Friday, February 24, 2017

Set list 2/18/2017

I am behind the time on this one!  I just forgot about it.  I won't be doing the gig tomorrow because I have to work, but here is the set from last Saturday.  One of the usual guys wasn't there, and he usually does the same opening and closing songs, so this set was a little different than usual.

This time we had 3 guitars, 1 ukulele, 1 fiddle, 1 sometimes fiddle and sometimes various percussion, and 1 harmonica.  Three of us sang.  One of the fiddle players did an instrumental when it was his turn.  This one went for about 2 hours, 20 minutes.  So here's the list.  Asterisks mean I was the one who picked the song and sang the lead on it.

Five Foot Two*
Four in the Morning
Welcome to My World (instrumental, guitar lead)
Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Lover's Waltz (instrumental, fiddle lead)
I'll Fly Away
A Fallen Star*
Blue, Blue Day
Double Eagle (instrumental, guitar lead)
Truck Drivin' Man
Ashoken Farewell (instrumental, fiddle lead)
I've Got a Tiger By the Tail
Singin' the Blues*
Across the Alley From the Alamo
Spanish Eyes (instrumental, guitar lead)
Long Black Veil
Saint Ann's Reel (instrumental, fiddle lead)
Dream a Little Dream of Me
Room Full of Roses*
Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On
Down Yonder (instrumental, guitar lead)
(something) Waltz (instrumental, fiddle lead)  I had never heard this one before and can't make out the title on my recording.
Your Cheatin' Heart
I Saw the Light*
Ramshackle Shack
(title unknown) (instrumental, guitar lead)  Missed the title on this one, too.
I'll See You in the Morning
Mansion on the Hill (instrumental, fiddle lead)
Power in the Blood
Miles and Miles of Texas*
The Old Rugged Cross

Another thing was different this time was that the guy who played the fiddle instrumentals had actual sheet music to play from, and since I was unfamiliar with some of the songs he played, I stood behind him and read along on his music so I would be able to hit the changes in the right places.  I haven't done that kind of thing in a while, so it was fun to exercise those muscles again.

And still another thing that was different was that I took my son along so he could video us with my digital camera.  Last week for Seasons of the Ukulele, we were doing songs that we played with friends, so I used several of the songs that I sang lead on for my entries.  I will include them all below.

Once again, I would like to recommend that you play with others.  It will greatly help improve your musicianship and is a lot of fun.

And finally, here is our lead guitar, Carrol Sammons, playing his trademark piece, "Double Eagle."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Arnett Cobb

I played alto sax in school band beginning in 6th grade. Later in high school I also played bari sax. In college, I played bari in the #1 jazz band and alto in the #2 band. I haven't played sax in years, however, and I'm sure all the necessary muscles are completely out of shape.  It's still my favorite wind instrument.

Arnett Cobb was from Texas, born in Houston.  He died in the same city in 1989.

You may expect to hear more about both Texan musicians and the saxophone on this blog.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ukulele Podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts.  My job is such that I can often listen to podcasts for 6-7 hours every day, or every weekday anyway, and it greatly helps me from dying of boredom.  So I thought I would list the ukulele-related podcasts that I listen to.  These are in no particular order.  Click on the podcast name to go to their website.

Ooktown - Primarily hosted by Stuart Yoshida, who is also the founder of the Colorado School of Ukulele, with a varying number of different co-hosts, each episode featuring a guest who is a prominent name in the ukulele world.  Each episode discusses a variety of topics that should be important for ukulele players as well as musicians in general.  This podcast began in 2011 and all past episodes are archived and available for download at the website.

Ukulele Underground - Unfortunately, this one seems to have gone on an indefinite hiatus, but the archived episodes are very well worth listening to.  The previous link will take you to the first version of their podcast, called The Adventures of the K-Town Heroes, in which you will be taken on a long, very entertaining and informative journey about how Aldrine, Ryan, and Aaron grew up, met each other, and eventually founded Ukulele Underground.  I binge-listened to all of these in a just a couple of days, and listening to them all was so much fun, I might do it again sometime.  Their feed is  Put that in your RSS reader and you should be able to access all of their shows, including the more recent ones that were put out last year.

Unplug the Wood - This is not specifically a ukulele podcast, but is instead a podcast dedicated to acoustic performances.  However, the host, Krabbers, is a ukulele player and he frequently does include ukulele music in the podcast.  There have been only 10 episodes so far and they are all available for download at the website.

UkeCast - This show is no longer being produced.  It ran for 4 seasons from (I think) 2006-2009.  It may have been the first ever ukulele-focused podcast, and it's great!  Each episode is almost all music and little commentary, running about 20-25 minutes each, with an occasional special episode going up to about an hour.  Almost all original ukulele music, and I highly recommend it!  It is also interesting to me as a part of history.  This podcast was before Jake swept the world with his incredible playing, before Aldrine made a name for himself, and for that matter before many of the big names in ukulele had become famous.  One of the co-hosts, who goes by the name of Nipper, was interviewed in one of the recent Ukulele Underground podcasts.  All of the episodes are still available to download in one big zip file at the website.  Lots and lots of great original ukulele music here, and every episode stands up to repeated listening.

That's it.  Happy listening!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Set list 2/4/17

I thought it might be interesting--mostly for me--to put a list of the songs played at the nursing home here every Saturday.  As I mentioned in the video of the previous post, a group of local musicians play for the residents at our local nursing home every Saturday afternoon, and I join them when I can.

The group consists mostly of what I guess you could call "amateur musicians" along with a couple of retired professionals.  Everyone plays guitar except for me, and I of course play the ukulele.  Most of us also sing.  We are also sometimes joined by someone on harmonica and someone on fiddle (but not always the same someones).  Most of the time there is also someone there who plays keyboard, but not this time.

Yesterday there were only six of us (sometimes it's more!).  We just go around the circle, taking turns singing.  It's very informal.  We just announce the song we are going to do, and the key we're going to do it in, and then everyone starts playing.  There were two electric guitars, two acoustic guitars, one electric bass, and myself on banjo ukulele.  One of our electric guitar players is a retired professional who doesn't sing anymore because of his hearing loss, so when it comes his turn he plays an instrumental.  Our bass player doesn't sing, so he doesn't take a turn.  We also usually begin and end customarily with the same songs.  So just for kicks, here is our full set list from yesterday.  The songs with an asterisk were sung by myself.  I recorded everything on my phone, so the audio isn't great and there are some songs I don't know the title of, and couldn't understand the lyrics well enough to guess.

Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
When He Reached Down His Hand For Me*
Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Right Or Wrong (instrumental, Wanda Jackson version)
This World is Not My Home
Fraulein (on of my wife's favorites, but I didn't sing it)
Build Me a Cabin in Gloryland*
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Double Eagle (instrumental)
Waltz of the Angels
Sing Me Back Home
Stand By Me*
How I'd Love to Be in Love With You (not sure of the correct title of this one)
? (instrumental, I forgot the title of this one)
Walking the Floor Over You
Walk Through This World With Me
Goodnight Irene*
You Never Can Tell
Harbor Lights (instrumental)
? (another one I don't know the title of!)
? (another one I don't know the title of, I guess I need to ask)
I Saw the Light*
Amazing Grace
Down Yonder (instrumental)
Long Black Veil
Silver Wings
Room Full of Roses*
Ramshackle Shack
? (another instrumental that I keep forgetting the title of)
Truck Driving Man
Crazy Arms
I'll Fly Away*
Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home
Spanish Eyes (instrumental)
Farther Along
I'll Be There Before the Next Teardrop Falls
Make the World Go Away

Most of the songs I do are regulars for me, and I perform them there often because that's what the people want to hear.  "Stand By Me," in particular, is always requested by one man who lives there and since I hadn't been there in about a month, as soon as he entered the room I played it on my next turn.  "Goodnight Irene" was requested by the woman who coordinates the group and who sings and plays acoustic guitar.  She requested that I do it because she likes singing the backing harmony vocals for it.

It's a long list, and I need to ask about some of those songs, apparently.  We usually play for around 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Yesterday it was right at 2 1/2.  I also sing backing vocals on several songs, so it's quite a workout, and I'm usually pretty tired by the time it's over.  But it's a lot of fun, and the residents of the nursing home really enjoy it.

I was also once able to play with some of them for an event at the local Methodist church when I was on vacation, as well as once playing with them at our county stock show.  Playing "live" with a band is a huge amount of fun--I highly recommend it!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

New uke: the Duke banjo ukulele

A video about my newest acquisition:  the Duke tenor scale banjo ukulele.

The "happiest instrument in the world"

Does anyone else get somewhat annoyed by chirpy people who are always proclaiming that the ukulele is "the happiest instrument in the world"?  Or how about "you can't be sad and play the ukulele"?  Or even the extreme "you can't play a sad song on a ukulele"?

I have news for people who say those things.  It is not news that they will ever believe, because they have already decided to live by their established prejudices, but here it is:


That's right.  It doesn't have any special happy magical powers or anything like that.  It's an instrument, just like a guitar or a saxophone or a bagpipe.  Well, maybe not a bagpipe.

I once very pointedly told someone that if I couldn't play sad songs on a ukulele, I would never have wasted my time on it.

Okay, I love this instrument.  It's something that I can get my head around and my fingers to more or less work with.  I can strum chords as I sing.  That's all I ever wanted.  But no sad songs?

Do you have a favorite sad song that you like to play on your ukulele?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!