Friday, March 28, 2008

Aloha Oe

As I've threatened, I'm working on learning more chord melodies. I've taken a couple of lessons from Herb Ohta Jr, who has greatly emphasized that to take my playing to the next level, I need to learn the fretboard in my sleep! So that is what I'm concentrating on for the time being...rather barely mastering playing whatever anyone shoves under my nose. You'd be proud of me: I've begun to decline taking handouts of music at my local uke club. (Hey, it's part of my self-designed 12-step program to break the addiction to play everything!) I'm also trying to really memorize a few tunes so that when someone plops a uke into my hands I don't stammer that I just don't have my music available.
Aloha Oe is one of the first things I've mastered. A simple and beautiful song.

video

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A New Ukulele!



In February I escaped for nearly a week to Waikiki, one of my favorite places of all time. Had a great vacation with the family. Waikiki has the best beach: it's so shallow you can just walk on out for hundreds of yards, and the way off-shore reefs protect the more shallow areas from sharks! I used to go there every year with my parents and stay at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, where we got to stay this time. So I was lucky to relive lots of old memories and make some new ones! Here is the view of Diamond Head from our room!


Among all the great things we did: snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, riding an outrigger canoe, surfing and body boarding at Waikiki Beach, and enjoying a luau.


Rachel and I took our first surfing lesson where we were finally hanging ten! Now she is a natural, but as you can see below, I was also able to hold my own:







And Dave did pretty well too!













So what would a trip to Hawaii be without some ukulele action, you say??

First, we went to Hy's Steakhouse to hear Herb Ohta Jr. That was an incredible treat getting to chat with him and see his artistry up close. Herb is a very low-key person who is truly a ukulele player's player. Go see him if you get to Honolulu as he plays there regularly when he isn't touring. Herb plays a Ko'Aloha custom tenor. I tried some of the Ko'Aloha's out in the local shop and that may well be my next acoustic ukulele.

We also saw Taimane Gardner at the Royal Hawaiian Luau. She did one medley of songs that left the audience breathless. In case you were wondering, she plays a custom Kamaka 8-string with several of the strings removed to give her room on the fretboard.


And drum roll, please! I did get a new ukulele...it is an soprano-sized Ohana made just for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, so it had a special meaning for me. Now I can have one ukulele that has a high G string and still has that Hawaiian "ukey" sound, and now I can change out the G string to a low G on my concert-sized Mele, perfect for working out finger picking solos. The Ohana has the memorable Royal Hawaiian logo on its headstock.





















And now I own a Carol Siegal signature Mele concert ukulele with a low G string. It's all in the headstock design below (the bunny ears are courtesy of Rachel!)