Wednesday, 29 April 2015

She's the Most! video collaboration by Phil Doleman and Todd Baio



She's the Most - written by Murray Berlin... what a great collaboration this is! Lovely old song, great vocal by Todd... and you should know, dear readers, that's Phil Doleman on the small screen at the back - my new uke teacher! (Instrumental break, including the slide guitar - lovely stuff!)

Of course I shouldn't be blogging... I'm preparing for some fun-packed, ukulele-packed weeks ahead... a week or so around Hawaii, no less, and after that the uke festivals come fast and furious. My little blue travel uke is poised... I'll be telling you all about it, just as soon as I can....

Monday, 20 April 2015

Mike Warren, Leaning on a Lamppost...Ukulele Fever 2014



Mike Warren, one of the best exponents of the George Formby style of banjo-ukulele playing, playing at the concert "Ukulele Fever 2014" last October. George Formby's songs are often played with a backing band or backing track, but Mike plays unaccompanied here; it's a lovely performance of "Leaning on a Lamppost" and shows off his Formby-style expertise beautifully.

What is "Formby-style"? in a George Formby song, the song part (sung) is sung to a pared-back, simple accompaniment on ukulele, where the singing and the lyrics are the important bit - then comes a uke solo, usually banjo-uke, full of syncopated, tricky strumming techniques such as the split-stroke, which take ages to learn to do, especially at speed and in time, unless you're under 16......! (The GFS has many talented teenagers who play the style with great aplomb!)

It warms my heart to see George's music played at a ukulele event. Too many fans of the wooden uke in the UK disparage George and his music, which saddens me enormously, especially when it's done on stage. George Formby was a much-loved artist during the 1930's and 40's with his saucy songs full of inuendo, some of which were banned by the BBC! Not this song, though, which was written by Noel Gay and was first performed in the George Formby film "Feather Your Nest". It has become perhaps the most popular of all the songs George performed and a little lamppost is emblem and badge of the George Formby Society. George and his wife Beryl worked extensively during the Second World War for the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), and entertained civilians and troops, and by 1946 it was estimated that he had performed in front of three million service personnel.

If you want to learn to play Formby-style, visit Mike Warren's website...

And please - don't knock George. He's a Ukulele Hero!

Thanks for dropping in!

Friday, 17 April 2015

What - Widecombe Fair on Ukulele? Oh YES!

But this is NOT the song that you may have learned all those years ago - oh no!


As a child, one of my prize possessions was "The News Chronicle Songbook" - a book full of all manner of songs, which had belonged to my grandmother.
It was the only sheet music in the house, and I used it to play my recorder. I thought it a treasure trove, and discovered all sorts of songs which I would never have come across otherwise... sea shanties and old folk songs, spirituals, hymns and carols... it's still among my treasures now, and if it seemed battered then now it's even more so.
One of the songs I learned and loved was "Widdicombe Fair".. Widecombe-in-the-Moor is a village in Dartmoor National Park in Devon, and the song tells of Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All.... a tale of woe ... Dartmoor is NOT a place one would wish to get lost. If you don't know the old song, hear it here..

Anyway... as I told you last time, I have been hosting Season of the Ukulele, number 164, on the Ukulele Underground Forum. As my theme, I chose "All the Fun of the Fair"... and one of the "Seasonistas" found..... this video. I think it's a spine-tingling performance of this song by "Phil" of the Yorkshire Dales..... Here's his own page.... PhilzMusic

The song was written by Steve Knightley of the English folk duo Show of Hands, and is a reworking of the title and the theme of the old song. It includes the names of the characters and even Tom Pierce and his grey mare - but you never heard this tale before. I love it.... and had to share.

See Steve Knightley perform his song live with his South American cuatro here

Thanks for dropping in! Coming up - some of the songs from my "All the Fun of the Fair" week. Don't go too far away, now!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Day in the Life - The Ukelites cover... Amazing.



A uke and a U-bass and without doubt the most challenging of Beatles numbers .... unbelievable. Are these two something special or are they not? They are. THEY ARE!

Quickie post - could not delay. A bonus for the day! You are sure to enjoy this as much as I did!

Spring arrives and I'm hosting a Season of the Ukulele...

The land is greening at last, under our eyes. Along the roads, the hawthorn hedgerows are densely speckled with bright green - the buds that have just burst and will, within days, clothe them in the rich new green of the true spring. I love it. My heart and spirits rise along with the sun and the sap.

From my window, the horse chestnut tree in the front garden has also burst its buds and the leaves have begun to unfurl... and the pale pink cammellia below the bedroom window is smothered in perfect blooms.

I'm busy. I'm hosting this week's Ukulele Underground Forum "Seasons of the Ukulele" and the theme is "All The Fun Of The Fair". I Haven't hosted before and it's great fun - the variety and quality of the entries is amazing - as host I need to watch each video entry and choose winners after the week has ended. Five days still to go. If you follow the link, you can take a peek yourself... why not join up and join in?

And I had a uke lesson a couple of days ago, with Phil Doleman. I think I'm doing okay. I took my new DJ Morgan concert ukulele. He was impressed with it. I'm going to do a video review of it just a soon as I get a chance... and I'll post some of the entries from "All the Fun of the Fair" week.

And now.. washing, dusting, places to go, people to see, uke to practise.... onward and upward.

Thanks for dropping in!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

OldGardnerGuy and a North Country Girl - ukulele

"Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine..."




A stunningly beautiful video I simply had to share with you... a ukulele cover of the Dylan song from the 1960's, "Girl From The North Country" by one of the regular Seasonistas of the Ukulele Underground Forum, known to many of us "Rob", AKA "weegingayin" and on his YT channel, OldGardnerGuy.

The quotes from the song Scarborough Fair are clear.

The tender vocal treatment of this song is as mesmerising as it is different, as is the ukulele "dry-strum" accompaniment, done to rhythmic perfection here. All beautifully enhanced by the video images of north country Finland, shot by Rob near his home.

Made my day. I hope it helps to make yours.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Dave Morgan. Luthier, DJ Morgan Ukuleles, (Dudley, England) - remember that name!

I am the very proud owner of a new hand-built ukulele, and it's gorgeous.

This was not a commission, but an off-the-shelf purchase that just happened to be exactly what I was looking for - a concert uke in solid mahogany with 14 frets to the body, fret markers to the fingerboard and the side, a nice rosette, good geared tuners... the builder's name is Dave Morgan, (DJ Morgan Ukuleles) and is based in Dudley, a town not far from me in the English West Midlands. We chatted on the phone and he offered to bring the uke round for me to see. All arranged for yesterday morning. I waited with bated breath - would this uke be heavy? Over-built? Dead? Thick sound-board? I needn't have worried, it's beautiful, beautifully made and sounds just great. I'm thrilled to bits with it.


Dave Morgan is a cabinet-maker and guitarist of thirty years turned ukulele enthusiast and luthier. He just loves building ukuleles! The workmanship was always going to be spot-on. He says "All of my ukuleles are completely handmade, all timber components are individually crafted by myself even the kerfing strips. The only finished components I buy are the strings, fret wire and the tuners. As all my ukuleles are individually made they will all be unique in appearance depending on the materials I choose."

The intonation is perfect, with a saddle angled to aid this. And there are some inspired touches - the fret markers (5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 15th) are made of green abalone, which looks gorgeous. Also tiny ones to the side of the neck - I like those. The rosette is white with black edges, and is perfectly placed around the sound hole. And see that headstock? The three stripes? So subtle that I didn't notice them until Dave had gone home. Beautiful! Noticing that was like an extra surprise.

Grover tuners, nut and saddle hand-made from corian, rosewood finger board and bridge. And it is a joy to play. I'm going to do a video review - watch out for that!

And you know what else? He really is such a lovely fella, a great craftsman and I wish him well.

Like I said, watch that name - Dave Morgan, DJ Morgan Ukuleles - from the Black Country.

He's on facebook and sells on Etsy and ebay. As I write, he has another mahogany concert like mine and some gorgeous sopranos with Sitka spruce tops.... you really should look!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

So why am I now having ukulele lessons, after all this time?

So why, after owning a uke for nine years and starting to try to seriously get to grips with it for three and a half, have I decided to start taking lessons just now? After all, I’ve been getting on OK on my own, following videos and so on; I can play quite a few chords, do an instrumental or two, play a couple of tricky strums, have fun on my own or with other folks… well. It’s because it was gradually dawning on me that I need guidance… and taking in hand. Some discipline. A route through the maze. I’ve been having lots of fun for more than three years, dipping into this, having a go at that, but I came to think that learning in my own way was rather like herding cats. Because there’s Chord Melody cat, Jazz Standards cat, Blues cat, the George Formby-style cat… and chief cat Myself was actually not doing the most productive and efficient job iof turning me into a half-decent player - which is what I want to be. To make faster progress I needed a proper shepherd. What’s more, I hate Skype, and I realised ages ago that if I were to have uke lessons, they would have to be face-to-face ones...

So the bottom line is, I’m having lessons with the wonderful Phil Doleman, (more about Phil later…. ) Lucky me…. He lives not TOO far away for me to travel. Right now I’ve had three lessons, and already I know it’s paying off…. Phil’s a great teacher, and his love of the music of the 20’s and 30’s and blues suits me down to a T.

This is a piece he gave me a couple of weeks ago. Shine on Harvest Moon. Still a little ragged, but definitely getting there!



This is unlisted... but I'll do another video when I can play it better!

If you watched - thank you! And if you are learning to play the uke, don't stop!