Purple Ferdinand, Br’er Rabbit: UkeTube

Full Playlist

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Friday Links


– James Hill has a new membership site: The Ukulele Way.
The Glory of Love by Ukulelezaza. I haven’t worked through this yet but if you liked his last book you’ll like this one too.


– The documentary Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings is on US Netflix.
Three questions for James Hill
– Or you can kill two birds with one stone and watch Jake and James play live together (for the first time?): Billie Jean, In My Life (thanks to Rob).
Documentary about the founder of Bristol Ukulele Club.
Roy Smeck: The Wizard of the Strings (thanks to Ron Hale).


Ukulele fishing.
Tommy’s singed ukulele.

New Releases

– New double album from Craig Robertson: Bad Choices/There Must Be A Circus In Town.
The Entry’s Ukulele Outing.
Songs For Swinging Ukuleles by Tricity Vogue.
Dinosaurs Ate My Caravan by Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers.

Another reason not to let kids play ukuleles.

Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song (Tab)

Led Zeppelin – Rain Song (Tab)

I just love Zeppelin so this song has been on my to-do pile for a long time. It had stayed there because I was a bit intimidated by how much there is going on. But once I got stuck into it the tune transferred to the ukulele surprisingly smoothly. I didn’t even have to change the key and I think I crammed the most important parts in.

My version is shortened but most of the important sections are in there once.

My favourite technique in the tune is the long, drawn out up strums. I’m doing a slow up strum with my index finger there. Definitely worth incorporating into your playing arsenal.

Trickiest Bit

I found sliding down the 3323 chord really tricky. You can simplify out without losing anything much by muting the g-string and just sliding down the G7 chord shape i.e. from x323 to x212.


Buy it on iTunes
More Led Zep tabs

Bonus Tabs and Chords

It seems I just can’t stop myself tabbing. Despite being on a blog break the last few weeks, I put up a few time-sensitive tabs and chords in other places. Here’s a catch-up on them:

O’Neill – Nun Song (From Orange is the New Black)(Chords)

O’Neill- Nun Song (Chords)

As I mentioned yesterday I loved the second series of Orange is the New Black (even if it was the straw that broke that camel’s back and made me sick of John “sick fuck” Green being everywhere.)

Of course my favourite part was O’Neill’s anti-nun banjolele song. So I had to put up the chords. And, delightfully, I got a shout out from the man himself.

Joel Marsh Garland on Twitter
Orange is the New Black on Netflix

Bottom Theme: The Mar-Keys – Last Night (Tab)

Mar-Keys – Last Night (Tab)

For anyone annoyed by my toilet humour and swearing in blog posts, you can lay the blame squarely at the feet of Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson. I was obsessed with Bottom and The Dangerous Brothers in my younger days. I’ve even snuck in the occasional reference on the blog.

So after the death of Rik Mayall I had to do my own little tribute.

The Mar-Keys version on iTunes
Watch Bottom on Netflix UK

Eux Autres – World Cup Fever (Chords)

Eux Autres – World Cup Fever (Chords)

It might be four years until this song is relevant again but it’s a top notch song all the year round.

Eux Autres – World Cup Fever (Solo Tab)

Buy it on Bandcamp

Brett Domino – Sexy When You Do That (Bassoon Riff)

After all those emails begging me to transpose a riff from bassoon to ukulele I’ve finally caved in.


Buy it on Bandcamp

Tom Waits – Come On Up to the House (Chords)

Tom Waits – Come On Up to the House (Chords)

Scatter the nuns!

I spent most of my aestivation watching the second series of Orange is the New Black. And I was inspired by O’Neill’s delightful banjoleling to write up the chords for my favourite song of the series.

No, not Hey There De-bloody-lilah. But this gospel-inspired Tom Waits song. It has a strong call and response feel to it. Made explicit in Sarah Jarosz’s version. It would be an effective way of playing it in a uke group with the lead singing the the calls and the groups the, “Come on up to the house,” responses.

Since you’re busting out a capo, you can put it on the third fret and make things a bit easier for yourself by using these chords:

Come On Up to the House (Chords in C)

Suggested Strumming

A dead simple main strum of:

d – d u

Intro/Solo: Once for each chord.

Verse: Once for each chord except: twice for each chord on the first ‘come on up…’ and twice on the last chord of each verse.

Chorus/Outro: Six times on the D, twice on the Bm. Then it’s just the same as the last half of the verses.


Buy it on iTunes
Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard Chords

Summer Holiday

It’s that time of year again where I burrow dead into the ground an aestivate to avoid sunlight. I’ll be back in a month or so. If you can’t wait that long I’ll still be posting on UkeToob and Tumblr.

If you’re looking for a summer project here are some lessons for you:

Beginner Lessons
Improver Lessons
Intermediate Lessons
Advanced Lessons

Del Rey, Penguin Cafe: UkeTube

Full Playlist

Just let me sneak this in here: Agathe (who you may remember as half of Agathe and Fine) is kickstarting an EP with her band Inglenook (pro-tip: click on the ‘Fr’ in the top right to Englishify it).

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Friday Links


Anatomy Custom Painted Ukulele
Mysterious Banjo-Uke Mister (c.1930)


Bosko & Honey’s New Album

New Releases

Ninebarrow – While the Blackthorn Burns.
– Do you remember that session Emily Scott did for the Uke Hunt podcast? She has a new album out Stray Light. It doesn’t have any uke on but despite that obvious deficiency it’s incredible.


– Trailer for the documentary Under the Boardwalk: A Ukulele Love Story.


The Tale of Alan and His Rather Short Arms.
Chocolate Ukulele Ice Cream Treat.
– How many times have you wished you had a ukulele-playing wookiee on your crotch? Wish no longer.

The best thing about using creative commons licenses is seeing other people build on work I’ve done. The new web/iOS goal tracking app JUTSU has used my So You Just Got Your First Ukulele mini ebook (PDF link) to create this list of actions to start playing ukulele.

From the Comments

Things Ken learnt from 50 years of playing ukulele.

Acoustic Intros (Tab)

Since the last Acoustic Intros post I’ve been itching to do another one. And I realised that I’ve notched up five requests that (just about – I’m looking at you Bonnie Bear) fit that description.

They vary in difficulty but they all make use of fingerpicking. Usual rules apply: I try to do them in same key as the original but it’s not guaranteed; if you request the rest of the song I will scream the point isn’t to play the whole song but have a bit of fun, inject a bit of familiarity like this or to incorporate into a medley like this.

Nick Drake – Day Is Done



One of Nick Drake’s best songs (although I would probably say that about 60% of his music). This tab is in the same key as the original but I have had to simplify things a fair amount to get it to work.

The picking is all thumb and two finger style. That does mean playing two notes in a row with the thumb on different strings. I usually try to avoid that but I think it’s the best way to handle it here.

Buy it on iTunes

Elvis – In the Ghetto



Buy it on iTunes

Thumb and two finger picking here as well.

Trickiest bit here is the middle of bar 2 (and the repeats of that move). When you slide from the 5th fret to the 6th have your index finger barred across the E and A strings ready for the rest of the bar.

Bon Iver – Holocene



This is the only one in this post that isn’t in the original key. To play along with the record slap a capo on the 6th fret.

Buy it on iTunes

Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On



All chords for this intro. You could use strums for this but it’s more effective with one finger per string picking like the original.

The trickiest bit is bars 2-3 and 5-6. Here’s an easier way of playing it that loses very little in the sound.

For the x’s in the tab I’m bringing my hand down on the strings so they click against the fretboard. Here’s a video of that technique. The first half shows creating the click with just the thumb. Then using the whole hand (trickier but produces a more forceful click).

Buy it on iTunes

Royal Teeth – Hold Me



Hey look, A ukulele riff! Royal Teeth make really effective use of a uke in the riff. Straight forward thumb and two finger picking here too.

Buy it on iTunes


More Acoustic Riffs

Blues Ukulele and Ukulele 2014: Spotify Playlists

For the last few years I’ve been making Spotify playlists of the year’s ukulele releases. You can find previous year’s lists here along with a few other ukulele playlists. 2014’s list is starting to fill up nicely with long standing uke acts (like Tony Penultimate of the UOGB and Aaron Keim’s The Quiet American), big stars (Damon Albarn and Imelda May) and exciting new acts (Gracie Terzian and Breaks Co-op).

I’ve also been inspired to start a blues ukulele list after discovering these three artists:

Lemon Nash: Arhoolie recently released a stunning collection of tracks by Lemon Nash recorded between 1956 and ’61. Would have loved to hear how he sound in the ’20s. Looks like we’ll have to wait for the invention of the flux capacitor for that though.

Laura Dukes: I learned about Laura Dukes pretty multi simultaneous from Valerie June (who name checked Laura Dukes as her inspiration for picking up the ukulele) and the BBC series The Devil’s Music which had a performance from her: YouTube link/iPlayer link.

Joe Linthecome: Who I can’t find much about and seems to have only recorded the two songs on the playlist.

If you’re similarly inspired you might be interested in How to Play Blues Ukulele (super-secret $5 discount code for people reading this: papalemon).

If there’s someone else who should be included in either list let me know in the comments.

Blues Ukulele

Spotify Link


Joe Linthecome – Pretty Mama Blues
Joe Linthecome – Humming Blues
Laura Dukes – Crawdad
Laura Dukes – Stack O’Lee Blues
Laura Dukes – Jimmy, You Are My Heart and Soul
Lemon Nash – Gravedigger’s Blues
Lemon Nash – Papa Lemon’s Blues
Lemon Nash – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Lemon Nash – Those Drafting Blues
Sam Ku West Harmony – The Wang Wang Blues
Del Rey – Rockin’ Chair Blues
Jim Beloff – Blues On A Ukulele
Mark Kailana Nelson – Wild Cow Blues
Lil Rev – Ukulele Blues
Lil Rev – Rockpile Blues
Gerald Ross – Ukulele Stomp

Ukulele 2014

Spotify Link


Holland Greco – Stuck
Gracie Terzian – Love Rest – Acoustic Version
Hafdis Huld – Little Light
Ninebarrow – Mother
Shelley O’Brien – Spring Drum
Zoë Bestel – Listen
The Anything Goes Orchestra – Jonny Got a Boom Boom
Imelda May – Dreaming – Ukulele Track
We Were Evergreen – Overnight
David Megarrity – Shoelaces and Yo-Yo
Tyrone and Lesley – All Dressed Up
Tony Penultimate – Blackpool
Kara Square – The Most Generic Thing
Svavar Knútur – Tokan Acoustic
Caravan Gogh – Waltz of the Sunflowers
Breaks Co-Op – Sounds Familiar
The Quiet American – Worth a Million
The Burning Glass – Leather Jacket
Bella Hemming – Play Guitar
Zee Avi – Rainbow Connection
Damon Albarn – Mr Tembo
One Happy Island – Hard Drive

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