Posts Tagged ‘Ukulele Covers’

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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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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For the last few months I’ve been mildly obsessed with the trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s the latest movie by the Coen Brothers (boom) about folk music (BOOM!) and features a soundtrack produced by T. Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford with performances by Justin Timberlake (what comes after all caps? BOOM?).

Anyway, I’ve been watching it a lot, which subsequently led to the featured track “Fare Thee Well” getting lodged in the wet concrete of my head. It’s also known as “Dink’s Song,” a folky ditty that has seen several renditions over the years.

I started playing around with it about a month ago but there was one problem, it’s a duet and I am (as my stage name suggests) One person.

But luckily, it’s Christmas time and I decided to finally go ahead and by the Blue Yeti microphone I’ve been wanting ever since we shot the video for “The Boxer.” With that in hand, I was able to just descend into the depths of narcissism and sing both parts myself (because who needs friends when you have DIY digital recording equipment?)

The mic runs for a little more than 100 bones, connects directly to your laptop’s USB and gets surprisingly good sound – I had to unplug my refrigerator while I was recording because I could hear the buzz in my headphones and one take had to be scrapped because you could hear the “walk” chimes from the intersection half a block down the street.

So here’s the latest from One Wood Uke. As always the track is available for free on bandcamp (just click the “buy now” button and then enter zero in the price window).

Enjoy the video, and let me know what you think.

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My family has a number of annual traditions but among them are a late-June trip to Bear Lake’s Ideal Beach and an extended-family soiree at my parent’s house on the 3rd and 4th of July.

Last July 4th, a group of us sat outside in the shade and had an impromptu drum-circle-esque jam session. I had been playing the Uke for about 6 months and by then my mother, brother, cousin and niece had also picked up Ukes of their own, mostly out of interest in the instrument but also due partly (I think) to the recent passing of my late grandfather John, a life-long ukulele player.

Because we were a rag tag group of assorted musical tastes, we stuck to covering mainstream and well known songs that everyone could join in on. After a few rounds of uke-ified Justin Bieber, Train, Beatles, and Coldplay my cousin Alex suggested — jokingly — that we try some Beyonce.

What followed was a simplified acoustic version of Single Ladies that I’ve played probably a hundred times since and has become something of a signature piece for me. Almost every time I’ve seen my brother in the last year we’ve talked about how we needed to film a cover of the song, but we could never quite find the right time to do it.

So this year, as we enjoyed our week of lakeside R&R on the Utah/Idaho border, we finally got the thing done. The video is nothing special, just the two of us jamming on the grass with some scattered haphazard b-roll of us goofing around.

At some point I think it would be fun to film a black-and-white version mimicking Beyonce’s famous music video. But for now, this will do. If you like it, put a ring on it.

Also, I uploaded the recording to bandcamp.com so if you’re interested in a free download click here.

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After months of analog, One Wood Uke has gone digital. I got tired of trying to play and sing into the bargain bin digital recorder that I bought for work so I splurged on an Apogee Jam, which is a USB guitar input for your laptop or Ipad.

Basically every web search I did on the subject pulled up the Jam, which boasts of being “studio quality” with the same kind of Quixotic delusion you would expect from a product geared towards novice musicians who make DIY recordings in their living room (like me).

That said, you kind of can’t help but marvel at modern technology that lets any yahoo with a laptop record a song and post it online for the world to hear. As my mother has said countless times since I was a child, “The pioneers would LOVE this!” (that, and Penicillin, I suspect.)

Anyway here’s a video of me trying out my new toy and failing miserably at the finger-picking sections of Jake Shimabukuro’s Kelly’s Song. If you want to hear what it sounds like in the hands of a capable ukulele player, click here.

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CoverArt2_webtitle  Let’s get right to the good stuff shall we? For a free download of my cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” click here. Once there, click on the big blue letters that say “Buy Now” and then enter a big fat zero when asked how much you want to pay — or some other number, followed by your credit card information 🙂

As an aside, we put this track together in the basement of my aunt’s house. My cousin-in-law Chris is a bit of a local music phenom who also dabbles with at-home DIY recording. He’s the one in the video rocking the shaker/tamborine combo and I handled the Uke, vocals and piano.

So, since I know you’ve all been thinking “Man, I wish I could have Ben Wood playing Ukulele in my ear when I go for my morning jog/drive through my morning commute/gaze longingly out of rain-swept windows” you are in luck.

But wait, that’s not all.

As you may or may not know, my sister and I are film enthusiasts and have some lofty goals of world domination. But every journey has a first step so we decided that putting together a quick music video would be good practice for future projects.

In hindsight music videos are a difficult first step, as the need to synch your video to an audio track is exaggerated, making it hard to convincingly mimic that you’re singing live when you’re actually not. But all in all I think it came together pretty well for a couple of kids who didn’t really know what they were doing.

Enjoy.

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