Posts Tagged ‘uke’

I’ll never forget the time, on some sleepy, long-forgotten mid-90s afternoon, when my older sister explained to me why she took special care to rotate the order of her hot hair rollers.

She didn’t use all of them, you see, and to just sloppily return them to their case would mean using the same ones over, and over, and over and over again.

But it wasn’t the wear-and-tear that concerned her. No, she explained that she wanted to make sure the individual rollers didn’t get jealous of each other.

It’s weird, but I get it.

I own 3 ukuleles (currently) not counting my wife’s Kamoa concert and my stepson’s Lanikai soprano which also reside in our home. But the one I play the most often is my Cordoba tenor, which recently started coming apart behind the neck.

I took it to the ukulele doctor (hat tip to Acoustic Music in SLC) and they clamped it and glued it and got it straightened out. But despite their excellent work, it’s still likely that my uke is on its last legs.

And that’s sad. And it reminded me that I haven’t been playing as much lately as I used to, and that I should while I still can. But the song I had been putting off recording is a finger-picking song, and that means I’d use my Kamoa coconut soprano because of its Low-G base string.

So there I was, feeling torn over whether it was OK to honor my dying Tenor by playing one of my Sopranos, when I remembered my sister’s hair rollers, laughed at myself a little, and got to work.

Now, it’s been quite some time since I recorded a song and longer still since I recorded by myself. I had a momentary panic when I couldn’t remember where all my gear was, before remembering some of it is tucked away behind the board games under our staircase in this awesome découpage box that my friend Emily made for me in college.

It was buried under a pile of playing cards and covered in dust and removing it from under the stairs felt like that scene in John Wick when he unearths his hidden cache of gold coins and weapons.

I mean c’mon, look at all the dust on this mic stand!

So here’s the new video. I’m barely dressed and my hair is disheveled and I’m sweaty because I had to turn off the air conditioners to cut down on white noise and because I worried that every delay pushed me one step closer to giving up and going back to watching television.

“Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” is an old folk song, which means there’s hundreds of different versions out there in the world. My take is inspired by the Oscar Isaac version from “Inside Llewyn Davis” — you’re shocked, I’m sure — and I’m using a standard Travis pick on C, F and Am with a little flourish from G# to G to end each verse.

I think it turned out OK. And as always, should you care to download a copy you can do so for free over at my bandcamp page.

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The problem with being in a relationship with a blogger and ukulele player is that said person will inevitably pressure you into recording a duet for YouTube. It’s science, as unavoidable as gravity.

Especially when *you* are a telegenic bombshell with a voice like melted caramel, as is the case with Elizabeth, the hapless woman who has yet to realize she’s miles out of my league.

But her foolish life choices are our gain, as I was able to get her on camera for a mashup of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and We Three Kings, popularized by Barenaked Ladies and Sara McLachlan.

Here’s the video, and you can click over to my bancamp page for a free download. Happy Holidays.

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Merry Xmas to all, and to all an extremely frustrating dive into split-screen editing!

But really though, making this video was a bit of a pain. I had all these lofty ambitions of shooting B-Roll of Christmas lights and Santas Claus and my dog running through the snow, but once I started toying around with the screen-in-screen nonsense I knew that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Plus, we have no snow for Ghost to run through. Thanks Obama (note: I don’t actually think it’s Obama’s fault).

Ever since I started making these Ukulele covers FOUR YEARS AGO (tempis fugit) I’ve wanted to release a Christmas song. I came close a while back with Auld Lang Syne, but that didn’t turn out that well.

*Tangent* about a year after shooting that video I was at a party where this woman was talking about a New Year’s Eve where she went to a pig roast and there was this guy playing crappy ukulele songs.

Me: In Sugar House?

Her: Yup.

Me: Yeah…I was that guy.

*/Tangent*

Anyway, I grew up in the 90s so Blues Traveler is a thing for me (dat harmonica doe!) . That includes “Christmas,” their pan-holiday single from 1997.

I’ve been rocking out to this song every winter since I was in junior high school, and about a month ago started entertaining the idea of recording a One Wood Uke version.

I dig any time I get to harmonize with myself (it turns out I’m the perfect duet partner…for me) and Christmas has that in spades. I actually had to dial down the number of tracks since BT goes kind of crazy toward the end of the song and my limited editing ability couldn’t match it.

Enjoy! As always it’s available at my bandcamp site for a free download. No Xmas 2015 mix is complete without it!

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10553410_10204449416380343_7121517607838412198_nAnyone want some free ukulele music for the new year?

I know I haven’t posted much by way of One Wood Uke lately, but some things just can’t be rushed. I actually started working on this song in September while I was busking at our local farmers market (I’m also drinking Kombucha while I type this — hipster overload!!!) but then I got busy with my new job and before I knew it, it was the holiday season.

Fire/Fear (by The Head and the Heart) just didn’t seem right for a Christmas release, with its pining lyrics and lilting mood, but it’s absolutely perfect for January, the worst month of the year.

I mean, right? I’ve lived most of my life in Utah where January is a seemingly interminable tedium of inversion-bogged, dreary lifelessness. It doesn’t help anything that it’s also my birth month, since birthdays fill me with a creeping dread of mortality and a sense of wasted potential. Time: that unstoppable monster that devours all things.

But even if you’re not, like me, in the throes of seasonal affective disorder, this song is still for you 🙂 Sure it’s about heartbreak, but it’s also about hope. Right? I don’t know. I just like it.

The other reason it took me until January is because when I left my old job in October, I left behind the company-issued MacBook that came with it. Now, I’m not an Apple absolutist like some, but my personal computer was a rather dismal Asus that I had purchased on the cheap in 2012 and barely used since then. It wasn’t up to the task.

But now I’m back on a MacBook and it feels (and hopefully sounds) so right!

As always, head on over to bandcamp for a free download of the song. And if you can tell me in the comments the two places where I messed up you get a special prize.

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Ukulele

The average high in Salt Lake City for the last week was 96 degrees. It hit triple digits on Wednesday (102) and at night we’ve been lucky if the low gets down into the low 70s. I have a window box air conditioning unit in my living room, but the cool air doesn’t quite make it to my bedroom before being beaten down by the oppressive heat.

That’s my long-winded way of saying I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. And what is an amateur ukulelist with insomnia to do besides stare at the ceiling and will his eyelids to surrender to blissful slumber?

Record a cover song, duh, which is what I decided to do last night. I’m not a huge Pearl Jam fan, their heyday was a little before my time, but ‘Just Breathe’ holds a secure spot on my “I love this song so hard” Spotify playlist. I also like that it gives me a chance to work on my finger-picking skills on the Kamoa pineapple soprano.

As you can see by the clock in the video resting on top of my couch (it fell off the wall the other day and I haven’t gotten around to hanging it back up) it was about 10:30/11p.m. when I put this together. Between late night uke-ing and all the coconut curry I cook, I’m 100 percent sure that I’m my neighbors’ favorite neighbor. It could be worse, I could have a crying baby or a dog.

Oh, and to explain the header photo, I fastened my “official busker” pin and returned to the Salt Lake City farmers market this morning after an extended absence. It was a good day, but apparently my callouses had healed, which made for a painful afternoon.

Here’s the video, and as always you can download a free copy of the song on bandcamp.

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So this isn’t my best video, a fact that I attribute to two compounding challenges. First, iMovie decided to go ahead and upgrade itself, which is good because the new multi-layer video editing is a vast improvement but also means that I have to re-familiarize myself with the program and all of its new bells and whistles. Second, I had to get it done and posted today before my world gets completely dominated by the Sundance Film Festival, otherwise it would just never happen.

As a note, I apologize for all the closed-eyed ooh-ooh-ooohing. The song demands it and it’s hard to ooh-ooh-ooh with your eyes open. In fact, I just apologize for all the facial expressions I make in this. I really need to stop filming from a profile angle.

I’m a big fan of The Head and The Heart. I’ve seen them perform twice – once at The Depot in SLC and once at Sundance last year – and they’re just killer. If you’re not familiar with them, stop what you’re doing right now and go listen to them. Scratch that, watch my video and like it on Facebook, THEN go listen to The Head and The Heart.

Obviously my own musicality can’t even compare to THATH, but I hope you enjoy this song. I actually started working on a version of Down In The Valley about a year ago but could never quite get it right. Then the other day I was just goofing around with hammer-downs and a lightbulb went off for the strum pattern. That, and my new microphone that allows me to add fingerpicking and harmony tracks, sealed the deal.

I hope you like it. As always it’s available for free on my bandcamp page. And if you haven’t yet, check out the One Wood Uke collection that I created for Wood’s Stock. It’s all there to satisfy your ukulele-related needs. Enjoy.

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I said I’d be posting a video soon of my new Ukulele and sure enough, here it is. The best thing about the Kamoa is the low-base string, which let’s me do some travis pickin’. That also makes it perfect for a song I’ve been working on, Family of the Year’s Hero.

I first came across family of the year in a roundabout way. Last summer I went to a Civil Wars concert where Milo Greene was the opener. I thought Milo Greene sounded great so when they came back through town a month later and played Kilby Court I went and checked it out. It so happened that Family of the Year was opening at Kilby Court for Milo Greene, which is why you should always get to a concert earlier to hear the opening bands.

Anyway, Family of the Year is kind of exploding right now and Hero has gotten some decent radio time so you’ve likely heard it before. I’m not trying to say “I heard of them first,” but I did hear of them first. Just sayin.

Also, I threw this song on Bandcamp for any of you who want to have a little more One Wood Uke in your lives. It’s a free download and my covers of “The Boxer” and “Single Ladies” are on there as well. Hope you like it.

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