Ukulelia – January: Young Ukers & Beatles Chords

A very very Happy New Year ukulele fiends! Whether you received your first uke for Christmas and can’t wait to start strumming or an old hand with a New Year’s resolution to improve your ukulele game in 2017, the Southern Ukulele Store has you covered!

But we don’t just stock amazing instruments, accessories and music, we also love to inspire you with the very best ukulele content from the world wide web every month. From resources and opinion pieces, to videos, tutorials and how-tos, our monthly Ukulelia roundup shares the very best stuff from the web-o-sphere from our very favourite musically-minded bloggers.

Stay turned…

This month: discover the five reasons why absolutely everybody needs to learn the ukulele, learn to play Here Comes The Sun and meet 10 amazing young ukulele players.

5 Reasons Everyone Needs a Ukulele

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We may love ukuleles. You may be a ukulele convert. But not everyone loves our favourite four-stringed instrument – yet! This blog from Australian multi-instrumentalist Herrin George features a comprehensive list of the five reasons why absolutely everybody needs to own a ukulele – perfect for making converts of even your most sceptical, non-strumming friends.

From the affordability of the instrument, to the portability and “sing-a-long-ability” of the humble ukulele, this post is a great persuader for the unconvinced and a great reminded for lapsed players too!

How to Play: Here Comes The Sun

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A cheering ditty about sunshine is just what the doctor ordered to cure those dark and dreary January blues. This chord sheet from the Centre Stage Ukulele Academy will help you feel summery even while you’re wearing your slipper socks. It also dives into the back story behind this sweet classic from George Harrison, who wrote the tune in the gardens of Eric Clapton’s country home while sneakily skipping a meeting with his record label.

10 Amazing Young Ukers

 

The ukulele may be an old favourite but plenty of youngsters are picking up the instrument and putting many of us old hands to shame. This amazing, inspiring blog from Ukes Up shares videos from ten astonishing young ukers from all over the world. From horrifyingly talented Hawaiian teens Honoka & Azita, to astonishing 15 year old musician Aiden James. Prepare to be very, very impressed!

Have you ever make an instrument out of unusual materials? Have you ever taken your uke abroad? Share your stories with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

 

Ukulelia – December: Ukulele History & Compositional Glory

Season’s Greetings ukulele lovers! A very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of the musical elves at the Southern Ukulele Store. Whether you’re receiving your very first ukulele this Christmas, or searching for a gift for the seasoned strummer in your life, you’ll find ukulele regalia and paraphernalia of all ilks in our online store.

Need a little more inspiration? We have something for that too…

Every month we comb the world wide web for the latest and greatest blogs and posts from ukulele fanatics the world over. This month; take a fascinating plunge into ukulele history, get inspired by a compositional project and enjoy some chilled out ukulele sounds.

Dive into Ukulele History

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The ukulele may be a small instrument, but it’s been hugely instrumental (gettit?) in social changes and movements throughout history, ever since its invention in Hawaii. From the four-stringed-wonders travels to Japan, to its role in German history, the ukulele has wormed its way into an awful lot of history. The blogger behind the UKULELE Japan blog is especially intrigued by the uke’s roots – and they’ve been posting regular fascinating journeys into the instrument’s past. If you love ukes and you love history, this blog is for you.

Composing for the Lincoln Ukulele Band

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We totally inspired by Making Music‘s “Adopt a Composer” project which pairs talented young music makers with skilled musicians in order to compose a unique piece of work. In this blog you can read all about Angela Slater’s journey towards creating a piece for the 50+ members of the Lincoln Ukulele Band, despite never having played a uke before! It makes fascinating reading and we were thrilled to hear that the piece premièred earlier this month! Lovely stuff.

Zuli Loves “Ukulele & Chill”

With all the 2016 doom and gloom and all this festive chaos and mayhem to contend with, sometimes it’s nice to escape the endless renditions of Slade and East17 and turn on something that totally transports you. Writing on Stereofox, blogger Zuli has shared a little slice of “get away from it all” Nirvana: Ukulele and Chill by Cody G. It does exactly what it says on the tin and we’d strongly recommend it for those moments when it all gets too much.

Have you ever make an instrument out of unusual materials? Have you ever taken your uke abroad? Share your stories with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – November: Ukulele Hangers & Musical Wanderlust

Welcome back to Ukulelia, your monthly spot for the best of ukulele news, ideas, resources and fun from all over the web. Each month the Southern Ukulele Store team keep up with their favourite online sources of ukulele goodness, then round up the very best of the bunch to share especially with you.

This month; get inspired to give your ukulele a proper wall mounting, give yourself a dose of ukulele wanderlust on Ben’s ukulele road trip and discover how smart crafter Amy turned a gourd into a ukulele!

How to Hang a Ukulele

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If you’re anything like the Southern Ukulele Store team, your four stringed instrument is one of your pride and joys. While photos of family and friends get pride of place on your wall, your very favourite instrument can all-too-often languish in a corner or rest amidst your clutter. This post from The Ukulele Blog by King Uke will change all that. Covering a variety of interesting ways to store, showcase and hang up your ukulele, this post will help you put your instrument safely in pride of place in an aesthetically appealing way.

Enjoy Wild Heights on Ben’s Ukulele Road Trip


Do you enjoy your ukulele with a side serving of wanderlust? Ben’s Ukulele Road Trip blog is an essential addition to your bookmarks bar. Since 2015 Ben has been roaming the globe with his ukuleles on the cultural adventure of a lifetime. In this edition Ben is in the rural village of Sibiel in Romania, strumming a very uplifting version of Wild Heights. We’ve got itchy feet already…

Make Your Own: Gourd-kelele

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Feeling handy? Enjoy a spot of DIY? Love ukuleles? This fantastic blog from Amy Makes Stuff will talk you through Amy’s latest project: making a ukulele out of a gourd. Given to her as a gag gift, Amy set about transforming her gourd into a playable – and actually pretty good lookin’ – ukulele. Amazing stuff from a very clever crafter!

Have you ever make an instrument out of unusual materials? Have you ever taken your uke abroad? Share your stories with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – October: Ukulele Breakfasts & Chord Cheats

With the leaves turning orange and a nip in the air, it’s one of the Southern Ukulele Store’s favourite times of year – perfect for curling up by the fire with your ukulele and a woolly jumper.

Whether you’re an old hand, a newbie or just trying to learn a couple of Christmas songs ahead of December, you’ll find tonnes of inspiration in our store and in our monthly Ukulelia round up. Every month we scour the web for the best ukulele blogs and resources, then share them with our readers right here.

This month; drool over a beautiful piece of wood as it is hand-crafted into a gorgeous ukulele, enjoy a ukulele breakfast in Hawaii and learn a few clever chord shortcuts.

Wooden it Be Nice?

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Exceptional luthier, David Ingalls, can trace his ukulele connection back to the 1800s and the life of his Hawaiian, haole seafaring great-great-great-grandparents. Perhaps that’s why he’s able to create bespoke instruments of such remarkable beauty. This blog shows off David’s current work in progress, a 16 inch concert ukulele made from drool-inducingly gorgeous quilted maple. If you have any interest in the craft of making ukuleles, David’s blog – Ono Ukes – is well worth a visit.

Ukulele Breakfasts in Kona, Hawaii

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Time for a little dose of ukulele island paradise. Fabulous blogger Ukulele Tonya has been chronicling her adventures in ukulele for years and this instalment shares her experiences of playing ukulele on the islands of the instrument’s birth. In Hawaii, Tonya was able to join in with a morning gathering of keen 40 strummers who love nothing more than a ukulele sing along to start a Thursday the right way Ah, island living, eh?

Cheating with Chords

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Who doesn’t love taking a sneaky shortcut every now and again? Jason of the Grande Royale Ükulelists of the Black Swamp (AKA the GRÜBS) certainly does. In this fun and friendly blog, Jason shares a few clever chord cheats which might make fast changes easier for beginners. Instead of swift finger reshuffles to hit D G and C, Jason used a few alternatives to keep everything nice and conveniently on the second fret. A handy read and well written too!

Do you have any ukulele “cheats” you’d like to share with our readers? Drop us a line and share your favourite uke stuff with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – August: Ukuambience & Cigar Boxes

With autumn just around the corner, September is a wonderful month for snuggling up with your favourite ukulele and learning some brand new songs and tricks. This season, the Southern Ukulele team have put together a collection of their favourite blogs and resources which will help you do just that, from online lessons and chords, to fun doses of creative inspiration.

This month; welcome to the web your new music teacher: Matt Ukulele, discover a new “ukuambient” genre with Kara Square and take a peek at some very old cigar box ukuleles.

New Online Uke Resource Launched

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There are some fabulous ukulele resources and blogs out there, packed with free chords, songs, tips, lessons and resources, but we’re firmly of the opinion that you can never have too much ukulele goodness. That why, this month we’re very pleased to welcome Matt Ukulele to the world wide web, a brand spanking new resource for uke lovers looking to learn some new chords and some fun ways to practice and use them. With a fresh lesson set to be posted each week, we look forward to seeing what veteran uke teacher Matt Dahlberg has to share.

Get Ukuambient with Kara Square


The ukulele’s sheer versatility is one of the things which love so much about our very favourite instrument, which is why devoted strummer Kara Square’s bandcamp single Ukuambient was such a fun listen for the Southern Ukulele team. A creative and experimental ukulele player herself, Kara has been working on a whole new genre for our four stringed friend. We love the results!   

  • What do you think of Kara Square’s unusual ukuambient sound? Have you come across any new ukulele genres you’d like to share? Let us know via Twitter.

Discover the Cigar Box Ukulele

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Kara may have the future of the ukulele all sewn up, but we still love the occasional delve into the uke’s rich history. This fascinating post published on Eddy Finn Ukes introduces readers to the charming looking cigar box ukulele which dates back to the 1840s. Lovely stuff, cheers Eddy!

Do you have a favourite historical style or uke or a favourite ukulele genre? Share your sounds and two cents with us via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – July: Two Chord Songs & the Calypso Strum

Happy July, ukulele strummers! Welcome back to a brand new, shiny update from the Southern Ukulele Store’s monthly fixture: Ukulelia. Every month, rain or shine (and in this case, a bit of both), we take this opportunity to share some of our favourite posts, blogs and resources from our favourite ukulele lovers on the world wide web.

This July: Meet ten young ukulele players who will inspire you to up your ukulele game whether you’re 16 or 85, pick up some two chord songs instantly, plus learn to perform the calypso strum.

10 Young Uke-ers Who Will Inspire You to Practice

 

Feeling low on motivation lately? That’s about to change. Following the rise to fame of America’s Got Talent’s ukulele playing 12 year old Grace VanderWaal this summer, the excellent Ukes Up blog curated a bumper list of ten of the worlds most inspiring young players.

Aged between 14 and 27, these fresh faces bring plenty of inspiring passion to their music which we guarantee will make you want to pick up your instrument and learn something new. We’ve included this video of 19 year old Sungha Jung playing Goyte’s Somebody That I Used to Know, shared by John of Ukes Up, because it’s just plain great!

Two Chord Songs for “Easy as Pie” Strum-AlongsPie_splet_on_pieIf you’re still struggling to get playing, even after all of that inspiration, this handy post from Wildflower Ukulele is sure to cure what ails ya. After all, who can resist the simplicity of a two chord song? From Deep in the Heart of Texas, to Jambalaya and Iko Iko there’s a whole host of ridiculously easy tunes to strum and sing here, which you can master in seconds. Thanks, Mr Tad Dreis!

How to Master: The Calypso Strum

Ready to inject some ready island vibes into your ukulele playing? It’s time to get the hang of the chilled out island strum. Most widely known as a calypso strum, this technique is relatively simple once you’ve got the hang of the pattern which goes: down down up – up down up. Repeat this pattern and you’ve got yourself some serious island feels. This excellent blog from ArtistWorks will teach you exactly how it’s done in more detail.

What is your favourite strumming pattern? Can you think of a young ukulele player who deserves a mention too? Have your say and share your favourite videos and resources with our team via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Ukulelia – June: Jazzkelele & Life on Four Strings

Welcome to summer, ukulele lovers! The weather’s been a mixed bag so far, but we hope you’ve have the chance to shoehorn in some al fresco ukulele sessions during the season’s sunny spells.

If you’re not feeling the ukulele groove recently, our brand new Ukulelia round up should put a twang back into your tunes. Each month we keep up with the very finest ukulele bloggers the world wide web has to offer, sharing our favourite posts with you right here.

This June: Fall victim to Liz Panton’s infectious passion for the ukulele, listen to a ukulele play some seriously good jazz, plus uncover the story of a true ukulele pioneer in a new documentary.

Meet: Liz Panton, the Ukulele Allsort

 

Liz Panton‘s blog, Ukulele Allsorts is a treasure trove of ukulele inspiration and news from the uke community in the UK. From posts sharing her very own songs, to videos of her music, updates about upcoming events and plenty of helpful resources, this is a blog infused with Liz’s passion for our favourite four stringed instrument. If you’ve got the blues about the uke lately, Ukulele Allsorts will sort you right out and inspire you to pick up your faithful ukulele once more.

A Little Jazzkelele

 

We’re constantly awed by the versatility of our favourite instrument. In different hands, the uke creates an incredible array of sounds, from folky noises and traditional Hawaiian vibes, to pure jazz. This amazing video of Benny Chong playing his gob-smackingly good brand of jazz ukulele is testament to the flexibility of the ukulele. We picked up this video via Uke Fans’ fantastic blog, which is crammed with tonnes of other amazing ukulele posts. Well worth a peruse!

Life on Four Strings: the Jake Shimabukuro Story


We love The Good Ukulele‘s edgier approach to our instrument of choice. Their blog is full of interesting posts for those who are excited about both the history of the ukulele and its future in contemporary music. We owe their curators thanks for sharing this clip from a new documentary about ukulele pioneer Jake Shimabukuro, entitled Life on Four Stings.

Who is your ukulele inspiration? What style of ukulele do you play? Have your say and share your favourite videos and resources with our team via Twitter @SUS_UKES.

Interview with Aaron Keim (Quiet American)

The second in our series of chats between Nicci and famous Ukulele players at Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2016.

Aaron Keim – A Brief Chat

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What ukulele do you perform with?

I perform with a bunch of different ukuleles, all of which, I made. So I build musical instruments for Mya-Moe- it’s the name of the company. Every one you see me play is one I made. The two that we’re playing this weekend are made from Myrtlewood, which is from Oregon where we live. It’s a local wood you can only get there.

What pickup do you use?

We use K&K pickups for everything. So the one that’s in our ukes, I think, are Twin Spot- K&K Twin Spot. All the instruments we have, from the banjos to the basses, they have K&K pickups.

Do you use a preamp or an amp and if so which one/ones?

We use LR Baggs preamps. I think it’s called a Para Acoustic DI- it’s the little brown box that goes on the floor. I’ve had that for 15 years, at least, and it’s great. I love it. And I have a little tiny five watt from the 1950s that I use when I use an amp. But I don’t fly with it because it would just break.

What tuning do you use?

On the baritone ukulele I use DGBE and it’s a low D fourth string. And on the tenor ukulele GCEA but high G because the high G is what I need to play the clawhammer and banjo style music, it has to have a high fourth string.

Is there anything you’d recommend for anyone starting out?

They should do high G; GCEA. That’s the most ukulele-y ish tuning. It’s the one that sounds most like a uke. The low fourth string is best for folks who maybe come from guitar because they may already have certain things already together and it makes sense to have that low fourth string.

Wound low G or unwound low G?

Wound, for sure. I hate the unwound low Gs because they’re too thick. They have to make them that thick to have the proper density to tune up to pitch but then they’re kind of thumpy sounding and they only sound good a few frets up and then they start to go really thumpy. The wound low G does have a more metallic sound but it’s diameter is somewhere like the other strings so it’s easier to play, I think. And the pitch is truer on that thinner string than the thick string. I know that every company makes an unwound low G but I prefer not to use them.

What is your favourite song or piece of music involving the ukulele?

James Hill’s newest CD is called ‘Old Silo’ and…I can’t remember the name of the tune. I can sing but I don’t know what it’s called. James Hill is one of my favourite musicians and what’s great about him is that he’s a virtuoso performer but he writes all of his own music and it’s all super high quality. There are other virtuosos who don’t write their own music, they play other people’s. But James can do both and that’s why I think he’s tops.

New Moon- it’s the first track on there. That’s an instrument I built. In this video he’s got a big piece of black tape on the top because he cracked it. And I keep saying “James, I’ll fix it. Next time you see me, I’ll fix it”. And he keeps forgetting, so he keeps making YouTube videos like this with a big piece of tape stuck to the top. That’s good, though, I like to see them come back that way. If you make an instrument and it just sits in the closet, what’s the point?

If you had up to 5000GBP to spend on any ukulele right now, what would you buy?

That doesn’t count because I would spend £5000 on wood and make lots of ukuleles!

Roughly how many could you make?

I have to do my math first of all. That’s like $7000 of wood and I can get enough wood to make a really great ukulele for like $400. So that’s like 40 instruments. I could make one for myself and sell the rest.

Can you tell us a little bit about your signature Beansprout banjo?

I started making banjo-ukuleles first because no-one was making one new that I thought was any good. This was like 2002/3. You could buy old ones and then fix them up, which was great, but they didn’t have some of the modern features I wanted them to have. And there’s a banjo company near where I lived that made me a big banjo, a five string banjo, and I asked him to make a banjo-uke for me. He said “how old are you?”, I said “I’m 21”. He said “when I was 21 and I wanted a banjo and no-one else would make it so I made it myself. So you should make it yourself”. So that’s how Beansprout started. And then when I started working for Mya-Moe, it became part of Mya-Moe, and then when I go back out on my own in a few years it will still be our signature model, probably. But it’s just a little banjo, technically. But it sounds great and it plays great and it’s my favourite.

What are your plans for your own luthier company and can you tell us anything about the work you’re doing for it at the moment?

At the moment, in the middle of 2017 I’ll start making some banjo-ukes for customers with the new designs. In 2018 I’ll start making regular ukes with new designs. Right now, I’m prototyping new woods, new shapes and sizes, new construction techniques, new materials, as well as trying to plan things like logos, graphic design, artwork, photography, website, database, taxes. It takes a lot. I don’t actually know how many instruments I’m going to be able to make a year when I’m by myself. As a group, with all the people, we’re making about 300 instruments a year. It’ll be smaller when I’m on my own so I don’t even know yet how much they’re going to cost because there’s a lot of math that needs to be done to make that happen.

What’s it like performing with your wife and do you settle arguments with competitive uke playing?

No, we don’t. It’s great playing with Nicole but the thing I always say is people pay us to travel, because the travel is what’s frustrating, annoying and difficult. The music is the easy part. So having a good teammate is necessary if you’re gonna travel with each other. I’ve spent years in bands with guys and it’s hard to find people that you can work with and live with – because you’re basically living with them. So we’re a good team. Mostly when we settle musical arguments, I usually win because Nicole gives up, which is an issue. We need to work on that. But when it comes to everything else, she’s pretty much in charge.

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How grateful are people generally for workshops such as these?

I think that we really make our living teaching. And performing is secondary. Not because we choose that but because that’s what people choose. People like the one-on-one experience of being in the room and being able to really interact and learn a little bit about what we do and also Nicole and I are trained as teachers so I think we have a little bit extra edge on our workshops as they’re a little more educationally sound than other folks. So people respond to that and all our workshops are generally sold out wherever we go. If we wanted to do that all the time, travel all the time, we probably could. But we like to be home, too.

Do we need more ukulele in the charts?

Oh, I don’t mind whatever. There’s a lot in the charts compared to 10 years ago. But to me, I don’t play the ukulele because I’m obsessed with the ukulele, I just play music and this is an instrument I love. So I’m not quite as militant as some of our friends are. I don’t mind if someone plays their guitar and the ukulele. But it’s nice when it pops up, so I wouldn’t mind.

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An interview with Phil Doleman at the GNUF (Grand Northern Ukulele Festival) 2016

None of the team here at SUS could make it up in person to the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in May 2016. Thankfully though, friend of the shop Nicci was on hand to interview a couple of the performers about what influences the music they play and the tools they use to do it.doleman cover

Phil Doleman

What ukulele do you perform with?

I have got a couple but my main one is a resonator ukulele that was made for me by my friend Sven in Sweden. It’s an Argapa, which is Swedish for angry monkey. It’s a really loud, brash little thing.

What pickup do you use?

I don’t. Don’t plug in, I’m very, very old school. I point a mic at it and it’s one of the reasons I play a resonator a lot of the time, why I play finger-picks, because I need to make a lot of noise towards the mic. And I’ve got a loud voice as well so I need to match the two things up.

Is there any reason you don’t use a pickup and prefer it natural?

I like the sound. I think it sounds much more authentic, much more like a ukulele rather than some electric gadget. But also I’ve learnt over the years that the more stuff you’ve got, the more can go wrong. So I like to have as little stuff possible that has batteries, wires and cables.

What strings do you use?

I use Aquila High G strings. I’m an Aquila endorsee so I use them on everything.

What kind of tuning are you on?

C tuning, high fourth on everything. (4u Soprano – 7u Concert – 10u Tenor)

What kind of tuning would you recommend for someone who’s never picked up a ukulele before?

I would say the same thing; C tuning with a high G is that real, typical ukulele sound. Plus so much of the learning material out there is geared toward that tuning.

Wound low G or unwound low G?

Neither. I play tenor banjo as well and I have my tenor banjo tuned as a baritone uke. That has a low fourth string on it so I don’t really need a baritone uke because I just use the tenor banjo. But that’s metal strings.

What’s the appeal of a ukulele over other instruments?

I started as a guitarist, I played for years as a guitarist, and I still play guitar, but the uke for me – not only is it this brilliant instrument that I can just pick up and get on a train or a bus and go to a gig and perform without having to take a Transit van full of gear – it’s also a great instrument for playing in groups. It’s a very social thing so I get to meet a lot of people and play with a lot of people. It’s just people get together and have fun and make music together in a way that a lot of other musical instruments don’t tend to encourage people to do.

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What is your favourite song or piece of music involving the ukulele?

The favourite one that I play on the ukulele at the moment is the one I was doing in the workshop which is Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Trouble in Mind’, which I actually learned from Aaron Keim. My favourite one that people associate with the uke is really, really corny, but I’ve been asked to play it so many times, it’s ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’, which Joe Brown did at the concert for George Harrison – the tribute concert when he died. He came on, huge band behind him with Eric Clapton and all sorts of people like that, he walked on with this little uke, did ‘I’ll see You in My Dreams’, and rose petals fell from the ceiling of the Albert Hall. And nearly every student that comes to me, comes to me because they want to do that. And I love it.

If you had £5000 to spend on a ukulele, what would you buy?

I would probably buy a new car first! For that money I could buy several entirely different ones because I’ve got some lovely ukuleles, they’re all tools, they all get taken out, they all get gigged with, they all get scratched, they all get beer spilt on them, but they’re tools to do a job with. I’d hate to buy something so expensive, I wouldn’t dare to take it to a gig.

If it were £500-£1000…?

You could just about get the uke I was playing in the workshop then which is a Koaloha soprano. Get one of those just about for £600. They’re Hawaiian made, absolutely beautiful, beautiful instruments – a joy to play. And I think you should get the best instrument you can because it will inspire you to play better. But there are lots of UK based builders who could build you something to your spec very nicely for under £1000.

What has been the best festival you’ve played at?

They’re all so, so different. Some of them are different to others in terms of how much it’s geared towards performance or geared towards learning. I think as an overall experience, for me a few weeks ago I went to the West Coast Ukulele Retreat. West Coast of America, in San Francisco, and I got to spend five days out there but it wasn’t a festival like this. Very little performing, it was all teaching; like a proper full timetable. But it was just an amazing experience because when I took up the uke I didn’t think that 14 years after picking up a uke I would have gone from just strumming a few songs in my living room to playing festivals to going to other countries to going to America and it’s absolutely insane that that’s happened.

So what’s the furthest you saw playing the Ukulele would take you?

I never thought it would go anywhere. When I started playing, there wasn’t a uke-boom at all. When I picked up a uke you couldn’t get a decent uke in this country. If you saw someone play the uke it was a film with George Formby in it or it was a George Formby impersonator or it was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Or maybe, if you’re watching American TV, Tiny Tim. And that was about it. The guy that is playing guitar with me here, Ian, we toured together – he’s a great uke player, as well – we played together for years as a duo. When we started, we wanted to form a band. We couldn’t find anyone else. There were two of us and that was it. We couldn’t buy ukuleles in this country, we had to order them. We just thought it would be this tiny little niche thing, and year after year it got bigger. Then there was a festival, then there were two festivals, and then there was Southern Ukulele Store opening. Lots of other shops opened up selling really good ukes in the UK. And every year you think the bubble’s gonna burst and it doesn’t. It just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

What’s your favourite kind of music to play?

I play music from the early part of the 20th century. So 19-teens, 1920s. Most of it leans towards Blues, which is what I’ve loved since I was a teenager.

Do we need more ukulele in the Top 40?

I’m 45, so I have no idea what the Top 40 is like. It’s not for me, as my children will tell me.

How grateful are people generally for workshops like this?

The workshops are a great thing, because there are so many ukulele clubs. So people get together and they get together for the social aspect of it and they get together to song together, make music together, make their own entertainment. But a large part of what I do is travel around visiting clubs and I probably visit 30 or 40 clubs a year to do workshops for them. And I nearly always go back to those clubs the next year or 18 months later. I get to see how they’ve changed and how they’ve developed what they do. I think it’s quite important for a lot of clubs to keep the momentum going, keep getting better and learning more stuff and just really turning it from something that you just learn three chords and then you stick on this plateau. I think a lot of people now want to do more with it and they want to be musicians. They want to play music, play with other people, not just feel like ‘oh, I’m just a uke player. I can’t join in’.

So many little Ukulele communities now…

Oh, absolutely. I see a lot of people come to lots of workshops. People in that workshop I know because they’ve been to my workshops previous years or I’ve been to their clubs or some of them are my students who come to me for private lessons. They’re just really eager to learn. A lot of people who are learning, it’s their first instrument they’ve ever played and they’re learning it later in life. So I have students who are in their 60s, 70s. My student Keith is 85, never played an instrument before in his life. For him it’s a chance to use his brain and learn to do something that he always wanted to do and keep busy and active and have a full life. It’s working for him.

phildoleman2

Special thanks to Nicci and Phil. Keep checking back for more interviews in the coming weeks.

Phil Doleman can be found at many Ukulele engagements across the UK and beyond. For private lessons or to listen to his music – please visit www.phildoleman.co.uk

Until next time.

Alex

Ukulelia – May: Common People & Here Comes the Sun

Hello ukulele fiends! Welcome, one and all, back to Ukulelia. This is the Southern Ukulele Store’s monthly roundup of our very favourite ukulele blogs, news, websites and resources from the past month.

We love keeping up with all things ukulele online, and finding out what you’ve all been up to with everybody’s favourite four-stringed instrument (yes, that’s right, the ukulele – begone, violinists!). So without further ado… Continue reading