A guy in love…. (covers Magnetic Fields, of course)

So, today I felt like I needed to do something special for my wife, Erika.  I stayed up super late playing poker and maybe drinking too many beers and I slept in too late, etc.  She's the center of my world and I knew I needed to remind her of that today.  So, what did I do?  Well, I covered some Magnetic Fields, of course!

Maybe this doesn't make sense to everyone, but Magnetic Fields are pretty much a touchstone for us.  Hell, our youngest son's middle name is Merritt for heaven's sake.  We're pretty rabid fans.

But, this song is something special for us.  A fantastic Missoula band, The Oblio Joes, played on our wedding day and they played this song as "our song".  I actually sang it with them (although, I guess I probably should have been dancing with Erika, right?) and it sealed this song in time, as ours.

Then several years later, The Oblio Joes played their last show ever in Caras Park in Missoula.  Well, this last show took place on the anniversary of our wedding.  So, as a surprise to Erika, I jumped up on stage and sand Strange Powers with the Obes for the last time.

Well, today I had to do it without the Obes, but I did as best as I could.  There are 11 tracks in this song and they are:

  1. muted strumming on a Tacoma acoustic guitar
  2. muted strumming on a Rogue baritone ukulele
  3. muted strumming on a Lanikai CK-TEQ tenor ukulele
  4. bass on my Applause acoustic bass
  5. guitar on my Tacoma acoustic guitar
  6. ukulele on my Lanikai CK-TEQ tenor ukulele
  7. vocals
  8. backup vocals
  9. tiny hook on my Kala Pocket Ukulele
  10. weird harpsichord (?) part on my Lanikai CK-TEQ tenor ukulele
  11. synth electric guitar sound from my Eleuke

Oh yeah, and I recorded it on my MOTU Traveller interface.  I love it!  And I used an AKG C 2000B Microphone.  But, enough of all that tech jibber jabber.  This one is for my baby.  I hope you like it, Erika.

Strange Powers (Magnetic Fields Cover) - by Ukulele Guy, for Erika

P.S.  I need a windscreen for my mic.... I know.  I'm buying one today as well as new Aquila strings. 😉

P.P.S. I'd love to make a video for this song.  You know one of those rad videos that shows me playing each of the instruments as the part comes in for the first time.  But, that seems like a ton of work and I'm not really sure what software to use.  Does everyone do those with Adobe Premier?  It seems like it has a steep learning curve (and costs about a million dollars).  Any other suggestions?

P.P.P.S  Crap.  I just realized that I muffed the lyrics in a few spots.  Hopefully Stephen Merritt never hears this because I'm not sure I could stand up to his sardonic comments and cool stare.

We are the World (Ukulele Style)

Well, this wouldn't be much of a  Ukulele blog if I didn't talk about this Ukulele version of We Are The World.  It's 33 Ukulele players from all over the world playing We Are The World and it's be edited into one video.  Apparently there are ukulele players from Australia, Canada, Germany, Hawaii, Italy, Malaysia, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

I like the concept of this (it remind me of that great Stand By Me youtube video), I just sort of wish they picked a different song.  Sure, I grew up in the 80s, but I pretty much can't stand this song.  But, it's nice to see all the great ukes and players and hear everyone's style on this, regardless of the tune.

If you want to see more of a particular player, check out all of the following links.  They are the Youtube pages for everyone who is in the video.  You're going to have to do a little guesswork, though, if your favorite is in the middle of the video.  Either that or be a really great counter.


Original Song: Gus Hickey is Picky…

When I first started this blog (sometime in September '09, I think?) I used to post an original Ukulele Song on every #MusicMonday on Twitter.  Well, that pretty much went off the rails after like 10 weeks or so.  But, I still want to share some of my songs with you guys, so I'm trying to force myself to get back into it.

I especially needed to record a rough draft of this song because, in two days, Gus won't be two years old anymore and I'll need to come up with a new chorus.  So today I jotted this little number down so I won't forget it.

I keep saying Rough Draft but my guess is that this is how the song stays.  I generally like to think up a song and record it as quickly as I can with every intention of flushing it out and adding parts, but, honestly, it's more fun to make up unfinished songs than it is to finish songs.  So, I guess I'm a "sketch artist".

Anyway, when I put the boys to bed, I usually sing songs to them to help them fall asleep.  One night I just started making up this song for Gussy (his given name is August, but we almost never call him that) and it sort of stuck.  The lyrics are all pretty particular to Gussy and  his quirks so I'm not sure how well it'll translate if you don't actually know him.

Actually, that's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  I keep meaning to get into the studio (Club Shmed studios, here in Missoula.. they rule) and record a kid's record (I even was given some studio time from my wife, as a gift) but I've been putting it off because so many of my songs are really specific to my kids and my wife.  But, driving home from a Volumen show the other night, I decided that I'm actually going to go the other direction.  I'm going to record a kid's record of songs ONLY about and inspired by my family.  No offense to the rest of the world, but they really are at the top of my list. 😉

Anyway, when/if I ever do that, this song will be on that CD.  It's for my son, Gus, who turns three on Sunday.

Gus Hickey is Picky...

Lemme know if you need the chords, but I'm sort of doubting that you want to learn a song about someone else's kid.  Heh.

Kala U-Bass (on tour with Paul Simon, even)

So, I got a press release from Kala saying that their U-Bass is currently on tour with Paul Simon.  Well, I guess I could say that more clearly.  The U-Bass is actually being played by Bakithi Kumalo (thankfully, no one has invented the sentient, walking ukulele... yet. When they do, I'm out of a job.).  Bakithi Kumalo is an incredibly musician and you've probably heard his playing before on Paul Simon records (he played on Gracelenad).

Anyway, reading the press release makes me realize that I need to know more about the Kala U-bass.

So, I did a little searching and this is what I've come up with so far.  It's a 20" scale bass guitar and the strings are some sort of fancy polyurethane that is some sort of Kala secret ingredient deal.  What is blowing my mind is that, for it's size, it has incredibly rich and deep tones.  I think if you were listening to it and not looking at it, you'd assume you were listening to an upright bass.  So, I guess it's like the musical instrument equivalent of a Bag of Holding from D&D.  Somehow, it's like a magical vortex that channels extra deep tone?

Here, take a listen to these guys covering "Stand by Me" and tell me that this bass sound isn't exceptional deep.

Anyway, if someone has one of these, tell us more about it! Heck, make a video even, why doncha?

Missoula, Montana… and BEER!

Andy Smetanka posted a link to a video today that I figured I could get away with re-posting here. For one, I just need to start posting again (stupid real life getting in the way of my blogging) and for another, I'm actually playing Ukulele in the music of this video.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Andy is a long-time friend and full-time Renaissance man.  I met him around 1997 or so when he was fronting Humpy, a great Missoula hardcore band.  If you've seen any Volumen videos, then you've seen his work before.  He made videos for Sexy Astronaut, Snakes and Lost in the Baltics.  Heck, he's even made videos for The Decemberists.  Heck, he even officiated my wedding, if you can believe that.

This particular video was made for Big Sky Brewing, a local Missoula Brewery.  However, the music that's featured in the video was recorded, I think, for another project.  I think he was making a Tolkien-inspired video for Le Force.  This music was supposed to be for the Hobbit's merry-making and whatnot, I think?  Anyway, besides me on the Ukulele, Al Pils is on the jawharp and I think Bryan Ramirez and a few other folks (Andy as well) are stomping, snapping, etc.  I'm actually a little surprised that there is no musical saw in this song because Andy is also the king of musical saw, if you can believe that.

Oh, hang on!  I just found a link for the Le Force video as well.  I'm probably stretching it by including this video here, but hay, it does have some ukulele in the beginning. 😉  Besides, the video is freaking RAD!