Monday, April 26, 2010

Music Monday: Ukulele Yeehaw!

If you aren't familiar with this cool little music-maker, the ukulele is a small guitar-like instrument with four strings. They are fun to play, supremely portable, and are a fairly easy instrument to transition to if you play the guitar. One of the things we like best about ukuleles is that their toy-esque sound creates an interesting juxtoposition when used to play sorrowful songs, or songs that we are used to hearing in a different arrangement.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain really rocks well-known songs in a unique way. This all-singing, all-strumming group created the Ukulele Orchestra in 1985 as a joke, but instantly sold out their first show and have been playing together ever since. Check out their awesome cover of the "Shaft" theme song:

Another large group of Uke players being creative with covers are the Ooks of Hazzard, who describe their band as "seven swinging ukuleles, one bad*ss accordion, and one drumset stuffed in a cajon." Here, they give an entirely different flavor to MGMT's "Kids":

Hawaiian Ukulele legend Jake Shimabukuro plays the uke in mindblowing fashion. He began with his first ukulele lesson when he was four, and it shows, with his crazy fast fingerpicking and completely unique style. He composes his own songs (like this amazing flamenco piece "Let's Dance"), and honestly they are like nothing we've ever heard before. Here he covers George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps":

Visit his website here for more goodness.

Hooray for the ukulele and the musicians who make them sing!

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