Friday, January 27, 2012


What we did on our summer Seattle vacation.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Post card and Big hug from France
Vous me manquez les copains...


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Collab anyone?

This gem is begging for a large scale, international, multi-instrument collab to raise awareness of P-cow. C'mon, these cars aren't gonna sell themselves! Anyone, anyone?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For Grumpy


After Eddie Vedder's Ukulele album came out, we were inundated with Youtube videos by Eddie wannabes. But the King takes the cake. And eats it.
Keep watching till the end. Worth it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

For Adelle

Adelle mentioned in an earlier post that I haven't posted any female Asian Ukulele players recently. Frankly there are too many cute women making ukulele videos nowadays. Makes a 46 year old male a bit uncomfortable after a while.

And yet, with all that said. Hubba hubba:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Eddie Vedder, Jeff Bridges and Thou

"Hmm, what rhymes with Oscar?"

I do not blame Eddie Vedder or Jeff Bridges for their latest musical releases. It's a free country. This is a capitalist society. People are allowed to create wealth in any legal way they can, and I applaud the effort.

And yet.

How much effort was put into Misters Vedder and Bridges CDs to get such high sales? It had to take some effort, I'm sure. They had to write the music, arrange the songs, work with musicians and producers to achieve the desired sounds. And then the music was released to the public. And the public buys their music in vast quantities.

This is where I get to the friggin' point. Eddie Vedder's ukulele album and Jeff Bridge's debut CD aren't successful on their own artistic merit. Eddie Vedder's CD is popular because he is Eddie effen Vedder. And Bridges' CD is popular because, hey, he's the Dude!

And, frankly, the music's not great.

But this hasn't stopped my local AAA station (disclaimer - I work for the company that owns this station) from playing the crap out of these CDs. The music director told me that Bridges' release is in "heavy rotation". (There's a pic of the MD with Jeff Bridges' arm around him on his FB page - surely a coincidence)

I'm upset because there are so many great musicians who I know that are creating much better - and more listenable - music than this. And I'm just talking about the ones who are attempting to be full-time musicians. If I add the ukulele reprobates who make music on Youtube, that adds a hundred more quality music-makers. All of whom I would put above Vedder and Bridges on my mp3 player.

So yeah. That's all I'm saying.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Like it long?

Recently my Youtube channel put up a message that says I'm now able to upload videos longer than 15 minutes.  Since we all know that more is more, is anybody up for a shitty hour long collab of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah?

To test the upper limits of Youtube, I uploaded this 4 hour long video.  You should watch the whole thing.  It gets pretty good towards the end.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Not Pointing Fingers Here, But...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dear Mr. Vedder

I appreciate the effort - I do. It's a fine album of original uke music. I particularly like the fact that it's not Hawaiian music. Not thatI dislike Hawaiian music, but that's been done. So you made a contemporary singer/song writer album focusing on uke. I like that.

But seriously Ed (may I call you Ed?) did you have to call the thing "Ukulele Songs"? Now every pearl-jam-flavored wannabe douche nozzle who scoffed at the uke now thinks it's cool because of you. The open-mics I go to are now awash in fresh uke players who are just dying to show me their Zebra-wood Kalas and Malaka Dolphins. Not to mention every easy-listening middle of the road blank-spot. You managed to dilute the uke even further by adding two more audiences I have no respect for.

But that's just me and my bias... Let's talk exploitation. You are arguably a mega-music star. Slightly washed up and irrelevant, but still pretty much any music you decided to make would have sold eleventybillion copies. But by calling your album "ukulele songs" you targeted an audience you never had before - uke enthusiasts. You also capitalized directly on the novelty *and* rising popularity of the uke to make people pay attention to you and see you as somehow musically fresh. It stinks of a pandering gimmick - one you didn't need to do.

All of which is understandable - except for the outcome you didn't foresee. Overexposure.

You have dominated my facebook stream email and twitter. Family members I hate to hear from and are generally blissfully silent now send me articles and reviews about you and your album. I have been sent the same NYT review about your stunt no less than 12 times. For that dull, repetitive offense I simply can not forgive you.

As the wave of uke popularity breaks and people begin to backlash and boo whenever we pull one out at show, you can blame yourself. Your intentional overexposure was the straw that broke the back. It went from obscure and kind of quirky and cool, to that tired shit Vedder played out to death in '11. You did that. You are the Tiny Tim of this phase of the repeating uke fads. "Tiny Ed" if you will. The bullet in the head to any shred of the unexpected or interesting that was left in making contemporary uke music.

Unfortunately you never took up the accordion. No one would complain if those get shoved back in the closet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

UWC'11 Trip Report

So here I was trying to write a trip report for UWC'11 when it occurred to me that I really could not do a better job than Miss Lonna did in the Ginley Gulch guestbook.

I'll post anecdotes and such later, but this is why we love Shawn and Lonna so. Well, this and the macaroni and cheese.

Also - true story.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No room for another UWC sticker

No room on my uke for another UWC sticker so I'm staying home this year. I'll miss hanging out with the UCBs and our extended family. I'll miss having an excuse to wear my overalls. I'll miss carrying Russ home.

Maybe next year......

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to our bad ass UCB mothers Adelle and 6ster.

(sorry, no funny, snarky, or hateful content)

El Kabong

Only four strings. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Look, It's My Sack!

Not sure if any of you care about this but I'm going to post it anyway.

A few months ago, I was in France doing research on cheese, pâté and wine.  And by "research", I mean I was cramming them into my gullet.  One of my goals, other than to gain 15 pounds in fois gras weight alone, was to make a few Youtube videos.  The kit you see above was my airplane carry-on satchel and contained everything I needed to make videos in case my check-in luggage got lost and was forced to wear the same outfit for 2 weeks.  Unless of course I was able to buy some haute couture from the Charles De Gaulle Airport snack shop.  Then I'd be set (and Euro stylin!).

What's great is that this bag was also a good place to keep our maps, brochures, passports and there was a zippered pocket where I could dump all the Euro coins I got as change for purchases (mostly batteries and band-aids).  I don't know about you guys, but figuring out exact change when you make purchases in a foreign country with foreign looking coins always frustrates me.  I'd rather just hand the cashier a bill and have them give me change, which then goes into the bag with all the other change.  By the end of the trip, it felt like I had a few kilos of change sloshing around the bag.

Now that I think of it, Grumpy has a similar man pouch that he carries with him on trips.  Though I'm pretty sure he just uses it to carry his Beanie Babies and ChapStick.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Uke at A Time!!

Of all the annoying trends in the ukulele community (you are keeping count right? I lost track…) there is one that has to be the top of my pet peeve list. I think of it as the “Happy Ukes Saving Blind Baby Marmots from Wars” syndrome. You’ve seen these things right? Some overblown well-meaning charity – usually dealing with children and or world peace with a mission statement that reads like a hallmark card in a Maui tourist-trap gift shop.

Aloha! (Note the superfluous exclamation point. That’s certain to get my respect.)

My name is Bake Jimambukuru (What? Oh please, like you weren’t thinking it by the time you read the words "Blind Baby Marmot". I pick on him because he can take it…)

Our mission here at Happy Ukuleles to Save the Blind Baby Marmots from War is to make sure everyone everywhere can feel the simple joy of the ukulele and thereby make the world safer and kinder by spreading Aloha spirit through blind baby marmot happiness. The ukulele IS the world’s happiest instrument and no one can resist its charms! (Note the absolute certainty and conviction that ukes CAN make a difference – and the insistence that everyone everywhere agrees that the uke is a “Happy Instrument!!”)

We firmly believe that the joyful sounds of ukulele music can save the world – one uke at a time!! (Not remotely unrealistic, and note the almost universal catch phrase – “One Uke at a Time!!!”)

I’m not just picking on Jake here – there are dozens of these things, with more springing up all the time. All very similar in formula.

Ok now look… I am not against charity. I give generously. Money, time, and yes – even musical instruments to causes year round. I even joined a Kiva mico-loan group started by the amazing Mike Hater called “Ukulele’s to Decrease World Suck”, and re-invest my loans with folks all over the planet. But there is something unpretentious about the Kiva group, and my other charities. They don’t put unbelievably obnoxious and unattainable – and completely inexplicable – personifications on the ukulele. "Decreasing Suck" seems within reasonable grasp.

“If more people played the uke, there would be less wars and violence!”

Really? So, Jeff Dhalmer wouldn’t have eaten prostitutes if someone would have just handed him a uke? I’m unconvinced.

Look. People suck. With very few exceptions, people are selfish and hateful at best and unbelievably cruel otherwise. What do you get when you give an asshole a uke? An asshole with a uke. That’s it. Nothing changes.

Music education makes a difference? Yes – arts education makes for a better culture. Real and practical time, effort, and money for those who need help? Hell yes. Ukes for Peace? Not going to happen.

There is another side to this though – and it’s more annoying than the charity angle – at least those things are trying to *do* something. An incredibly naive and largely useless something, but it’s something.

The stuff that REALLY bends my noodle the wrong way is the incessant and inane insistence that the ukulele “makes people happy!” Enough already. I am not just speaking for myself here, but as a musical instrument the uke is capable of incredible melancholy, soulful expression, and deep heart-felt emotion - even rage. The uke has range. If all you get out of the uke is “it makes a happy sound” – you are doing it wrong. The uke has range.

The two phenomena are related – and result in a very strange assumption by some that the “uke community is the bestist!” and somehow better, more giving and vastly superior to everything else. While I admit – playing the ukulele has led me to some lasting and real relationships that I treasure, I’m not silly enough to blame the uke. Most people still suck. In fact I know several uke players who I’d rather light on fire than ever speak to again. I know couple of cyber-stalking creep uke players. I know a violent and misogynistic uke player. I know quite a few over-zealous homophobic hateful uke players. I know drug addicted, alcoholic, misanthropic miserable people (not just me – shut up) who play the uke. More jerks, self-centered nozzles, and utter tool-bags than you could shake a vintage Martin with a fret buzz at. In fact, after three years in the happy island heart of the uke community, I hate just as many uke players as regular people – if not more. The proportion of people who suck is just about the same.

So I beg you, for the sake of my sanity – and the dignity of baby marmots everywhere - please stop. The uke is an amazing instrument capable of inducing a smile *and* a tear. It does not make anyone a better person, and it will never – ever – save the world.

Now go *do* something.