Ukulele Prom DVD, Play Ukulele by Ear: Friday Links

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s performance at the Proms will be released on DVD and Live in London #2 will be out soon. This review of the ukulele prom by Howard Jacobson is fantastic. “Seid umschlungen, Millionen!” indeed.

Jim D’Ville has released a DVD called Play Ukulele by Ear and has set up a website to go along with it. You can read Ukulele Tonya’s review of it here.

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra will be releasing a new EP, The Dreaming, on 28th September. Tracks include Africa, I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man and Blue Smoke.

Bookulele – A Love Story (via Ukulelezo).

Garfunkel and Oates (Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome) release their debut album.

Download a bunch of tracks from Toy Horses in exchange for your email address.

Metallica’s Seek and Destroy and Seaside by The Kooks on Uker Tabs.

Queen – Good Company (Chords and Tab)

Queen – Good Company (Chords)

Good Company Solo (Tab)

I’m amazed that no one has put the chords for this up already. It’s a ukulele classic. I suppose it is more than a little over shadowed on A Night at the Opera with it being followed by Bohemian Rhapsody.

It’s no surprise that Brian May learnt the ukulele before the guitar. This performance is definitely not one of someone who is playing the ukulele like a guitar. He’s throwing in a lot of Formby moves. There are a few triplets and, in the solo, a bunch of sort-of-split-strokes.

I think he must be tuned up half a step to G#C#FA#. They certainly seem to be the more natural chord shapes. And they match the chord shapes he’s using in this clip of him discussing the track (but the uke is tuned way down).

For the strumming, he’s doing mainly down strums with a few triplets thrown in to liven things up.

Kala KA-ASLAS Lacewood and Spruce Soprano Review

I bought myself a Kala lacewood soprano ukulele as a reward for finally finishing the How to Play Ukulele Strums ebook. So were the endless hours of sweet and tears worth it? Here’s my review:

The Lowdown

Wood: Kala seem to make a bigger deal of the lacewood but the part that matters, the top, is solid sitka spruce. Everything else (back, sides, body, neck) are all solid lacewood.
Fretboard: Rosewood. 12 frets.
Tuners: Sealed, Geared.
Made in: China

The Good Stuff

The Strumming Sound: I love strumming out on this ukulele. It’s bright, loud and punchy. As you would expect from a uke with a spruce top. It has just the sort of tone I love. You don’t get the force of it on the MP3, but here it is anyway.

Strum Test (MP3) (Sister Kate chords)

Looks: The leopard-spot grain of the lacewood is gorgeous. The uke is very cleanly put together. There are some fancy-Dan fret markers. And, as a well documented lover of pink, I’m a fan of the purfling.

Construction: It’s sturdily built (handy when you’re as clumsy as I am) and well put together (no flaws worth mentioning). And the intonation is good.

Smell: Oh, am I the only who likes to give the soundhole of a new uke a good sniff?

The Not So Good Stuff

Fingerpicking: I knew when I bought that it would more suited to strumming than picking. I always find my fingers falling over each other when fingerpicking a soprano. And the uke loses a lot of its bite when picked (unless you really give it some hammer).

Judging by the video, David Beckingham does a much better job than me of picking this uke. But here’s my picking test.

Picking Test (MP3) (Larry O’Gaff tab

Geared Tuners: I don’t have anything against geared tuners in general, but they always feel wrong on a soprano. They throw it off balance. I understand the need for them on cheap ukes, but on more expensive ukes a good set of friction tuners would be very nice.


This one is definitely a keeper. I have a lot of fun playing it. I bought it because I wanted a quality soprano (rather the el-cheapo bashers I had before) for strumming and it certainly fits that purpose. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone with similar requirements. I like the spruce/sexy wood combination so much I’ve now got my eye on an Ohana spruce/maple CK-70G.

Southern Ukulele Store Review

When I bought the ukulele I promised feedback on the UK’s new uke seller: The Southern Ukulele Store. I can tell you they certainly pass muster. They’re friendly and helpful, the uke arrived very quickly (although the strings I ordered at the same time took a few weeks) and everything was very well packaged.

The only downside was the ordering system. I went through their own site rather than eBay and the checkout looked very unprofessional. And once I’d paid I had an error message telling me I’d paid the wrong amount. A quick email to them sorted it all out.

But I’ll definitely be using them again in the future. I’ll be going through eBay, though.

Katzenjammer – Cherry Pie (Chords)

Katzenjammer – Cherry Pie (PDF)

That settles it, I am moving to Norway.

Judging by the new songs that are showing up, Katzenjammer’s next album is going to be a killer. I’ve been waiting for a decent recording of this song to show up for a while. Although the clarity hasn’t helped my lyric transcribing skills any. And it doesn’t help that my cherry pie cooking knowledge isn’t up to much either. So, as always when I work them out myself, the lyrics are incomplete and not to be trusted.

The song kicks off with a nice little chord trick which has chromatic ascending notes on the C string. Then it’s barre chords moving up the neck. At one point in the song she does use the open chord shapes for C and D. So you could do that if you prefer.

There’s a ukulele solo in this version of the song – but it’s too quite to figure out what’s actually going on.

I suppose it’s only appropriate that a song about food ends with a scat verse. The chords in brackets are passing chords (so just use one strum to play them).

They also did Ain’t No Thang in the session. Which is a song I can’t get enough of.

Buy Le Pop

Shelley O’Brien: Monday Exposure

Shelley O’Brien – Generous Waters (MP3) via The Globe and Mail

I’ve had, friend of the blog, PaulC nudging me in the direction of Shelley O’Brien for some time now. And I’m very glad he did. She has a silky, jazz-inflected voice and has a way with a tune. She’s recently released an album You, Me and the Birds and caused a few members of the ukulele community to get hot under the collar with this article. So I fired some questions at her to find out more.

You spent your childhood between two ukulele centres: Hawaii and Canada. Which of those was the biggest factor in you picking up the uke?

Hawaii. Growing up in the dark cold winters of Northern BC, my family planned an escape to Hawaii every other Christmas. It was paradise to me – and getting on a plane in cold BC and getting off to the smell of Hawaiian flowers was magic. Don Ho on the turntable for the rest of the year! Also – according to my parents I was made in Hawaii… :)

How does the ukulele influence the type of songs you write?

I’ve been a piano player since I was three years old, so it had always been the instrument I wrote on. When I picked up a ukulele and started playing 3 years ago (never even having played guitar), it completely changed my world…Four strings! Beautiful sound! Strumming! I would say it led me to some really upbeat and happy chord changes and melodies. Even if the theme of the song is sad or melancholy lyrically, the Uke adds an undeniable element of hope and possibility…

Your songs have an old-school jazz sound. Who inspires you?

When I was booked in 2004 for my first pro gig at the Drake Hotel in Toronto, I was commissioned to learn a bunch of old jazz tunes (ok, ok, I suggested it). I love these old tunes from the american songbook! Following that I started getting bookings on ships, and expanded my repertoire, always with a core of jazz standards from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s – I suppose this was the inspiration for that hint on the album. Lyrically, I like to write about the comings and goings of people, things, relationships – longing for what you want, saying goodbye…on “you, me and the birds” there is a song called “emily, coming and going” which is about a 7-year-old who adapts to living with a father who persues his dreams without her on the other side of the country. another song is “with a will, margerie” which is about a love affair I have with a glacier in Alaska.

I notice you’ve worked the cruise ships. How do you approach performing for that sort of audience?

I do my best to approach all audiences with a combo of humility and gratitude. Contrary to what people may think, cruise ship audiences have been so varied and diverse. In one cruise I could get a couple in their 80’s waltzing as I played an old jazz tune, a young group of women asking me about one of my original songs, and a child sitting beside me humming along to “let it be”. Cruise ships were also the ideal workshop for me – all the songs on the album had their chance to be heard many times as I got opinions of listeners heading up to alaska.

Generally it seems people want to connect to something within you – no matter what the age.

How can people get hold of your music?

In Toronto: Soundscapes. In a few days: CDBaby. Online: iTunes, Kerf music, and, if they would like a signed copy, through paypal on my website.

What can we expect from you in the future?

More music! A tour in Ontario in the fall, a gorilla hotel room showcase at OCFF, and next year, folk festivals and another trip to Europe.

Winter is coming, and I am busy writing songs for a new album already….but also plan on frequenting the weekly Corktown Ukulele Jam as often as possible…

For more Shelley you can visit her MySpace and watch her YouTube channel.

Kate Micucci & William H Macy – It’s Time to Get Laid (Chords)

Kate Micucci & William H Macy – It’s Time to Get Laid (Chords)

She might not have had the chance to jam with him when they were making the film, but junkets give you much more time for ukeing it up. Bart Got A Room looks like a damn funny film. It’s got people from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development and Scrubs in. How could it not be? I’m sure it’ll be out in the UK sometime in 2011.

The song is a pretty straight forward, 4 chord affair. So it shouldn’t present any problems.

Suggested strumming

Other than the single strums that crop up, the main strumming pattern is old faithful:

d -d u – u d –

Watch Bart Got A Room Trailers
Buy Kate Micucci’s music

April Smith and Bess Rogers, Soul Covers: UkeTube Part 2

Part two of the UkeToob includes me giving the Uke Hunt kiss of death to four Shake Your Soul entries, Bess Rogers (who managed to drag herself away from the Boobie Bungalow for one night to join April Smith) and a couple of tributes to The Ramones. There’s also a version of First Day of My Life I picked up thanks to Donnie’s UkeTube replacement service. I have a number of instant rejections for consideration. And one of them is covering a blatantly obvious tune (which includes anything done by The Beatles, Jake or Julia Nunes). Which saves a huge amount of time but does mean I miss the occasional gem like this one. Read the rest of this entry »

Steeleye Span and Peter Sellers, Victoria Vox: UkeTube Part 1

During the three week break there are too many videos for just one post. So I’ve split them into two parts and here’s the first.

The curiosity of the week is a track from Steeleye Span with ukulele contributions from Peter Sellers (you can see a picture of them all here). Also in this post are Bliss Blood, Victoria Vox and some incredibly adorable kittens. Read the rest of this entry »

Pineapple Ukes, Ukulele Amp: eBay Window Shopping

I don’t remember seeing a baritone pineapple ukulele before. And I definitely haven’t seen a 5 string baritone pineapple ukulele with the fifth tuning peg being bang in the middle of the headstock. Kamaka, being the originators of the pineapple, are keeping it more old school with the HP-1 soprano pineapple. Classiest of all is this Mike DaSilva pineapple.

These Aloha ‘Oe tube amps look fabulous. Ideal for a uker. But they do have a hefty price tag of $1,500 (mostly, I would guess, to cover the cost of bikini models). However, they do make an interesting proposition: “If you use the amp in a short video and post it on YouTube we’ll refund your Paypal account $300.” Seems like a great way to spread the word about your product – and I would expect a lot of ukulele companies would get plenty of takers for much less than a $300 refund.

Wallet busting uke of the week: Ludwig Crown banjo ukulele only £4,500 (or about $7,500 in funny money). But if I could choose any uke around, I’d go with this Kahiko ‘Concert Flyer’. Check out the koa on that one.

As if Kala’s slimline ukulele wasn’t gimmicky enough already, they’ve now put a compass in the headstock.

Mahalo are synonymous with cheap, basher ukuleles, so it’s always disconcerting when they come out with something posher like the solid cedar ULTD3.

Ibanez Ukuleles, Mel Bay: Friday Links

Ibanez are the latest guitar company to jump on the bandwagon with their range of ukuleles.

Mel Bay have a new dedicated uke site which includes a chance to win a Kala travel ukulele.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Proms (it may or may not be available where you are).

The film industry seems to have been overtaken by ukuleles recently. James Franco serenaded Julia Roberts with Jen Kwok’s ukulele. She’s also going to be ukeing in the film. And Zac Efron plays uke in his next film as well. Whilst Russell Brand ukes in his skivvies (thanks to Heather for that one). But they can’t do it like the old-school stars: Buster Keaton and Ukulele Ike duet on one uke.

Humble Baritonics is a new blog from Jeff searching out baritone ukulele tabs online.

One to avoid: PlayAUke. Yeah, it’s for charity. But charging for this is just ridiculous. Chapter one is six lines of writing and 3 Julia Nunes videos. And it doesn’t get any better.

The Observer chats to the UOGB and Tricity Vogue.

MP3s: Oh World has a track from The Hazzards (formerly the Ukes of Hazzard), ZME Music has tada tata.

On Flickr: Jukebox-ulele, The Secret Life of Toys

10 ukulele clubs and club nights in London.

The Beatle Fest’s largest ukulele ensemble record attempt gathered 97 people. So I’m still a World Record holder.

Impress your boho boyfriend with a ukulele (via ps i love uke).

If anyone knows or is a ukulele player/teacher in the Woodstock/Kingston area, can you shoot me an email.

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