Thursday, 25 September 2014

Yes Sir, That's My Baby on Ukulele

"Yes Sir, That's My Baby" is one of those Tin Pan Alley songs that lends itself naturally to the ukulele. It's been recorded numerous times and in the year it was published, 1925, was a hit for Blossom Seeley, Ace Brigode and his 14 Virginians, Ben Bernie, The Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra, and Gene Austin who, according to the notes on this video, made the very first recording of the song. Billy Carpenter plays the ukulele here:

A few weeks ago, this video appeared, also recorded in 1925. It was made at the Case Research Lab, then in the process of developing the Movietone sound-on-film system:

These virtuosic arrangements notwithstanding, it has a fairly simple song structure and can be strummed with just a few chords. Ukester Brown's version in G includes the introduction, also heard in the recordings above. Doctor Uke simplifies the song down to its more familiar refrain. His arrangement is in C and quite close to that in this final video, a clip from the 1965 movie A Thousand Clowns. Jason Robards plays tenor ukulele and Barry Gordon is on soprano.

Many thanks to my teacher Robert Armstrong for introducing me to this song, the Case Research Lab video, and many other bits of history and music lore that led down this particular rabbit hole.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ukuleles in Wine Country

Ukulele festivals are everywhere now, but I wonder if anyplace has as many as California. We are fortunate to have several to choose from over the course of a year. 

Last week six of us attended the Wine Country Uke Fest, a favorite for its combination of workshops, performances, vendors and community playalongs. Everything takes place on a college campus just a short hop from some of the best vineyards and wineries in the country.

lunch on the quad 
Paul Hemmings, Char Mayer of MyaMoe Ukuleles, and Daniel Ward
Master of Ceremonies Andy Andrews leading the Saturday evening playalong
Event organizer Elaine De Man hands out ice cream dressed in a Good Humor outfit
Hot Steel & Cool Ukulele perform on Hawaii Day
'AHAmele Hawaiian music ensemble perform with hula dancer

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Music and the Brain

"While listening to music engages the brain in some pretty interesting activities, playing music is the brain's equivalent of a full-body workout."
I sent this link to my circle of ukulele players in July, but have a feeling that very few opened it. When I came across it again today, I thought it deserved a little more attention.

Even without this research, the pleasure of learning something new and the enjoyment that comes with music are reason enough to learn a musical instrument. But for those who doubt the good that music learning does, give yourself 5 minutes to watch the animation below: