– 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 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
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.
Elvis – In the Ghetto
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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
This is different from the stuff we’ve come to expect from The Wellies. It’s not a cover of a big, famous pop song. But this one was written by a friend of the bad, John McDougall. It’s also one of their funniest and most entertaining songs. And it’s fun to play.
Here’s a simple strum you can use this strum pretty much all the way through:
d u – u – u – u
Keep the strums short by releasing the pressure on the fretting hand just after strumming. It sounds like this:
A couple of places that doesn’t work. There’s the, “Raylene, marry me,” bits. Do four down strums each for C and D. And at the end of Verse 1 just do one down-strum on the C and D.
Manitoba Hal has just released a new double album: Down in the Kitchen. He’s also touring the UK in the next few weeks with shows and workshops. Mostly hitting the north but his London workshop has just opened up to the public too.
Blues Run the Game is the up there with World Turned Upside Down as the best modern folk song. Both those songs are widely covered and not best known for the original versions (a defining characteristic of a great folk song).
Blues Run the Game was written by Jackson C Frank but has been more heard in its many cover versions by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, John Renbourn, Sandy Denny, Eddi Reader John Mayer and Laura Marling.
But my favourite is Bert Jansch’s version. And that was the strongest influence on my ukulele version of the picking.
The first thing to say about my take is that it uses the capo on the fifth fret. Usually I wouldn’t capo that high up but it was the only way I could get it onto the ukulele and keep it in the same key as Jansch’s version.
The second thing is the alternate picking. The thumb alternates between the g and C strings thumb and two finger style.
Hang out the cunting, Uke Hunt is seven years old. Here’s a round up of the last year of the blog.
– Ukulele selling legend MusicGuyMic passed away.
– I did a version of the Klovn theme that even Danish people weren’t interesting in me tabbing.
Since I started the site on 12th May 2007 there’ve been 1,858 posts, 20 million visits and over 90 million page views. And I’m still amazed that I get away with writing about ukuleles for a living. It’s such a privilege that I get to do something I love and care about every day. I can’t believe my luck.
This is the self-indulgent ramble post I sometimes allow myself on my blog-birthday – covering my general thoughts, plans for the future and goals. If you want something more useful read the Review of the Year post.
Thank you for reading: It’s such a thrill for me that people find the site useful. I know playing the ukulele helps me relax and – when I really practice a piece – accomplished. And I hope this site helps you feel the same way.
Thanks for commenting and emailing: Makes me feel like I’m not screaming into the void.
Thank you for spreading the word: Telling people about the site is absolutely the best way to support it. I put the success of the site pretty much entirely down to people recommending it to other ukers.
Thank you for buying: It’s my nightmare that one day I might have to get a proper job. So I can’t thank enough those people who spend hard earned money on my stuff. There’s no way the site could exist without your financial support.
Thank you for playing: It’s a huge inspiration to watch people playing and listening to the records. Just watching random YouTube videos gets my brain firing. If you do something cool I’m very likely to steal it.
Coming Up (Or Not)
Another T-Shirt Run: I’ve had enough people complaining that they missed out on the last t-shirt run to run it again this year. It’ll be the same deal: a limited time to pre-order, they all get printed at once then that’s it.
Blues Ebook Update: After updating these three ebooks the blues one is next on the list.
More iPad Friendly: This one is a pain. It’s going to take a lot of video code updating. And audio plugins are causing a few problems. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort something out.
Project Monkey Butter: Every year I try to do one big, top secret project (like Ukulele for Dummies or the Uke Hunt app). I’ve started work on this year’s project (code name: Project Monkey Butter). I’m very excited about it. Some times these projects work out better than others. So we’ll see how it goes.
Chord Progressions Update: I’m not entirely sure what to do with this ebook. I think really it needs splitting into two. One focussed on the practical aspects of chord playing and one on the theoretical aspects.
Three things I get asked about regularly but have no intention of doing: ads, video tutorials and looking cheerful in my videos.
Now I Am Seven
According to the child development websites, seven year olds are supposed to display an increased vocabulary and greater attention span. Which is very good news for me because those are two things I struggle with. And I’m looking to improve them in the next year.
I have struggled with motivation and procrastination the whole time I’ve been doing the blog. Particularly when it comes to big writing projects. It’s a constant source of frustration for me. If I knuckled down I could get the day’s work done in the morning and spend the rest of the day staring at mountains and twirling my mustachios very independently.
The problem has been worse since Ukulele for Dummies. I knew I only had one shot at getting it right and that a lot of people would be relying on it to get them playing. So I felt under pressure and put a great deal of work into it. Afterwards I was burned out and I fell into bad habits.
It’s not just laziness – although that certainly helps – it’s based in anxiety. That I’ll screw something up so mightily I’ll have to leave the internet forever. Of the pain of actually making an effort. That I’ll put in the effort for no return, have to ditch it and I’ll have wasted precious time that could’ve been spent watching OSW Review or playing Mini Metro.
I’d also like to improve my writing. With any luck spending less time procrastinating will mean more time for editing.
Thanks again to everyone for their support over the last seven years. I look forward to the next seven years at which point I expect we’ll all be playing futuleles.