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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do we rag on Youtube enough? You know, Youtube, that thing we all compulsively use but at the same time can't stand? Well anyway, there is a new flaw in their system that will allow some people to see your private and unlisted videos when you upload them. I discovered this recently when I tried to discreetly share a video of me doing a patriotic tap-dance to a medley of Miley Cyrus and Dido songs with my friend Adelle. I had marked the video "unlisted" so that she could share the video with other members of her clan. However, within minutes of the upload, I started getting random comments on my video. Eddie Vedder commented that he'd seen better (and sexier) patriotic dances, Jake Shimmy wrote that my video made him feel uncomfortable but that he watched to the finish anyway, and finally that little Japanese boy who plays I'm Yours on ukulele commented to me a simple "Meh..."
I found out from a fellow Youtuber that people are able to go one step further when subscribing to your channel and they can opt-in to receive email notifications when you upload videos. This notification includes videos that you mark as Private or Unlisted. Not cool Youtube, not cool....
Until they get this fixed, you would be wise so save your sexy underwear dance videos for another time. That or share them the old school way, via Friendster. Does anybody use that anymore?
So I found this awesome bass in a guitar shop. I've been monkeying around with bass on a few UCB vids over the last year or so. I don't know how to play it, but I like it... So when I found this Epiphone Viola Bass for several hundred off retail, I couldn't resist. I figured I'd pack it along to our upcoming Portland UCB shindig and try it on a few numbers. then, I'd try a few bar gigs around here... everyone lets a bass player sit in. I'd get to play more often and not have to take center stage.
I got it home, learned a few blues grooves, and felt pretty snazzy about the purchase. Aside from Sir Paul, i've never really seen many folks with that shape and the floating bridge... I got to feeling I made a pretty classy purchase. I always thought they were pretty damn cool. It seemed nearly unique, special even.
And then it happened. I got a Facebook PM from some "friend" I don't actually know...
"KOOL new GLEE bass! I sooooo want one just like it ever since I saw it on Glee. You'll have to get the red bass cabinet amp thing too!"
You folks know me. Is there anything I have ever posted that suggests I enjoy, watch, am aware of, let alone strive to emulate Glee? That show, the few times I've seen it, registered in my brain as a toothache with auto-tune. I can assure you, I was not trying to pay homage to what I consider a song murdering pap-fest on (shiver) commercial network television. (Note: If you are not familiar with the television show Glee, I salute you - and warn you that Russ and/or Aldrine will be along shortly to fill you in on all the musical high-school hijinx...)
I thought I made myself clear over the years. I am a snob. A hateful, petty, pretentious snob. If you like it, I probably think it sucks. Hell, if you like it, and others like it, I probably think *you* suck.
So now, every time I play that thing... someone will mention Glee. Every time. Screw you Glee.
Yesterday, I had an hour long round table discussion with the guys regarding this tough issue. If we were to live the Spice Girls movie (and who wouldn't want to?), which spice would you be? I'm thinking Alan would be Scary Spice, Adelle would be Punch You in the Balls Spice, the Baron would be Delicate Spice, Booze would be Old Spice, Deach would be He Who Controls the Spice, Grumpy would be Dungeons N' Spice, Little6ster would be Smurfette Spice and I would most likely be Five Spice. If I got any of that wrong, please correct me in the comments below.
Would this movie work? Who could play the tour bus driver's part better than Meat Loaf? Have we really run out of things to blog about? Where is the infinite wisdom of Tony Robbins when you need him the most?
I'm a little hesitant to post a rant so soon after Booze's message about Japan. I've been to Sendai several years ago on a visit to Japan and this whole situation has me still feeling a little shellshocked. It's incredibly heartbreaking to hear about the number of people still missing from the resulting tsunami. I hope their families can eventually find some closure in this matter whether they be found alive or not. Can we all observe a moment of silence before I continue with this post?
Okay so I've just returned from a visit to France, or as Rel-Bar put it, the "Old World". That just sounds so cool doesn't it? Like I just visited some place right out of a Dungeons & Dragons game set. And no, I'm not going to clown on Dungeons & Dragons. GrumpyCoyote is "cool" no matter what geeky shit he's into, and that's final!
Anyway, this post is about the TSA, or Transportation Security Administration for those of you who aren't lucky enough to live in the United States to experience their special brand of "customer service". I've flown many times after 9/11 and am quite used to the heavy flight restrictions we are to endure because of terrorist threats. The TSA was created by the Department of Homeland Security to ensure our safety in a government regulated fashion. I wouldn't call it a necessary evil because I get it, we're living in shitty, scary times. People try weird stuff like lighting their shoes or underwear on fire, it's messed up, and definitely not cool. We absolutely need this agency. What we don't need, is their crappy attitude.
Everytime I pass through a security checkpoint in an American airport, I make it a point to smile and say hello to the TSA person that reviews your boarding pass and personal identification. They usually return the friendliness with a stern look of disapproval and bark at you if you're walking too fast or too slow, or if you headed down the wrong lane. Sorry, it was confusing because they arranged the retractable nylon barriers in some kind of strange labyrinth that is designed to lead you to certain death (or a full body cavity search). And we're stuck complying with their rude ushering and demands because nobody wants to rock the boat and appear terrorist-like right? We are just happy sheep doing our best to follow directions in order to make it to the other side of security so that we can enjoy a $15 sandwich and a Dean Koontz novel from the terminal bookstore.
Okay in their defense, they deal with thousands of anxious and annoyed travelers on a daily basis. It's enough to wear anybody out. That's when you start to look for new job. Judging by the ads i see on daytime TV, you can become a vet tech, car mechanic, medical billing specialist, or personal masseuse in less than 2 years and you don't even need your GED. A pretty sweet deal for these disgruntled TSA jagoffs.
Oh and another thing, you know that Backscatter X-ray (aka Whole Body Imager, aka tit/nutsack/brain scanner) machine they spent millions of dollars on? Well it appears that it doesn't save anybody any time or effort. After they took an "adult" photograph of my genitals and then reviewed it carefully on a monitor like I was a grade school science project, I was then to suffer through a pat-down, and then a machine was used to sample the palms of my hands for traces of who knows what; gunpowder, toxic waste, nacho cheese residue, etc. So in the end, instead of me just walking through a good ol' fashioned metal detector, this machine required 3 separate TSA personnel, a gigawatt of electricity, and everybody's precious time while they sorted things out. I may be wrong, but I thought a fancy expensive machine like this was supposed to simplify the process. Hmmm, maybe it's just a government conspiracy to catalog all nutsacks and funbags in some sort of kinky searchable database. That makes perfect sense now that I think of it.
Also, did I forget to mention I approached the security checkpoint dressed as the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens and holding a lit molotov cocktail in one hand and an AK-47 in the other? Maybe that didn't help. Hmmmm...
When I wrote my last post I had no idea that my mention of "Tokyo", and " tsunamis" would be so timely. Although the tsunami created by the earthquake off the coast of Northern Japan did cause some damage to the Oregon and California coastlines, and of course to the islands of Hawaii, it is nothing like the devastation which happened and continues to happen in Japan. All of us at UCB send our thoughts and best wishes to our friends in the land of the rising sun.
It must be because I am an educated man that I often get asked to settle bets. 'Lets ask Kevin, he will know". I'm a wealth of useless trivia. For example did you know that tsunamis travel at the speed of a jumbo jet? Or that the animal that kills the most humans every year is the mosquito? Or that Tokyo is largest city in the world? Or that KLM now flies five times a week to Rwanda?
And here's something else; did you know Lady Gaga is actually a dude? Now you do.
Everyone knows that the Beatles were the greatest rock band ever. It's a given. No question there. But did you know that Led Zeppelin is second and The Who is third? I bet you didn't. But its true. Oh, and worst band of all time? Journey, followed by Foreigner.
Another question I often get asked "What is the best Patrick Swayze movie ever?". This is a tricky one, but if you said Roadhouse or Point Break you would be wrong, its actually Red Dawn. Little known fact.
And speaking of movies... the best movies ever? Duh, The Big Lebowski, Mulholland Drive, and Super Troopers. Everyone should already know this.
Best television shows of all time? Easy - Seinfeld, The Andy Griffith Show, and Star Trek.
Best ethnic food? Mexican, Thai, Italian. Best fast food? Wendy's.
First man on the moon? Neil Armstrong. Winner of 8 Tour De France's? Lance Armstrong. Great Trumpeter? Louis Armstrong. Best child's toy? Stretch Armstrong.
Current biggest a-hole in the world? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Any other questions you have, just let me know. I'm here to help.
So we all appreciate an adult beverage every now and then right? Then there are those who can enjoy a little "puff puff" while listening to their old records, be they classic Skynyrd or the Osmond Family Anthology. Nothing wrong with that.
Can we all agree that crystal meth is just not a good idea? I mean it is possible to use even the most harshest of substances in moderation but some drugs are just not a good idea. I just saw a National Geographic document on crystal meth and it was about as freaky as one of those Scared Straight programs they used to show at school (with a little less rape threats and prison bitch bartering).
And then there's coked out Charlie Sheen. He's kind of the poster boy for functioning drug addicts in that he's been a hot mess in his private life but has been able to work for a long long time (i know, i know, until "now"). Perhaps it helps that he has plenty of money to support such a habit. A mansion is a pretty swell place to enjoy hookers, blow, and whatever ball-stepping, golden shower, IKEA furniture demolition fetishes he may be into. Good for him, I guess? I can think of worse ways to burn your money, model trains come to mind.
(Oh yeah, and yes, I agree that the crew of Two and a Half Men are getting a raw deal while Charlie Sheen gets his shit together but that's not the point of this post.)
So what about the recent fascination with energy drinks? I remember when Red Bull was one of the only energy drinks around. Sure, it tastes like sweetened pee (don't ask) but it helps you stay awake to study for that calculus exam or drive your Hyundai to Tijuana. I was never a big fan of Red Bull or it's lame douchebaggy cousin "Red Bull and Vodka", but I can see how it can be useful to some people who need it. But now, there are so many brands of energy drinks on the shelf including the infamous Four Loko, which I have never tried, although I can only imagine it being similar to smoking crack on the 72nd hour of your bender. With names like Rockstar, Monster, RELOAD (yes, all caps), Bawls, Shark Stimulation, Crunk, there is no shortage of not-so-cleverly named liquid crack beverages available in your local 7-11. One of my favorites that I've seen is MAD DOG Energy Lemonade. That gives me an image of little kids selling lemonade on their front lawn decked out in Ed Hardy t-shirts and kiddy 'roid rage.
Well at least we have the classy original, Red Bull. No need for monster trucks and pyrotechnics to sell that right? Until now...
"Drink Red Bull. You too can be an insane murderous tranny Zebra, Yee Haw!!!"
So Boozelele mentioned something about a project I was working on in the last post. However, I'm not exactly sure how he found out about it since the details have been tucked away in my diary this whole time. Well anyway, it's called the "Project For Corn" and I will be focusing on a few items of self improvement for this year. Call it a belated New Year's Resolution if you will.
Writing, producing, directing and starring in a musical drama based on the early life of Kelly Clarkson as told through her older brother Jason. (or maybe through her sister Alyssa, it's still undecided. but either way, KC will shine!)
Inventing the mid-C string that will end the debate over "low G" versus "high G" on ukuleles. This mid-C string will also be known as the "STFU string" and will be sold in two different colors, clear and off-clear.
Becoming the guy at ukulele festivals that wears socks with flip flops. And not ninja socks with the split toe, but regular white tube socks, preferably with blue stripes to accentuate the calves.
Improving my fingerpicking technique via aromatherapy.
We have quite a creative bunch here. Every time you turn around one of our members is off on some new venture. I just wanted to pass on some info on what a few of us are up to. Some in our group are too shy, or too hesitant, or too modest to self promote (others well, not so much).
For anyone who doesn't know, Adelle has a NEWBLOGintroducing readers to a new band or musician every day for the entire year - 365 artists in 365 days. This is a mamouth undertaking. Not only is she showcasing some great music, but it is filled with Adelle's charm and wit. Read it, follow it, live it.
Little6ster has a new band called WAX, and if you haven't checked it out. You are missing out. This is some good shit. They recorded a new EP a couple months ago, and just had their first concert in Angers, France. Check her youtube page, myspace page, facebook page, etc. Pass her on, this deserves to be heard.
And lets not forget Baron, Russ, and Alan, they all continue to post great vids on youtube. I also know Russ is getting busy with a special new project of his own (I'll let him speak to that). And don't forget that Deach, Russ and others (DeG) were nominated for Undie awards...and while I personally think popularity contests under the guise of art/music awards are complete and utter bull-shit, I hope you guys win.
Please support all of these bitches in their new and oh-so-cool musical endeavours and contact each of them individually for additional info. And if I left out something cool someone is doing, or forgot anyone...it's not intentional, it's only that I'm an idiot... and anyway, that's what the comments are for...so bite me.
I was sitting at my pseudo-desk at work today, slaving away (which essentially means staring blankly at my computer screen, pretending to be busy) when I came upon an article mentioning "Global Ukulele Day" on March 11th. Why had I never heard of that? Shouldn't this be a big deal in ukulele-land. You would think every uke player in the world would celebrate it as religiously as us Oregonians celebrate InternationalTalk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th) and National Weed Day (April 20th - (of course)). Well after doing a little digging on the whole ukulele-day-thing it became apparent why it was not well known. There is already a National Play Your Ukulele Day on May 2nd, and some UU guys attempt to start a World Ukulele Day on Feb 2nd.
I am not big on holidays, especially silly holidays, but can't the ukulele community get together and pick one day that we can all agree on? Or change the focus or these other uke holidays...one could be Tune Your Ukulele Day, or Buy a New Uke Day, or Make Fun of Ukulele Players Day, or Eat Spam And Play White Sandy Beaches Day, or....I'm sure you can think of better ones...
...Anyway the place I work only recognizes 9 holiday days a year. Luckily Feb. 20th brings Clam Chowder Day then on March 21st is National Wiener Day (not to be confused with National Penis Day which comes a week earlier March 15th). ....So I'm looking forward to a couple three-day weekends. Sweet.
I know that we are all busy people what with all the blogs to post, forums to moderate, songs to write, dogs to wash, videos to make, porn to watch, and drinks to drink (did I leave anyone out?). It's getting to the point where there just isn't enough time in the day to accomplish all of these important tasks and still have time for non-essential things like jobs, and families, and showers.- So in order to improve efficiency, Ive been working on a system that will help reduce the time we waste watching and commenting on ukulele youtube videos. Also this system will help us with the age old question "what the hell do I put in this comment???" From now on, just type in the number that corresponds to the appropriate comment that you would like to leave. (or you can copy and paste from this blog...you should be able to do this and move on within 10 seconds of the video starting)....
1. Hey friend, great song! You are an excellent song writer/uke player. I love your originals and/or covers. 2. Keep 'em coming, haven't seen you in a while! Where have you been? I love your videos, you're always so creative. 3. The uke sounds great! You sure can play that thing. I love the solo and/or strumming pattern. 4. 5**** and Faved! 5. Great job! I listened to this song all the way through, and loved every second of it. Especially that cool thing you did at the end. 6. Get the audio file from this video at tubepull doht cohm. 7. Tabs plz. 8. Go kill yourself!
This is a work in process, if you have additional ideas, please share them.
I've never claimed to be a smart man. I may act holier-than-thou sometimes. But I'm no genius. I doubt I'll be asked to join MENSA any time soon. (or is it NAMBLA?...it doesn't matter, I'm probably not smart enough to get into either). I don't think I'm stupid per se, I think I am just ignorant. There are a lot of things I just don't know. Here is a perfect example. Apparently there is something called "lying through omission". This is where you keep a secret from someone. It doesn't really even have to be a secret, its just leaving a detail of your life out. I don't know if this applies to every relationship you have..I mean I don't think you have to tell every person you meet everything about yourself. Like say you meet someone at a Christmas party, you wouldn't say..."Hi Jim my name's Bob, I like monster trucks, oyster shooters and D.I.Y." "Nice to meet you Bob, I like corduroy, beagles and golden showers." But I think at some point in your more serious relationships, you are supposed to stop leaving stuff out. I know this applies to romantic relationships and probably familial relationships too.
I have two lives....and I'm pretty sure a couple of you do as well. I have my uke/youtube life, and my family/work life. I'm pretty open about playing the uke, although I find myself choking sometimes when I say the word 'ukulele'. "Kevin do you play any musical instruments?" "yeah....I play the uku...cough cough"..... "the what?..."the ukulele"....silence...."oh, like Tiny Tim"...."yeah, fuck you..." But my you-tube videos stay secret to most of the people in my daily life.
My sister recently came across my you-tube channel. She wasn't pissed off but she said "you don't have to hide things from me". I'm not hiding anything, its not like I'm a serial killer, or a super hero, I don't have sex with animals, and I've never been to Thailand. But we all have some secrets...I mean, right?
We'll since we are all good friends here...It's time we stop lying through omission...so I'll go first...
I like the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. I like the Jackson Five. I play online poker, read books about sailing, eat toaster waffles, and sometimes watch Nascar. I listen to talk-radio in the car (liberal), I'm not a fan of big-boobs, or strip clubs, I like to look at maps, and I like Brazilian jazz......oh, and I like beagles.
According to Wikipedia (which is also a good place to visit if you ever want to read a scene by scene breakdown of Hollywood blockbuster Ghostbusters), the NAMM Show is one of the largest music product trade shows in the world. With over 1300 exhibitors and 80,000+ attendees, this ginormous industry show is only rivaled by MusikMesse in Germany (which I'm assuming has better beer, thus making it superior).
At the NAMM Show, people come from all over the country and world to view and test new products, make business deals with manufacturers and retailers, demo new recording and live performance gear, compare tramp stamps, and many other music related activities. This year, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the show with a guest pass that I scored from Ohana Ukes through Ken Middleton (謝謝 Ken!). The show was amazingly overwhelming with way too many shiny things to look at and touch (and i'm not talking about the glistening hot dogs on the heat rollers in the food concessions area although they were quite impressive. oh, and nacho cheese.).
After being subjected to the sights and sounds of tens of thousands of people strumming guitars, banging on drums, ch-ch-checking microphones, I believe I have a better appreciation for the music industry and all of those involved. I have that and this photo:
I appreciate folks who comment on my videos - I really do. I'm still astonished that anyone watches my stuff at all. There is, however, a class of commenter that manages to get under my skin to the point of making me want to stomp bunnies.
It's not the classic hater. "You suck", "Learn to sing", and "Die in a fire", all entertain me more than the one word platitudes like "Great" or "Awesome" that we've all been guilty of. Inspiring emotion is fine with me - even if it's negative. No, I only judge the haters on the creative effort they put into the insult... the more creative, the more I appreciate it.
The "tabs plz" guys do piss me off a bit, as do the loyalist "that's not how you play that" fanfolk of whatever band I'm covering (the concept of 'interpretation' is lost on these clowns). But even they pale in comparison to my nemesis. The guy I like to think of as "You Could Do Better Guy". These guys post things like "Nice try, but I think your vocal was a little pitchy", or "You know, verse/chorus/verse really should be adhered to when possible", or "as a songwriter for many years, I think you should try to relate more to your audience", and my favorite "That would be an ok song - you might want to try it in F#, that will give it more depth." Yeah. Those are real. All different folks too.
On the surface, they seem to be fine creative criticism. Let me stress - I am NOT against creative and constructive criticism in any way. One of the reasons I post videos is so I can get feedback. I actually dislike the Youtube communities' general lack of real critique. But these guys are special. What pisses me off the most is that these almost seem interesting - but then once you read them you realize they are simply meaningless condescension. Patronizing bull-shit dressed up as music critique.
First off - these nozzles never have a single video posted. Ever. They also tend to favorite the worst kinds of pop drivel of various genres. Secondly, they follow a formulas - I think they have a handbook:
1) Misplaced or inappropriately applied jargon Calling out my vocals is fair - but the word "pitchy" is a dead giveaway. You are an American Idol watcher, not a critic. Watching Randy Jackson does not make you better at judging. Things like the "F#" comment above are classic too - Major key is major key Retardo Montalbon, popping off things like "F# gives it depth" only identifies you as a toolbag.
2) Make sure you talk about your credibility This one kills me. "As a songwriter for years..." or "I'm a professional musician and..." First, they never have anything posted, so they are clearly full of crap. Secondly, this is the internet. Your claimed credentials only go as far as you are actually able to back them up with intelligent and credible discourse on the subject at hand. You claiming something, and then writing words that clearly indicate the opposite actually *hurts* your credibility in our little digital world here. Worry less about making claims and worry more about actually knowing what the fuck you are talking about.
3) When in doubt, condescend The goal of these guys seems to be to make themselves seem superior. They almost always come in the form of giving some kind of advice, and/or encouraging you to "try harder". I have news for these knuckleheads - I don't do this for you. I do it for me. Unless you actually care, and preferably have something to offer of real value - don't give me advice. It makes you look even sadder than I suspect you are. You can't possibly get respect on my channel this way. My friends and my ego will eat you and then poop you right back out... or worse; ignore you. We are connoisseurs of condescension.
Again, don't take this the wrong way - I *want* criticism. But I do wish these guys would just stop. To critique, you must first be familiar with the subject at hand. To offer advice, it's customary to actually have some to give. If you don't know what you are talking about, try "I don't like this" or even "you suck". Those are honest and clear and, while not particularly helpful, at least not bullshit.
Ok, enough of my little public service announcement. Hopefully this will help you identify these little balls of suck and file them in the appropriate "go away" bucket rather than wasting any time thinking about them. Back to your regularly scheduled bitches.
Funny how being close friends has put us all on the same cycle. All of us MIA for the last few weeks here.... I for one, have been quite wrapped up with my new blog, which has turned into way more of a project than I'd anticipated. But am I posting just to mention that? No! What I really wanted to talk about was this...
If anyone wanted to break into my private life & stalk me on the internet, all they'd really have to do is make their icon a picture of a ukulele. I know this isn't just me. You get those random Facebook requests- and while the name isn't familiar, the ukulele is there & "accept"!! If there's a mutual friend or two, well heck- double accept.
I've met a lot of fantastic people through the uke scene- people that have changed my life (even in some cases for the better) but I'm sorry... when did playing the ukulele automatically make everyone else who plays the ukulele my friend? Just because we play the same instrument doesn't necessarily mean we have anything else in common, and it certainly doesn't make me social or enjoy "chatting". When the community started up a few years back it was cool... when there were like 10 of us & finding someone else who played the uke was still a novelty. But now...?
Don't get me wrong- I do enjoy the family vibe that there is in the internetz world of ukulele players... it's just getting so big now that it's at risk of losing the intimacy. It's gone from a small family dinner around the table, to "well your second cousins are flying in too" "oh yeah- that's cool. I even know all their names", to a giant family reunion out in a park where everyone has to wear name tags & random people walk up to you & talk to you for like 15 minutes before they realize you're not who they thought you were & now you have to send all these people Christmas cards every freaking year.
Having a ukulele in your possession does not rule out you being a crazed maniac. It doesn't make me wanna read status updates about your cat. One piece of common ground can be the spark that begins a friendship... or things can just get awkward. Everyone's been thrown into that kind of situation before- friend of a friend or something- "Hey, you guys both like soup! Talk about soup!" & then they abandon you with a stranger. "Sooooo... I understand you like soup." "Yep." "Me too." ::crickets:: "Weeeelll... guess I should probably go stick my head in the microwave now..."
I'm not really sure what my point is anymore- if I even had one at the start. Ummm... crack is whack & school is cool? Don't jaywalk...? Oh! I remember now! My point is- a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but a ukulele will gain you access to my facebook page, as well as into Barons pants.
We can't promise that anything on this site will be interesting, relevant to the ukulele, or politically correct. In fact we can guarantee it won't be politically correct. If you find something offensive and would like to retort, or if you just wish to add your two cents on any blog, feel free to join the party and jump in. If you find something so offensive that you can't stand it, bummer for you. Don't hold any individual comment against another UCBer. Some of us are much nicer than others of us. and each one of us speaks for ourself and only for ourself. -UCB, FEA, TCASI