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swaller
04-07-2010, 02:26 PM
I'm a radio producer in Seattle working on a story about the ukulele. I'd love some help finding the following information:

#1.) I'm looking for a song that would epitomize the ukulele craze in the 1920s...A song that might have become really popular in tandom with the rise of radio's popularity.
#2.) Who are the largest ukulele retailers in the US? (These can be stores that sell instruments other than the ukuele - I'm interested to see how the ukulele segment of their busines has changed in the past few years.)
#3.) If there is any agency that tracks other metrics regarding the rise of the ukulele's popularity, I'd be interested in knowing about that, too. (How many instruments total are made/sold in the US each year, how people play the uke in the US, how many cities have large ukulele societies, etc...I'm guessing that there isn't a central place where these statistics are consolidated, but if there is, it would be great to know about.)

Thanks so much!
Sarah

beeejums
04-07-2010, 03:29 PM
I'm not terribly knowledgeable, so I'm a bit self-conscious about my responses... But here we go anyway, since I even like the sound of my own digital voice...

1: My guess would be "Ain't She Sweet" or "Five Foot Two." The former was written in 1927 and the latter was first recorded in 1925 (according to Wikipedia). My favorite versions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dsXyl4DSFs
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvxBMYfNTdA&feature=related

2: I'd guess Elderly Instruments and eBay sellers like MGM.

3: No clue, sorry. I won't embarrass myself.

robbocx
04-07-2010, 03:46 PM
Hi Swaller,

Well in the '20's anything that Ukulele Ike (Cliff Edwards) played was popular if you google him there are lots of references.

Steve

mds725
04-08-2010, 05:57 AM
One great resource is a recent documentary called "Mighty Uke." Here's the documentary's website: http://mightyukemovie.com/ It covers some of the history of the ukulele, including the 1920s craze, which was started by the Pan pacific Expo in San Francisco (whewre the ukulele got exposed to mainland audiences) and was driven by Tin Pan Alley songwriters. As mentioned, "Ain't She Sweet" is probably one of the more popular ukulele songs from that era.

Here's a link to a story from NPR on the recent rise in ukulele sales. http://current.com/1nqh64c

Here are links to a few other stories about the recent surge in ukulele sales:
http://www.mmrmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=4B535F81E91544AAA082951548FBA1EF

http://thebrooklynink.com/2010/02/23/7788-ukulele-sales-soar-in-brooklyn-and-beyond/

One common resourse for these stories seems to be Mike Upton, the owner of Kala Ukuleles. He's very accessible and may be able to answer some of your questions.

http://www.kalaukulele.com/

Since your program is going to air in Seattle, try to find the shop in Seattle that sells the most ukuleles and interview people there. The two Washington State stores listed in the "Ukulele Stores - USA" sticky in the Buying Tips forum are Dusty Strings in Seattle and Crossroads Music in Port Townsend.

Good luck with your story. Please post a link to it when it airs!

fleadermaus
04-08-2010, 06:24 AM
#2.) Who are the largest ukulele retailers in the US? (These can be stores that sell instruments other than the ukuele - I'm interested to see how the ukulele segment of their busines has changed in the past few years.)


For better or worse, I think a lot of players get their first ukulele from big music stores like Guitar Center. So you might want to ask them.

harpdog
04-08-2010, 07:12 AM
A post refered to MGM - that's Music Guy Mike : http://stores.ebay.com/Musicguymics-Room

swaller
04-08-2010, 08:18 AM
Here's a link to a story from NPR on the recent rise in ukulele sales. http://current.com/1nqh64c

Thanks so much for your resources and recommendations. They are very helpful. I've seen the Mighty Uke and actually interviewed the two film makers as part of my story. I hand't heard the NPR story you referenced, so that was great to know about. I'll follow up on those retail leads, and post my story when it's complete. Thanks!
Sarah

Kanaka916
04-08-2010, 10:29 AM
Try some of these articles on Ukulele history (http://www.nalu-music.com/category/history/) written by John King. You may find some informative tidbits relating to your project.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
04-08-2010, 12:07 PM
Dusty Strings in Fremont is a good resource.

Uncle Gregg Porter, Hawaii Radio Connection.com and seattleukulele.org, could
also be a resource for you.

whetu
04-08-2010, 12:38 PM
#3.) If there is any agency that tracks other metrics regarding the rise of the ukulele's popularity, I'd be interested in knowing about that, too. (How many instruments total are made/sold in the US each year, how people play the uke in the US, how many cities have large ukulele societies, etc...I'm guessing that there isn't a central place where these statistics are consolidated, but if there is, it would be great to know about.)

There's some google analytics stats floating about somewhere in this forum...

/edit: I was wrong, it was Google Trends (http://google.com/trends?q=ukulele). Here's a graph (http://www.google.com/trends?q=ukulele%2C+fiddle%2C+mandolin%2C+harmonic a%2C+banjo) with some other instruments, showing the uke gaining where the other folk instruments stay relatively stable. Credit where it's due, that second one is Doctroid's doing (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?1785-Ukulele-Surge&p=274991#post274991).

Gaby
04-08-2010, 02:17 PM
To answer question 3: NAMM should be able to give you the statistics: http://www.namm.org/

There was also an article in the LA Times a few months back with some quotes from Kala, Mike DaSilva and others about the growth of the industry.

uke552
04-08-2010, 05:10 PM
What a great thread! I have learned a bunch myself!