Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: Celebrating

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain signatures on Ohana sopranino ukulele

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain signatures on Ohana sopranino ukulele

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Concert Tickets and signed program

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Concert Tickets and signed program

It’s always a great thing to think back on a music group you have enjoyed and remember when you only thought you would see them on YouTube, but never face-to-face.

About six years ago, I watched every YT of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Now, I can say that I have seen them twice in performance in my hometown and this year, they are celebrating 30 years together.

On Sunday, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain was lively and entertaining as usual for two hours.  There’s  more detail about the concert on judyrobinsondesigns and a different set of photos.

Ukulele Wood Pendant

Ukulele Wood Pin similar to the ones given to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

I really enjoy that the groupmembers make themselves accessible afterward for signatures and ukulele talk.  When I asked George about

Richie playing with steel strings, George looked at me quizzically and said, “You could tell that?”  Of course I could. My seat was on the third row in the orchestra pit.  And I enjoyed every bit of watching facial expressions and watching them play those ukuleles!

Since last time they visited Gainesville they had no time to get out and see an alligator (which is a common reptile in our environment), I decided to send back a small token of Florida wood with them.

Using Florida cherry wood, I wood turned small pendants and then wood burned ukuleles on them. Then adding some color, I left the ukulele to let the natural wood shine through.  The effect is unique and stunning.  They can be worn as pendants/necklaces or pins and if you’d like one, you’ll find some available here.

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In the USA: Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

cigarbox-ukuleleIf you’ve never heard the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, you might have a chance now. They are on tour in the USA during April.  I’ve written more about the Ukulele Orchestra’s Tour on my other blog.

What I didn’t write about on my other blog, however, is that I am taking a couple of my ukulele necklaces to give Kitty and Hester.

I’ve been creating these ukulele necklaces for special occasions — and certainly a chance to get to meet these incredible players is a special occasion.  So on the chance that they are somewhere afterward doing the signature thing, I’ll have a couple.

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I’m also posting a few ukulele necklaces online, so if you would like one, I have them on sale in my Etsy shop.  The wood ukulele pendants are made from a variety of woods (cherry, hickory, basswood, poplar, and sycamore).

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All the Ukuleles for a Photo


You wouldn’t think it would be a big deal pulling all the ukuleles off the walls in various rooms in the house to have a group photo.  But it was.

The Bushman tenor never made it off the living room wall.  The Applause electric Ukulele remained on the bathroom wall (yes). And the gourdelele, the $39 orange model, and a few other cigar box ukuleles didn’t make it to the lawn for a photo shoot.

someukesOh well.  It was hot, humid (it’s Florida). And I was worried a bird might do something to  the ones that had made it out to the lawn while I ran inside to gather yet more ukuleles for a group photo.

But these are from left to right.

  1. My handmade travel ukulele — the tinest uke I’ll ever have.
  2. My Ohana sopranino that really has a big voice for such a little uke.  I like this little ukulele.
  3. My made-with-Mike-DaSilva koa soprano ukulele (see the bottom of this post for slideshow). The most gorgeous sound.
  4. Soprano flea — my first good ukulele. Still pick it up first.
  5. A sprucetop cigar box ukulele that has the signatures of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain from when they came and performed in Florida a few years ago.
  6. A Mainland mango soprano from Indiana from when we visited.
  7. A large Oscar Schmidt soprano that was on sale in a store that’s now gone out of business.
  8. A Harmony Baritone ukulele that I purchased decades ago when visiting Stratford, Ontario to see “All’s Well that Ends Well”.
  9. A Kala Ubass ukulele that I really don’t play very often — but would like to. I hope to take it off the wall more and play it as background for the Native American style flutes I make.
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Solo Ukulele Book Now Available

ukebook-coverThe book is 99 years old but it has solo ukulele pieces that will make you the most dextrous of all ukulele players. Read more about the ukulele solo book, which has links to free pdf samples of a few songs from the book and a link to purchase the book. Check it out.

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Native American flute & Ukulele for Christmas

Christmas songs for Native American flute and ukuleleIf you have played the ukulele for a few years (let’s see, it’s 7 for me, having received my first great ukulele for Christmas in 2006) then you know there is a certain amount of intrigue to learning new instruments.  Certainly  not to replace the ukulele, but to add to  your enjoyment of music.

One of the instruments I have added to play with the ukulele is the Native American style flute.  An unlikely combination, you say?  Not really.

Both wood Native American style flute and 4-string ukulele are very portable instruments.  Both are very natural sounding.  The ukulele is versatile in the styles of play — moreso I think than the guitar.  But that is my bias.

If you are looking for something to try with your ukulele, try the  pdf ebook Christmas Songs for Native American Flute and Ukulele.

The songs have chords that will sound good with the six-hole A minor Native American flute.  Your ukulele is tuned G-C-E-A.   Both chords for the ukulele and finger diagrams for the flute are in this book.  Finger diagrams show you exactly which holes to cover to get the right note.  You don’t have to read music to play.  You read pictures.

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Jake Shimabukuro PBS Special: Life on Four Strings

This is coming up on May 10, 2013 — check your local listings and settle down with the popcorn.

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Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain in the South

Ukuleles in the Audience at Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's Performance

Ukuleles in the Audience at Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s Performance

Hard to believe but the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain performed close enough to my home that I could attend.  And play along with them. And get to meet them in person.

I’ve been a fan of the UOGB for a while posting and following, watching their videos, buying their music for the past three years.

What they have done to raise consciousness of the ukulele in Europe is phenomenal.  I would hope they could do the same for the ukulele in the  south and east in United States.

UOGB returns for encore

UOGB returns for encore

The concert was great.  They played a range of music from Lady Gaga to Limehouse blues.

When Will pulled out a tiny ukulele that George called a “fridge magnet” I was intrigued.  What was it?  No identifying logo on the headstock (I checked through binocs).  It was smaller than Kala’s pocket uke and half the size of Ohana’s sopranino.  George said someone gave it to them when they were on tour in Germany.

You cannot beat the experience of being part of the live concert.  The UOGB’s antics and rapport with each other and the audience — so much more enjoyable.  The members of the UOGB are truly schooled in showmanship or “showwomanship.”   Hester was in fine form – witty comments during the show and personable after the show. Apparently Kitty did not make the trip. Several of us missed her as we’d love to have met her.

Their CDs and whatever else they might have sold did not make it past American customs. Such a shame because I’d think selling could indeed help defray expenses.

I was thrilled to be able meet the members of the orchestra and took one of my handcrafted cigarbox ukuleles to play and be signed.  I hoped to meet other ukulele players at the event, too.  But earnest ongoing ukulele players are rarer in these parts of the country.  I did meet a few from the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society.  They’re getting ready for their Tampa Bay Getaway weekend in November.

There were a few people who brought their ukuleles to the concert.  We were going to play “Relentlessly in C” with the UOGB.

While I dreamed of having great numbers of people show up with their ukes and a beautiful sound of hundreds of ukuleles playing at once, I was happy to be there among 30 or so people who brought their ukuleles.

The ukulele surge has just not swept over the eastern or southern states like it has in Oregon and California.  I wonder if the UOGB noticed that on their tour.  Where are the Julia Nunes of college these days?

After the show, the members of the group were available for signings and photos.  While I am sure they must have been tired, they really were personable and patient with everyone.  George had commented in the show earlier how they are amazed how people want to stay and talk for hours about ukuleles after some shows.

We didn’t stay for hours.  Long enough to chat and get signatures.  They gave us a good three hour concert.  What a real treat it was to be hear and meet them!

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Imagine if it were a ukulele not a cello

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Boogie on Ukulele

It’s been a while since I’ve sat at a computer (the break was great) and checked out a range of blogs I enjoy.  Of course, there are new links to follow every time.

After a late morning I started with Dudecraft which lead to DesignMilk‘s falling leaf designs which led to Dog Milk which led to “Boogie on Instruments.”   You can learn about Lili Chin and her inspiration, Boogie.

My favorite is, of course, “Boogie on the Ukulele“.  Lili sells the prints.

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Where in the world is cigarbox ukulele, Olivia?

Oliva Cigarbox Ukulele

Wow.  It looks like Joker CGB at Box Heads United has solved his mystery about the Oliva cigar box ukulele that he found on the wall in a lodge.

But there’s still one more mystery.

Where in the world is the Oliva cigar box ukulele?

You, dear reader, first met the Oliva cigar boxukulele in 2010 when I told you I was taking her (b. 2009) to the top of a mountain to leave.

Continue reading

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