Thursday, August 5, 2010

Some of the Best Music to be heard on the Ukulele... You'll Never Get to Heaven If You Break My Heart

Whenever I hear Steven Strauss' soft RISA electric ukulele tones I am just so amazed at how simple his music sounds, at the graceful movements of his supple hands upon the fretboard, and even more subtly the delicate strums teasing music out of partial chords in between. This band which plays weekly at a small bakery in Berkeley has the solid connection of a band where the members know each others movements intimately. What a delite that these tunes have been recorded by Pip Lagenta and shared with us.


My attempts to move beyond a humble uker may never bring the joys of mastery. How the heck did I get infected by this ukulele bug? IZ said, "Is easy: 4 strings, 4 fingers." But sometimes this little instrument just kicks my ass! Perhaps, I just try too hard. I know that I have made some substantial progress, but... well the good news, I'll never run out of things to work on.


  1. It's such a simple instrument, Jeff, haven't you heard? I've cut myself back to just simple strumming, which is challenging enough, because I was putting myself through the ringer
    trying to do a little of this, a little of that, and while some may be able to handle the variety, I wasn't, and was exhausting myself in the process.

    Uking fun is not directly related to how fancy one's finger movements over the strings become, it just isn't. Fun is often lost in the drive to become ever more technically adept.

    I think that after a while people pretty much know how far their talents wil take them on the instrument, and wisdom lies in accepting one's limitations and not driving oneself to distraction attempting to overcome those limits and burning-out on the ukulele in the process.

    Steven's playing is to admired and enjoyed, not used as a standard toward which to aspire. If any of us had it in us to play like he does, we would know it and already would be on our way to getting there.

    What's wrong with being a humble uker? Jake is one of the humblest ukers around, after all.

  2. Hello my ocassionally anonymous friend. I know my playing runs in cycles. I tease myself by trying new skills and then hit a wall and ease off. Growth can be frustratingly slow at times. And sometimes I feel a bit beat. But perhaps it my shortened memory span from years of adolescent TV watching (blame Gilligan's Island, the Brady Bunch, or Merv Griffin) that I seem to forget and I come roaring back for more. Or perhaps it's like a mother forgetting the pains of child-birth because of the joys that baby brings. Yes, the ukulele is ma baby! Hello ma baby! Where was I?

  3. Impressive...I must share this with my husband:) Thanks.