Holiday Traditions

If you’ve read more than a post or two on this blog then it’s probably obvious to you that posting frequently is not a high priority for me. I do love the blog and I love having a vehicle for sharing my love of uke and making music with the world but I’m happy to have the luxury of only posting when I have something to share and that I never have to force it. (more…)

Circle of Fifths

circle_of_fifthsIn my long guitar history, for the most part, I wasn’t that worried about music theory. I figured… if Angus Young didn’t need it… neither did I. But, as always, the cute little, unassuming uke has led me down this new and exciting path. I think the uke is so foundational and such a simple tool that it gets out of the way and allows you to focus more on complex concepts.  (more…)

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley and the Wailers – Chords

I was never a huge reggae guy but, of course, the uke hath showed me the light. This song works great on the uke (with a little key change) and I’m a sucker for any song with a hippy dippy message especially when it’s so well balanced and heartfelt.

As is my way lately, this version is kind of quick and bluegrassy but with slight tweaking of the strum, back to reggae, it would be a great song for new ukers to work on their chuck (hmm… I should probably write a chuck post, more to come). It’s a nice simple song but it’s reggae roots provide enough residual timing funkiness to keep it a bit challenging and fun. (more…)

I Fell In Love Last Night

kanelea-ukebrewUke Club is still bouncing around trying out new locations and last night it happened to be close to The Blue Guitar so I left work a little early and paid them a visit. I’ve been a guitar player / gear enthusiast in San Diego for a long time but for some reason I had never been there before. Well guess what, it’s a great uke shop. The owner, DeForest Thornburgh, is a uke guy and the store is stocked with a decent quantity and wide selection of ukes. This is the first time I’ve seen a variety of high end ukes in one place including the big three Hawaiian Ks – Kamaka, KoAloha and Kanilea.

So of course, kid in a candy store, right. I’m looking at, hearing and playing all these cool brands that I’ve only read about online. For the most part the high end ones are all beautiful and sound great but then I get to this Kanilea K-1 Concert. It’s this beautiful stripey 3D Koa with some cross figuring in the upper bout… I mean it’s beautiful as beautiful as anything in the store but when I played it… it was like angels singing. I mean quality ukes are going to look and sound good, right? There were plenty of ukes in the store that were 9s or 10s on the sound rating scale but this Kanilea was off the chart. It was like it was speaking to me. Directly to my heart.

Welp… unfortunately spending 900 bucks on a uke is not really a reasonable thing for me to do. So I fell in love at first site and lost love the same night. But if I get signed to make an album or tour… or if this blog takes off and I “need one to review”… or if I hit the lottery… going to The Blue Guitar will be the first thing on my todo list.

New Gear – Melodica

melodica-ukebrewOkay, I’m pretty excited about this one so… Let me just start by saying “Melodica”? It’s called a Melodica. That name is way too cool. It must have been created in the 60s. We’ve come a long way from instrument names like “Piano” and “Lute”.

The Melodica is a keyboard that’s small enough to be hand held (so also very portable) and is played by blowing into it. The wind moves over reeds to make the sound so it sounds a lot like an accordion.

My current favorite genre of music is what I like to call Sad Electric Cowboy and I think those bands frequently try to layer in extra sadness with long drawn out wailing notes. This is frequently accomplished with fiddle or accordion.  (more…)

Tuning – Down, Up, Normal And More – With Video

Tuning is huge. When out of tune, even a little, it’s noticeable and it sounds bad. I’ve seen uke players/singers, that were actually very talented, look way more amateur than they should just because their uke was just a little out of tune.

The topic of tuning may seem a bit basic for a post but.. 1 – New people pick up the uke every day and they might need a little help getting it all figured out, and 2 – tuning relates to a lot of things and it can be more complex than you might think. (more…)

Singing… The Necessary Evil – Encouragement and Tips

I’ve never fancied myself a good singer and I’ve never really cared. For years I thought of myself as guitar player in a band that would hopefully include somebody who would sing and be at least decent at it and that was just fine with me. In fact, I didn’t really even care if they were decent as long as I wasn’t singing.

I’ve been playing the uke for a while now and it often seems to be a more solitary situation which is really cool in a lot of ways. You don’t have to coordinate with others to practice, you can take it anywhere, you have complete creative control but… you are the singer. (more…)