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View Full Version : First time playing the uke at a party... question?



jacothedog
07-18-2010, 05:00 AM
So I've had the uke for a little over a week, and last night I brought it out and started playing at a party. Of course, SOTR was immediately recommended, and I played it.

I trult love the way Iz played and sung it, but how long will it be until I'm groaning when this is requested. (we sung it 3 times last night). I guess it's just one of those things. People automatically associate the uke with that song right away.

Anyway, the real reason for the post is that after last night, i realize the power of this awesome little
instrument. It can elevate the vibe of a party with one strum. It forces smiles on people. It makes people do a little happy dance in their chairs.

....and to think I made fun of my old guitar playing friend when he bought one earlier this year.

cheekmeat
07-18-2010, 05:17 AM
I've never learned SOTR, never played SOTR and still groan when people request it.

Once you've got a big enough repetoir, it gets easier to turn people down and just keep going with a set of songs you want to play...And don't learn songs you don't want to play;)

Aloha
07-18-2010, 05:20 AM
I think IZ and Jake have done wonders for the mainsteam acceptance of a craft that we have already known to love!

I think I would rather play SOTR than Tiny Bubbles or Tip toe thru the tulips...

Keef
07-18-2010, 05:26 AM
Ok I'll ask what is SOTR

StereoJoker
07-18-2010, 05:32 AM
Ok I'll ask what is SOTR

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

I'd much rather be playing this than "I'm Yours" or "Hey Soul Sister". As long as that isn't the only song you're playing over and over again, it's not so bad. I get a lot of requests to play Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", surprisingly. It's starting to wear on me a bit because I've got so many other songs in my repertoire :(. Ah well. Folks enjoy it.

Yeah, the uke is fantastic for parties. I make sure I bring mine with me to nearly every social gathering I can. Makes all those awkward moments melt away pretty fast.

Keef
07-18-2010, 05:40 AM
Play all the songs you don't like by plucking them one string at a time

luvdat
07-18-2010, 05:55 AM
"Turn people down" and "still groan when people request it." Don't get me wrong. I get it, when people have requested songs (the same ones, the classics, the oversung, the overrequested). And yes, I've "felt" that way too.

But unless you're Bono turning down requests for "Still Haven't Found..." you're not there to educate people but to entertain. Hey, I've "felt" the same way.

jacothedog
07-18-2010, 06:19 AM
Well, I do love the song and the point made about it helping to bring ukes into the mainstream is a good one. It's fun to play at this point, and I don't really turn down requests, unless they are for a specific artist who I truly despise.......

Ukulele JJ
07-18-2010, 06:28 AM
Such is the burden of the musician at a party. Be proud to bear it! :-)

When I sit down at piano at a party, I pretty much have to play "Piano Man". If my accordion is handy, it's "Chicken Dance" (only the real old-timers know about "Lady of Spain" anymore).

Does/will it get old? Sure. But focus on the joy you're bringing to everyone and you'll get through it. That's what it's about anyway, IMHO.

JJ

luvdat
07-18-2010, 06:32 AM
Such is the burden of the musician at a party. Be proud to bear it! :-)

When I sit down at piano at a party, I pretty much have to play "Piano Man". If my accordion is handy, it's "Chicken Dance" (only the real old-timers know about "Lady of Spain" anymore).

Does/will it get old? Sure. But focus on the joy you're bringing to everyone and you'll get through it. That's what it's about anyway, IMHO.

JJ

If when asked what beer you wanted (maybe even Bud, Miller or Yuengling) someone came back with something from an obscure microbrewery that costs 3 times more (and tasted like women's perfume was added), would you like it better? Not ganging up here. Talking also to myself...I have shabbier attitudes than you do...

Keef
07-18-2010, 06:33 AM
How do you think Don Hoe felt about Tiny Bubbles ?

Harold O.
07-18-2010, 06:40 AM
Just because you've heard the song so many times doesn't mean that others have. Let 'em in on the fun. And as you get to where you can play it blindfolded, take the chance to look around and watch the reactions of people in the crowd. There's a whole lot more to "being on stage" than merely playing.

If you know you're going to whip out a uke at a friendly gathering (not a paying gig) then bring along a second uke. Then if someone gets real curious, you'll be able to get them playing something like the Cowboy Song pretty quick. http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?25208-Cowboy-Song-Tom-Hanks-Joe-vs-Volcano&highlight=cowboy+song

farmerboy
07-18-2010, 07:27 AM
I've always been fond of the expression I learned at Irish gigs: "You hum it and I'll smack your face in". Works on 90% of requests, but make sure you check who you're talking to first - nearly came a cropper when I said it under my breath before turning round and finding it was a 6ft 10 farm labourer asking for the Wild Rover. On this occasion I acquiesced!

My tip is to play lots of disco and 80s classics that everyone loves and that they don't necessarily expect. Keep them guessing and you'll soon find the requests dry up as they find it's more exciting to wait and see.

haole
07-18-2010, 07:41 AM
Learn "Hey There, I'm Your Soul Sister."

luvdat
07-18-2010, 08:37 AM
How do you think Don Hoe felt about Tiny Bubbles ?

Like someone with a decent amount of money in the bank.

BTW, at this stage in my life I'd rather listen to "Tiny Bubbles" than something like "You've Got A Friend."

mm stan
07-18-2010, 01:04 PM
Aloha Kirstin,
I love somewhere over the rainbow, a while back I learned the basic tab for it and expanded it for my version.
You can get the tabs on Tropical Storm Hawaii, Tab section...It was fun to learn, and even more to play now.
I like all kinds of music and I try some of each and I definetly like Hey soul sister and I'm yours too!!
Yup sharing your music with others always brighten things up. Have a nice day!!

mm stan
07-18-2010, 01:13 PM
Aloha Keef,
I like "Tiny Bubbles" it's such a classic!!and it spans from generation to generation.. it now
seems that it catches the younger and older generation even more.....yup when you age, you
go for the classics too!! Hope i'm not giving a hint of my age....
Besides, he took all that money to the bank.....Not to mention
all the nice people he met on the way with his journey.....
Girls, Girls, Girls.....nah that was Elvis's song....I think????

ukecantdothat
07-18-2010, 01:29 PM
Sometimes thinking about a tune you don't like in different light can bring new meaning to it, and thus make it more bearable. For instance, SOTR is widely considered to be an uplifting song of optimism and redemption, when actually it's about a depressed young girl's wish to get out of the hell-hole she was born into - a common teen theme. When you look at the original lyrics (Iz kinda mixes them up a bit), it's really quite hopeless. It was considered by MGM to be such a downer in The Wizard Of Oz that it was nearly cut. Of course, it ultimately stayed in and went on to win an Oscar. Try putting that spin on it for your audience the next time you play it (and there will be a next time...) and slow it down to its "proper" depressing tempo.

Hope that helps!

rasputinsghost
07-18-2010, 02:15 PM
Iz "mixed them up" with What a Wonderful World....on purpose. It's a medley.

Anyway, from my own experiencing busking once and playing at a bunch of my friends parties:

Be sure at least the host of the party wants you to play some uke, otherwise you'll be the annoying guy at the party who brought a guitar....except it's a uke.
Know your audience. You WILL get requests. You will NOT know 90% of what they ask for.
Do yourself a favor and learn SOTR, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz because they will get requested. (This will depend on how old you are.) I refuse to play Hey, Soul Sister, but....
The opening lick of My Girl will always win smiles (check uke live lessons for that!)
If you think you're NOT going to play Build Me Up, Buttercup, you are sorely, sorely mistaken. Learn it, it's fun, it's a great singalong. This also applies for Sweet Caroline, too.
If you're running into patches where nobody knows the songs you're playing, Beatles, Beatles, Beatles. Did I say Beatles? Because, Beatles.

Have fun man, it's always fun to play for people.

luvdat
07-18-2010, 02:19 PM
SOTR: by coincidence, teaching that song to my wife. But not the Bruddah Iz rendention, more toward the original. I find both versions, the original and Bruddah Iz's both somewhat depressing actually.

SCSue
07-18-2010, 03:15 PM
You know, I've seen this before, someone very patiently (or not-so) explaining that Iz's version is a combination of SOTR and What a Wonderful World. But the point is that the lyrics he used for the SOTR part were mixed up. I've seen reports that Iz didn't really know the words, and just sang what he remembered of the song.

It took me a long time to learn his version because of that. Some of it isn't logical. But I love Iz's version and have much respect for it.

mitchchang
07-18-2010, 03:50 PM
So who says you have to learn his version word-for-wrong-word? And for that matter, do you (not YOU, I mean anybody) really have to do the oohooooooh parts in the beginning?

jacothedog
07-18-2010, 03:51 PM
Iz "mixed them up" with What a Wonderful World....on purpose. It's a medley.

Anyway, from my own experiencing busking once and playing at a bunch of my friends parties:

Be sure at least the host of the party wants you to play some uke, otherwise you'll be the annoying guy at the party who brought a guitar....except it's a uke.
Know your audience. You WILL get requests. You will NOT know 90% of what they ask for.
Do yourself a favor and learn SOTR, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz because they will get requested. (This will depend on how old you are.) I refuse to play Hey, Soul Sister, but....
The opening lick of My Girl will always win smiles (check uke live lessons for that!)
If you think you're NOT going to play Build Me Up, Buttercup, you are sorely, sorely mistaken. Learn it, it's fun, it's a great singalong. This also applies for Sweet Caroline, too.
If you're running into patches where nobody knows the songs you're playing, Beatles, Beatles, Beatles. Did I say Beatles? Because, Beatles.

Have fun man, it's always fun to play for people.

Of course! I'm not new to playing, I've played guitar forever; just a new uker. ...and yes, I'm always aware of the potential "annoying guy with the guitar" label. I only bring out the instruments when requested by others, but luckily, my neighborhood's full of musicians, so they all join in.

ukecantdothat
07-18-2010, 04:15 PM
Iz "mixed them up" with What a Wonderful World....on purpose. It's a medley.

...Oh, I know he did it as a medely with Wonderful World, brilliantly, but the SOTR bit is all mixed up from memory as he'd pointed out.

itsme
07-18-2010, 04:57 PM
Girls, Girls, Girls.....nah that was Elvis's song....I think????
I thought that was the one by Motley Crue that featured strippers in their video? :p

But if you want a different version of SOTR, listen to Eva Cassidy. Like Iz, she was an amazing talent who left us too soon. :( Listen to the whole vid, she'll blow your socks off with her ability to sing soft or belt it toward the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RDmXsGeiF8

Raygf
07-18-2010, 05:01 PM
I've been sitting here for quite some time this evening editing/rereading this and debating deleting/posting it. God help me. Here goes.

I guess it's the teacher in me and it is not my intention to offend or upset anyone. Please, please, please understand that I believe that Iz's interpretation/rendition of this gem from the Great American Songbook is splendid and I love it. Pairing it with "What A Wonderful World" (another great American classic) was truly inspired and nothing short of sheer genius. These two tunes are among my most favorite of favorites. I just wish he had gotten the words right for Harold Arlen and Edgar Harburg's "Over the Rainbow". Every time I hear someone learn and sing the mistakes I cringe and am waiting for the time when, while watching "The Wizard of Oz", someone asks why Judy Garland is singing the words wrong. When I sing Iz's rendition of"Over the Rainbow" I sing the words as written by the songwriter. No disrespect to Iz. I hold him and his tremendous musical legacy in the highest regard and love the spirit and feel of his cover of these tunes. I just have a thing about getting the words right.

Regards,
Ray

Chris Tarman
07-18-2010, 05:32 PM
I've been sitting here for quite some time this evening editing/rereading this and debating deleting/posting it. God help me. Here goes.

I guess it's the teacher in me and it is not my intention to offend or upset anyone. Please, please, please understand that I believe that Iz's interpretation/rendition of this gem from the Great American Songbook is splendid and I love it. Pairing it with "What A Wonderful World" (another great American classic) was truly inspired and nothing short of sheer genius. These two tunes are among my most favorite of favorites. I just wish he had gotten the words right for Harold Arlen and Edgar Harburg's "Over the Rainbow". Every time I hear someone learn and sing the mistakes I cringe and am waiting for the time when, while watching "The Wizard of Oz", someone asks why Judy Garland is singing the words wrong. When I sing Iz's rendition of"Over the Rainbow" I sing the words as written by the songwriter. No disrespect to Iz. I hold him and his tremendous musical legacy in the highest regard and love the spirit and feel of his cover of these tunes. I just have a thing about getting the words right.

Regards,
Ray

I see absolutely nothing wrong with this. If Iz had written the song, then it would be proper to sing it his way, grammatical inconsistencies and all.

rasputinsghost
07-18-2010, 07:40 PM
I didn't know that, you're gonna do great then man!

Edit: I didn't realize how different his words were. I see nothing wrong with filling in the right lyrics, you're doing your take on his medley, which is awesome. Thanks for the info.

SuzukHammer
07-18-2010, 09:27 PM
I dig this thread.

I was wondering what the party etiquette is. I would also talk to the host and see if the singalong/ one man band is ok. But honestly, if more than 3 people say to get the uke out, then I'd do it.

I was reading a book on harmonica improv and it stated its best to "play the notes people want to hear" basically saying, playing is not for the player - its for the audience.

Ukulele JJ
07-19-2010, 12:49 AM
How do you think Don Hoe felt about Tiny Bubbles ?

They made him feel happy.

Made him feel fine.

JJ

Ukulele JJ
07-19-2010, 12:56 AM
I find both versions, the original and Bruddah Iz's both somewhat depressing actually.

Yeah, the song is a lot more depressing than most people think. It's always interesting to me when people want it played at their wedding--have they listened to the lyrics? :-)

Another song that's surprisingly depressing upon careful listening is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"--especially if you go with the original "until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow" lyrics. Also introduced by Judy Garland in a movie, coincidentally.

JJ

Raygf
07-19-2010, 01:49 AM
They made him feel happy.

Made him feel fine.

JJ

:biglaugh:

Raygf
07-19-2010, 02:06 AM
Depress - to make sad or gloomy; lower in spirits; deject; dispirit.
Dispirit - to deprive of spirit, hope, enthusiasm, etc.; depress; discourage; dishearten.

While there is a sense of sadness imparted in the lyrics I also find a sense of hope in "Over the Rainbow" and when paired with "What A Wonderful World" I understand why someone might choose to have it sung at their wedding.

Songfacts.com claims Harburg was expressing hope for America under president Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" program, which was designed to get America out of the Great Depression in the early '30s.

Regards,
Ray

Here are some other interesting facts.
Over the Rainbow is number one of the "Songs of the Century" list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The American Film Institute also ranked Over the Rainbow the greatest movie song of all time on the list of "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". It was adopted (along with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas") by American troops in Europe in World War II as a symbol of the United States.

lindydanny
07-19-2010, 03:02 AM
I treat requests for playing a specific song the same way I treat requests for me to eat...

Fan: "Oh, Danny, I love to watch you eat. You are so good at eating! Can you eat this entire turkey dinner for me? PLEASE!!! It would just be wonderful!!!"
Me: "Uh, I'm full...?"

Seriously, though. If they really want you to play SOTR, I would at the least argue the mixed up words issue. Then, I would proceed to play "If I Only Had a Brain" (and follow it up with the same song only with courage, heart, etc).

~DB

P.S.: I absolutely refuse to learn "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".

lambchop
07-19-2010, 03:04 AM
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

I'd much rather be playing this than "I'm Yours" or "Hey Soul Sister". As long as that isn't the only song you're playing over and over again, it's not so bad. I get a lot of requests to play Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", surprisingly. It's starting to wear on me a bit because I've got so many other songs in my repertoire :(. Ah well. Folks enjoy it.

Yeah, the uke is fantastic for parties. I make sure I bring mine with me to nearly every social gathering I can. Makes all those awkward moments melt away pretty fast.

Hey Soul Sister is always a big hit. I do an instrumental version of SOTR and no one requests it ever again! I also find my singing helps keep people from ever wanting to hear it. Mike

Raygf
07-19-2010, 03:27 AM
I treat requests for playing a specific song the same way I treat requests for me to eat...
Fan: "Oh, Danny, I love to watch you eat. You are so good at eating! Can you eat this entire turkey dinner for me? PLEASE!!! It would just be wonderful!!!"
Me: "Uh, I'm full...?"
Seriously, though. If they really want you to play SOTR, I would at the least argue the mixed up words issue. Then, I would proceed to play "If I Only Had a Brain" (and follow it up with the same song only with courage, heart, etc).
~DB
P.S.: I absolutely refuse to learn "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".

:biglaugh:

I love your approach.

Quote on Woody Guthrie's guitar: "This Machine Kills Facists" I have joked that I have written, "This Ukulele Will Never Play Tiptoe Through The Tulips" on the inside of all of my ukes.

http://www.canyouplaythatonesong.com/ These are DJ requests and they are hysterical.

Regards,
Ray

Harold O.
07-19-2010, 05:42 AM
[QUOTE=Raygf;419260]:biglaugh:
"This Ukulele Will Never Play Tiptoe Through The Tulips" on the inside of all of my ukes.
[/URL]

I don't mind Tiptoe. In fact, I include it in our uke group playing. I was a non-beleiver until I listened to Dominator's version: http://dominator.ukeland.com/Images/tiptoe_dp.mp3

Back on topic: if the crowd wants it, play it. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

lindydanny
07-19-2010, 05:59 AM
Honestly, Ray, I didn't come up with that. When I was in college a guy I knew was probably the best hip-hop dancer I have ever had the privilege to meet (he even taught this white boy a move or two; oh, yea!). He hated when he was at a party and people said, "DUDE, YOU SHOULD DANCE FOR US!!!" I've felt his pain many a time both on uke and in lindy hop (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindy_hop).

~DB

Raygf
07-19-2010, 06:40 AM
Just watched a Leon Redbone video. Someone in the audience yells out their request for "Lazy Bones" and Leon says, "Now don't call me names" and slides his drinking glass up the strings of his guitar. Then he says, "you start it, I'll jump right in!" They start singing and he says, "That's good what is that?" Then he whistles part of the tune and says, "I don't think I know that. Sounds good though."
HA! There's a way to handle requests.
Regards,
Ray

Chris Tarman
07-19-2010, 07:01 AM
[QUOTE=Raygf;419260]:biglaugh:
"This Ukulele Will Never Play Tiptoe Through The Tulips" on the inside of all of my ukes.
[/URL]

I don't mind Tiptoe. In fact, I include it in our uke group playing. I was a non-beleiver until I listened to Dominator's version: http://dominator.ukeland.com/Images/tiptoe_dp.mp3

Back on topic: if the crowd wants it, play it. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

I semi-agree with that, especially if you're getting paid. For example, I play bass in a country/rock band, and we do Sweet Home Alabama, which I LOATHE with every fiber of my being. But people dance to it, and that's what we're there for. In fact, people go totally INSANE as soon as they hear the opening guitar riff. It makes me worry about our nation, to be honest... and possibly about the entire human race. *Sigh*

jacothedog
07-19-2010, 07:02 AM
I can't agree with playing every request (or can imagine knowing enough songs to play every request), but we try to do what we can.

One little move that gets some chuckles is when someone requests something you don't know or don't want to play, tell them "maybe, let me check", and then shake the uke (as if a pick fell in the sound hole and you are trying to get it back out), then tell them there's no more of (insert artist or song here) left in the uke.

I also disagree that you're playing 100% for the audience, if you think that, then you're kidding yourself. You're play a whole bunch for YOU, so if there's an artist you despise, why do it? I have one artist I simply refuse to play, and all of my friends know it to a point where it's almost become schtick.

Either way - performing live, whether at a party or a gig is an art form and you are at that point in sales - if you have the crowd where you want them, it doesn't matter if you turn down a request, just do it in a way that keeps the vibe going in the right direction.

Ukulele JJ
07-19-2010, 07:32 AM
[QUOTE=Harold O.;419353]
I semi-agree with that, especially if you're getting paid. For example, I play bass in a country/rock band, and we do Sweet Home Alabama, which I LOATHE with every fiber of my being. But people dance to it, and that's what we're there for. In fact, people go totally INSANE as soon as they hear the opening guitar riff.

Oh man... I remember when I first moved to Nashville and took pretty much any penny-ante crappy bar gig I could get. This was back when "Achy-Breaky Heart" had just come out and was a huuuuuge hit.

I swear, I must've done that song a half-dozen times a night. I think once I did it twice in a row.

*shudder*

JJ

Coconut Willie
07-19-2010, 08:30 AM
hahaha...now that you are a star, the only thing you need to concern yourself with is if the people STOP asking you to play!!
Enjoy the ride, you are making many many people happy!!!!

luvdat
07-19-2010, 12:53 PM
[QUOTE=Chris Tarman;419490]

Oh man... I remember when I first moved to Nashville and took pretty much any penny-ante crappy bar gig I could get. This was back when "Achy-Breaky Heart" had just come out and was a huuuuuge hit.

I swear, I must've done that song a half-dozen times a night. I think once I did it twice in a row.

*shudder*

JJ

Hasn't that since been outlawed along with water boarding?

BTW, I once listened (not sang or played) to a woman trying to score a perfect score (Karoake) with the song "Tiny Bubbles." She sang it, I'm not lying, 14 times in a row. She was upstairs from a basement apartment. Believe it ot not, I still like the song, but I have not been the same ever since...

ukecantdothat
07-19-2010, 02:57 PM
[QUOTE=Ukulele JJ;419527]

Hasn't that since been outlawed along with water boarding?

...Didn't "Achy Breaky Heart" get blasted outside Sadam Hussein's compound in the first gulf war as part of a psychological operation?