You might notice the lack of an mp3 for this one. That’s because it’s way beyond my abilities. You really need to use a pick to play this right and I’m hopeless with those rhino’s toenails. You’ll just have to watch James Hill do it here (Thunderstruck starts around 1:00). He plays the riff in D-tuning and exactly the same way as it’s played on guitar (so it’s a fifth higher than the original).
Arrrrrgh. Some serious interweb connection problems for me at the moment. I’ve got a few posts lined up, but if you’re expecting a message from me, you may have to wait a while.
Anyhoo, this week’s videos include Amanda Palmer covering another Radiohead song on the uke. I would have included the Jack and Meg of the ukulele Versi-o-rama doing thieir version of Tonight You Belong to Me were it not for Dailymotion issues – the singing and ukeing might not be the best around, but the video more than makes up for it. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a Dallas C banjo ukulele previously owned by George Formby on eBay UK. Asking price: £10,000.
“I’m thinning out my ukulele collection,” is a bit of an eBay mantra at the moment. Very good news for us window shoppers. This seller has some gems for sale including a Gibson Sytle 3 and a Jonah Kumalae 3K.
Pono are going all out with the frills and filigree for the PKC-500 ‘flagship model’. At $1,120, it ain’t cheap. But, according to MGM, it’s, “styled and built just like a Koolau model 500 which cost $7,785.00.” (Koolau make Ponos, so they should know how it’s done).
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra are providing the music for, Kiwi merchants, Whitcoulls’ latest set of ads. You can watch two of them here and here. (Thanks to Mike for pointing it out).
The Japanese ukulele magazine, Rolling Coconuts is bringing out a CD, Ukulele Now, with tasteful, understated artwork and tracks by Bosko and Honey, The Sweet Hollywaiians, IWAO and Ohta San. I’m also fairly sure the third track is Ayano Tsuji, if anyone can confirm that.
The forthcoming Beatles ukulele chord book I mentioned a few weeks ago has now forthcome. whilst a new film sets the record straight about George Formby’s towering influence over John Lennon. Although he was no good at cleaning windows.
Make money on YouTube playing your ukulele. Word to the wise, I can tell you from experience the Amazon affiliate program sucks gigantic monkey balls.
It All Started with Carbon Monoxide has an mp3 from The Pierces.
Looks like the ukulele is proper fashionable. Even the models are pouting at them and taking them for a good, old fashioned jump through the desert.
Money for Nothing is one of the songs that made me pick up the guitar (“Money for nothing and chicks for free, you say? Sounds like a pretty good return on some digital blistering. I’m in.”)
I’ve taken a few liberties with this one. I’ve given it a constant G note in the background to give it a bit more stability and taken away a few of the doubled notes for ease of playing.
Will Grove-White has been the youngest (and handsomest) member of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain since he joined them in 1989. He has just put out a solo album Will Grove-White & The Others and kindly agreed to chat about lost ukes, Pebble Mill and strum holes.
How did you get involved with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain?
I joined when I was 16, in 1989. I’d not been tempted to take the guitar path at school and so I formed a little uke trio, playing 1920s and 30s stuff. I read about the Ukulele Orchestra in a newspaper and became a total fan. From then on I always went to see them play in this pub in north London, started pestering them for music after gigs, and when someone left the band I was asked to join. I started off as a quiet little lad, just strumming, but began singing after a year or so, and have ended up mostly squawking gibberish. I had to get the day off school do my first gig, we played ‘Chinatown, My Chinatown‘ on Pebble Mill at One, with Ronnie Spector watching us.
What was the impetus for your solo project?
In recent years, the Ukes has become more of a full-time job, making it harder for all of us to do other work, as the Orchestra’s demands grow and grow. I now find myself, at 35, a full-time Ukulele player – not something I ever thought I’d say, of course – I used to have a proper job. This album was really about seeing what it would sound like if I did something on my own, that could sit happily alongside the Ukes. The impetus was really from my wife, who kept telling me to get on with it.
What can we expect from your solo stuff?
Well, of course there are Ukuleles, but also plenty of other much maligned and overlooked instruments – the Musical Saw, Tuba, Melodica, Clarinet and Cardboard Boxes. I wish more mainstream musicians would cast their nets a bit wider in their choices of instruments. Bass, guitar and drums is a pretty tired formula. I think I can say it’s a good-time album, upbeat and optimistic – sort of Sid James meets Hoagy Carmichael and Tom Waits at a bluegrass concert.
What are your three favourite songs to play on ukulele?
Tricky question, but three I like are: Robert Johnson’s ‘They’re Red Hot‘, otherwise known as ‘Hot Tamales’, in C, really falls off the fingers; Syd Barrett’s ‘Here I Go‘ was the first song I worked out for myself on the uke; and at the moment I’m a big fan of the Ukes version of Limehouse Blues, a real mad strum-fest which should appear on an album soon I hope.
What’s in your ukulele collection?
I mostly play my Martin Ukulele which I got from a second-hand shop after I left my old Martin on the Tube (it was given to me by Ian Whitcomb). I’d fallen asleep and woke up at my stop, rushed off the Tube and only realised I’d left it when the train was gone. No-one ever handed it in, I always
imagine some guy picking it up and thinking, “Oh, a toy guitar! My kid will like this”… it was a pretty terrible day. Since then I’ve added some geared tuners (shock, horror!) to keep it in tune with the bashing I give it (I’m aiming to strum a hole in it buy 2010).
I recently got an Ohana uke from the Ukulele Shop which has a great sound for the price.
As spares we carry flat, black Bruko ukes, which we got from the eccentric Thomas Allander (Ukulelemannen) when we were in Stockholm. They’re Black Maple Ukes (S001) and are great for throwing in a suitcase. You can even post it to your friends through the letterbox. Other than that I mostly own old battered ukes that decorate the bookshelves, and even a few old banjo-ukes that get the occasional outing…
What advice do you have for the wannabe international ukulele superstars?
Pick some good fellow band members, who you can envisage sitting with for hours and hours on a bus, then a train, then a plane, then a bus, then another train, then another bus, and then share a room with. And never fart in the dressing room.
What can we expect from you and from the UOGB in the future?
At some point soon I’ll start more recording of my own, and get some live shows together with The Others. As far as the Ukes go, a hectic gigging schedule looms, lots of stuff in Britain, as well as Germany, Sweden and Austria, also some interesting new projects coming up next year. Right now
we’re in the final stages of assembling our first live CD – to be titled ‘Live in London #1‘ – which should be ready in the next month or two. I think it’s a real cracker, really captures the whole spirit of the band in a way we haven’t quite done on a CD before. And after that, of course, we shall all be enjoying a nice quiet Christmas together.
You can buy Will Grove-White & The Others on the UOGB site and visit his website here.
It’s not often I feature two videos by the same person in one week, but I’ve made an exception for Izumi. I’ve moaned about the bland, easy listening nature of most modern Hawaiian music before, but I love the traditional stuff. The Hawaiian yodel is one of those love-it-or-hate-it sounds. Personally, I think it’s beautiful and Izumi’s voice is incredible.