Thursday, 26 November 2015

Little Blue Ukulele on holiday... giving uke lessons!

When I take a break somewhere peaceful for a week or two, I always.... ALWAYS... take the Little Blue Uke. When flying, it goes in a small rucksack these days as hand luggage, and when we're there, I can pick it up and have a strum whenever I want.

Now, don't get me wrong... I'm not a particularly extroverted person, I'm not the life and soul of the party, I'm more comfortable in small groups than large ones, and I don't imagine that everybody around me can't wait to get an earful of ukulele music... so in the main, I disappear to our room and play there, or maybe out on the balcony - as long as there's no-one out on the adjoining ones. And if I think there's a chance that someone CAN hear, I try to "play nicely" so as not to annoy.

Well, when we were chatting to our holiday rep, Leanne, at the beginning of the holiday, the uke did somehow come into the conversation - don't ask me how. And somehow or another, she expressed interest, and I said I'd be happy to give her some lessons. You know, these are the sort of things that usually just float into the ether and disappear - but actually, it didn't... I gave Leanne about three lessons in all, and after the first one she came down with the nails on her fretting hand trimmed right down, good as gold - it was then that I knew she meant business and was really keen to learn! What's more she got the first three chords (C, G7 and F) down really quickly! Oh, I was so proud!

Leanne has come back home to the UK now, here she is and sure enough, she has bought her first uke. I can't wait to hear how she's getting on with it. It's a very nice feeling, to have "got somebody going" with this wonderful little instrument that can bring such joy... I do hope it brings her the pleasure that my ukes have brought me.

Oh, and by the way - LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband) and I were in the hotel corridor on our way to the room one day when a chap stopped me and asked if it was me that played ukulele on the balcony - a little warily, I said yes, that's me... and he said he was in the next room and how LOVELY it was to listen to... well, wasn't that nice?

I do hope he meant it!

Thanks for dropping in... I've had another little patch of song-writing inspiration, these last few days. I'll tell you about it soon. Don't go too far away, now! It's lovely to see you on my pages!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

One of the great Christmas songs - "The Christmas Song" - Gerald Ross

If you're reading this blog, thanks... I've been doing it for nearly four years now and I'll just recap what it's all about.

For a start, my blog is not "the best"... I have no claims for it. All I do is attempt to tell my own ukulele story, a journey of simple pleasure and forever trying to be a better player. I share the performances I love, and share the word about players whose music I particularly enjoy, and skilful luthiers. If you're here with me, welcome and I thank you for reading!

There are players whose work I have shared many, many times - you can check them out on the tag cloud at the foot of the page. I surprise myself to find that I haven't featured Gerald Ross in solo capacity before, because I love what he does, and have been watching his videos for ages!

Written by Robert Wells, Mel Tormé, 1946
(Watch on Youtube here....)

I love this rendition for the pure musicality of the performance. So gentle and rhythmically interesting, with such a light touch, this is such a joy to listen to, I have to just keep on listening! I'm pretty sure the uke is reentrant tuned, high G. I love the way Gerald has blended luscious resonant phrases with light, almost pizzicato picking, and all those entrancing little runs that make the music skip along lightly. There is so much to learn about beautiful playing from watching and listening to this! I think this will be my favourite Christmas ukulele performance this year! I only wish I could follow the chords Gerald is actually playing!

For Gerald Ross Discography, click here!

Thanks for dropping in... do call again!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Matthew J Richards plays Imagine

A beautiful rendition by Matthew J Richards of one of the best songs ever written, in my opinion.

A fitting song for today, written by John Lennon....please listen and enjoy it, and think on the words - I'm sure you know them.

That's it. I can't be cheerful today. Tomorrow I will try to be - that's a promise.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A lovely collaboration - "Father and Son," by Ken Middleton and Alex Holmes

It's a little while since I've featured one of Ken's videos on here. With videos I tend to leap in and promptly share ones that grab me - they have to grab me, and this did. Such a poignant song, written Cat Stevens back in the 70's - the age-old mis-match of the generations between a parent's vision of happiness and stability for their child and the child's own vision of the world. Beautifully played and duetted at a distance here with Alex Holmes as "son". I love this. Hope you do, too. Thanks for dropping in...

Watch it on Youtube here

Next time - on our last holiday abroad I had some interesting ukafrolics! I'll tell you all about it. Also coming up - a milestone in my ukulele journey! Just have to share this one!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Resonator uke - why? Here's why - Del Rey...

Ever since I saw Del Rey play at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2014 I've rather hankered after a resonator ukulele.. and longed to play like her. That finger-picking is phenomenal. The uke was made by R E Phillips in the USA. No further info on that maker, sorry!

No other words necessary, methinks, just watch, listen and enjoy... watch this on YouTube here...

I don't know what the tune is, but I'm guessing the genre is delta blues. Perhaps someone can enlighten me further?

Just a quickie, had to share this - thanks for dropping by!

To learn more about Del Rey, check out her website here! It's all there, I won't try to reinvent the wheel!

Friday, 6 November 2015

You Can't Get Enough of That Stuff - Phil Doleman and Ian Emmerson!

I can't get enough of this stuff, that's for sure! Phil Doleman here on Argapa soprano resonator

Originally recorded by The Hokum Boys in 1929, this is an example of "hokum" in early blues. Wikipedia gives some info on this stuff "hokum" - I had to look it up... but what you can't help but notice is that for blues - it isn't miserable! In fact it's quite jolly. I like that. So do plenty of other people, I think - Phil cheers everyone up with these upbeat and jolly blues numbers. As for me, I'm enthused to find out more - and I want to be able to play it! There is a chance of that - Phil has been my uke teacher for some months now, and a fine one he is, too. What's more, it's great to see him playing with his great friend Ian Emmerson.

I mentioned Ian yesterday... Phil and Ian used to work together as a uke duo "The Re-entrants", playing "anything from Motorhead to Lady Gaga"... I saw them at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain in Cheltenham in 2012 and thought them pretty fantastic, but sadly, shortly after that, they decided that they had come to the end of that particular road. Ian played the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2015 solo... read what they said about him here! Very amusing.... peevish reluctance to leave the house, ha-ha....

Well, in his house, he's been jamming with Phil and they've been having a great time dishing up lots of these really early blues numbers for our delectation. Catch up with them here! -

And catch Ian's latest album of his own songs here!
Full of contemplative, dry humour!

Thanks for dropping in... I've still a lot more catching up to do so don't go too far - but right now I need to do my practice for my next lesson with Phil...

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

"Sprucey Lucy" - DJ Morgan soprano in spruce and maple. No more searching.

When people ask me how many ukes I have, I confess I cringe a little, because the fact is I have quite a few now. Many, many people have more - many more! But to the non-player it sounds a lot, and non-players do not understand the need. It comes down to exploration of different sound, getting the sounds that you want, and buying better quality instruments as time goes on. When you are not satisfied with the ukes you have, you have to go into every music shop you see, just to see if your ideal uke is in there, waiting for you. There is something very satisfying to come to realise that you no longer feel the need to do that, because the instruments you have are - just what you want. Nailed it.

Yes, I'm there. When it comes to wooden ukes, I am satisfied. What do I have? Well, the title of this post gives it away, doesn't it... In April I posted here about my solid mahogany concert made by luthier Dave Morgan (DJ Morgan Ukuleles). Rosie. I'm not generally one for naming my ukes, but as my latest was promptly dubbed Sprucey Lucy, That one had to have a name too. I was, and still am, thrilled with Rosie... but I wanted a spruce-top soprano. When Dave told me he was building some high-spec ukes in bird's eye maple with spruce tops, well... I knew I was a goner.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on one - as soon as Dave had got this uke finished and photographed I knew it had to be mine - I saw it, played it and snapped it up. It plays like a dream and it's loud. And it's beautiful. When I bought Rosie from him just a few months back I loved the subtle inlaid stripes on the headstock - well, Dave has refined the stripes in his signature headstock design into art deco curves now, and on this uke and its sister concert, the stripes are fashioned into three sets of parallel black lines, the two outer sets curving away - so classy, and they complement the ebony fingerboard and the black binding beautifully.

Dave Morgan is quite a perfectionist. He is a full-time luthier from Dudley in the English Midlands. The Black Country. His ukes are impeccably built, light, and sound amazing. Folk who know a great uke when they see and hear one are snapping them up. Barry Maz of Got A Ukulele blog had one to review a couple of months ago. Barry pulls no punches with his reviews - but he was highly impressed with Dave's build Read it here...

The fabulous Ian Emmerson has one. You know Ian Emmerson.... and he just told me... "I had to have it as soon as I tried it. He's an absolutely top-notch builder, it's my favourite uke, and it would be totally unsurprising if I ended up with another of his before too long." How's that for an endorsement?

Paul Culkin, a lovely player and singer/songwriter played my Rosie - and promptly ordered two ukes from Dave. He has them now, a concert and a baritone, and he is highly delighted with them.

Take a look on Dave's website, DJ Morgan Ukuleles to see more of his work and to see Paul playing one of his own songs on his new Morgan uke!

As for me, I play my DJ Morgan ukes all the time. I should put a video up shouldn't I... but it's late. I'll do one soon. At least you know all about Sprucey Lucy now.

Thanks for dropping by!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

So many Ukafrolics - So where do I start? The new uke earrings....

Dear readers, so many ukafrolics have passed under the bridge since I last posted - and there were quite a few through the summer that never got a mention, for lack of time... shame on me - but as autumn has well and truly landed and the call of the garden is growing fainter, I'm making a start on catching up. And first up are my beautiful new uke earrings, the second of all the blessings I have counted today!
First up, I drove to Derbyshire for my uke lesson with Phil Doleman. I look forward to that so much, I always come home full of enthusiasm and lots to practise... (hence less time to blog.... sorry!)Feet up, cup of coffee, doze off ... I'm inclined to do that, like a baby with a tummy full of warn drink... and next, I opened my post. A little packet - fretboard earrings! From my friend the luthier Dave Morgan, who made them. They are rather gorgeous! I love drop earrings, I wear them all the time - and these are just perfect for a uke lover like me. Rosewood, with frets and an abalone dot... a little mysterious to the uninitiated, but instantly recognisable to a uke player! And so nice to wear something craftsman-made! I love Dave's ukes, I now have two... I bought a mahogany concert (solid mahogany, naturally) earlier in the year - March, I think it was... I told you about that - and in July I bought another, a beautiful soprano with spruce top and bird's eye maple back and sides.

It's time I told you all about "Sprucey Lucy" isn't it... tomorrow then! It's a date!

Oh - and the third blessing? LSH made my dinner. I am well and truly blessed.

If you want to buy Dave's earrings from him, you can contact him on facebook! Look for this profile picture! Christmas is coming...