View Full Version : It's in the blood

05-30-2009, 03:26 AM
How many of you have found that someone in your family played the ukulele in the past? Perhaps a parent or grandparent?

I've been searching for family information and family tree connections for a while now, trying to learn more about my family, especially my father's side.

A cousin in South Africa was speaking to my aunt about her childhood with my father and the family, in England, between the wars. This is part of what my cousin recently sent to me of those memories:

The family would often have a sing along. Bill on banjo, Winnie on ukulele, Frank and Mary on piano.
Bill - my father - played banjo. I never knew that! Winnie - my grandmother - played ukulele. I never knew that, either. Frank was my grandfather, Mary my aunt. Apparently they were all quite musical.

So maybe there is something in the family blood that drew me to the uke!

Has anyone else had a similar experience, to learn of a family connection to music?

05-30-2009, 03:54 AM
Recently at an uncle's funeral I found out he played when he was younger. A little late for me to hear it I guess.

05-30-2009, 04:13 AM
Recently at an uncle's funeral I found out he played when he was younger. A little late for me to hear it I guess.
As it was for me - my father passed away in 06, at 92. I'm learning a lot about his younger days - more now than I learned from him when he was alive. He never mentioned his musical past when I was struggling to learn the guitar, 40-plus years ago. I wonder what I might have been able to learn from him...

05-30-2009, 04:14 AM
My grandfather played the banjo and alittle on the mandolin.. My grandmother borrowed me the mandolin, so I could try it out. But I really can't play it, so Im just sticking with the ukulele :)

05-30-2009, 04:32 AM
My mother's brother played ukulele, harmonica, trumpet (and similar horns), piano. My mother played accordian (I forgave her for that :p ). My grandfather on my mother's side was Charlie the Talking Harmonica on radio. My father's mother was a concert pianist and her mother was a classical guitar virtuoso. I don't know if she played ukulele.

In both sides of my family are composers, musicians, singers. So, I came by it honestly and music is a huge part of life for my brothers and me.

My wife's family as well.. father-in-law is a string-bassist, bass guitarist, keyboard, clarinet and sax player. Brother-In-Law is a bass guitarist... really top notch. Nephew is keyboardist, uke player, and composes music.

Holidays are cool with all of the gang.

05-30-2009, 04:44 AM
My mother's family were all extremely talented musicians and they could all sing beautifully...
...except my mother, which may be why she never allowed me to study music.

Her mother was said to be a KILLER ukulele player, but unfortunately I was only barely acquainted with my grandmother.

05-30-2009, 06:28 AM
My mom's father played ukulele. There are pictures of him playing an old Martin soprano. Mom bought him an Aria baritone in the 70s, and I found it in his house after he died. That's pretty much what got me into the uke in the first place!

05-30-2009, 06:48 AM
my grandpa played guitar when he was younger, but now that I have over 50 close relatives(first uncles, first cousins), not even counting the kids that my grandpa's 3 brothers had(add another 50 for each one), the only one who plays an instrument other than my brother and I, is my cousin. she plays the violin. shes pretty bad. o well.

EDIT: Wow I completely forgot about my other cousin who plays guitar. He is pretty good at it too. I once asked him what strings he had on, and he says he doesnt remember, cuz he waits for them to rust, because he likes the sound lol.

05-30-2009, 06:50 AM
My whole family is from South Africa (I'm a first generation American I guess). I brought a uke with me in January when visiting people and my Grandpa picked it up and played Five Foot Two... Apparently he messed around with ukes for a bit in his jazz band that he mainly played banjo and sang in. I was really impressed, but I showed him afterwards hahaa.

I'm heading back there in a week for thesis research and dumping off my waverly stree banjolele with him to mess around on until I head back to the states in August :p

05-30-2009, 11:52 AM
I'm not sure if it's in the blood, or simply serdendipity, but I learned recently my grandfather was a newspaper reporter - as I was for many years. Didn't know that, all those years I worked as reporter and editor.

I also learned he served in the British Army in Palestine - I visited Israel about 30 years ago. Wish I had known, because I could have looked for the places he'd been. But it's another connection.

I learned my father applied to be a pilot in WWII and passed the tests, but was rejected because he was colour blind. I love small planes and go upo in them every chance I get, even in acrobatic planes, although my own eyesight has restricted my ability to become a pilot.

But the ukulele connection was just over the top!

05-30-2009, 12:01 PM
My Grandfather played the ukulele...

Ahnko Honu
05-30-2009, 12:22 PM
Dad and his Kamaka Pineapple. :music:

05-30-2009, 12:29 PM
There are some great stories posted and I enjoyed reading them all. Thanks

05-30-2009, 12:40 PM
i have the same last name as this guy (http://www.koolauukulele.com/ritz.html)

i've done a family tree...he's not in there :( would be awesome if we were related though!

05-30-2009, 01:15 PM
My grandfather played the uke.

Actually a Uke is the reason I exist, my grandfather wooed my grandmother with her ukulele. :shaka:

05-30-2009, 01:43 PM
My mother's sister, who was killed in an auto accident before I was born, played what the family called a "Hawaiian steel guitar". There is a photo around somewhere....it was played with a slide while resting the instrument across the knees. By all accounts she was very good at it, and I believe played in a band of some sort.

Her father (my grandfather), was said to have played the ukulele. I never knew him to do so, and never saw one at their house, but it's still possible. I never heard it mentioned until after his passing, and long before I took up the uke. They are all gone now, with no one left to ask about it.

05-30-2009, 04:51 PM
I've known since I was self aware that my father used to be a singer, bassist, and oboist, but I didn't learn about my grandpa until I became older. My paternal grandparents were 20 years apart, with my father being the youngest child. My grandfather passed away 20 years before I was born, so I really didn't know much about him, other than an old black and white picture that used to hang in my grandmother's bedroom.

Turns out, he was a naniwabushi singer. He and my relatives used to travel the various plantation camps, playing movies. To attract people, he would sing as they drove along.

05-30-2009, 05:33 PM
1st, and most probably last. sadly.

05-30-2009, 06:49 PM
i hear tell that Pop,(my grandfather, my dads dad) played, i don't know for certain, but my both my father and my aunt tell me that he had one, plastic i think they said, and he played by ear....which give me a bit of hope that maybe after a bit longer i wont suck quite as bad. i doubt its still around though, as hes not around anymore.
my aunt is also a music teacher and told me that she has a uke in her class room....i dont know what kind it is...i should ask her that...and the husband of a cousin has a lanikai pineapple im told