Jackaroo Days, Yeah

I have always been a voracious reader. It’s rare that you will find me without a book in my hands. Right now, I’m working my way through the Dark Tower Series, again. (I was gifted the Gunslinger when I was in my early twenties and I still have that book… it’s falling apart but it remains untouched by future revisions by the author.)

I remember and a kid, staying up late, hiding my clandestine after-bedtime adventures by sneaking a flashlight into my room, lifting my blankets up like a tent and sitting under them, furtively rushing through whatever fantastic book I was ingesting in great mental gulps, cramming in “one more chapter” before the inevitable sleep overtook me.

I know now, that my parents were FULLY AWARE of these events and indulged me because I was reading… and also, I was quiet.

One of the best days of my young adult life was the day we went to a garage sale and those folks had an outbuilding FULL of books for sale.  10 cents each! The outbuilding looked huge to me but I was a tiny kid so it was probably just a small barn… but I recall racks and racks of books. It was there that I stocked up on Agatha Christie.

As an aside, one of life’s great disappointments is knowing who did it before you finish the book. Don’t peek ahead. I ruined “Peril at End House” because I **had** to know… and I never read the middle of the book.. I spoiled it. Don’t do that. Enjoy the experience. It’s much more gratifying.

Anyway, a book that made a huge impression on me in my younger days, was Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt which is now, evidently, retitled “Tale of Gywn” but when I read it, only one book in the series existed (and I’m not too proud to say that at the age of almost 45, I’m not above reading that whole series now that I know it exists. I don’t care that it’s Young Adult Fiction)

Jackaroo was the legendary hero of a small feudal village and when things got tough and people needed saving, Jackaroo arrived. This story was so impactful because (spoiler) Jackaroo was a young woman who shucked off all of society’s expectations and just did whatever she felt was right. I totally loved Gwyn.. and the book remains floating around in my brain so many years later.

(I’m about to take a quick left turn on you… hold on, there is no gentle segue here..)

Now that I have my new uke (ain’t she sweet?) I have been wanting to delve more into fingerstyle and solo stuff and really build some skills. I was digging around on Amazon and settled on Fingerstyle Ukulele – A Method & Songbook For Fingerpicking Backup & Solos, Ukulele Aerobics: For All Levels, from Beginner to Advanced, and Jazz Ukulele: Comping, Soloing, Chord Melodies.

I almost got The Beatles for Fingerstyle Ukulele but decided against it because I have Stu Fuch’s Chord Solo Book and there are already a few of my favorite Beatles Songs in it.

But the free sample has “Across the Universe” as the first few pages, so I looked at it pretty closely before deciding against buying the book.

Now, before we get into this next bit of my post, let’s all agree that John Lennon did not always write lyrics that were easily understandable.

For example:

Sitting on a cornflake
Waiting for the van to come
Corporation tee shirt
Stupid bloody Tuesday
Man, you been a naughty boy
You let your face grow long
I am the eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob

I also present, for your review:

He wear no shoeshine, he’s got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola
He say, “I know you, you know me”
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

So imagine (no pun intended), given that Jackaroo made such a huge impression on me when I was a kid, that I was pretty surprised when I saw that what I thought was :

Jackaroo, days.. .yeah.. Oh…

Is actually

Jai Guru Deva… Om

Yet, my brain insists that I must continue to sing “Jackaroo Days, Yeah.. oh..”

Nothing’s going to change my world… (or my brain, evidently)

Nothing’s going to change my world…



A New Addition

Hi, I’m on a social media break so I’ll only see comments here on the blog and not on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.  If there is a question or comment that you want me to see right away, the blog is the place to do it.   I’m back to Social Media (maybe) on November 20th.  Ta!


Judy, hanging out at Guitar Center.

You may or may not know that almost 4 years ago, I bought a uke on a spur of the moment decision and I had no regrets other than I wished I’d researched a little more.  Judy is an “all mahogany” uke with a gloss coating.. meaning she’s a laminate uke made out of mahogany and she’s got a big old layer or lacquer on top.

But I love her and she was affordable and just in my price point at the time. She’s beautiful to look at and I’ve never seen anyone else playing one like her.  Honestly, sometimes you just have to go with your gut, am I right?  Sure.

Here is a slightly abbreviated  video of me playing Judy.. I have a few mistakes… well, lets call them “flavor”… and you can hear my friend humming along as he tapes this.  I love that.

I’ve been playing Judy off and on for a while and I decided I wanted to upgrade my  uke. As my teacher Ron says, you should really have one of each size (I like how he thinks), and I’ve been wanting a uke with a more mellow sounds.  Judy is great, but she’s a little sharp when it comes to tone.  I even put new strings on her just to see if that would chill her out a bit.  It didn’t.

So, I was going to do it “right” this time.  I researched tonewoods and sizes and was pretty convinced I was going to get the Tiny Tenor from Romero Creations.  This is not an inexpensive uke. It’s not going to break the bank but I was looking at $500 for the solid mahogany and I wouldn’t be able to play her before purchase.   And then I thought, if I was going to go for the $500 uke, I might as well go all the way and get the solid Koa which is basically the same price as two of my car payments (ouch). Someone in my uke class has the spruce top version  and she loves it.  I loved the idea of a Low G string and a softer tone.

On Tuesday, when I was talking with Ron about getting a new uke, he said, really the best thing is to just play a ton of them until you find the one you like.. and hinted that I should drive to Michigan to visit Elderly Instruments to play a bunch. (I remember my Dad talking about Elderly instruments when l was a kid and I know they have an excellent reputation.. but .. that’s a nine hour drive!)

Wednesday, a little voice in the back of my head suggested that maybe I’d want to wander over to the music store on my lunch and just play some ukes “for fun”.   I ignored that voice, mostly because the last time I was in there, this saleswoman annoyed me.

I had been looking for an all plastic uke to keep in my car, you know.. for traffic jams and long stop lights, like you do… and she did not listen to me and tried to hand me every solid wood uke in the place and did that annoying thing of playing an instrument and nodding at me while I’m trying to get it through her head that no, I was looking for all plastic.. like a Waterman or a Ukadelic.

Not much annoys me more than a salesperson who doesn’t listen.

So I really didn’t want to go back there.

Thursday afternoon, the little voice says “hey! maybe today is a good day to .. ” and I shut that voice down. I was NOT going to go buy another off the rack uke. I was going to do it “right”.

Friday, true to form..  ugh.. ok FINE.  If I’ve learned anything from all of the intuitive work that I’ve done it’s that if you don’t listen to the quiet voice, eventually that bitch gets loud and starts smacking you around…  so fine.  I’ll go.  But I’m not buying anything.

Unfortunately, the same saleswoman was there (ugh) and she did the same damn thing.. and I ignored her.  I just picked up some ukes and played them and put them down and told her I was just “window shopping” and she kept talking and talking and talking and did the whole annoying schpeel (the same one.. do you have a uke now? How long have you been playing? blah blah blah) and I know she’s doing her job but I’m one of those people who just .. ugh.  Let me look uninterrupted, ok?

Courtesy of Potential Past on Flickr

I’m on my last two minutes before I have to head back to work (I literally have 10 minutes to play after driving over there) and then.. I see her.  This GORGEOUS UKE… I had never seen a tonewood like this.. ever!

I.. picked her up and I had to have her.. NO… NOPE NOPE NOPE… we are not buying another uke because it’s pretty.. it needs to sound good!  Besides, it’s a concert size.. Judy is a  concert size. I don’t need another concert size uke.

But I played her a bit. and she felt so RIGHT in my hands.  I peeked inside at the model number…  and stuck it in the back of my head.  I shouted to the now missing saleswoman (who evidently, finally got tired of being ignored and I said “Excuse me, do you know what this uke is made out of?”  She shouts back “Spalted Maple!”



That is not spalted maple.  I’ve SEEN spalted maple and this is not it.  Now, encouraged by my question, she’s practically running over to me and starts telling me all about this uke and blah blah blah but I’m not listening because I know she’s already told me something incorrect.

I put the pretty uke back, say thank you to the saleswoman and go back to work.

And I couldn’t stop thinking about her. While I was waiting for my computer to do it’s thing, I researched the model number. That wood was Olive Ash Burl and it is stunning.

I went home, told LB all about it and said that after we run our errands on Saturday, I wanted to go play that uke again. So, off we went Saturday morning… but before we left, I jammed out on Judy.  Really got the sound of her in my ears.

It was a completely different experience in the store.

I walked right over to the uke I wanted and a salesman peeks around at me and says “That’s a Luna made out of Olive Ash.  Relatively new model   There’s a seat right there if you’d like to sit down and play it”.. and then he wanders away with his coffee.

The dude let the instrument sell itself.

I took my time, tuned her up, and then played the same stuff I played on Judy at home.

Holy Gods, she sounded amazing.

I think you know where this is going.

The salesman comes back after I’d been playing for about 10 minutes and says “So, what did you think?”.  I’m practically drooling in the chair.  But I played it cool…  he offered to throw in a gig bag at half price, because it didn’t come with one (and it should have).

Friends, I’m so ridiculoulsy happy with this uke. She’s a solid wood uke and has a moon theme going on.. (she’s made by Luna Ukes.. but they don’t all have this).  She’s sweet, resonate and mellow but still perky.. kind of like me (har har)

Here she is.   She needs a name.. and I kinda want to name her Hina-i-ka-malama, but I feel weird about it because I worry about the internet being wrong about translations and sacred mythology and I’m not sure I would pronounce it correctly.

I’ll post some video of me playing her at some point.. after some practice … on a day when I feel like putting on a bra. But right now, I’m off to sew a strap for her.

Isn’t she lovely? Gosh, I’m so glad I listened to that little voice in my head. As for a tenor, I’m going to go with an inexpensive laminate. Luna makes one with Honu around the sound hole although I’m not seeing it on their website right now.. but Amazon has it so I’ll have it on my wishlist.  If and when the time is right, I’ll pick it up.  But for now, I’m happily jamming on this pretty little thing.

After all this time – a new Stu Fuch’s album

You guys.. I’m so excited!  You remember way back when I met Stu Fuchs at Old Songs and had a transcendental experience?  You don’t?   Ok.. let me  refresh your memory.  Did you go read that?  Ok, good..  You didn’t?  Fine.. be like that.  Here.. have the video.

He’s the guy on the didgeridoo that you can barely see.

Oh and he’s also this guy

And… well. this guy

Stu is a multi-instrumentalist but I know him for his ukulele playing and I try not to miss a chance to see him live. He’s funny, charming and engaging  and now that I’ve slammed you with videos, I want to tell you about his new album and how you can get it and help him make it. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy his first album “Stukulele”

Well, here.. go listen to some clips.

Stu has brought an amazing amount of joy and appreciation for making music to my life. After spending a week with him learning his Zen Method to making music, I can tell you that he has truly changed my approach for the better.  I’m sure his new album will be spectacular, soulful and fun.   Here, let him tell you all about it.

Stu’s campaign is on Indiegogo.com and the album will be made if he meets his goal or not.   For a $15.00 contribution, you can get the mp3 album before it’s released.  That’s pretty awesome because honestly, that’s what you’d pay to buy it anyway…

Right now, Stu is about 1/4 of the way there and I’d love it if you would consider backing his album.

Follow the linky loo.

Aloha, Judy

Sometimes, I get an idea and I will not let it go.

Wanting to learn to play the ukulele was one of those things.

Yes, I know.. hipster shmipster… shaddup already. See, when I was *cough* younger, I used to sing a lot.. like.. a lot.. and really really loved it.. and I’ve gotten out of the habit like big time. And, of course, I can sing along with my dulcimer but because it’s a diatonic instrument, I’m often feeling constrained with what I can play.

When I went to get some picks a few months ago, I saw a display of ukuleles at the Guitar Center and was kind of smitten by their cuteness. As Mel, says “Tiny things are cute“. But I really didn’t need ANOTHER instrument I barely practice so I talked myself out of it.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and I got the Old Songs flyer about new instrument classes and lo and behold.. ukulele beginner classes.

On a whim, I went shopping on my lunch. I put my hands on a few ukes over at Hilton Music and then took a quick drive to Guitar Center. I walked into the humidity controlled room and BANG

It was love at first sight

There she was… just waiting for me.

I picked her up.. and I did not want to let her go.. she was over my budget and did not come with a gig bag so I put her back down.. I picked up a few others that were in my budget but they just didn’t feel right..

I had to have the shiny black one.. the shiny pretty black one with the mother of pearl inlay.

So I bought her.

Isn't she pretty!?

I barely got her in the car before I took a pic.

I had yoga class after work so Judy had to come with me.  My yogi says “wow! she’s so cute!!” and I’m like “I KNOW” and we both squeed and acted like giant dorks for a few  minutes.

Why is she named Judy? Because the first song I goofed around with playing was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.. however, since I can’t actually sing that song in the key of C, and I only currently have been fooling around with the chords in the key of C, I pretty much just strum the chords for right now.   Also, not sharing that.

I will share this however.. try not to laugh too hard at my total derpitude.