Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ukuleles For Peace

Good news story :
George Hinchliffe of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain visits Ukuleles for Peace, an Israeli charity that breaks down barriers between the country’s Jewish and Arab communities via a children’s ukulele orchestra.
Paul Moore, who founded Ukuleles For Peace, came over to Ireland for the 2011 Ukulele Hooley and also gave a children’s ukulele workshop.

“Free” – preview track from new Minnie & Illywhacker’s new compendium of Music.

Lovely song, marvellous performance!

In Minnie & the Illywhackers own words:

“Fresh from production – a teaser for Minnie and the Illywhackers upcoming new album! Sound recording by Steve Shannon. ‘Free’ is a song from the Crazy Gang’s 1937 film ‘Okay for Sound’. (c): Music by Michael Carr (aka Maurice Cohen, Dublin), lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy (Omagh, co. Tyrone). Enjoy!”

The Guggenheim Grotto – @ Whelans September 21st – (don’t miss them)

In the six years since the Guggenheim Grotto’s first album hit the top of iTunes folk charts, Irishmen Mick Lynch and Kevin May have criss-crossed America to cultivate an audience one gig at a time.

Along the way, they’ve toured extensively with Ingrid Michaleson, They Might Be Giants and Ani Di Franco.

Their songs have been used in major network primetime TV shows like One Tree Hill and Brothers and Sisters, and garnished rave reviews from influential outlets such as Paste magazine, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post.

The duo’s strength rests in their infectious, evocative songs delivered with a rare vocal blend – think Neil Finn of Crowded House meets Richard Hawley. Pinning their music down is not so easy. It’s an extraordinary mixture of dark folk, electro-pop, rock and lament – but it’s their ability to put some magic, musical dust into every song that binds their work together.

On stage and on record it’s all about drawing the listener in. When playing live they talk freely with their audience and encourage them to add their own voices to a mature catalogue of songs celebrating life’s beautiful mysteries.

Currently living in Brooklyn, The Guggenheim Grotto have just finished recording their 4th studio album and will be showcasing new songs during their acoustic tour of Ireland this Autumn.

The Guggenheim Grotto is living proof that magic still exists in the musical landscape and that there are hidden gems of bands that hide in the world, waiting patiently to be found by an appreciative ear.” – Hybrid Magazine

The more I hear of these guys, the more I’m convinced they’re imbued with that rare genius which strikes only just so often.” – Mark S Tucker

“Ukulele Heroes” and “The ‘Ukulele: A History” – Book Reviews by Ukester Brown

Two interesting books on different aspects of ukulele history, have been published this year.

(1) “The Ukulele” – A History : by Jim Tranquada and the late (and greatly missed) John King.

This is a fine scholarly piece of work by Jim Tranquada and John King. Tranquada is director of communications for Occidental College in Los Angeles and a great-great grandson of ukulele Pioneer, Augusto Dias and John King was acknowledged as one of the modern masters of the ukulele. He was also the author of “The Hawaiian Ukulele and Guitar Maker; 1884 – 1930”

(2) “Ukulele Heroes” by Ian Whitcomb.

Ian, a former 60’s pop star fell in love with the ukulele in the 60’s and has become one of the world’s best known exponent of the ukulele which dovetails nicely with his fascination with Ragtime and his passion for early twentieth century popular music.

They are both different approaches to different aspects of ukulele history and are fine books in their own right – it all depends on what you want. In “The Ukulele – A History” you will find an exhaustive and definitive history of the ukulele with many fine illustrations. But it is not a quick read-on the other hand every detail you could possibly want to know on the development of the ukulele from its inception to now is contained within its covers.

Ian Whitcomb has written an extremely interesting accessible and popular book on the people he calls “Ukulele Heroes” . Its a great read and is interlaced with Ian’s own journey of exploration with the uke and his very individual and personal take on many of the well known important popular figures in ukulele history but focusing mainly on the players and stars.

I’ve read both books with great interest and was not disappointed by either (horses for courses) and was about to do a video review for the website when I came across Ukester Brown’s own video review and as his take was quite similar to my own, I decided to feature it instead.

If you are a ukulele enthusiast – either book is a good buy.