Oodles of Mahalo Ukuleles (Ya know, for kids!)

So, I'm not sure my office has ever looked this fun before.  Dig it:

Mahalo Ukuleles for Kids
Mahalo Ukuleles for Kids

Did I really buy 8 Mahalo Ukuleles?  Yup.

Did I get a discount?  Nope.

Are all of these Ukuleles for me?  Sadly, nope.

I'm teaching a ukulele class for the kid's of our local Flagship program.  I asked them how many ukuleles they had and I think they only have like 2-3 to work with but there are going to be like 13 kids or something?  So, scrounging together my own ukuleles, I realized that I needed to buy some more.

That's what led me to 8 shiny new Mahalo ukuleles on my office floor.  I'm going to be donating these to the flagship program in the hopes that they can use them over and over again.  And, I'm going to have to admit, I'm going to be sad to see these little babies go.  They've been making me smile all dang day.

My plan for the kids is to show them a few chords and talk about having fun with music and then teach them Big Rock Candy Mountain and/or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, by the Flaming Lips.  Hopefully we can get through both.  I really wanted to tackle Livin' Thing by ELO, but there are a fair amount of tricky chords in there.

Here is the modified version of Big Rock Candy Mountain that I'm going to be using:
C - 0003
F - 2010
G7 - 0212

"Big Rock Candy Mountain" (Modified by Ukulele Guy)

One [C]evening as the sun went down
And the campfires all were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hikin',
And he said, "Boys, I'm not a-turning.
I'm [F]headed for a [C]land that's [F]far a[C]way,
Be[F]side the crystal [G7]fountains,
So [C]come with me, we'll go and see,
The Big Rock [G7]Candy [C]Mountains.

Verse 1:
"[C]In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There's a [F]land that's fair and [C]bright,
Where the [F]french fries grow on [C]bushes,
And you [F]sleep out every [G7]night,
Well [C]all the schools are empty,
And the [F]sun shines every [C]day,
On the [F]birds and the [C]bees
And the [F]candy bar [C]trees,
The [F]lemonade [C]springs
Where the [F]bluebird [C]sings,
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.

Verse 2:
"[C]In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You [F]never change your [C]socks,
And the [F]little streams of [C]chocolate milk
Come a-[F]tricklin' down the [G7]rocks,
The [C] teachers do your homework
And your [F]parents clean your [C]room.
There's a [F]lake of [C]stew,
And of [F]soda [C]too,
You can [F]paddle all a[C]round 'em
In a [F]big ca[C]noe,
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.
In the [G7]Big Rock Candy [C]Mountains.

Redneck Jellyfish – A rad game with my music!

So, let's talk about Muses.  You might expect that a Muse would be a foxy Greek godess, or maybe a supermodel or maybe even Jodie Foster (Hay, maybe you are inspired to shoot a president, right?).  Well, in my case, my muses are a rad southern dude (who makes incredible pottery and ceramics and who also happens to write code) and his amazing wife.

Keith and his wife Gina (aka Gi Gi) have appeared in music I've been a part of for many years.  Going back to Volumen, Gina was the inspiration for the "That's niiiiice" in Underwater.  Years later, Keith and Gina warranted at least 12 lines of the PWT song BBQ Funk.  Most recently, Keith created a freaking rad video game called Redneck Jellyfish and he asked me to make the soundtrack for it.

Yup, you heard me right.  After a lifelong addiction to video games and a recent obsession with the Ukulele, I was finally able to dip that chocolate into that peanut butter.  I was part of making a video game!  I can die a happy man now.  Here's a trailer for the game:

When Keith first asked me about it, he wanted to know what I would charge him.  Charge?!  Pshaw.  I feel like I should have been paying him for the privilege.  Especially considering that he designed the original Volumen logo (which you can see at Volutunes) and also the logo for my wife's toy store (Walking Stick Toys, y'all!).  He didn't charge us for either of those so money was not changing hands.

Well, Keith got the last laugh by naming the main character in Redneck Jellyfish after my youngest son, August.  Yup, the jellyfish is named "Gus Hickey".  RAD.

Keith created this game with a lot of help from his amazing kids Greyson (age 12) and Iva (age 11).  The concept was based on one of Greyson's drawings and I think Iva had a lot to do with the design of "Gus" and also some of the other art in the game.  Gus's voice, in the game, is 100% Greyson and it's pretty freaking hilarious!  Also, his crazy sayings are probably going to be tough for you to figure out if you happen to have been born north of the Mason-Dixon line. 😉

Anyway, if you have an ipad/ipod touch/iphone then y'all should shell out the measly $.99 and get this rad game.  There are 64 freaking levels!  So, it'll definitely be worth your money.  Also, I think the most recent version posts your scores to Facebook so you can get in some bragging rights.

I'll make another post soon with tabs for the main song in the game, in case you want to play along with your uke. 😉  In the version of the song that appears in the video game, I was playing my aNueNue Banjolele and also my 1974 Gibson EB-0 bass.

Click here to download Redneck Jellyfish!

Ukulele Video: Música no Ukulele

Last week I got an e-mail from a guy that I initially thought was spam because it was so brief.  He just asked me to check out his Ukulele Video.  Well, today I'm deleting hundreds of e-mails from my inbox and I happen upon it again.  What the hell, right?  Might as well check it out.   Turns out, it rules!

I'm a huge fan of this kind of video.  You know, where the guy shows themselves playing each individual part.  I think this style of video even has a name, but I forget what it is.  jreng is the king of these videos if you ask me.  Here's his video for Bohemian Rhapsody.  Sure, it doesn't have any ukuleles in it, but it's still rad.

I think maybe the reason I love these types of video is that I don't foresee myself ever having enough patience to make one.  I'm all about sudden inspiration, quick recording and then moving right on along..... that and live shows.  Maybe I'll get patience as I get older?  I'm not hopeful, though.

Original Song: 8th Anniversary for Erika

So, here is how this happened.

Monday Night: I mention to my wife, Erika, that I'm thinking about playing some Call of Duty: United Offensive tomorrow night with the boys.  She asks, "Are we doing anything tomorrow?"  Instantly I get my sinking feeling in my gut.  What have I forgotten now?  Is tomorrow Valentine's day?  No, that doesn't make sense.... this is June.  Hrm.  So, I go ahead and hang myself by asking, "What's tomorrow?"   Yup.  You guessed it.  It was our 8th wedding anniversary.

Tuesday Afternoon: During an insanely busy day at work, I keep playing Ukulele between stabs of productivity at the keyboard.  It's time for the hail Mary pass.  It's time for an authentic anniversary love song for my baby doll.  But, more than that, it's time to deliver it on our actual wedding anniversary.  As you've seen in the past, I normally deliver these a day or so after the special event.  Come hell or high water, that was not happening this time!

So, here it is.  Four verses even!  Of course, there isn't a bridge yet, but I can work on that down the road.

If you are interested in the chords and words (Hay, maybe your life is exactly like mine so you can re-use the song for your wife?):

F# C#7 F# A# B C#

8 years ago, we got joined, in holy matrimony
then I took the band and left you while we toured around Estonia
In those two weeks I knew that I needed to be near ya
wherever you are I'll follow you and make your "there" our "here"-a

C# fiddly part

7 years ago, we told just about everyone who'd listen
that the world was too damn full for us to put any more kids in
well it turns out that we that last part wrong
you need at least 4 voices to sing our family's song (maybe just 4, eh?)

D#min B F#
C# D#min B C#7

We got engaged for all time
or at least the rest of our lives

And I'd be lying if I didn't admit
that I think I got the better deal by more than a little bit

6 years ago we got ourselves a towheaded something special
I thank my lucky stars that we weren't being careful
I can't imagine our empty lives without that tiny babe
Sure we'd get more sleep,  but we can do that in the grave

4 years ago, we decided to make our boy a brother
and even though they fuss and fight I know they love each other
who coulda guessed that ours hearts had holes inside
that our boys patched right up because they were exactly the right size