Thursday, 30 May 2013

A bluegrass duet on ukulele from the city walls of Lucca, Italy.... SNOWDROP from Ken Middleton

I love bluegrass played on ukulele... so I had to share this. Ken often plays bluegrass clawhammer style, but this time decided to play finger-style. Any style is fine by me... Ken has such a laid-back, relaxed and relaxing style of playing - I always feel soothed and smoothed down after listening to him play! Nice to hear Lorenzo, (Ukulollo) too.. love that tee-shirt - I want one... Ukulele Underground?

Ken writes... "Lorenzo (Ukulollo) and I sitting high on the old walls of Lucca, Italy.
We are playing an old bluegrass banjo tune called "Snowdrop". It was apparently first recorded by Kirk and Sam McGee in the 1930's."

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ready! Peter Moss's new Pete Howlett uke!

What Peter Moss has been waiting for... just completed.... watch this space for first video performance!

For fine ukuleles hand-built in the UK, find Pete Howlett ukuleles here...

Monday, 27 May 2013

Will travel - will take uke!

About to go away on a break to discover exciting tropical parts, I steeled myself to ask LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband) "Er... Love, do you mind if I take my little blue uke away with us?" and to my astonishment, he didn't mind at all... so with great care and precision, Little Blue Uke was packed into my case.

With a dozen hastily chosen song sheets, I was prepared, all ready to find a quiet corner in the hotel gardens or on the beach for a little strum - and to introduce the ukulele to the uninitiated of Cuba.

The streets of old Havana are full of live music, played by small groups of musicians... the bars and restaurants resound to the Latin dance rhythms of rumba, samba, cha cha and salsa... I've always enjoyed those rhythms - now I've been completely seduced by them.

The band above were wonderful, their music full of joy - would we like to buy a CD? of course - and we did. Songs new to us, and some very familiar - La Bamba, Guantanamera, Besame Mucho, Quizas, Quizas, Quizas; The rumbas, oh, the rumbas...

One highlight of our stay in Havana was a visit to the famous Buenavista Social Club, playing at the Cafe Taberna... we, shame on us, had never heard of this. Those musicians play music all their own - traditional Cuban music (son) fused with Latin jazz - we've never heard anything quite like it, and probably never will again... (Read their bio on Rolling Stone here...

There were about ten musicians playing, and singers - clearly very famous singers, highly revered by those in the know... oh how I wish we had taken a video camera on this holiday. Why didn't we? Why oh why?

So I have searched YouTube, and found this, Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo of the Buenavista Social Club, recording Quizas, Quizas, Quizas. Composed by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés, this rendition is breathtakingly beautiful... I don't think I have ever seen or heard such a deeply moving rendition of a song. Please watch, listen and enjoy...

I can't follow that, not in this post. So, more next time... and I'll tell of how I discovered a new fretted instrument, and introduced two wonderful Cuban musicians to the ukulele! And if you like those Latin strains too, the good news is - I've found some music for the uke!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Ukulele quote of the day, #4

Hi! And thanks for dropping in! Sorry I've not been around; I've been away on holiday to tropical parts, and I can't wait to tell you all about it - and I could not resist taking a uke with me, I must add - but more of that later. It's a beautiful day here in England, somewhat rare over the last twelve months or more, and I don't want to miss it sitting here inside hammering away on my PC.... so for now, here's a quote worth sharing. It's not exclusively "ukulele" - but the cap fits, so to speak. I just read it on a great website I recently discovered. Mote of that later, too....

Here it is... when it comes to being a better player, to achieving mastery over your instrument...

“There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.” ~Beverly Sills

Yes... sorry about that, but we are all in the same boat, plugging away at the practice!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Peter Moss and his return to his first love - ukulele

In my last post I told you about the new ukulele that Pete Howlett is building in Wales for Peter Moss…. now let me tell you about Peter Moss himself.

The fact is that Peter Moss, a Lancashire lad, has been pretty well-known in the fretted instruments community around Toronto and Halifax, Nova Scotia since 1989, when he was tracked down by Mel Collie and asked to cross the Atlantic to attend the first Toronto meeting of FIGA, the Fretted Instruments Guild. Since then, he has built up quite a following over there, having been back to Toronto three times and to Halifax Nova Scotia six times, and has a sell-out gig coming up in June, but he has not been so well-known here on his home patch for a little while. It’s his banjo-ukulele playing that has them all sitting up and taking notice in Canada…

Well… in February this year, Peter’s wife bought him a wooden ukulele for his birthday. That was an inspired gift… it was not his first wooden uke, but truth to tell, he had not played one for many years… oh yes, he had had one before….. and fellow uke addicts will not be surprised to hear that upon picking up and playing his new ukulele, an old flame was instantly rekindled in his heart – a passion for the wooden ukulele. He started a YouTube channel and made some videos – wooden uke and banjolele. When I saw them I was pretty impressed by his dazzling playing. Now, the name and ukulele playing of Peter Moss were completely new to me, but it quickly became clear that his name was already very well known to the ukulele and banjolele cognoscenti over here….. and I was very curious!

Well, I have been able to have a chat with Peter and I can tell now you more – as promised.

Peter has not been away from making music in the UK, but he has been concentrating on guitar and saxophone for some time. Life’s twists and turns had steered him away from his first love, the ukulele – but thanks to his wife and that birthday uke, Peter is back.

He has been telling me his story….

It began with another birthday ukulele. His father, who played Spanish guitar, bought him a wooden uke for his eighth birthday, and taught him to play it. Peter took to it like a duck to water. By the time he was ten and a half, he was a competent strummer and had already won a local talent competition hosted by the Manchester Evening News. He also had a little show set with his sister Wendy. In those days the Formby songs were considered too risqué for children to sing, so their Dad taught them the old Tin Pan Alley songs like Baby Face, Five Foot Two, Who’s Sorry Now… becoming a young member of the George Formby Society, Peter learned the split-stroke and other Formby strums and was rapidly increasing his skills and repertoire.
His father had taught him all he knew, and wisely introduced Peter to other skilled players.

One very influential person was Ray Bernard, a founder member of the newly formed George Formby Society. Ray played melody … Lady of Spain, Rubinstein’s Melody in F…. and Peter was fascinated. From that moment he was committed to this style of playing. Then George Graham, the banjo repair man for Shep’s Banjo Boys lent Peter a recording by Roy Smeck. And by ear, from that record, Peter learned to play Roy Smeck. Virtuoso stuff indeed. From playing around the chords and picking out melody finger-style, Peter taught himself chord melody playing and improvisation. He was not yet thirteen.

In 1973, when Peter Moss was still only 12, there came a significant milestone in his musical journey. Peter had been working on a banjo-ukulele version on the William Tell Overture, no less… with galloping triples, finger-picking and a great crescendo… he played it in the annual competition of the Northern Branch of the BMG – British Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Federation, in Wythenshawe - it went down a storm – and he won. Later that year, he played it in the Southern Branch competition, and won that, too. Peter was the first person to work out the William Tell Overture of banjo-uke, and he was still only 12 and a half. It’s still played as a show piece by gifted players.

1973 ended with a TV appearance for the young Peter Moss, playing with his sister Wendy in the Christmas Special of Junior Showtime, playing old-time banjo-uke favourites like Somebody Stole My Girl.

It’s great to see Peter Moss back on the ukulele-banjolele scene here at home, where he is picking up new fans all over the place.

If you want to catch up with him, coming up – places world-wide to catch up with the great playing of Peter Moss!

The Light of the Morning - original instrumental by Eugeneukulele

The Light of the Morning - original instrumental by Eugeneukulele,
(Jon Duncan) featured on this blog many times before....

Jon used to have a great YouTube channel under his name eugeneukulele... then suddenly on day, adjusting his settings, he lost the whole thing. If you have tried to look at his videos via this blog lately, that's why you find them gone. His great website was also lost. BUT - the good news is, he has a new one! Check it out here - there's lots of interesting stuff on there - Jon's choice of videos, info on the ukes he likes - go and look!

He has a new YouTube channel now, under the name butterflybandito, and he has been uploading his old videos to it. There are 97 on there to date! Do check it out.... Jon is great songster, musician and ukulele player, and one of the very nicest people to get to know, in the way one does across this planet with the internet.... I do plan to check through here to replace all the dead video links with live ones to Jon's new channel, just give me time!

This new instrumental is so aptly named, don't you think? The Light of the Morning... where Jon is, that's autumn light... and it's there, isn't it, in the music... beautiful.

For "improvers" like me, there's so much to be learned just from watching fantastic players like Jon. I love the way he combines fingerpicking with different strumming techniques, and chord-melody style.... I've watched this twice already. And in The Light of the Morning , to hear it is a particular joy!

Thanks for sharing it with us, Jon. I hope the rest of the day is as good as the beginning...

PS - "You're the Cream in my Coffee", posted 9th May 2012 - replaced now with live video! One down - quite a few to go!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ukulele Quote of the Day..... number 3, I think....

I read this today, and had to share it....

"I had a nice ukulele experience today. I visited a friend who lives halfway up a mountain overlooking a valley of orange and lemon trees stretching across to the mountains opposite and I took 'Bob' my Martin 2 with me to see what he'd sound like ringing out across the great expanse and it was really, really lovely. The sound just seemed to float out and the tone was gorgeous. I almost know what Julie Andrews felt like at the start of The Sound of Music now. Next time I'll have to take a banjo-uke, or maybe the whole collection to give them all a try."

(Chris Webster)

Sounds like heaven to me.....

Sunday, 5 May 2013

By Pete Howlett - Peter Moss's new custom-built ukulele in English Cherry

So - that's why Peter Moss was visiting the renowned ukulele luthier Pete Howlett at his workshop in Wales - Pete is building him a new performance signature ukulele ... and, courtesy Of Peter Moss, here it is in the first stages of build.

The body is English cherry and the neck is alder. My dream exactly - a perfectly-crafted Pete Howlett ukulele made of beautiful English woods.... the fingerboard is ebony and the inlay is green marble-type. What a beauty that is going to be. And in the hands of a virtuoso player like Peter Moss, it will sing like the angels..... we just have to be patient and wait a while until it's finished to hear it.

Do check out Peter Moss's YouTube channel, and Pete Howlett's website - see my previous post for links!

And coming up - more info on this great ukulele and banjolele player....

Friday, 3 May 2013

Peter Moss pays Pete Howlett a visit....

My last post was in praise of Pete Howlett ukuleles.... and I recently shared a video by the renowned British player Peter Moss. Well, Peter Moss decided to pay a visit to Pete Howlett's workshop in Wales... and here is the resulting combination - Peter Moss plays a sizzling solo on one of Pete Howlett's tenors.

If you enjoyed that, listen to this..... medley played by Peter Moss on his YouTube channel.

Wonderful, or what?