Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jeffrey CrashandBurn

Last night, at the Berkeley Ukulele Club, it was kind of a slower night. I thought I had gotten there late and that things would be moving along. But Mike DaSilva was showing guests from Sweden around the shop. There were about 30 people there and only two women! Earlier in the day I prepared two songs for the group that I had practiced a bit and thought would be fun and somewhat challenging for everyone.

--> Sugartime (as sung by the McGuire Sisters, in the key of F)
--> Breaking Up is Hard to Do (Doctor Ukes version)

So I, invoking my alter ego as Jeffrey Crashandburn, got up on the stage and got the meeting going. Starting to learn music at 45 years old I have a lot of musical defugalties and frequently goof up. But, I have learned from many good friends over the last 5 years, that the getting together and sharing music is great fun, and that bringing some creative music and starting off a song doesn’t mean you have to be flawless. Sometimes you just need to have the fortitude to get the ball rolling. 1…2…1234…

This night there were several new faces, and I was really amazed at how quickly everyone seemed to pick up on the music. Doctor Uke’s arrangements sometimes overwhelm me but I found the Neil Sedaka song to be a very fun finger yoga tune to play. The biggest trick is moving from the Bm (4222) to F#+ chord (3221). But I found an easy answer, After the two beats of Bm, slide your hand down so that the barred finger is now at the first fret and covers /1111/ this moves the ring finger is at /3xxx/ and then bend the middle finger to get /x22x/.

Yes that sounded awful but the transition from Bm to F#+ becomes a simple step. So much of the musical notation I read I perceive as a list of instructions, or map of the music. Once you know where you are going you can put the map back in the glovebox.

Well, with a modicum of success, and no ready volunteers, I continued on with:

--> Sweet and Slow (Steven Strauss’ version found on BUC Songlist)
--> Stray Cat Strut (my personal adjusted arrangement – which I will e-mail to anybody that wants a Microsoft Word copy – It’s a lot of fun.)

Then our Danish representative, Kim Jorgensen, came up and pulled Mood Indigo from the BUC hymnal. Kim has found a new Louis Armstrong-ish voice within himself that brings a bit more fun to the song. I have Kim’s breakout YT video with this voice posted in the blog about a month back.

Then the club got moving along and I drifted in and out of various musical selections. I checked the key of the songs and got in the far back of the room and just improvised as best I could to songs in the key of C and F. I am SO advanced that I know my C scale in 2 places and my F scale in one place. I amaze myself with this! But my friend Goovy aka BajanPiedPiper from YT and Barbados has challenged me to improvise.

I don’t sound really solid yet, but following Groovy’s advise on magic notes, pentatonic scales, chromatics, timing, blues notes, etc. has opened up some new potentialities to my musical experience. I have links to Groovy’s stuff in my music theory section.

[Note: if you learn BPP or Uncle Groovy's pentatonic scale pattern which he plays in G on the Baritone ukulele, it is the C pentatonic scale on the standard uke, then you can easily move the pattern up 2 frets to get the D scale, one more and you have Eb. This musical knowledge just keeps on building! Oh yeah and the Bb scale is just one fret down!]


  1. Thirty people from Sweden and only two women?
    That's incomprehensible, Jeff. I had a go at
    that Dr. Uke arrangement, it's very chord heavy.
    Couldn't Neil have written it as a three-chord tune?
    I had the single 45rpm many, many moons ago.

    I've mentioned to you already that I play the D+,
    Bb+, and F#+ chords as 3225, but I'll say it again
    for any new readers. I'm just doubling a different
    note than Jeff.

    Thirty people from Sweden and only two women...

  2. What r u talking about? 2 peeps from Malmo: Michael och Marika. Now about Dr. Uke, I suppose I like these chord movements and the subtle tone changes on my ukulele. I call it finger yoga. Some Doctor Uke songs work for me and some don't or should I say I can work some smoothly and some I can't. I think Doctor uke has done a great service for us ukulele and baritone musicians

  3. Darn, Sorry I missed the group! Really enjoy your blog.. thanks for posting..