Archive | November, 2016

Matthew Stead and Rob Ash

Matthew Stead and Robert Ash are a ukulele and bass duo from the UK. They write original ukulele instrumental music with a filmic and ambient feel.

Matthew and Rob were in previous bands A Fine Day for Sailing and The Mighty Stars who were championed by Steve Lamacq on Radio One. Pop impresario Kim Fowley once called them ‘godlike geniuses of pop.’

Last year Matthew, a full time professional ukulele tutor, played a sell out ukulele show at The Phoenix Theatre in Ross as well as performances at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival and the Ukulele Festival of Scotland. Matthew also wrote a piece for Uke Magazine on Hawaiian ukulele music and slack key.

This winter they are recording their first album for release in 2017 and will be touring the U.K. later in the year.

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Reverend Jim

Singer-songwriter, uke player, member of folk band Dismal Jibe and priest. New album of original songs, “What Is It That We Are Part Of, What Is It That We Are” coming soon!

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Manitoba Hal

Over the past fifteen years Manitoba Hal Brolund has forged an international reputation for engaging performance, storytelling and masterful ukulele playing. His strong foundation in American roots / blues music, confident expressive vocals, and distinctive original music have made him a solid draw  and in demand workshop leader at festivals, house concerts and soft seat theatres in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Hal’s performances are all about engaging and connecting with his audience and he makes music that takes his audience from the deep south to the islands with songs that are mournful, hopeful, silly, romantic and introspective. He proves that the uke can be small but mighty as he pulls out powerful blues riffs and melodies adding background beats with looping technology showcasing the blues in all it’s passion and groove.

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UKE3 – Ukulele Adam, Evelyn and Big Fish

Ukulele Adam is the World’s Oldest Ukulele Player, having received his first ukulele by Divine Intervention. Before the ukulele, he had heard the birds sing and could whistle, but he didn’t really understand music.

Adam likes long walks on the beach and dogs. He is a jack of all trades but really enjoys carpentry. In his spare time he builds ukuleles. He used to play his uke on the beach in the moonlight when he was single. But since Evelyn washed up on the shore, he likes to play sing along songs with his seven kids around a beach fire. Evelyn likes to collect bottles that wash up on the beach and swim with the kids.

Together, they live in a coral house so Evelyn doesn’t get homesick. Adam built the house for her from the coral Evelyn crashed into (her fellow mermaids brought it to Adam).Her girlfriends stop by for fish tea and give the kids rides in the ocean.

Adam and Evelyn’s best friend is Da Big Fish. Adam met Big Fish a long time ago when he learned the meaning of Aloha. So when Big Fish isn’t out delivering Aloha to all the island worlds, he stops by to check up on the happy couple and their spawn.

Adam plays a tenor ukulele that suits his larger hands. Evelyn prefers a concert size uke. Of course, all the kids play soprano ukuleles, but there are a few percussionists in the family too.

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Robbob

Robbob is a composer and performer of novelty songs in French and English. He’s backed up by the Limoilou Libre Orchestra, a seven-piece ensemble named after their neighborhood in Quebec City, paying tribute to its festive community spirit. At the end of most performances Robbob strips down to his wrestling tights and whips the audience into a frenzy.

He’s released 3 EPs: Limoilou Libre (2012 – half French, half English), Godzilla vs. Poutine (2014 – mostly in English available in comic book fomat) and Horny-thologie (2016 – all French).
https://robbob.bandcamp.com/

The band: Robbob (Robert Rebselj – lead vocals, ukulele), Samuel Poirier (upright bass), Benoit Gingras (accordion), Renaud Pilote (drums and washboard) and their back-up singers the Fabulous Robbobettes: Marie Dubois (who also plays mandolin), Roxanne Chabot and Julie Morneau.

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Redshirt & Alan Thornton

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The latest instalment of the Alan Thornton and Redshirt story. Alan admitted to having spent 10 mins writing the lyrics on Tampa Bay and I have admitted 10 mins adding a few words and putting music to it.

So its not bad for 20 minutes work and, to my knowledge it is the first ever song to have the word “littoral” in it. For some reason that makes me very proud.

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The launch of OUS phase 3 at GNUF May 6/7TH 2017

The Story so far…

ous phase 3In November 2015, the Facebook Original Ukulele Songs platform was set up to showcase artists playing original ukulele based songs. I posted that if we reached 1000 members, we’d launch phase 2. A few months we did this and launched www.originalukulelesongs.com. This site now has dozens of artists from all around the world all showcasing original songs. I never expected the project to attract so many artists from all over the globe. The range of styles is extraordinary, with solo artists, groups, instrumentals and terrific songs all now gathered in one location for everyone to see and hear.

The original FB page now has 2350 members and is growing each week. I always stated that OUS is a BIG project and the phase 3 is launch at GNUF in 2017. Phase 4 is also being planned.

Choosing the right partner for OUS

ous phase 3Even back in 2015 I had the idea of the third phase of OUS being about live performances and collaborations. I looked around in the UK at various initiatives described as “ukulele festivals” and was especially interested in the ones that had some pedigree in that they had been running year on year. There were two obvious choices and out of these GNUF was by far the perfect partner. GNUF has multiple different stages over a whole weekend as opposed to a few artists on a single day and a mass strum along in a pub forecourt.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a mass strum with friends, but that’s not something I want to shell out forty plus quid for!  GNUF is of course extremely respected by artists from all over the world a fact borne out by the early bird tickets selling out 100% in just a few hours this year.

stage-shotThe sheer number of artists that can be seen and heard at GNUF is vastly greater than anywhere else I have come across. The 2017 festival has dozens of artists performing, many for the very first time. The phase to describe GNUF from many fellow performers and the public is “inclusive” and I totally agree. There is literally something for everyone which is why I suspect it’s now in it’s fifth successful year. As a very well known artist commented “People trust the brand” and that’s down to Mary Agnes Krell and the longstanding GNUF team. The whole weekend is indoors in the heart of a city so the classic English weather means you can be sat down in comfort rather than standing in a muddy field for hours on end and/or being in some remote location miles away from amenities! I approached Mary Agnes Krell with the idea of showcasing artists playing original ukulele based music. This will be the first live stage for OUS and it’s going to be great.

Artists pushing the ukulele sonic boundaries

Interesting many of artists I initially approached for OUS a year ago  all commented on the fact that the ukulele community needed an energetic shot in the arm. Many performers wanted to develop new musical expression in creating new material, rather than simply playing covers of existing material. As I have often said “classic covers” are great, but where’s the great music that will create the covers of the future. It would be like all movies being remakes of previous “classics” which would be creatively extremely limiting. I have always had the total belief that the ukulele can be used in a wide range of imaginative ways and when I interviewed Martin Simpson, he made this exact point in this clip

Interestingly, when I interviewed Jake Shimabukuro he also displayed a huge musical awareness extending into all many of musical genres and its clear to me that he is also somebody seeking to push the sonic boundaries in what he is doing, beyond the fabulous cover versions that initially got him global attention.

What you can expect with phase 3 OUS at GNUF

ous phase 3OUS artists playing at GNUF on May 7th will be showcasing original songs and/or teaching practical skills essential for learning how to create your own original material. This phase 3 of OUS is of course not the final phase of OUS, (phase 4 is planned late 2017) simply part of the bigger OUS initiative, but a crucial one. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great learning opportunity for artist and public alike.

By its very nature this weekend is an opportunity to discover something new, that you have never seen or heard before. There are also a lot of surprises planned which will make this a quite magical and memorable unique event.

 

BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE

 

Warm Regards
Nick Cody

nick cody

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photographs ©Karen Turner 

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Robin Tricker

More than just your typical hip, east coast girl. Robin is a multi-layered songwriter intent on driving a catchy hook into your head. Don’t let the curly hair and ukulele fool you, this Jersey girl can sing. If Rock, Country & Pop had a curly haired baby it would be Robin Tricker. Her more personal songs pack a strong punch, and as one of her songs says, she is “one part sugar & one part cayenne!” If Robin was a musical drink she would be somewhere between a Pina Colada, and a shot of Jack!

Once a professional dancer, Robin was featured in national T.V. commercials, and was also a featured dancer on a late night TV dance show presented by Sofia Vergara.

Now a thriving singer songwriter, Robin is on the “Ones to Watch” list for the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

Her live shows are infectious and entertaining. She delivers bouncy beach songs to personal love triangle ballads. Robin has multiple singles out right now that are getting radio airplay all over the world. Tracks from her soon to be released, and highly anticipated EP, entitled “Salt Water Happy”, are already charting on different radio stations around the globe.

Learn more about her here www.RobinTricker.com

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Crafting songs by Mia Lotus

How can the power of music make us move and dance, make us travel in our mind, make us learn, cry and grow,  and entertain us in so many ways? The power of music is almost limitless. What would be life without music?
Music is magic. As any magician apprentice knows: with magical powers always comes great responsibility!  Ok, I am just kidding… more or less… But I believe that as artists, creators of magic, we have a beautiful mission and that we can help make the world a better place, in so many ways. Music makes the world a better place.
Those who are experienced at songwriting know of this calling. When you have a song inside that NEEDS to go out! I tend to see this stage, not as a blank state or an empty page, like it is often represented, but as having in front of me a block of stone waiting to be carved.
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Why is it not a blank state? Because we rarely create songs out of nothing. Just sitting there in front of a blank paper with the intention “now I am going to write a song” is rarely how song ideas usually comes to us. Walking outside, reading a story or some poetry, learning new chords or complicated jazz theory, learning a song of another artist and making your own version… Travelling the world or just going out in your backyard and listen to the birds… These are just some of the numerous ways to find inspiration.
Inspiration comes, you never know when or where and it’s like the magical spark that creates fireworks. But you have to pay attention when it happens. It can be a phrase a stranger says..  it could be anything. In the OUS group I like to observe what are the sources of inspiration people have, they are so diverse and sometimes unexpected!
Your initial inspiration, whatever it is (an idea, a melody, a feeling, some chords you love, a story, a person, a phrase or just a few words…)  is your starting point. This starting point is to the songwriter, what the rough stone is to the sculptor.
Starting from an initial inspiration, we carve out a song.  How to manifest our inspiration, at first? One of my favorite quote, from Dune, seems very fitting here:
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 ” A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.” .
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So very true about any endeavour and especially about music!
It is true about the start of a song and also about the way we start working on them. Do we rush to finish a song or do we take our time to start it? In this aspect we are all different and there is no “correct” amount of time one should spend on a song, each song is unique and we never know how long it will take to complete it! The sculptor sometimes spends a very long amount of time to polish his work!
The fastest song I ever wrote took less than 5 minutes. On the other hand, the longest time it took me to complete a song was more than 15 years.  Both have a long story…  maybe for another blog…
When we have our starting point, our inspiration, the rest of the song usually revolves around it. We don’t have to start with the beginning! Sometimes we can make the chorus first (or even the end!) and then create the rest after, but when there are lyrics in music they almost always become the focal point of the song. The music should usually reflect the feeling inside the lyrics, unless the point is to make a contrast with them. When there are no lyrics, the music can be more abstract. Just like the way an abstract painting differs from figurative art.  Both have rhythm and meaning in their own way. Both are fun to create!
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I like to see a song or piece of music like a work of architecture. Every brick serves a purpose and there are repetitions, patterns, symmetries, proportions and shapes, all related to the core intention of the piece and all having their own individual meaning in the body of the music. Like cells to a living being. When you have worked with many patterns in music you come to know what patterns creates what effects. The more tricks in your bag you have, the greater your songs can become.  That is why I think one of the greatest trick to make better songs is to learn to play songs of other artists (did someone say do some covers?) and especially the songs of the past masters.  A great way to improve our lyrics is to read and write poetry.
I feel a song is complete when I cannot possibly take anything off the song.  When I cannot take off any word, any note or chord, when each part of it are essential to the whole. Just like a house of cards if you take a chord off, the song falls apart!   Before to get there we can try many ideas, and some will be discarded along the way and some will stay in the final version of the piece.
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Someone once told me that in music the most important notes are not always those that we play, but sometimes those that we don’t play! This means the silences are very important, they are to music what darkness or emptiness is to color and shape, they are the necessary contrast. But it also meant that all the ideas that we discard, all the notes that we decided not to play, all this is an important part of the song too, an important part of the process it’s creation.
The notes not played and the unspoken words, can sometimes be part of the song, shinning by their absence. Words can be said and others can be understated, same for notes, chords and melodies. If a song is architecture, I would compare this stage to making our pyramid grow into an holographic multi-dimension space that the eyes cannot see. Some dimensions of the songs are bein played in the air and some are only in the mind of the listener, creating a more personal and unique experience for each.  What I mean by that is simple: play and say less and leave more to the imagination.
When you have your song all written down and your composition and orchestration all figured out you have finished the composition stage. It is that stage when the sculptor has taken off any unnecessary rock and reveals the final form of the piece.
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Then… it’s not exactly finished… many things can still enhance the sculpture or the music, like an stand for the sculpture, a special polish, a frame for a painting or a quality recording for a song with great musicians playing it.
Even after that, it is not necessarily over for a song. A great song will live far beyond it’s recording.  It will played and replayed again with different musicians and orchestrations, in different times and moods. It will be mixed and remixed in different ways. Solos will be added and.. people will make covers on their ukulele of their favorite song 😉
Keep on creating new songs and share the magic!
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