In a recent blog about a unique traveling guitar stand cleverly named “The Pub Prop”, I spoke about my friend Mark Pugh in the UK, his invention and his company Stones-Music. As it turns out his company’s real specialty is an indulgence in the world of ukuleles.
What I found out last fall while touring the UK is that once again I demonstrated how to back myself into a corner. Apparently anything said during a lunch conversation can be taken seriously.
Mark, “Blah blah blah blah, Ukelele, blah blah blah blah.”
Professor Gilewitz, “Hey, you should hire me to do some seminars for you on the next tour to promote your ukes!”
Mark, “Sounds great. Let’s do it.”
Two hours later in the car. Richard’s wife, “Does Mark realize you don’t know how to play a Ukulele?”
Professor Gilewitz, “Uh, yeah…well, um – no. I guess I should tell him.”
Richard’s wife, “Well, we don’t want to miss this opportunity. Can you learn it by the spring?”
Gilla-dumbo, “Um, yeah –well, I guess I could try. Hey I have an idea!”
Phone call to Mark. “Hi Mark. Um. I don’t know how to play Ukulele, but I have an idea. Since I’ve been playing fingerstyle guitar for forty years including the use of multiple open tunings, know my theory, and have conducted over 2,000 music seminars in 48 states and 12 countries, why don’t we present me as the layman who’s trying to ‘learn’ the ukulele and is doing so by applying all of the appropriate techniques that transfer such as pattern picking, viewing the fingerboard with an open tuning mentality, exploring multiple rhythms, dynamic playing, the art of memorizing a tune, addressing all timing issues one faces when dealing with triplets, dotted notes, and the world of 16th’s without forgetting to address of course syncopation, breath control during performance, posture awareness, the art of visualization, methods of listening to other musicians, how to play with a click track and exploring the art of tuning and the proper use of a capo as well as compositional approaches and considerations billing me as an advanced beginner?”
Now that I’m backed into my little corner with my little Ukulele here in Florida quivering like protoplasmic mammal dung, thoughts are crossing my mind like, “Wait, where was that G chord again? Oh, isn’t that a D?? No, now it’s a G. Let’s see how this sounds.” Plunk plunk plunk.
And so begins the journey. Hope to see some of you out there in the UK this spring in my first role as “The Frankenstein Monster plays the Ukulele.” Free electrodes at the door.
(Check Richard’s tour schedule for his UK dates.)