rock that uke

i’m sure this post will get me called nasty names on some uke messages boards somewhere (seriously, that happened last time — i found the incoming link; they were angry little uke-lovers).

my ukulele journey continues, thanks, in major part, to my good friend (and new ys vp of marketing), dave palmer. dave lived at my house for a few weeks while house hunting in san diego, and before he moved his family from nashville. as a thanks at the end of the first week, dave graciously gave jeannie a nice bottle of wine, and gave me, well, a dvd called “rock that uke“.

i thought i’d moved beyond this. but i’m sucked back in.

the whole thing started back in the fall of 2005, after i’d spent a weekend speaking at a camp for high schoolers, and noticed the rash of bad uke playing breaking out like marijuana joints pulled from pockets. i posted this completely tongue-in-cheek bit of alarmist humor: the newest dangerous trend among teenagers

this was early in my blogging life, and i was worried about offending people (ha!). in fact, it had become clear that i actually had offended some people. so, idiot that i am, i tried to use humor to diffuse the situation, with this follow up post: clarifiying my ukulele position

NUkes small3.jpgsome were not happy with this, other were enjoying it greatly. one of the latter was youth worker (and now friend) bobbie, who created this logo and custom ordered it on tshirts and stickers. i received the stickers (and still have one stuck somewhere), but never got the tshirt, much to bobbie’s frustration with the custom tshirt maker. i wrote about this part too: ooh, i inspired a tshirt

i was slightly moved away from nastiness by a shockingly gorgeous uke performance of george harrison’s while my guitar gently weeps, and linked to it in this post: i will give this inch

and, now, the dvd from dave. here are some random observations:
1. there’s a surprising amount of variety in uke-music
2. some of it is actually enjoyable to listen to
3. hardcore uke players, if this dvd is a fair representation, are a unique and quirky group o’ peeps. seriously. i mean, i like unique people; but many of these folk had at least three toes across the line of ‘circus side show freak’.
4. even with the most interesting and original and skilled uke playing, i can only take so much.
5. back to the freak-factor: i found myself with these kinds of responses, watching the stories of uke fanatics:
a. “oh, he just needs a job.”
b. “ok, that guy just seriously needs a date.”
c. “i would not choose that guy to represent my musical fetish in a dvd of my creation.”
d. “it’s like the island of misfit toys.”
e. “and, how is that electric uke band thing working out for you?”

all that said (or, written, as the case may be), i will now leave you with an amazing little video of the ukulele orchestra of great britain pretending they can’t decide what song to perform; but it doesn’t matter as long as they all have the same basic song structure.

11 thoughts on “rock that uke”

  1. Oh man, thanks a LOT. I have been wanting a ukelele and I don’t know why, and this surely will not help. I think that song by Paul McCartney gave me the bug for it.

  2. they totally cheated..
    there’s a guitar player in there. amendment to their name: ukulele orchestra and guitar man.

    just another of those things that make you go, “hmmmmm…”

  3. joshbrown – yes, that girl has talent; but i think you and i must have different definitions of ‘mad uke skillz’!

  4. BTW, that’s an acoustic bass. I guess technically its a guitar. But even these guys appreciate the value of the undergirding low notes.

  5. Came across your blog here while Googling for references to the recent 3 1/2 star review “Rock That Uke” got from Film Threat. I have to take issue with the characteriztion of the interviewees being close to “circus freaks” who just need jobs, sex, etc. to right the flaws you see in their personalities. They are quirky folks, no doubt, and very funny. A lot of them also have troubled pasts or are just plain insecure. But I think the point of the movie was that they have found a kind of confidence in this little instrument that people laugh at, because they see the instrument, in a way, as themselves. But if you find your own confidence in calling other people “circus freaks”…hey, to each his own. I guess.

  6. That was a cool video. The video of “While My guitar gently weeps” is Jake Shimabukuro. In my book, he’s the epitome of an ukulele player. He is amazing with just the uke, but also can do incredible things with pedals and such. There’s tons of videos of him on youtube. Here’s one
    of an encore from one of his concerts, in which the audience shouts for him to play faster and faster. He is so fast his hand doesn’t even look real!

  7. Oh yeah, I forgot to say he talks the first 2.5 minutes so you can skip ahead.

    Anyway, of course we love the ukulele in Hawaii, but Jake’s my favorite on it.

  8. Okay, that was some amazing musicianship (and yes, that’s an acoustic bass, not a guitar, I guess it can join the uke orchestra because it only has four strings)

    Interesting Side Comedy…watch the second guy from the left (the first soloist)…he changes looks throughout the song (at least in my imagination)

    1st looks like Christopher Guess (Mighty Wind, Best in Show, etx.)
    Then looks like Chris Noth is blended in
    Part way through add a little bit of Rowand Atkinson (Bean)
    Finally, when the lady on the left is singing I Will Survivor he leans back and I swear he looks like Rob Bell (Nooma videos).

    Anybody else see that?

    I also noticed that at times the lady on the right looks like my Junior Year English teacher Ms Avery, not that anyone else would be able to notice that.

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