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View Full Version : James Hill (why I think he's amazing)



Icelander53
06-26-2015, 03:46 AM
OK this is one of those theads where you get to talk about your fave uke players and why you think they are sooo cool.

I plugged James Hill into the player this morning and truth be told I rarely listen to "uke" albums. The CD was his second I believe with the first one being instrumental. I owned that one but gave it away as it left me cold in spite of the fantastic playing.

Which brings me to why I think JH is a major force in music in general although that may be somewhat unrecognized due to how few people get turned on to his work. But it's his lyrical skills and songwriting ability that has me wowed. He's the complete package. In his CD "Man With a Love Song" he does his best work IMO. Each song is a masterful story told exceptionally well and his subject matter goes to the core of things rather that just skirting the edges. It's a truly remarkable CD that stands head to head with all the other great musicians I listen to. My CD collection is several thousand so that's saying something.

Anyway I want to recommend with my highest praise James Hill's MAN WITH A LOVE SONG and JH generally. His CD with Anne Davison did not come up to the level of the previous CD but it's still worth owning.

Anyone agree?

Freeda
06-26-2015, 04:32 AM
Totally. I'm a Hill fangirl. He's talented and a great educator and handsome to boot. Also a big fan of Anne Janelle.

Freeda
06-26-2015, 04:33 AM
Some of his lines just grab me so hard...


" the lady is too fat for words, but she sings like her life is on fire."

I mean really. I may never write a line that great.

Icelander53
06-26-2015, 04:37 AM
Just listened to that about 10 minutes ago. The other thing I forgot to mention is he has a very good singing voice. Understated at times but really a good voice.

Icelander53
06-26-2015, 05:11 AM
Here's my favorite JH. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DtiBs5AcwM

And if by wild chance anyone knows the chords to this song I'd be forever grateful. I'm dying to play it.

Surly-Mac
06-26-2015, 05:33 AM
I agree. While I think his singing voice is memorable, his vocal & melodic uke phrasing is pretty extraordinary to my (old & fading) ears. I'm no ​aficionado (for sure) but I know what I like... and I really enjoy the music he makes with Anne Davison. (And, of course, he seems to put on a terrific live performance.)

I'm exploring his teaching technique & philosophy at The Ukulele Way (http://www.theukuleleway.com) and I like what I'm seeing and hearing so far.

Steedy
06-26-2015, 07:40 AM
James Hill is amazing indeed! I like his "Old Silo" CD. It's got some rockin' tunes on it! His "Ukulele in the Classroom" and "Ukulele Way" courses are also amazing. His wife Anne is amazing too. To sum it all up: AMAZING! :cool:

pulelehua
06-26-2015, 09:09 AM
He's one of those guys where the more you know, the more amazing you realise he is. He can be doing a crazy mix of finger style and crazy strumming, and in the midst of it, he's shifting hand position and doing basically impossible string muting to create very precise tone colours. When you listen, you might think you understand what he's doing, but then when you delve into it, it just goes off the charts.

And he conveys it all in a way where you increasingly don't even think about the virtuosity, because it marries so perfectly with his musical expression.

Yep. I'm pretty fond of James Hill.

Icelander53
06-26-2015, 09:23 AM
Nice review. I'm sure I miss most of his technique.

Icelander53
06-26-2015, 09:25 AM
I mentioned I'm not big on instrumental as a rule but I do listen to some. Anyway a uke instrumental CD that I fully approve of is Cory Fujimoto's FABLES

It's really mellow and amazingly beautiful.

Hippie Dribble
06-26-2015, 09:35 AM
He's one of those guys where the more you know, the more amazing you realise he is. He can be doing a crazy mix of finger style and crazy strumming, and in the midst of it, he's shifting hand position and doing basically impossible string muting to create very precise tone colours. When you listen, you might think you understand what he's doing, but then when you delve into it, it just goes off the charts.

And he conveys it all in a way where you increasingly don't even think about the virtuosity, because it marries so perfectly with his musical expression.

Yep. I'm pretty fond of James Hill.

Totally agree with what John says. That's the thing that blows my mind watching all the best players. The way their technique melds so effortlessly into the arrangement. They make the impossible look almost easy. Azo Bell is my favourite player for similar reasons. His jazz phrasing is beyond incredible. And yeah Ice, I agree too that Fables is a gorgeous rekkid. So many amazing players around now and down through the years.

peanuts56
06-26-2015, 09:56 AM
Somewhere on youtube there is a series of videos where James and Ann are playing with Jake. I believe it's from a festival last summer in Canada. Quite nice to see the two different approaches that James and Jake bring to the table. I have not had the chance to hear James live as he doesn't come to the lower 48 too much. I've seen Jake many times and will be in Honolulu when he is scheduled to play at Roy Sakuma's Ukulele Festival. I'm looking forward to that festival. I know James has appeared at it in the past.
I've also read a lot of posts from people who have met James and they have always mentioned what a wonderful young man he is. Nice to know that a world class talent is also a nice guy. I've met Jake many times and the same could be said about him.
James, if you read this, please come to the Northeast.

Kayak Jim
06-26-2015, 10:16 AM
I'm a big fan of James' as well and am proud that he is a fellow Canadian. As well as being an outstanding player and pushing the limits (e.g. his chopsticks piece) he has done a lot for music education. He and Anne are both so down to earth, in his workshops and in their concerts.

I must say though that I prefer it when he just plays vs. the more recent vocal pieces. Nothing against him personally, I'm just partial to instrumentals.

Ukejenny
06-26-2015, 11:48 AM
Love what he's done for education and advocacy. I have to admit, I haven't listened beyond some of his youtube vids, I need to get an album.

Nickie
06-26-2015, 12:31 PM
Yep, JH is really one of the world's best. He is the consummate entertainer. I don't have any of his CDs either, my CD player in my car is busted, so I stopped buying them.
He's genuine, warm, funny, and extremely gifted. If I could pick any teacher I wanted, it would be James.
(are you listening James?)

Icelander53
06-26-2015, 12:39 PM
you don't have a stereo in your house. :stop::rulez: Nickie, what do you do when you're washing dishes? If I don't have music on I just leave them in the sink to rot.

Nickie
06-26-2015, 12:43 PM
you don't have a stereo in your house. :stop::rulez: Nickie, what do you do when you're washing dishes? If I don't have music on I just leave them in the sink to rot.

LOL Ice, I do have a computer that plays CDs but it's always on YouTube. If I let the dishes rot I'll have serious problems with my new wife....it's easier just to let the dogs lick them off, but she told me I can't do that....go figure...

Icelander53
06-27-2015, 02:38 AM
Folks I'd really like to play this song. Here's the first verse and chorus if anyone wants to take a stab at the chords.
Here's the Lyrics. Can you put in some chords?

I'm all alone, all alone again

Yet there aint no place in this world

that aint a place of men.

But that don't mean a blessed thing

And yet this heart of mine can't help itself

but start to sing.

(chorus) One of these days, I'll be travelin on

Won't be neither here nor there, oh no

I'll just be gone.

I've also posted this in Song Help

This is the first verse and chorus.

Booli
06-27-2015, 08:36 AM
OK this is one of those theads where you get to talk about your fave uke players and why you think they are sooo cool.

I plugged James Hill into the player this morning and truth be told I rarely listen to "uke" albums. The CD was his second I believe with the first one being instrumental. I owned that one but gave it away as it left me cold in spite of the fantastic playing.

Which brings me to why I think JH is a major force in music in general although that may be somewhat unrecognized due to how few people get turned on to his work. But it's his lyrical skills and songwriting ability that has me wowed. He's the complete package. In his CD "Man With a Love Song" he does his best work IMO. Each song is a masterful story told exceptionally well and his subject matter goes to the core of things rather that just skirting the edges. It's a truly remarkable CD that stands head to head with all the other great musicians I listen to. My CD collection is several thousand so that's saying something.

Anyway I want to recommend with my highest praise James Hill's MAN WITH A LOVE SONG and JH generally. His CD with Anne Davison did not come up to the level of the previous CD but it's still worth owning.

Anyone agree?

Yep. I totally agree. As you may remember from my posts in other threads recent and in the past, I'm a huge fan of James Hill, he's one of my heroes for many reasons, most of which have been said by others here in this thread, and I agree with all of them.

I listened to 'Man With A Love Song' constantly for almost a year. If it were on vinyl I would have worn the grooves off the record and had to replace it several times by now.

I also really like the solo work that Anne Janelle does, she has a sweet singing voice and it really draws me in to her music.

I could not get into 'The Old Silo'. When it was first released I listened to it on his web site like a dozen times and it did not grab me. One of the things is that I've been put off by grungey sounds since taking up the ukulele, and he's using lots of distortion to rock out, and I could not keep on it like with his other recordings.

He's been a huge influence to me in my perception of music, and what he's done for music education around the world, and a big inspiration to keep playing.

I...um...ahem. I have kind of a surprise for you Ice!

You may remember from a thread from WAY back, I mentioned that I had seen James Hill and Anne Janelle in person at the first ever Uke Fest in Morristown New Jersey, back in August 2013, organized by our fellow UU brother Scooter (aka ScooterD35).

Well not only did I see him perform live, but he was also gracious and kind enough to speak with me for about 15 minutes or so during the intermission between sets, I was in heaven. It was so hard not to be like a crazed freak being that he's one of my true heroes, but I managed to be normal about it all. he also posed for a photo with me, and I brought the inserts from all of my James Hill cd's, which he autographed personally to me.

I also had an opportunity to speak with Anne Janelle and she too is the sweetest and nicest person, and I can see why James loves her so much (this was right before their wedding).

In addition to all that I was able to speak with Jim Beloff for a few minutes and let him know how much I appreciate all that he has done for the ukulele, as well as what an inspiration he has been to me. He also posed for a photo with me.

Further, after the show, I got to spend some quality time with Victoria Vox, (hanging out for like 30 mins) in the lobby of the venue. She is so sweet and kind, and so unbelievably cute not only in appearance, but in her personality, that it kind of made me melt. I'm pretty sure I was blushing the whole time I was talking with her. She is an amazing person to speak to, and an awesome musician as well. Victoria also was kind enough to pose for a photo with me.

When I think back to that day, I can remember it so vividly, that it almost makes me gush with happiness that I was able to talk to some music and ukulele legends, and how nice they all were in person. Happy Memories :) !!!


and NOW, for the SURPRISE!!! (drum roll please)

During the performance I recorded some video, of different parts of the show, which I had meant to edit and share with the community here on UU, but I never could find the time to put it all together...well...

Once upon a time, in another thread I mentioned this to our OP here, Icelander53, and he asked me to share the video, That was a LONG time ago.

So, inspired by this thread being created, I managed to steal a few hours from everything else, and finally put the video together. Mind you, it's hand-held, and recorded on an iPhone, so there's some camera shake here and there and it's not really full HD quality, but it is what it is, and is much better than not having any video of the event.

So what I've done is create a rough edit, and upload it to YouTube for all to see, especially Ice, since he's having a rough time with things right now, and I really wanted to honor the promise I made, as well as offer something to cheer him up...

Also, the music in the intro is the song 'Sheik of Araby' from James Hill's instructional book/cd combo called 'Jazz Ukulele'. Hopefully the YouTube copyright police will not block my video, but I'll cross that bridge when and if it happens.

I've embedded the video below, but to see and hear in higher quality, you should click the link below to see it on the actual YouTube web site.

and yes, not only do I LOVE the music of James Hill, but also Anne Janelle, Victoria Vox and Jim & Liz Beloff. :shaka:

[EDIT: @ 8:00 PM EST on 6/27/2015 - There was a problem with the original edit of the video, so I'm currently uploading a new version, sorry for any confusion and delay. I will update this post when YouTube tells me that it's finished processing. Thanks in advance for your patience!]

[EDIT #2: @ 10.34 PM EST on 6/27/2015 - Video finished over at YouTube, so I have embedded it here and also included the direct link below]


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AML5WGULXk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AML5WGULXk

newvenice
06-27-2015, 04:15 PM
I mentioned I'm not big on instrumental as a rule but I do listen to some. Anyway a uke instrumental CD that I fully approve of is Cory Fujimoto's FABLES

It's really mellow and amazingly beautiful.

I agree...

Booli
06-27-2015, 04:27 PM
I am posting this message as a tickler for those subscribed to this thread to let them know that the video of James Hill et.al. is up and linked in my post above, here: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?108424-James-Hill-(why-I-think-he-s-amazing)&p=1715419#post1715419

Please let me know if there are any problems viewing it.

Icelander53
06-27-2015, 04:29 PM
You are now officially my hero. :love: That looks like a lot of fun. I'm sad that travel is so difficult for me now. I'd like to see someone play. Anyway that must have been great. I'd really like to meet JH and tell him how great I think he is. I'll bet that would be a first for him.

Surly-Mac
06-28-2015, 01:03 AM
Thank you for the wonderful video - it's easy to tell that a good time was had by all at Uke NJ 2013.