Best New Hobby of 2008 – Ukulele

A little over a month ago I took some of my yearly bonus and bought a Lanikai LU-21 ukulele.  I had became a secret Tiny Tim fan after buying the CD he did with Brave Combo, Girl,  from the cut-out bin as a joke.  It is mostly covers and it turned out to be funny and fantastic.  His “psychedelic” album from 1968,  God Bless Tiny Tim is great, too. I had toyed with the idea of getting one for years, even going so far at to buy a build your own uke kit that was never completed.  The thing that finally convinced me to take the plunge was seeing a video on YouTube of Julia Nunes playing “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys on the uke.

Ukes are cheap, relatively easy to play, and quite portable.  I am having a lot of fun with mine.  The band I play with has even worked up a few songs featuring the ukulele. (We are called Boy/Girl Party. No, you’ve never heard of us.  We have only ever played in the guitarist’s dinning room with my son, her roommate, and her cat as an audience. It is a blast!)

Thinking about getting one?  Here is a guide from Ukulele Hunt. (By the way, it is abbreviated in their logo as “Uke Hunt”  Say that out loud, but make sure there are no children in the room. *snicker!*)

Gotten one and don’t know what to do next? Ukulele Hunt offers a downloadable beginner’s guide in exchange for signing up for their How to Play Ukulele mailing list.

Want to learn some songs? Ukulele Hunt, Ukulelesongs.com and Ukulele Boogaloo! offer nice selections, much of which is in easy-to-read PDF format.

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Addendum to “Some Things I Liked From Last Year (part 2- albums)”

The FeaturesSome Kind Of Salvation

I can’t believe I forgot to include this album in my previous post.  The Features are great band from the Nashville area who simply rock.  I try to not to miss them any time they are playing in town.  They always put on a loud, sweaty, high energy show.  Check out the tracks GMF and Lions.

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Some Things I Liked From Last Year (part 2- albums)

Here are three albums and an EP released last year that I liked.

The Motion SickThe truth will catch you, just wait…

I discovered this band and their first album, Her Brilliant Fifteen,  from a recommendation that was on a now forgotten music blog.  I like how they blend an indie rock sound with what might be considered folk instruments.  I was super-pleased to hear that hey had made another.  My favorite tracks on this album are “30 Lives“, “Walk On Water“, and their cover of the Joy Division classic, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.  They seem to be following Rule #2 of Indie Rock Success with their choice of a cover song.

SantogoldSantogold

You have probably heard Santogold’s music, but didn’t know it.  Her songs have been in several commercials and tv shows.  Her sound is a melding of 80’s pop, dub, and garage rock. You can also hear remnants of her time singing for the punk-ska band Stiffed.  My favorite tracks are “Lights Out” and “LES Artists“.

Noah and the WhalePeaceful, The World Lays Me Down

A friend of mine sent me a link to the video of the song “5 Years Time” earlier this year because of its nod to Wes Anderson’s films.  I liked the song, but forgot about it.  A few months later, I purchased a ukulele, and when hunting for rock bands the use a uke I rediscovered them.

Ema and the Ghosts – Boy In The Milkbox EP

I stumbled across the music of Ema and the Ghosts (Ema is the only member, so the rest of the band are “ghosts”. Get it?) a few years ago on MySpace. She had a vocal & uke cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” posted at the time that I thought was amazing. I had been hoping she would release something for a long time.  She self-relased this EP, and because of that it isn’t widely available. In fact, I haven’t been able to find it at all.  But, she does have plenty of songs on MySpace and YouTube, so have a listen/look. I like her cover of “After Hours” by The Velvet Underground.

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Cory Doctorow podcast

I just heard word that Cory Doctorow is putting out a podcast of him reading his book Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.  It is one of my favorites by him.  It is a weird blend of sci-fi, techie, and magic realism.

One great thing is that Cory always releases his books under a Creative Commons license.  That means that free, legal e-book versions are available for download in many different formats shortly after the books are released.  He also, as in this case, sometimes makes podcasts of his books and short stories available for free.

via Boing Boing

Some Things I Liked From Last Year (part 1- podcasts)

Inspired by my friend’s new blog, I decided to get my blog up and running.  My idea for the first few entries is to do a sort of “Best …… of 2008” for some different things.  Now, I get uncomfortable when I am asked to pick the best or my favorite this or that, so this is just some stuff I liked from 2008.

First off, three podcasts I started listening to last year.

RadioLab – Think of RadioLab as sort of the This American Life of science.  In fact, clips from RadioLab have been featured on This American Life.  In every episode they take a sciencey theme and explore it through interviews, stories, and artsy bits.  Among guests on the show have been Dr. Oliver Sacks and Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran, two nerologists that are always interesting and have written some great books.

Sound of Young America – Sound of Young America is an interview show that has guests from the worlds of television, movies, comedy, music, and other cool things.  It bills itself as “A Public Radio Show About Things That Are Awesome”. You could consider it a hipper, and yet more geeky alternative to Fresh AireJohn Hodgeman is a frequent guest.

The Moth – The Moth podcast is people, both famous and not, who tell stories about themselves.  It is distributed by a group that puts on live storytelling events.  One of my recent favorites by someone you might of heard of is Joe Jackson talking about when he first started performing as a musician.