Ken Middleton, Jake Wildwood: Friday Links

Ken Middleton has released his first ukulele ebook: 12 Tunes for Bluegrass Ukulele. If you’ve been following his videos and his tabs, you’ll know he makes great arrangements and this ebook is definitely no exception.

Last chance to sign up for my How to Play Fingerpicking Ukulele mini-course – it’ll be taken down tomorrow (Saturday).

Jake Wildwood has a new album out and you can download it for free on his website.

The London Uke Festival people are keeping tight-lipped about who’s on the bill. They have a couple of acts listed here. My team of private investigators reveal the expected presence of The Bobby McGee’s, Joe Brown, The Re-Entrants, The Sugarsnap Sister (including Tricity Vogue and Cousin Alice) and a “smattering” of the UOGB. But the most interesting part for me is that I’ve always felt there’s a big disconnection between the London ukulele scene and the online ukulele scene. So it’d be nice to get together and be one big family. Or, failing that, have a Sharks-vs-Jets style dance-fight. If you’re feeling generous, you can sponsor my part in the festival here.

If you missed Dent May’s debut EP first time around, you’ve got a second chance to download it here. And you can watch a performance and interview from SXSW.

Armelle’s fascinating trip around the world of ukulele languages continues with Girls Aloud in Latin and a trip to Oceania. You can catch up with the full list here.

At the risk of starting a bidding war between Emily and Zoe, last week’s moustache ukulele is available to buy here.

This new uke website has popped up. Not much there yet but thought I better mention it before I forget.

Build your own ukulele speakerdog (via Ukulelia).

KDUS has animals doing people things – including playing the uke.

I usually only link to photos I can say something droll about. But I’m linking to these because they’re rather beautiful and they give me a light boner*: You might sleep, but you’ll never dream, Untitled, Ukulele.

*Yes, that link is safe for work. What’s going on in your head?

Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You Into the Dark

Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Chords)

The second part of Captain Obvious Week and it’s Ben Gibbard again. A very different sound to last time but some very similar chords.

Suggested Strumming

For the verses you can go with:

d – d u

All the way through. But you have to hold some chords longer than others. For the verse you do it four times for F, Dm and Bb. Then twice for F and C.

The intro and choruses are a bit more tricky. Do it twice for Dm, F, Bb. Once each for F and F7M. Two for Dm and F again. Four for C. Two for Dm, F, A. One for Dm, Dm7. Two for Bb and Bbm. And four for F.

I hope you followed that. I never know how much detail to give for the strumming.

Ukulele Strumming Notation

I’ve had to come up with my own method of writing up strums both for the blog and for the How To Play Ukulele Strums ebook I’m working on. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

d : indicates a down strum.

u : indicates an up strum.

– : indicates a pause or missed strum i.e. moving your hand either up or down but not hitting the strings.They are most useful to give you an indication of the timing of the strums.

x : indicates a chnk. Strumming down and following through so the underside of your hand lands on the strings creating a ‘chnk’ sound.

(d) or (u) : A muted down/up strum. Strumming as normal but with your fretting fingers resting on the strings to stop them ringing. It sounds like a chnk but you can do them with strums in either direction.

D or U : when in bold and/or capitalised that means the strum is emphasized (i.e. give it a bit more welly).

TTT : triplet strum. There are plenty of ways to do these. My personal favourite is down with middle and index fingers, up with index, up with middle. Here’s Jake discussing his preferred method. Or you could be a complete flash-Harry and use a fan stroke.

Ukulele Strumming in Tabs

You’ll also see strums written up in tab form. Here an up arrow indicates a down strum and a down arrow indicates an up strum. (Make sense? Good.)

So a down, up, down, up… strum looks like this.

strum ukulele tab

A less common method – but quite a neat one – is to use guitar pick direction tab for strum directions.

A down strum looks like this:
And an up strum looks like this:
So a down, up, down, up… strum would look like this:


If you want to learn more about the subject, take a look at my ebook on Ukulele Strumming

The Postal Service – Such Great Heights (Tab and Chords)

The Postal Service – Such Great Heights (Chords)

This week is officially Captain Obvious Week. Covering non-uke songs that seem to be done over and over on ukulele. Strangely enough, two of them are from Ben Gibbard.

The electronic blips on bloops make Such Great Heights a fair unlikely obvious ukulele song, but plenty of people have taken it on (my favourite being Amber Nash). I suspect the Iron & Wine version pushed it much closer to ukulele territory.

If you’re going to tackle the Postal Service version, it helps to make it a duet – like the Witchger Boys did – to handle the vocal overlaps and the…

Twiddly Bits

Here’s what I made of the intro – arranged for two ukuleles. It’s very tricky – particularly if you’re trying to play it the same tempo as the original. As you can hear, I haven’t quite got it down.

Such Great Heights Intro Tab


The little piano bit – try to let the notes ringing into each other as much as possible:

such great heights ukulele chords

And the solo- dead easy:

such great solo tab

Matt Kresling: Monday Exposure

Matt Kresling – The Beast That Swallows It’s Young (MP3)
Matt Kresling – Upside-Down Boat (MP3) via

I’m a little amazed that anyone bothers paying any of their debts any more. After all the bailouts financial institutions don’t have a great deal of moral authority to draw on. But Matt Kresling was ahead of his time in calling for self-bailouts back in the carefree, long-ago days of June 2008. And he’s now made the whole album available for free download on YouTube.


Upstairs, Downstairs Theme (Tab)

Upstairs, Downstairs Theme (Tab)


I think I mentioned before, I don’t own a TV any more. But I might get a TV license anyway just to support the BBC’s new ukulele orchestra. One member of the group is Radio 4’s Kathy Clugston (from off of the shipping forecast) and she recorded a jazzy version of this tune and inspired me to knock up my own version.

I’ve taken more liberties with this tune than I usually do. There are a lot of strings swirling around in the original that needed simplifying. I’ve also slowed it down and given it a strong 3/4 feel. In other words, it bears very little relation to the original at all.

Saturday UkeTube

The most interesting video this week is of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain being joined by Yusuf ‘Cat Stevens’ Islam for a version of Peace Train. You can watch the Uke’s other performance on the show here.

Also this week are GUGUG, Ukesysteemi (the 14-year old, Finnish, slightly fuckin’ awesome version of GUGUG) and the usual mix of old friends and new favourites.

One video that didn’t make the cut is this one by me. I’m all excited about going to see Imelda May tomorrow so I knocked out some rockabilly cliches and pulled some stupid faces. Read the rest of this entry »

Larrivee, 5K Shrine, Ebony Pono, Harmony Vita

Larrivee seem to have been abscent from the ukulele scene for a while but a rather cute koa Larrivee soprano has turned up on eBay. The last mention I could find was on Ukulelia about a limited run in 2004. Although it looks like they still have some in stock here. And it’s no wonder at those prices.

There’s always an imminent danger of self-bankruptcy when there’s a Lyon and Healy 5K Shrine up for sale.

An original of the much-copied Roy Smeck Vita Harmony ukulele.

A new Pono with an ebony body. I’m not too keen on that look myself.

Ukulele pin-up Ann Sheridan. Hubba, hubba. Swit-swoo. And so forth.

Friday Links

Keep up ukulele players’ well deserved reputation for kindness and generosity and sponser me for my part in the London Uke Fest’s record attempt. A big thanks to Jeff, Josh, Art and Chris(who was incredibly generous) for opening the pot.

My Fingerpicking Ukulele mini-course is looking a bit tired and will be taken down next Friday. So if you’re interested, get in fast. It might be resurrected at some point in the future – possibly as part of an ebook.

Fantastic Moustaches of the World ukulele: Front, Back.

Play along live with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Albert Hall as part of the Proms. If you can’t wait until then to catch them, you can hear Hester on Radio 4’s The Afternoon Play on Monday and Peter on the album A Psychedelic Guide To Monsterism Island (The POP! Stereo has a track from it available for download).

A story about the rise of the ukulele in Singapore thanks to the efforts of Ukulele Movement.

Another Martin cropped up on Antiques Roadshow. Much more interesting than the last. It’s a one-off spruce top. If you can buy it for the appraised $4,000 bite his arm off – he is underestimating Martin collector’s craziness. (via Ukulelia)

Boy Meets World ukulele: Part 1, Part 2.

MP3s: Craig Robertson covers Ukulelezo. Fong Songs has two MP3s from Ukulele Force including James Hill’s version of Cantina Band. Out the Other has a couple of JuNu tracks.

Exceptionally easy ukulele quiz. I got 100%, bitches. Although it’s not entirely to be trusted: “That’s right. The next largest is the concert, the baritone and then the tenor.”

The Beatles Fest is going after the same mass-ukulele record as the London Uke Fest. They tried the same thing last year and managed 28.

Vertigo Smyth chords on Uker Tabs.

Bette Midler gives the Obama girls a ukulele.

Supermodel Pania Rose plays naked ukulele. Not particularly well, but it would have been remiss of me not to mention it. And she lists her favourite band as Beirut. Keep her away from me. She’d fall in love and it would be one big hassle.

And a whole bunch of naked ukulele models here.

Paolo Nutini – High Hopes (Chords)

Paolo Nutini – High Hopes (Chords)

Polo Nutini’s ukulele may have met an unfortunate end but this ukulele ditty (from the upcoming Sunny Side Up) turned out nice.

And it’s a dead simple song – perfect for beginners. It’s just baby’s first uke chords: C, F and G.

Suggested Strumming

Old faithful:

d – d u – u d u

Pre-Order Sunny Side Up

If you can’t wait until Monday to hear the studio version (also featuring the uke) you can stream the new album on MySpace (unless you’re in the US). Check out Pencil Full of Lead for more uke action.

Requested by Naomi (and I’m pretty sure Alice will be interested too)

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