Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

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Update on our ukulele band

I’m sure you’re dying to know how the band is doing. Better than I could possibly have imagined. Although Suzie has been too busy hanging wind chimes at Dis ‘n’ Dat and grooming her bichon frisés to give me ukulele lessons, I’ve picked up a book titled “Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Tips ‘n’ Tunes” and have pretty much figured the basics out on my own. Yesterday, while sitting on the veranda of The Lodge working on a Shipwreck, I almost managed to tune my uke all by myself. I got the My Dog Has okay, but stumbled a bit on the Fleas. But I’ll get it.

(Speaking of fleas, do you know how the ukulele got its name? Well, supposedly in 1879 a laborer named Joao Fernandez arrived in Honolulu from the Portuguese island of Madeira, bringing with him a 4-string Portuguese instrument called a braguinha. Evidently the islanders were quite enchanted by this little instrument and, like me, decided they wanted to learn how to play it. Since they couldn’t pronounce braguinha—and neither can I—they called the instrument an oo-koo-le-le, which is Hawaiian for “jumping flea,” since this is how the islanders described the effect of a player’s fingers “jumping” around the fretboard. And now…you know…the rest of the story.”)

If you think of Arthur Godfrey or something when you think of the ukulele, you should check out this YouTube video of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (I kid you not) playing the theme from “Shaft.”

Awesome. I’m just wondering how long it will take me to get that good. Probably more time than I’ve got left on the island.  

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