View Full Version : can anyone identify "Margie"?

10-03-2017, 08:42 AM
Hey all --

I recently picked up a mystery uke at an estate sale, and have been scratching my head over it, trying to figure out who might've made it.

It's an alto/concert size (15.25" scale length) and the body seems to be made of some tropical hardwood that superficially resembles walnut. The soundboard is spruce and the fretboard is rosewood. The headstock is certainly uncommon, resembling the scroll-shaped Fender headstock. The tuning machines are 4-on-a-plate and solid bronze/brass; no markings. The neck looks to be lauan ("Philippine mahogany") with a layer of the same hardwood for the body, on the top. The body is celluloid-bound and there's purfling around the soundhole.

There are two tortoiseshell veneers -- one a pickguard that's laid directly on the spruce, and the other seems to be strictly aesthetic, on the lower bout.

Painted on the soundboard is "Margie", and on the headstock -- "M.M." On the back is painted "From Nas with Love / Philippines '66".

Does anyone have any idea who might have made this? And who is "Margie"?! Any leads would be appreciated!


Patrick Madsen
10-04-2017, 07:41 PM
Hi RCH, Welcome to the forum. The uke looks homemade to me. Who ever Margie was; she seemed to have been loved dearly. How does it sound?

10-04-2017, 09:52 PM
I'm guessing a hand made one off as well. A fretboard that isn't completely fretted and a "fender" type headstock but not a Fender headstock all says handmade.

10-05-2017, 03:38 AM
I agree with it being a one off. I think that if I wanted to know more about it I would take a closer look at who's estate it came from, read the obituary and see if there is a Margie somewhere in the family.

Jim Yates
10-05-2017, 04:18 AM
I can't be of any help, but I love the look of that uke. You must learn to play this song.



10-05-2017, 02:43 PM
In the mid 60’s the Philippines were an active staging area for Vietnam with many US servicemen passing through. I bet someone bought it and had it decorated for their girlfriend. Pretty cool looking ukulele.

10-06-2017, 04:18 PM
How does it sound strummed and finger picked?

10-07-2017, 03:49 PM
That’s a very nice looking instrument RC. Nice design – beautiful woods. As Patrick and M3 mentioned, how does it sound?

I can't be of any help, but I love the look of that uke. You must learn to play this song.

And as Jim mentioned, “Margie” is a really great song. Thanks much for the PDF. I think I might actually have old Uke sheet music for this, considering how much I enjoy the tune. I might even have time to dig through the collection this weekend and see.

That’s ‘cause at the moment we’re all battened down for Hurricane Nate. It was never expected to be anything like the other storms this year, and it’s starting to look like it might break up a bit at the last minute. Of course it's all relative; it formed off the other end of our operation in Central America and a dozen or so people died there. Our shop had to close for mudslides in an earlier storm; this time all is good there at least. So will likely stay sheltered through mid-day tomorrow. But in a bit of coincidence, my hurricane experience is why this thread caught my eye. Everyone down here has lots of stories about the things they’ve been through. So as the wind starts to pick up, here’s a bit of reminiscence about Margie.

We were (almost) all evacuated from New Orleans for 2-3 months (can’t remember now exactly) after Katrina. When we came back the streets had been mostly cleared, but power and water were still very spotty, so the things so many take for granted were real luxuries for us when we found them.

But music doesn’t really need modern amenities. I was walking down South Rampart one evening and there was a tiny hole in the wall bar open (it’s gone now). They had a bit of lighting and a bit of ice. And they were presenting some entertainment that evening from a fellow named John Boutté (boo-tay). They had some tiny cheap speakers and a little microphone that looked to be straight out of a Hasbro box. John tried it out but the static and cut-outs along with just incredibly awful sound made him abandon the attempt. So he decided to just stand on the bar and sing acapella.

He started with a song a lot of us know. The Mills Brothers did a great rendition, but it’s known around here because of Fats Domino. That was “Margie”. John has a voice like sweet honey and an incredible sense of rhythm and timing. He is probably our favorite singer in New Orleans these days, but then he was relatively unknown and while I had heard of him, I had never “heard” him. He had that little place in the palm of his hand from the opening warble.

There’s a recording of him doing Margie. The album is called “Scotch & Soda” and incredibly it’s out of print. I put a copy of it up on the website, so if anyone wants a listen, just “save target” here:


The album is just John and a piano (Glen Pascha), so it has a bit of the flavor of that night. Think of stumbling into a piano bar where Oscar Peterson is on the piano and Sam Cooke is on vocals (not kidding!).

If I recall, John was flooded out himself and was living with family. The Bouttés are musical royalty in New Orleans and mostly singers. And while John’s voice is truly angelic, it’s not strong, so he was giving it all on every song even in the small room, even with everyone quiet, soaking in every note, taking in the incredible gift he gave us that night.

But the strain on his voice meant he had to cut the performance short. He apologized for that, and said “just one more”. And then he ended with “We Shall Overcome”, which given the circumstances, took on an entirely new meaning. More than a few tears came down in the barroom at that point and I heard a few choked sobs. That song closes the album linked above as well.

So, yes, learn to play “Margie” on Margie. I bet it really comes out nice, especially on that beautiful little Ukulele.