Sunday, 29 March 2009

Uke

Depending on what mood I am in during an interview I'll say that I started my music career on the guitar/piano/drums within the rock/jazz/hip-hop/folk idiom. The bald truth is that it started with the Ukelele playing the tune "Show me the way to go home".

I am still fascinated by this miniature hawaiin instrument and wander around the house with it regularly close to my personage. I can't play any of my usual repertoire on it, or indeed any particular chords but I do appear to have amassed a large amount of original songs (no longer than two minutes) that have originated and will probably stay within the confines of the Uke. They are mostly about doing the laundry and other workaday activities.

My grandfather used to entertain me and calm me down as an overexcited toddler with his ukelele. Making up songs about robins and appropriating anything from Sesame Street or the theme from Columbo. It wasn't long before I made a grab for it myself and Grandad showed me the four chords that constituted "Show me the way to go home". I spent weeks mastering it and played it obsessively like some malfunctioning George Formby robot.

I soon branched out into other public domain classics - Amazing Grace, Oh Danny Boy, some Christmas carols etc. But it wasn't long before the seemingly cooler and peer approved electric guitar crackled into view. I became far more interested in playing "Wild Thing" and "Dizzy" by the Wonderstuff through a wall of distortion.

It was travelling on a tour bus that got me into the ukelele again. Guitars and keyboards always seemed to end up in the back of trucks or covered in cigarette butts. The uke however could fit in your bunk or in your bag. So I bought one in a little music store in San Diego - a little jewel of an instrument which rarely leaves my side.

Thanks Grandad. It may have been you that started all this.


My Brightest Diamond - The Gentlest Gentleman from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.



7 comments:

  1. "I can't play any of my usual repertoire on it"

    Well, not -quite- true. You can play After You've Gone on it! (or attempt to..) :P

    I love that song. :)

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  2. man, i love the Ukelele, always wanted to play it and in fact bought a really dodgy one off ebay... then a learn to play book... then ... well nothing... just reading this has inspired me to dig it out again, id love to learn a few of the old classics as well as some east end knees up numbers! But i'll save renditions of that for a drunken night with mr connor and yourself one day... or maybe one day not! :) Maybe i should just stick to cameras! SimonH

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  3. Can I just say that I'm super jazzed that you're blogging.

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  4. Come one, you can't just say that you have music about laundry with an ukelele and don't upload it somewhere! If you sing it wearing your pyjama, it's magic, and I need to watch it.

    Oh, please!

    Pretty please!

    Please pretty please with sugar on top?

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  5. Did you know that the ukalele is the 'son' of a portuguese guitar about the same size called 'cavaquinho' ?

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  6. Whoa,
    Hold up a min Ukelele?? That's a huge jump bro, but I guess it beats kazoo right?
    I started on Drums and just kind of stuck with it, the difficult thing has been the theoretical approach to harmony and above all, the piano. I tried pie-ana but it made my pinky finger ached like crazy so, I stick to the drums.
    Peas,
    DD

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