Uke Hunt 2017 Ukulele Favourites

It’s award season and time to hand out the most coveted of them all The UkeHunties. Let me know your ukulele favourites of 2017 in the comments. Particularly if it’s something I’ve missed.

Ukulele Record of 2017: Tyrone and Lesley – Optimism

Optimism is the fifth album from Australian uke and double bass duo Tyrone and Lesley and their best yet. It perfectly combines their highly textured, deftly played music with their humorous and silly lyrics. And the album’s overture Ukulele Sunrise is the best opening on any album I heard all year.

It’s great to see people keeping the ukulele weird.

Runners Up
Jeremy Messersmith – 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro-Folk Record For The 21st Century And Beyond: A lovely collection of melancholy, understated tunes.
Sam Trump – Sam Trump Plays the Uke Redux: It’s not often you hear a record that blends the ukulele with R&B, hip hop and modern jazz. And you’ve never heard it done as well as this.
Lil Rev – Sing Song Daddy: Rev has an uncanny ability to channel various styles of American roots music. And they’re all perfectly delivered on this record.
The Burning Glass – Happiness is Egg Shaped: With the demise of Allo Darlin’, it’s great to see another ukulele band packed with infectious indie-pop tunes.

Ukulele Song of 2017: Zoë Bestel – Tail of the Sea

Zoe’s been busy working away on a new album that’s due out in April. Hearing this beautiful track and knowing she’s been recording with fellow Uke Hunt favourite Tobias Elof means it’s up there with Kanye and Arctic Monkeys as my most anticipated records of 2018.

Runners Up
Ukulele Death Squad – Paris On A Train
Bud Sugar – VIRAL
Anne Janelle – In The Morning
The Tallest Man on Earth – All I Can Keep is Now
Swellshark – Ransom
The Burning Glass – Portland Stone
jeremy messersmith – Everything Is Magical
Desirée Dawson – Wild Heart
Tyrone and Lesley – Dung Beetle

Instrumental Performance of 2017: Vinícius Vivas – Santa Morena

I can’t get enough of this version of choro player Jacob do Bandolim’s Santa Morena by Vinícius and his buddies. He has such fluid runs interspersed with punchy strums. Brilliant stuff.

He’s also the second Brazilian winner of a UkeHunty after A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade’s best video win way back in 2011.

Runners Up
nico’o & the Kapiolani Boyz – Surf y Tequila
Led Kaapana – Nani Ka’ala
Jan Laurenz – The Ukulele Song
Natasha Ghosh – New Rules
Corey Fujimoto & Kalei Gamiao – Hawaiian Medley
Jonathan Lewis – Tri Martolod
EatMyUke – Back To Black Medley
Rachel Manke – Dogstreet Rag

Ukulele Cover 2017: Tiffany Topol – Sonya Alone

Runner-up in this category last year and winner this year. Pretty impressive since she’s only put up two ukulele videos in the last two years. If you want to hear more you can listen to her soundtrack for Monica West’s web series Best Thing You’ll Ever Do.

This song is from the musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and was performed on Broadway for a spell by fellow uker Ingrid Michaelson.

Runners Up

Karlie G – Havana
Shine – (Little) Coquette
The Poor Boys of Worcester – La La Blues

Most Lusted After Ukulele of 2017: Tie between Jay Lichty Lucky Strike and Beau Hannam Lucky Strike

I loved following the Luthiers for a Cause project in 2017. I first covered the back in March when the luthiers had just received the highly prized wood that would be turned into ukuleles and sold to benefit the Ukulele Kids Club. By the end of the year all six ukes were finished and were sold to a single donor for $100,000 quadrupling the project’s original goal.

You can see all the luthiers involved discuss and play their ukes on the Luthiers for a Cause website.

Favourite Song Chorded: Woody Guthrie – All You Fascists Bound to Lose

2017 was the year to dust off those anti-fascist songs you didn’t think you’d need after the 1940s. But they’re back and once again need reminding they’re bound to lose.

Get the chords here.

Runners Up
Rebecca Sugar – What’s the Use of Feeling (Blue)?
Foals – Spanish Sahara
Old Crow Medicine Show – Wagon Wheel
Radiohead – Paranoid Android (Chords)

Favourite Song Tabbed: They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in Your Soul

I’ve noticed that the tabs I most like in retrospect are the ones that give me most trouble while I’m making them. And this one definitely had me tearing my (beard) hair out.

Get the tab here.

Runners Up
Camila Cabello – Havana
The Beatles – Blackbird
alt-J – Fitzpleasure
Bon Iver – 00000 Million
Max and Chloe Theme (Life is Strange)

Best Non-Ukulele Record of 2017: Rosalía – Los Ángeles

I was blown away by this album. It’s an incredibly emotionally raw album. And the wails of despair on this album are exactly what I needed in 2018.

The album has 10 updated versions of old flamenco songs (and one old Bonnie Prince Billy song). Usually these “updating the traditional” things mean just adding a bunch of bleeps and bloops over defanged versions of the original. But this is just her and her guitarist and it’s mesmerising.

Runners Up
The Weather Station – The Weather Station: This was so close to being my album of the year. I’ve been obsessed with this album to the extent that I’m now listed as the top Weather Station listener on It’s an absolute must-listen for anyone into Joni Mitchell-ish singer songwriters.
Swet Shop Boys – Sufi La
Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness

The Cranberries – Linger (Chords)

The Cranberries – Linger (Chords)

It seems like every year I return from the Christmas break I have to start the new year with a tribute post to a lost music icon. This year there have been two: Mark E Smith and Dolores O’Riordan. I’ve already done a bunch of Fall tabs and can recommend listening to the Peel Session version of Who Makes the Nazis? on a ukulele (ramshackle even by Fall standards). So today is one of The Cranberries’ big hits.

Suggested Strumming

You can use this strum twice for every chord all the way through:

d u d u d – d u
– u – u d – d u

Which sounds like this:


Twiddly Bits

The intro to Linger is decidedly strange. The initial riff is at a very different tempo to the rest of the song. So when the song proper fades the two seem completely unrelated. I’d recommend ditching the very start if you’re covering it.

But if you do want to include it, this is how I play it.


The string riff that first crops up in the intro works nicely on the uke. Here’s how it fits in with the strumming pattern:


Later in the song that riff is extended a little. Here’s my take on that extended riff.

Extended Riff


Buy it on iTunes
More Irish tabs and chords

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 2018

Merry Christmas, Chanukah Sameach, 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 2017.

That’s it from me for this year (other than the ebook for new ukers). I’ll be back at the end of January 2018 (year of the impossible F chord for people with gigantic pinkies).

If you can’t stand to be without a steady stream of uke, I’ll be posting videos on UkeToob, seven second ukulele lessons on Instagram and bits and pieces on Twitter.

Christmas UkeTube 2017

Full Playlist

Kalei Gamiao- Silent Night/ White Christmas
Tripping Lily – Santa Will Find You
The Mad Tea Party – Oh Shit, It’s Christmastime!
Jimmy Fallon, Mariah Carey & The Roots – All I Want For Christmas Is You
The Jive Aces – Christmas Is Where You Are
Eliel Carvalho – Jingle Bells
Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel – Winter Wonderland
Gracie Terzian – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Leftover Cuties – Christmas Time Is Here
Rocky and Balls – The Christmas Song Song
Beth Porter & The Availables – Last Christmas

Friday Links

New Releases
– I’ve been collecting all the ukulele stuff I’ve come across on Spotify in the Ukulele 2017 Spotify playlist. If there’s something I’ve missed, do let me know.
WS64 is one of the original YouTube ukers having covered every Beatles song on ukulele. Now he’s one half of La Wolf and they’ve just put out their album On Our Own.
– Tiki garage rock from The Mangonuts.
– Opera-lele have a new one out A Life of Broadway.

Window Shopping

Ukulele jukebox cabinet.
D’Angelico archtop ukulele.
Kanile’a KPA Tenor Premium.
FibreCore ukulele strings (via @goukulele).
1920s Ditson Style 3.
Duke have an offer on their DUKE10 banjolele.

This is probably completely meaningless to anyone outside the UK (and largely meaningless to those in it). The Trivago woman is a ukulele player (and the skipping rope player it seems). Which means I have to switch allegiances away from the Trip Advisor owl who is too busy lounging in his robe to learn an instrument.

The Beatles – Across the Universe (Tab)

The Beatles – Across the Universe (Tab)

Since it’s Christmas, I’m breaking my no Beatles rule to do this one I’ve had a fair few requests for over the years.

I’ve kept the arrangement as simple as possible. After the fingerpicking in the first bar it’s all strumming and lots of familiar chord shapes. And the melody is recognisable you don’t have to worry about emphasising it all that much. I’m using a capo at the first fret which puts it in the same key as the original. But you can just play it open if you prefer.

The only thing that might trip you up are the extra beats that he throws in. There’s one extra beat in the middle of the verse and two extra at the end.

In case you’re not familiar with the Italian repeats in the tab. You play through as normal up to the “D.S. al coda” in bar 29. Then you go back to the squiggle in bar 13. Play through to the “Da Coda” in bar 23. Then skip ahead to the target symbol in bar 30.


Buy it on iTunes

Ukulele Christmas Quiz 2017

Time for the annual Uke Hunt Christmas time-waster.

– Grab a pen and paper
– Display knowledge.
– There might be spoilers in the comments.
– Check the answers here (no peeking).
– Return in triumph or despair and share you score in the comments.

If you’re reading by email or feed reader you may need to click through to the post to see everything.

Name the Chord

What chord are these? (All the chords are either major, minor or 7. Nothing more complicated than that.)






Name the Brand

Click for a bigger version.


By Howard County Library System


By Howard County Library System


By FolsomNatural


By Charles Mims


By Charles Mims

Name the Cover

Who first released the songs these ukulele orchestras are covering?

11. West Cork Ukulele Orchestra

12. Dublin Ukulele Group

13. Ware Ukulele Group

14. Ukulele Orchestra jako Brno

15. Grand Old Uke of York

Name the Celeb


a) Andrew Garfield
b) Chris Evans
c) Henry Cavill
d) Michael Fassbender


a) Bing Crosby
b) Bob Hope
c) Fred Astaire
d) Groucho Marx


a) Anna Faris
b) Anna Kendrick
c) Anna Chlumsky
d) Anna Nicole Smith


a) Harry Styles
b) Louis Tomlinson
c) Zayn Malik
d) Niall Horan


a) Paris Hilton
b) Paris Geller
c) Paris Jackson
d) Mica Paris

Name the Lyric

Which songs – oft covered on ukulele – are these lyrics from?

21. Remember to let her into your heart / Then you can start to make it better

22. The club isn’t the best place to find a lover / So the bar is where I go

23. ‘Cause since I’ve come on home / Well my body’s been a mess / And I’ve missed your ginger hair / And the way you like to dress

24. Some bright morning when this life is over

25. Heading down south to the land of the pines / I’m thumbing my way into North Caroline

Check the answers here

Past Quizzes
Ukulele Quiz 2016
Ukulele Quiz 2015
Ukulele Quiz 2014
Ukulele Quiz 2013
Ukulele Quiz 2012
Ukulele Quiz 2011
Ukulele Quiz 2010
Ukulele Quiz 2009

SNL/Julian Casablancas – I Wish it Was Christmas Today (Chords)

Julian Casablancas – I Wish it Was Christmas Today (Chords)

Christmas songs are often so stupid they’re beyond parody. A point that was proved when Julian Casablancas turned SNL’s I Wish It Was Christmas Today into one of the best Christmas songs in the last decade.

I’ve arranged this with a capo on the third fret to move it to the key of C. But if you want to play without a capo you can replace C, F and G with Eb, Ab and Bb respectively.

Suggested Strumming

I use this strum twice for each chord the whole way through.

d – d – d u d u


Twiddly Bits

I’ve combined chords and the riff because they fall very nicely. If you prefer to play single notes just play the highest note (the note on the A-string until right at the end where it switches to the E-string).

There are a couple of variations in the riff from the SNL version. The tastiest is the A-string, 2nd fret (a flattened fifth against the F chord). It sounds very Strokes-esque.

Outro riff

Stokes Medley tab

SNL Cast – I Wish It Was Christmas Today (Chords)

I’ve written up the 2011 SNL version (since that’s when Tracy’s dancing peaked). But all the versions I’ve seen have the same chords with minor changes to the arrangement (usually thanks to fuckups). The only exception is when Fallon, Sanz and The Roots played it with Casablancas in his key on Late Night.

Suggested Strumming

Same as for the Casablancas version, this twice for each chord:

d – d – d u d u

Twiddly Bits

A rare easy transposition from guitar to ukulele. Everything is played on the high-E string of the guitar. So you can play it exactly the same way on the E-string of the ukulele.


Saturday Night Live
More Christmas tabs and chords

UkeTube: Nick Offerman, Raelyn Nelson

Full Playlist

Sara Veras – A Rita Via @ukeist
Trio Mandili – Dililme On panduri. Thanks to Liz.
Raelyn Nelson Band – Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)
Iris Wagner – Isolation
Reformed Whores – Keep it in Your Pants
Nick Offerman – The Ukulele Song
Wild Child – The One
Ukeba Squad Unplugged – Cintanya Palsu
Daniel Estrem – Double (to Bourree) from Partita 1Gerald Ross – Undecided

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