

Kate Micucci busts out the uke for episode 5A of Nick’s Big Show.

MP3s: sixeyes has Elliott Brood busting out the uke for The Valley Town. Culture of Me has Via Tanya’s wonderstranger. Sign up for Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer’s mailing list and get his blasting of Tim Westwood. Some uke action in Carnival Saloon’s Hawaiian roundup.

The Humble Uker directs out attention to the Sontag Jazz-Uke which looks fantastic.

“Thousands of children skipped off to school with a ukulele and I was one of those kids.” Ukulele Mike speaks of his misspent (well-spent) youth.

Ukulele Spotting: Last night’s Samantha Who? had some Fluke action going on (thanks to Jenny for that).

Gonzo bests Kermit at ukes.

Robert Johnson – Come On In My Kitchen (Baron Version)

I couldn’t let Robert Johnson week pass without covering the Baron’s version of Come On In My Kitchen. It is a fairly standard I – IV – V progression in A (A – D7 – A – E7), so I thought I’d focus on the twiddly bits.

Here’s the intro with two typical Johnson-style descending phrases.

robert johnson ukulele tab

The A-Asus4-A crops up in the chord sections as well. As does a similar move from D7 (2223) to D (2225) and back.

And here’s the bit that doubles the vocal line in the “You better come on…” section.

come on ukulele tab

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