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itsscottwilder
02-06-2012, 05:02 AM
Do you think it's due to guys like Jake, Aldrine, and James

or

because of Jason Mraz, Train and Eddie Vedder?

nscafe
02-06-2012, 05:10 AM
I think it's due more to the mainstream guys you mention, along with all the YouTube covers of stuff that makes the uke seem more accessible, cool, and fun. Obviously Jake's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" has something to do with it, but I didn't really find him, James Hill, or Aldrine until I started specifically searching for ukulele-related stuff.

There's also a whole pseudo-folk revival thing going on in contemporary music with the likes of Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers, etc, and the uke fits right in with all that. I like to think of the uke as more of a folk instrument anyway, so I make that connection.

bonesigh
02-06-2012, 05:36 AM
I didn't know anything about anyone when I got into the uke purely by accident. I just found it very easy to learn and got swept up in it. Now I pass the fever to whoever will listen.

paeataa
02-06-2012, 05:40 AM
For me personally, I had always wanted to learn and play ukulele for long time. But I could not afford one, nor find one in Thailand (back then). Now I can afford it, and hence making my dream come true :)

Since I came across UU and its tutorial videos, Aldrine has been my inspiration! I am very grateful to him :D

mattydee
02-06-2012, 05:55 AM
I actually think it's something else entirely, which is the global recession. When there is an economic downturn, people tend to go out less for entertainment. So a one time expense for infinite entertainment at home becomes an appealing financial decision. The uke makes a lot of sense in this context because it is:

A) Relatively inexpensive
B) Relatively easy to learn
C) Extremely portable/storable
D) Really, really fun.

I think the (re-)rise of the ukulele in popular music is a result of its popularity at home -- not the other way round.

itsscottwilder
02-06-2012, 05:58 AM
I actually think it's something else entirely, which is the global recession. When there is an economic downturn, people tend to go out less for entertainment. So a one time expense for infinite entertainment at home becomes an appealing financial decision. The uke makes a lot of sense in this context because it is:

A) Relatively inexpensive
B) Relatively easy to learn
C) Extremely portable/storable
D) Really, really fun.

I think the (re-)rise of the ukulele in popular music is a result of its popularity at home -- not the other way round.

That's a great point of view. I think it's also true that the Uke is not the only instrument getting more popular. My local music stores have more banjos and Mandolins on the wall than ever before!

stmace
02-06-2012, 06:13 AM
I think the (re-)rise of the ukulele is more complex than simple, meaning there are many reasons for the recent popularity.

Observation
In the Music Department at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, the "Old Time Ensemble" is one of the most popular ensembles among students. As I walk home from the building, it is common for me to hear banjo, guitar, and mandolin from front porches. Most of the music front-porch ensembles are comprised of students who are playing these instruments for personal enjoyment, as their primary instruments are "orchestral" instruments.

Ukes
So far, two faculty and three four students are playing ukes. Those are the only ones of which I know. I'm sure there are more players of who I am unaware.

ChrisRCovington
02-06-2012, 06:14 AM
I actually wonder if it has less to do with popular artists and more to do with economy. The heyday for the ukulele was the 20's and 30's also the same time as the great depression. An ukulele costs a fraction of the price of a guitar. It makes it accessible to more people with tighter wallets. After all even in a depression people still want to make music. I have a feeling because the world economy is in a similar place the affordable ukulele is becoming popular again. I think all the popular muscians making ukulele music are doing so in reaction to this trend due to poor economics. Just a thought.

Manalishi
02-06-2012, 07:20 AM
I had hardly heard of any of the players mentioned! I just fancied a change
from guitar,following a major illness.And now having got into the whole 'uke
thing' I never touch guitar! And having heard the people you mentioned,I
find some of them okay,and actively dislike the Mraz person!

bynapkinart
02-06-2012, 07:40 AM
Ew Train (no offense)

I think it's got to be the mainstream guys, but I think Eddie V actually did an amazing job recognizing the uke as a an instrument one can use for more than happy island music. Most of the mainstream guys get a uke to get the island sound, and to convey that "this song is a happy song and I don't have a care in the world!"

I think that in the next 5-10 years we'll see a lot more artists taking the Eddie route and using the uke as an all around instrument in songwriting. At least, that's my opinion of the future of uke...not that people won't play happy songs on it, just that you'll probably see much more variety in the feel of the uke. I mean, listen to "Ukulele Songs"...some songs he just sounds tortured and that uke is finding a whole new level of emotion! Not bad for something someone once called a happiness machine.

UkueBass23
02-06-2012, 07:50 AM
I am with bonesigh, I didn't know anything about anything or anyone when I got into it, but I am glad for the recent reinforcement from the mainstream and the up and coming talent.

efiscella
02-06-2012, 08:07 AM
I have been in love with the sound of the ukulele since the mid 1970's but on the East Coast, especially, it was as foreign as a Japanese samisen and you could not even find lessons. For me, the lure was what one would naturally associate with the ukulele- the love of Hawaiian music. So, I was surprised to learn about this ukulele revival and I believe that it is due to a number of reasons, most notably, the inclusion of the ukulele by mainstream artists. Hearing more ukulele music on TV commercials and mainstream songs. Going hand-in-hand with that is the fact that when others tried to cover those songs they found the ukulele to be reasonably priced. Not only that, the ukes that are now in music stores do not have the feel and look of cheap toy instruments. They are gorgeous and allow the user to appear to be playing a "for real" musical instrument. Then, combine all of this with the fact that you can learn to strum a song in a reasonably short time and you then have the makings for a revival. I know that when I first told my friends I was serious about learning the ukulele, the looked at me with that look that says, I would never do that." But, when I actually showed them my ukulele's, played in front of them, and showed them some chords to play on it, a few of my friends who showed that look of disdain are now the proud owners of their own ukulele's and very much into the instrument. in their own words, they are "having a ball."

Ted4
02-06-2012, 08:51 AM
I too had no knowledge of any players other than george Formby, when I first bought one. That knowledge came from googling AFTER buying my mighty green Dolphin. My chum Johnny has always played one, and I fancied one, but didn't want to battle with learning yet another tuning as I already play several other stringed instruments. Guess what though? I'm bloomin glad I did!! I play uke almost to the total exclusion now of my banjo and Octave Mandolin.

Plainsong
02-06-2012, 09:44 AM
When I took it up, I didn't have any knowledge of any other players but Tiny Tim (not really my thing), and George Harrison. I was just looking for a change. But I discovered the sound on a flash intro on a website. In other words, I decided I like it because I got to hear what it was. That's what the Youtube vids are doing. People are hearing what a uke is, and what you can do with one.

Whenever I hear people say the uke is a happy instrument, I just think of Craig Robertson's music and smile to myself. He primarily plays uke, and his songs are rarely ever happy, and therefore awesome.

janeray1940
02-06-2012, 10:00 AM
Interesting discussion... I started playing because I played when I was a kid, not because it was suddenly in the media. I had narrowed it down to uke or piano (my two childhood instruments), but living in a 250-square-foot apartment, uke was the obvious best choice :)

It was only after I began to play that I became aware that there was kind of a uke zeitgeist going on. Being female, instead of the performers mentioned in the OP's post, I get a lot of "Do you play like Kate Micucci? Janet Klein? Zooey Deschanel?" which used to annoy me (no, on all counts) but now I see it as more of a general reflection of the uke's place in pop culture - hey, at least folks know what a uke is!

I think the point about the economy is a very valid one. At the guitar shop where I spend far too much time and money, I see people looking ukes all the time, and more often than not they end up leaving with a Mahalo. While the uke snob within me wants to steer them toward, oh, at least a Kala, the idea that for less than $50 they might be buying a little bit of joy and gaining a new skill always makes me smile.

uke4ia
02-06-2012, 10:30 AM
Do you think it's due to guys like Jake, Aldrine, and James

or

because of Jason Mraz, Train and Eddie Vedder?

The latter, and Beirut. It's mostly people who already play uke who ever hear of the first group. Most people are never exposed to them, they discover the uke when a band they like uses it.

uke4ia
02-06-2012, 10:32 AM
Whenever I hear people say the uke is a happy instrument, I just think of Craig Robertson's music and smile to myself. He primarily plays uke, and his songs are rarely ever happy, and therefore awesome.

Craig tends to post new songs on the Flea Market Music bulletin board page, and over the last year his songs have often been downright sunny. At this point, it just sounds wrong to me every time he plays an upbeat song.

misterpk
02-06-2012, 10:39 AM
I don't understand why people associate the uke to Jason Mraz. He played I'm Yours on a guitar. I know of only one song that he does on a uke. It's a baritone uke and it's called If It Kills me. Great song. :)

nscafe
02-06-2012, 10:50 AM
I had hardly heard of any of the players mentioned! I just fancied a change
from guitar,following a major illness.And now having got into the whole 'uke
thing' I never touch guitar! And having heard the people you mentioned,I
find some of them okay,and actively dislike the Mraz person!

How can you actively dislike Jason Mraz? I'd be interested in hearing more about the reasons behind that.

Joshypogi
02-06-2012, 10:56 AM
I fell in love with the uke when I moved her in Hawaii not because of the well known players. When I saw the KoAloha tenor for the first time, it was love at first sight and then I caught a really bad case of UAS. Has anyone figured out whats the best cure for UAS???

misterpk
02-06-2012, 11:08 AM
How can you actively dislike Jason Mraz? I'd be interested in hearing more about the reasons behind that.

Agreed! How can you actively dislike him? I can understand being indifferent...

For me he's got just about the best male pop voice around. Not to mention I find his lyrics clever and his melodies catchy and often quite interesting. The stuff you hear on the radio is hardly his best stuff.

Anyway sorry to hijack the thread. Jason Mraz is one of my favorite artists and I felt the need to come to his defense! :)

stevepetergal
02-06-2012, 11:43 AM
Jake. No doubt.

costaricadave
02-06-2012, 12:29 PM
I would say that for sure the mainstream guys like Eddie, Jack Johnson, Jason have really brought the Uke more to the mainstream. I would have never heard of Aldrine or Jake had I not got involved with the Uke.

I grew up in Richmond VA and I know Jason Mraz. He really is a great guy and LOVES music! He would really be disappointed to hear that the Uke community dislikes him because of I'm Your's. He is just a normal guy that gets to play music for a living! Don't HATE....

nix
02-06-2012, 12:35 PM
For me it was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Some friends had me watch their version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" so I googled them when I got home and found out about this whole community. There are so many people doing fun, cool stuff on the ukulele that it can reach people wherever they are. People of all musical tastes are starting to come up with ukulele covers of their favorite songs and it's hard not to think "hey, I could do that!". I think this mass, grass-roots exposure along with the economy are making the ukulele so popular.

Wonder if there is some PhD candidate doing a dissertation on this phenomenon right now...

Nix

Plainsong
02-06-2012, 01:02 PM
Craig tends to post new songs on the Flea Market Music bulletin board page, and over the last year his songs have often been downright sunny. At this point, it just sounds wrong to me every time he plays an upbeat song.

I've got him on Facebook, but haven't had time to listen to the demos. I saw where he tried to write a happy love song, and he said something about it being as close as he can get. When I get a chance, I've really got to update the collection. :)

dredey
02-06-2012, 02:09 PM
No one I know plays a uke. I am the only one. The uke is in no way popular in these parts.

mr roper
02-06-2012, 02:14 PM
Julia Nunes

bigchiz
02-06-2012, 02:33 PM
Interesting question, both groups help out.

Unplugging, going acoustic, is enticing during these digital days and the uke help makes that happen.

janeray1940
02-06-2012, 02:42 PM
Unplugging, going acoustic, is enticing during these digital days and the uke help makes that happen.

Yes! That was my motivation for taking up the uke in the first place: I make my living in tech and wanted to do something in my free time that had nothing to do with computers. The irony being, of course, shortly thereafter I learned that there is an amazing wealth of uke stuff on the web :)

1931jim
02-06-2012, 02:49 PM
No one I know plays a uke. I am the only one. The uke is in no way popular in these parts.
Hey dredey,
These parts of where??

mm stan
02-06-2012, 02:50 PM
Aloha Scott,
You forgot the biggest Guy.....Bruddah IZ.....

laundromatt
02-06-2012, 02:59 PM
Interesting topic. Generally speaking, I think it has more to do with the second group of artists than the first. For me personally, I was introduced to it when I was in elementary school, growing up in Hawaii. I didn't pick it up in earnest until much much later, though I wish I hadn't waited so long.

I read somewhere that this is the 3rd (or 4th?) wave of ukulele popularity since the 1900s. I wonder what will happen to the smaller uke builders, and the secondary market prices, if/when this wave dies down.

philpot
02-06-2012, 03:02 PM
Aloha Scott,
You forgot the biggest Guy.....Bruddah IZ.....

Yup, I was actually looking up to him coming in. Heard his angelic voice and that beautiful strum and I thought... I wanna do that :P

itsscottwilder
02-06-2012, 03:04 PM
How can you actively dislike Jason Mraz? I'd be interested in hearing more about the reasons behind that.

I didn't want to take the bait. But I'm glad someone did ;)

itsscottwilder
02-06-2012, 03:08 PM
I don't understand why people associate the uke to Jason Mraz. He played I'm Yours on a guitar. I know of only one song that he does on a uke. It's a baritone uke and it's called If It Kills me. Great song. :)

It may be a guitar, but it has that island/reggae vibe to it.

itsscottwilder
02-06-2012, 03:10 PM
Aloha Scott,
You forgot the biggest Guy.....Bruddah IZ.....

you know, I never really got attached to his version. Although It's plain to see that it's very enjoyable.

I simply like the classic interpretation of the melody better.

Jason Paul
02-06-2012, 03:34 PM
I was surprised to see that Iz wasn't mentioned until the fourth page. I think his version of SOTR planted a little uke seed in the mid-late 90's.

Another thing I think could be adding to the spread is the uke's presence in commercials lately. It seems that over just the past year or two, maybe three, the whole cute, bubbly girl singing over a ukulele in commercials has become very popular.

Jason

engravertom
02-06-2012, 04:36 PM
Do you think it's due to guys like Jake, Aldrine, and James

or

because of Jason Mraz, Train and Eddie Vedder?

My own experience is related to the first group. I have never heard of the second group until seeing them mentioned on this forum, and i still don't know who they are, or what their music sounds like. I haven't followed popular music since the '80s, I guess. John King, Jake, James Hill, and all the folks who play classical music on youtube have influenced me. Ukulele orchestra of GB also!

Once I got started, the merits of the instrument itself have kept me interested. I'm guessing I'm not typical, but maybe THAT is typical of the Uke. There is not a "typical" way, or a solid single reason, or eve a main reason, for this whole thing. I'm glad it is happening, but I'm in for life, Lord willing, no matter what happens on the popular scene.

:)

itsme
02-06-2012, 04:49 PM
I was surprised to see that Iz wasn't mentioned until the fourth page. I think his version of SOTR planted a little uke seed in the mid-late 90's.
Ya know, you can set the posts per page to 40 in your control panel. I'm still on the first page. :)

Iz did bring a lot of recognition to the uke because SOTR was used in a number of hit films. I have a friend who didn't even know who Iz was but mentioned he'd heard SOTR in a film and how he wants me to record it with me playing and him singing (he's a recording engineer and his living room would rival a few studios). I tried to tell him that Iz's version of SOTR was overdone by imitators and amateurs, but he still wants to do it because he loves how "pure" it sounds.

Personally, my favorite SOTR is by Eva Cassidy. I think her singing is about as pure as it gets. :)

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

But I do agree with some of the others about the economy/recession being a factor. A lot of people are "nesting" more than going out for entertainment/dining. You can buy an inexpensive uke for less than the cost of going out for dinner and a movie and then spend infinite hours enjoying it.

The internet has upped the ante, with lots of info, tabs, instruction and videos for ukes. There's also the DIY (do it yourself) factor. Seems there has been a rebellion against overproduced corporate music as pushed by the big record companies. Some people like indie stuff more just because it's DIY. Anyone with a webcam or microphone can record and put their stuff out there.

I also agree with those whose say our lives have become overcomplicated with technology. Being able to play a musical instrument is a simple pleasure that harkens back to before the time we had radios or stereos when music had to be played live or you didn't have any at all.

zac987
02-06-2012, 04:56 PM
It was Beirut for me. I can't stand super happy pop uke songs. I like when it's used more as a folky instrument, as said before

Nickie
02-06-2012, 05:20 PM
For me it was two things:

1. Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

2. Almost everything on TV sucks

Sporin
02-07-2012, 12:59 AM
I think it's due more to the mainstream guys you mention, along with all the YouTube covers of stuff that makes the uke seem more accessible, cool, and fun. Obviously Jake's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" has something to do with it, but I didn't really find him, James Hill, or Aldrine until I started specifically searching for ukulele-related stuff.

There's also a whole pseudo-folk revival thing going on in contemporary music with the likes of Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers, etc, and the uke fits right in with all that. I like to think of the uke as more of a folk instrument anyway, so I make that connection.

This about sums up my experience. The uke first hit my radar with Iz, then I started hearing uke music from other contemporary artists that I liked, Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson definitely made me want to check it out. I loved the sound. I started getting into Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers and realized a uke might be a way for me to play that style of music.

Once I started digging and found all the youtube covers, Julia Nunes, Jake, etc., I was hooked. Asked for one for my 40th birthday and it's become a huge part of my life ever since.

Adobohobo
02-12-2012, 06:36 PM
In my school there are at least 3-5 uke players. I believe this new Uke wave comes from the "Indy" trend, pushing the whole idea of being unique. A guitar is too 'mainstream' and quite cliche for a teenaged guy, and like someone said on here, you'd have to be GOOD to really get the attention of people if you're on a guitar (at least its that way in my school). Also, the fact that the Uke has actually appeared in music stores near me has to have some merit in it, as a lot of people who were miffed over the guitar's long stretches and 6 strings, now have a recognizable, playable instrument to use.

For me however, it was a bit of the fact that I never found guitar to be appealing for one reason or another, and I've always wanted to learn an instrument I can just jam along with (clarinet doesn't quite count, and the piano is definitely not portable). I had a souvenir uke that I was sure wasn't operable (in my stringed-instrument ignorance phase) until I decided to tune it one night while taking a break from studying for exams. Ever since then, when I found I could play the SOTR song at least marginally, I've been hooked. It's been like a godsend to me, giving me a way to develop a musical talent without the stuffiness/elitism (i know it's not 100% applicable) of the guitar players in my community.

Pippin
02-12-2012, 09:54 PM
This is an interesting thread. I have played ukulele for well over forty years, so, I'll chime in with a few comments...

IZ... Somewhere Over the Rainbow was used in the "Finding Forrester" soundtrack (c. 2000). That song featured IZ, a seven-hundred pound Hawaiian Native that actually recorded it in the middle of the night, screwed up the lyrics, and won the hearts of people around the globe with his smooth voice and laid-back presentation. His rendition of the tune was picked up for the soundtrack of "Meet Joe Black", a bigger box-office draw with Brad Pitt for a headliner. The ball was rolling...

Jim Beloff, formerly of the music publishing industry, found a little ukulele in a flea-market, of all things, and fell in love with it. He launched Flea Market Music. His brother-in-law got into the manufacturing business and the fluke and flea were born.

Jake's While My Guitar Gently Weeps video... came onto the scene with millions of views on YouTube and that gave the movement momentum. But, the CONCERT FOR GEORGE and Joe Brown's rendition of "I'll See You In My Dreams", along with Paul's playing of "Something" in that same concert and subsequent CD and DVD release introduced ukulele to countless numbers of guitarists and Beatles fans.

In England, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has performed for countless numbers of people and they, too, have helped introduce the ukulele to people.

There are incredibly talented musicians, like Aldrine, that people have never heard before-- until they are a member here or are lucky enough to see him play in California or Hawaii. Man, is he talented! Yes, I'd love to see him become an international sensation and he has earned it, but, no, he is not a contributing factor in the rise of ukulele popularity because he has not had that kind of media exposure. Train and Jason Mraz are not due credit.

The mainstream acts that are involved with ukulele have hopped the bandwagon. They are all recent additions to a movement that pre-dates them by several years.

IZ, Jim Beloff, Jake Shimabukuro, George Harrison, Joe Brown, and Paul McCartney can all be given some of the credit. Beyond that, it is the marketing and media, not the late-comers.