There is nothing like a great rock anthem to make you feel energised. You know. The kind of songs that speak to a generation and stay in your head forever. There are many wonderful ukulele versions of rock anthems to be found on You Tube. Here are just a few.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain recently performed AC-DC‘s Highway to Hell that was released in 1979 with the great Bon Scott on vocals. A terrific version with Dave Suich channeling Angus.
Their recent version of David Bowie‘s Heroes is also outstanding (click here).
Another ukulele orchestra, The Unique Komedy Ukulele Orchestra has done a ukulele version of Australian singer John Farnham‘s 1986 hit song, You’re The Voice, which has become a famous rock anthem in our country. It is wonderful to hear a ukulele interpretation that does it justice.
In the 1990s the US band Nirvana wrote some powerful songs that became rock anthems to a generation. That Scottish one man band, Pockets, performs Nirvana’s Lithium on ukulele with the help of a bass guitar and some drums.
Pockets also does a ukulele version of Green Day‘s 1994 Basket Case (click here)
Finally from the Ukulele Turin Orchestra is Muse‘s 2009 driving rock anthem, Uprising.
Playing the ukulele needn’t be sedate. If you love rock and roll there is plenty of inspiration to be found in favourite rock anthems.
Kat, Bayside Ukes member.
Here in Melbourne it is late autumn and the temperature has plummeted after a relatively warm start to the season. When the weather turns cold it is fun to play songs on your ukulele that remind you of summer and generate some heat. There are many terrific songs in this category that sound wonderful on the ukulele and the following is a small selection to inspire other ukulele players.
The Doors song Light My Fire just requires a simple rhythm and some soulful singing to take away the cold. The following performance by Jesus Pinedo and Chyrisse Tabone is a good example.
Bring back the memories of those hot summer nights with a lively rendition of The Loving Spoonful’s Summer in the City like in the following video.
A classic song about the hot days of summer is Heat Wave made famous by Marilyn Monroe in the film There’s No Business Like Show Business. Ukester Brown demonstrates how it is done on the ukulele during a very cold winter.
Of course there is that other famous Heat Wave song. The Ukelites do a very cool version.
Another fantastic song to get rid of the wintry chills is Elvis Presley’s Burning Love, here played by the Ukulele Turin Orchestra in a beautiful location.
The cold months are a good time to stay cosy and to play your ukulele. And if it is coming up to summer where you are, play your ukulele outside and enjoy the warmth while it lasts.
Kat, Bayside Ukes member
In Australia and New Zealand it is Anzac Day on 25 April and in 2018 we will be remembering the final year of WWI, as well as later conflicts. This year it is the one hundredth anniversary of the battle at Villers-Bretonneux where the Australians had a major victory after so much loss and there will be commemorations at the Australian National Memorial on that site in France on April 25. At these times singing songs is an appropriate way to remember such events. The following songs about war sound great on the ukulele, whether they are about the sad or happier times.
One of the most powerful war songs is The Band played Waltzing Matilda written by Scottish Aussie, Eric Bogle in 1971. It’s about the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 but could be about the horror of any war and that is why it has become so popular in other countries. Silly Dave does a good version. And by the way, matilda is the swag or the bed roll carried by a swagman on his journeys and not a woman.
A song that was popular with the troops in France during WWI was Mademoiselle from Armentieres. It is probably one of those songs where soldiers kept making up humorous verses to suit the occasion. Some were quite risqué and many were in protest to the awful conditions or the behaviour of superior officers. Here is an amusing example.
By WWII the radio played an important part in keeping up the soldiers’ morale. One of the happiest songs was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy sung by the Andrews Sisters. The Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra Trio did a lively version with nice harmonies in 2013.
During the Vietnam War there were many great songs written about war. One that captures the mood of the 60s is Eve of Destruction, performed by Barry McGuire in 1965. Sadly the words are still relevant today. Ken Middleton did a terrific version at Martha’s Vineyard Uke Fest in 2015.
There are many war songs from different periods to choose from if you want to have a sing-along on Anzac Day and this is just a selection.
Happy Anzac Day!
Kat, Bayside Ukes Member
It’s still summer here in Melbourne and in places where it is winter, you have the summer to look forward to.
I wrote the following poem to remind everyone to make the most of it while you can, with your ukulele of course.
All Summer Long
Ukulele Lady, Rock-A-Hula Baby
On the Beach, Just Out of Reach
Of Big Boss Man, Get it While You Can
Let the Good Times Roll, Heart Full of Soul
Down by the Seaside, Roll with the Tide
Sea and Sand, Listen to the Band
Party all the Time, Come Rain, Come Shine
Crazy, Maybe, Blame it on a Ukulele
Play that Song, All Summer Long
Kat (Apologies to all the song writers)
Bayside Ukes is raring to go in 2018. Hope all our members have had a great summer break and are looking forward to some more ukulele fun.
Tomorrow evening (Tuesday, January 30) our sessions will recommence at the Hampton Community Centre from 7.00 pm. New members are very welcome or if you are visiting our town just pop in.
Hope to see you all there.
Kat, Bayside Ukes Member.
Bayside Ukes has had a great year. We finished the last term with Performance Night playing some great group songs that we had been working on for a while. Well done everyone.
Thanks to everyone who did solos for our entertainment. It was wonderful to hear the contributions of songwriters and some new covers.
The performances were followed by drinks, snacks and lively conversation.
We look forward to more fun times in 2018, whether you are an old hand or fairly new to the ukulele.
Wishing our members and readers a very Happy Festive Season and New Year.
Kat, Bayside Ukes Member
Here’s the wonderful Taimane Gardner and Jazzy Jazz with a festive tune to get you in the mood
Often when you have two or several ukuleles there is one that you play more than the others. It’s your favorite and it just feels and sounds wonderful. So how do you bring back the passion for your other ukes if they are being neglected?
To make the most of your collection it can simply be a matter of increasing your repertoire and playing the right song for the right uke. Some music sounds better when played on a particular size or type of ukulele (eg resonator or banjolele). But if, like me, you have two ukuleles of the same size and a similar type this won’t make much difference.
I have two concert ukes. I bought the second one because I love the feel and the sound it makes and the size suits me. It is so playable that I was not using my other concert ukulele, which seemed a complete waste. A couple of other members of our group have low G strings on their ukuleles which can give more of a bass sound to a song. So I replaced the high G string on my first use with one of the Aquila Red Series low G strings and it sounds completely different. It’s also great to play with a felt pick, especially on the “boom Dit-ty strum” (see earlier post) and makes the uke more resonant.
The low G works particularly well on a Tenor sized ukulele but you can even put one on a soprano uke. You will have a deeper sound while still playing the chords for the GCEA tuning. A Tenor ukulele with a low G is a great alternative to buying a larger baritone ukulele, especially if you find the fingering too difficult with the change of chord structure necessary for the DGBE tuning.
Have a look on You Tube as there are many videos with a comparison of low and high G strings, as well as reviews for wound and unwound strings.
Now I can switch between ukes depending on the song and am enjoying playing both my ukuleles. So if you feel you have been neglecting one of your ukes, try a low G for a change of sound and some renewed enthusiasm.