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Donnie Bubbles

Ken, better know for his wonderful covers of Leonard Cohen songs, takes a sharp left turn  and finds a fascinating new road for the ukulele with this video.

YouTube Channel: KenMiddletonUkulele

Cliff Edwards and Buster Keaton in "Doughboys" circa 1930....

Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards: Cliff 'Ukulele Ike' Edwards
YouTube Channel: GoodOldDays
Embedding Disabled: Direct Link to Video

Agathe - The Penalty

Posted by Donnie Bubbles | 7:00 AM

Agathe, often seen with Josephine Fine, is quickly becoming my favorite new performer.  This one is a charming "La Blogotheque" style walking-through-Paris video.  

(Note that Beirut Beirut has a new double EP out, and it is, as always, very good.)

YouTube Channel - Peyrson

Rob MacKillop, who is transcribing the works of Spanish baroque guitar master Gaspar Sanz for ukulele, takes a break to kick it flamenco style.  Check out the "bending the strings above the fretboard" trick.

Gaspar Sanz (Jakob Lindberg): Jakob Lindberg - Sanz - Murcia: Spanish Guitar Music
YouTube Channel: baroqueuke

Jodi playing her funky new triangle uke from Rob Collins....

The Crystals: The Crystals
YouTube Channel: helloukulele

This is my all time favorite song, and WS64 just rips it up.

Vince Guaraldi: Vince Guaraldi Trio
YouTube Channel: WS64

Once, stuck in the car with three screaming toddlers, I desperately put two empty raisin boxes on my fingers and made a puppet I called "Raisin Dog." Raisin Dog, who had a very bad French accent, was far funnier than I have ever been. The ukulele seems to inspire funny in people the way this simple puppet did for me. Maybe it's the small size, or the plucky sound, but the uke seems to pull it out of people.

One of the funniest people playing ukulele, and one of the best young song writers I have heard in years, is Danielle Anderson, who performs under the very humorous moniker, Danielle Ate The Sandwich. Behind her thick framed glasses, Danielle has the facial elasticity of a silent movie star. Fortunately for us, she is anything but silent, has a lovely voice, and writes songs that say things in a simple yet expansive way. For example, from her song On Planet Earth:

In a factory
in a small
Midwestern town
there are women
manufactured by the hour
and they are sexy
and they know more about comic books than me
and when you're gone
I worry that they've found you

This lyric demonstrates the "show, don't tell" dynamic she has down so well. Or, if you still need convincing, listen to the word craft in yet another great video from her forthcoming album:

To find out more about this rising musician, we asked her the following questions:

Donnie Bubbles: More and more of your songs have been on ukulele lately. Is the uke your official instrument of choice these days, and why or why not?

Danielle Ate the Sandwich: I do love the ukulele the most! So far, it's the instrument that best compliments my songwriting style and singing voice. Aside from it being a crowd pleaser (people love tiny things), it's fun to play and easier for me to work around than the guitar. Also, it's easier for me to find the right tone or sound of a song I'm looking for on the ukulele. The chords tell stories on their own. The ukulele and I have a symbiotic relationship. I whisper, "Let's write a song about my mother's father's death" and the ukulele says back to me, "Gm-F-C."

DB: Sorry, but I have to ask about the name. Whose sandwich did you eat, and why has it left you branded as the one who ate it?

DATS: The name came after a long, late night of desperate attempts to finally decide on a name to call myself when I play music. I don't love the sound of my first and last name together. It doesn't evoke interest or imagery or any sense of anything really. So Danielle Ate the Sandwich is the name I came up with. But to really answer your questions…It was Prince William's Reuben and there is a king's ransom out for my head for such acts of treason!

DB: Do you find, as I did with the Raisin Dog puppet, that the persona of "Danielle Ate The Sandwich" begins to take on a life of her own?

DATS: Absolutely. I am a different person when I perform and the more I do it and the more comfortable I get with myself as a singer and as a performer, the more I morph in to this character. To me, a successful performance is entertaining your audience through music and genuine emotion as well as letting them into your world through conversation and making jokes and showing who you are as a person. I want to give people a reason to watch me and to listen to me. I love to perform. I love the things that come out of me. I feel more powerful and self-assured. I feel like I have the right to be loud and obnoxious. It's silly, though, how I work as a person and as a musician. I don't really like to be around people, but I love to be in front of them. You want to see a monkey dance? Give Danielle a microphone.

DB: The name of your new album is called Things People Do, which is also who you quote as your musical influence on your web site. Can you elaborate on this? Are you amused or befuddled by the things people do?

DATS: I say my influences come from the things people do, because it's as simple and as complicated as that. I write songs about things I've seen or felt or experienced or wondered about or tried to put myself in the shoes of but never had the slightest idea how to. I think that the things people do are amusing and awful and brilliant and beautiful. One thing I've concluded about life is people do the things they do. We're monsters and madmen and we're capable of so much and usually do so little. When you think about it like that, about all of those possibilities, there are a lot of songs to be written.

DB: You have a "Coffee House" tour coming up at the end of January. Have you done many live performances? On the dates you share with other performers, will you be playing together, or one after the other?

DATS: I have played a handful of shows in Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado. I've played a butt-load of open mic nights. This is where I got my start and feel most at home. I can go there and get lost in a dark bar and drink beer and not have to talk to anybody, but get the chance to play for people. I am very excited about my upcoming show on the 27th of January at Pianos in New York City. I will play a set, followed by Part Bear (myspace.com/partbear) and then we will play some songs together. It will make a very interesting mush, because I am a little bit country and they are quite a bit rock 'n' roll. It's part of Liberated Matter's Cross Pollination Series where they mix two unlike acts and get them to play together. I will also be playing a show on the 29th at Stain Bar with Kellie Rae Powell (http://www.kelliraepowell.com/), a beautiful ukulele player and singer. I would love to play with her, but we haven't talked about doing anything yet. My show on the 30th at Tillie's Coffee Shop in Brooklyn with Liz Wood (youtube.com/kittenmildew) should be a good time. We've talked about playing some songs together. I'm trying to talk her into playing "Time of My Life" from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and she is politely refusing. She obviously has more self-respect than I do.

Ukulelezaza of Belgium reminds us that real Hawaiian music is not that corny stuff you heard on the Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii special episode....

Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar: Ledward Kaapana - Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol. 1
YouTube Channel: ukulelezaza
Wikipedia: Slack-key Tuning

This is one of Woodsheds nominations for Video of the Year that I had not heard of before.  It's a great pick.

Kelli Rae Powell: Kelli Rae Powell - The Scandalous Accounts of My Youth
YouTube Channel: Timothy11211

While I love the videos where they are dressed like Angus, I think this is their best recorded performance to date.

Beirut: Beirut
YouTube Channel: TheBeArthurs

Sweetafton23 - My Hope

Posted by Donnie Bubbles | 7:00 AM

Very funny original song by Sweetafton....

YouTube Channel: sweetafton23
Chords and Lyrics: see comments

rawuke - Ukulele-Blues

Posted by Donnie Bubbles | 7:00 AM

Still digging the blues on the uke....

YouTube Channel: rawuke

Love the camera angle on this great version of Bacharach's Raindrops.....

Burt Bacharach: Burt Bacharach
YouTube Channel: WS64

Distorted fun for the whole family....

Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath
YouTube Channel: TheGentleSurprise

Charming Tom Waits cover by Agathe and Fine....

Tom Waits: Tom Waits
YouTube Channel - Peyrson

Ukulele?  Check.  Whistling?  Check.  Stripper?  Check.  Trained birds?  Check.  What more do you need?

YouTube Channel: EarlyguardMusic

I still keep coming back to this album, and this song in particular, on my ipod.  Go to his website to download all three of his excellent albums for free.

YouTube Site: creebobby

The ukulele might be a time machine. More than any other instrument I can think of, the ukulele seems to pull players back to the early 1900's when the instrument had it's first heyday. Howlin' Hobbit is one man that has jumped through this portal and broadcasts his love of the period's music back to our time.

When you see Mr. Hobbit holding a tiny uke in his arms, you can't help but smile. This is a man with thick paws that make you think butcher more than surgeon, and you would expect him to sound more like the former than the later. But when he starts to play, picking and strumming out rags and hot jazz with speed and grace, he defies your expectations and delights your ears.

Chords and Lyrics: Fats Waller Aint Misbehavin - Ukulele

To find out more about Howlin' Hobbit and his music, we asked him the following questions:

Donnie Bubbbles: Was it the ukulele that brought you to hot jazz, rags and tin pan, or was it the other way around?

Howlin' Hobbit: I'd always liked the music, and I played some on my guitar, especially rags and blues with the more ragtime accompaniment. When I started to get more into the ukulele (the whole story is here) was when I found that the more interesting chord progressions were lots easier than their counterparts on the guitar. Plus, I just like the sound (and portability) of the uke better. It's a win-win!

DB: As a performer, you range from solo busking to more formal shows with your band, Snake Suspenderz. In between those two, where do you derive the most satisfaction from performing?

HH: With the band, definitely. We swing way better together than I do solo. And I just like working and/or hanging out with them.

DB: Music Theory is the best, and the most frightening thing, that anyone who plays an instrument should learn. Your Cheater Theory lays out the most important concepts better than any of the many books and articles I have read on the subject. How did this project come about, and do you plan to produce more work of this type?

HH: Glad you got use out of my little screed. It mainly came about from seeing the same kind of questions reappearing regularly on the bulletin boards on the subject. And, as even your question reflects, the attitude that theory was way scary.

Yes, you can go deep into it and get pretty esoteric. Some of the real theory wonks on the boards (i.e. the guys and gals who really know what they're talking about) would do that and all around you could hear the digital world version of the subtle sound of eyeballs glazing over. I felt there was a need for something that taught the bare essentials so that you could play and talk with other musicians and all be on the same wavelength.

But it wasn't as much my work as it was just writing down various bits I'd learned from other folk and asking several more knowledgeable folk to look it over and make sure I hadn't made too many egregious errors.

As far as upcoming projects of that nature, yep. I'll be producing a somewhat smaller document listing out all the hints, cheats, and mnemonics that I use in order to understand the Circle of 5ths. It's not that scary either and once you get a reasonable grip on it all sorts of things become clearer and easier.

I'm also going to be posting a blog entry on the songwriting process I use. Maybe I'll make it into a downloadable afterwards (though it's not a lot to remember).

DB: When you were just starting out with the ukulele, was there one thing you learned, or a hurdle you crossed, where you felt like you made a huge leap in playing ability?

HH: I tend to make progress on these sort of things in a long series of small increments. I can't think of any one "Aha!" point. Maybe triplets. They can really add to an arrangement and getting them relatively smooth was a good thing.

I think the biggest hurdle is mental. The ukulele is relatively easy to learn and is unfortunately often pitched with that as its main feature. Then when someone new runs up against a chord they can't quickly get under their fingers they tend to ask on the forums for ways around it instead of just practicing until they get it.

The (insert chord name here) isn't an impossible dream. Pretty much anybody who doesn't have a health issue (bad arthritis or something like that) can master pretty much any chord. It just takes getting over the mental hurdle and resolving to practice until you get it right.

DB: I see you are appearing at the National Kazoo Day Fest in Portland at the end of the month. Are there other performances or projects you are working on for the near future?

HH: We should be releasing our new CD later this month. It's titled Serpentine (and I hope everybody who reads this buys one. Or heck, two. What a great gift!) ;-) It is currently planned for 15 or 16 songs, all but two of them originals. Some are by Thad, some are by me, and some are co-written by the both of us. You can currently hear some rough mixes on the new Snake Suspenderz MySpace page.

We've decided, heck with what the Chinese zodiac says, this is the Year of the Snake (Suspenderz). We're putting in lots of applications to festivals and starting a regular regimen of contacting other venues. Once the new CD is done we're going to continue writing songs

We're also working on getting our "tour chops" together. We'll definitely be doing something as far south as Eugene, OR, probably by late winter/early spring. We've got a partially developed plan for a regular ukulele-centric night that can also be taken on tour and more Snake Suspenderz merchandise is in the works.

Out of the videos that placed in the 2008 Bushman Contest, this is my favorite....

Iron & Wine: Iron & Wine
The Postal Service: The Postal Service
YouTube Channel: katianwitchger
Chords and Lyrics: Postal Service Such Great Heights - Ukulele
Chords, Lyrics and Solo Tab: Postal Service Such Great Heights - Ukulele (UkeHunt)

This acoustic six-piece band has best been described as Victrola Punk - old time feel with a new world attitude.  This performance was recorded at the Spark 24 hour music festival.

Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles: Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles
Band Website: myspace

The amazing Jake, live in a radio studio....

Jake Shimabukuro: Jake Shimabukuro

Sweet performance of this song written by Elvis and T-Bone Burnett.

Elvis Costello: Elvis Costello

I`ve always had a soft spot for this song....

YouTube Channel: Ukulelezaza

Fun version of Harvey Danger`s Flagpole Sitta....

Julia Nunes: Julia Nunes
YouTube Channel: jaaaaaaa

The Honey Brothers most famous member, Adrian Grenier of Entourage, gets them in the press, but it`s the Andy Samberg-ish humour that will make you a fan....

The Honey Brothers: The Honey Brothers
YouTube Channel: arigoldfilms

This is it - the 2008 Bushman World Ukulele Contest winner (published under paddydude36, but normally under xticklesmilex.)  Their great harmonies, heartfelt singing and charming performance really do make this worthy of the prize.

Hanson: Hanson
YouTube Channel: xticklesmilex

Great split-screen production on this cover of Ohta-San's version of Stardust.

Herb Ohta-San: OHTA-SAN
YouTube Channel: UkuleleGarden

Dominator`s masterful entry for Ukulele Underground`s Uke Got Mail video contest.

Aldrine Guerrero: Aldrine Guerrero
YouTube Channel: Dominatoruke

I would bet money on Danielle`s cover of Rich Girl at least placing in the Bushman Contest this year. This is one of her original songs, and it is very original.

If you are in the NY area, she and Liz Wood (kittenmildew) are performing at Tillies on 1/30.

YouTube Channel: daniellesmagic

Whitney is the most infectious performer I have ever seen. You can't help but smile when you watch her.

Dr. Horrible - Episodes: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Dr. Horrible - Soundtrack: Instrumental - Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
YouTube Channel: theDesignmachine

Nice tutorial  by Paz of Ukulala on how to play Five Years Time by Noah and the Whale....

Noah and the Whale: Noah and the Whale

La Blogotheque Take Away Show is the best place to see artists perform. These live recordings of muscians wandering the streets of Paris feel like the movie Once, remade in miniture by your favorite performers over and over again....

Beirut: Beirut