Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Well, that was fun

Monday, May 16th, 2016

And I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way. The 9th Denver Ukefest was this weekend, and a good time was had by all. I didn’t make it to Thursday night’s Heavy Metal Uke concert and open stage. I’m not familiar with Book ’em Danno, the band that gave the concert Thursday, although I’ve been aware of them for several years. I’ve been told it was a great evening.

I did see Friday night’s concert. The acts that performed were the Milk Blossoms, whose music I didn’t care for. Julia Nunes, who is quite a good performer, came next. The music she performed was all “relationship and break-up” songs, which got old quickly for me. The headline performer Friday was Daniel Ho, who had a bass player and a drummer with him. Their music was incredible. At one point, Daniel moved from ukulele to piano for three songs. During the third one – called “Waimea” – he abandoned the piano partway through to take up a pair of sticks, performing a percussion routine with the drummer to Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk.”

Saturday started at 9:30am with the first workshops. During the day, I attended five workshops. The first a jazz workshop hosted by Paul Hemmings that was focused on Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album, particularly the use of modes rather than chords for specifying the progressions. In it, we worked on learning the song, “So What.”

The second was Daniel Ho’s workshop on various ways to “dress up” his song, “Pineapple Mango,” in order to provide a more interesting performance. He covered strum variations, emulating a bass, chord melody, harmonics, and the “Mozambique rhythm,” which involves playing notes by hammering-on with your left hand while you play percussion on the ukulele with your right hand.

The third workshop was an introduction to inversions by John Nash, concentrating on the chord form sequences for finding major chords up the neck, and how to tie them together.

The fourth was an introduction to clawhammer ukulele by Chris McGarry, which I took because I’ve been having difficulty getting the basic stroke down. I think I now have it down well enough to continue on my own for a while.

The last workshop was titled, “Lyricism and Line: How to Make the Ukulele Sing.” It was run by James Hill, and covered slower strums for “relaxed” playing – that is, you’re not going to want frenetic or Formby-style strumming for a lullaby. He also went over using different chord voicings to help make your playing more melodic.

The Saturday concert started with a couple of songs by the Denver Ukulele Community. I believe there were some people from other groups involved in the performance. I’ve been part of this in previous years, but the New Zealand trip precluded my participation in it this year.

The actual lineup started with Paul Hemmings. He brought his bass player with him, but used a local drummer to fill out his lineup. I thought the drummer was miked too high, but I’m not a sound man. Given the subject of the workshop he ran, I was a little surprised and a little disappointed that his music was almost completely blues, rather than jazz. It was very good music, and he seemed to be enjoying himself tremendously on the stage. His bass player, Gaku Takahashi, performed on a U-Bass, and was an incredible player. He had a number of solos, and got enthusiastic applause after each of them.

The second performer was Del Ray. She was a total hoot. A fantastic player, with witty song introductions and interactions with her bass player and the audience, and an interesting repertoire. She appeared at an earlier Ukefest, but I wasn’t able to attend that year.

James Hill was the headline performer, and it was easy see why. Just to mention a few songs, he played “Duke’s Alley Rag,” which he described as the song he practices most and performs least. I didn’t care for it, personally, but it was an impressive piece. He did some of his “chopsticks beatboxing,” which I also didn’t care for. It was interesting, though, and the sounds he can produce that way are incredible. He performed “Billie Jean,” and mentioned (probably not at that time, but I don’t remember) that he’d been selected to be the next in Jim Beloff’s Ukulele Masters book series, and that his book was going to be called, “Duets for One.” Paul Hemmings and Del Ray’s bass player (whose name I didn’t catch) came out to perform “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” He did percussion with his feet for a few songs, which was impressive, and I wonder how many calories that burns, because his feet were moving quite quickly. He also managed to get some involved rhythms going by using both feet. Towards the end of his performance, he performed “Voodoo Child,” and sounded a lot like Hendrix while doing it (his version on YouTube doesn’t sound quite as impressive as his performance in concert). His finale was “Ode to a Frozen Boot,” which is an impressive performance piece. From clawhammer to jazz to classical to fingerpicking to electric to ludicrously fast bluegrass to who knows what else he knows how to do, he’s probably the most versatile ukulele player I can think of.

The finale for the evening (and the festival) had everyone come out on stage to perform a song together, with anyone in the audience who had a ukulele available performing along with them. This is done every year, and this year’s song was “Mama Tried,” in honor of Merle Haggard.

The Day the Music Died

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

On this day in history, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash. Waylon Jennings was supposed to be on the flight, but had allowed Richardson to take his place.

Yid With A Lid has a good post on the topic.

Update: That’s what I get for not doing this post earlier – it’s 11pm here, but 12am according to the post time. I’ll have to look into the WordPress settings and see if that’s where time zone is kept.

Oh, no, John Ringo!

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

oh no john ringo

11-17-70

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Driving home this afternoon, I caught the last ten minutes of the “Five O’Clock Favorites” show on KQMT. The theme today was, “Albums that you bought for one song.” One Elton John song was played during the short time I listened to the show, but it wasn’t the one that came to mind for me.

The first Elton John LP I bought was a live album of a performance he gave in New York City forty-five years ago yesterday, and I bought it for “Your Song.” Here is the YouTube video for Elton John’s album, 11-17-70.

Not what I was expecting to find

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

I was running around the web last night, while looking for lyrics and chord to a few songs, and went to Joe Bethancourt’s website.

I didn’t really know Joe, and I doubt he’d have remembered me. I met him at the 1997 Worldcon in San Antonio. Five minutes after we met, we were seated in one of the hotel hallways, and he was playing my banjo and giving me an impromptu lesson in how to play clawhammer-style banjo, as well as expounding on its advantages over 3-finger bluegrass picking. During his concert set, I saw several professional musicians amazed at watching him sing in 3/4 time while playing guitar in 4/4 time (or vice-versa, I don’t exactly remember).

Several of his CDs are available. I have a few of them as cassette tapes. I like his performances, and I like the songs he wrote. Like Mel Tillis, he had a stutter when speaking that disappeared when he sang.

I didn’t find the specific information I was looking for on his site. I did find out that he died just over a year ago. I’m sorry to know that, and sorry that I didn’t know it sooner than this. I hope his family members are doing well, and if there’s an afterlife, I hope he’s enjoying his.

Denver Ukefest this weekend

Friday, May 15th, 2015

It actually started last night with the Heavy Metal Uke Jam, but I had class last night elsewhere. I’ll be going to the concert tonight, then spending tomorrow attending workshops and the Saturday night concert.

This is the 8th Annual Denver Ukefest, and I’ve been to all of them except #1 and #3.

Fun and interesting

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

We went to a concert last night at the Arvada Center. The Colorado Chamber Orchestra presented their spring concert, which included Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony #5: Reformation. They also performed Remembrance, by Michael Udow, a local composer.

I didn’t care for Remembrance, but everything else was quite nice. Fanfare for the Common Man was different from every other performance of it I’ve attended, because it was performed “in the round.” Our seats were pretty close to the center, and we were surrounded by the brass section, with French horns to our right, trumpets/cornets to the left, and trombones and tubas behind us, with the remainder of the orchestra on stage. The music director for the orchestra, Michael Blomster, first performed the piece forty years ago, with Aaron Copland conducting, which I thought was an interesting bit of information.

All in all, a very nice concert that I quite enjoyed.

Costly commemoratives

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

The Martin Guitar Company is celebrating a couple of milestones, and has produced commemorative guitars to note them. First, it is the 50th anniversary of the D-35 model, and they’re producing a limited run (100 total guitars) of a Brazilian 50th Anniversary Edition. Each one costs about $7000.

If that’s insufficiently exclusive for you, they’ve also made a one-of-a-kind Model D-100 Deluxe to mark one million guitars made. Only $115,000.

Both of them are out of my range – I’d have trouble saving my pennies to get the D-35, and the D-100 is worth more than half of what my house is worth. I won’t even say, “If you’d like to buy me one of them …” because they’d be wasted on me – I’m not really a guitar guy. However, if you wanted to get me something from this page

Musical Evenings

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Last night was the second anniversary of the Adrift Tiki Bar‘s opening, and the Denver Ukulele Community was invited to perform. It wasn’t a bad evening, but it could have been better. We were out on the back patio, and it was crowded, in large part because it was small. It was also noisy – I’m not sure how well we were heard, particularly during the solos after the group performances.

I did two solos: Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World, and The Vogues’ Five O’Clock World. At least one person heard me, and came up afterward to tell me how much he enjoyed my performance of the Brooks and Dunn song. He must have been thinking of some other group that covered one of the songs (Five O’Clock World has been covered by a number of performers), because Brooks and Dunn haven’t done either of those.

Tonight, we’ll be seeing Manhattan Transfer at the Arvada Center. Should be a good evening if the rain holds off, which is not what the weather forecast is leading me to expect. We weren’t able to get seats in the covered area, so we’ll be on the lawn. Might be a damp (or wet) evening.

Tunesday

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Been a while since I’ve done one of these. Figured I’d do one to mark Ginger Baker’s 75th birthday. He’s been in a lot of groups – here are selections from a few of them.

No Capes!