Wassermusik, Part VI

Lushy at Wassermusik 08, Berlin, Germany

Lushy at Wassermusik 08, Berlin, Germany

Yesterday was a little calmer, starting with Coconami (I somehow missed snapping a picture of them, sorry!) who used to be in the Tiki Tiki Bambooos, a Surf band from Munich, they now are a Ukulele duo, with mostly female vocals. This has to remind me of Petty Booka, if just by the sound of two ukes and japanese ladies singing. Maybe a smaller venue would benefit their delicate presentation more, but on the other hand Wassermusik successfully aims at presenting a wide range of music styles.

Lushy – the most contemporary sounding act in the Tiki series of events at least, if not the entire set of Wassermusik events. It’s hard to compare Seattle and Berlin for me. However I can say that there is an artificial element, not unlike in the B-52s for example. Like a yellow plastic Tiki mask at Trader Vic’s, they stuck out of the set of Wassermusik performers by having said cartoonish lounge approach coupled with some electronics. I think this could be a really groovy thing, but probably working best with a dancing party crowd in a small club.

Waikiki Beachboys by Brian Chidester

Brian Chidester, co-author of Dumb Angel Magazine 4 and the upcoming Pop Surf Culture book (among other things) has a short film about the Waikiki Beachboys on YouTube currently.

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Quote from Tiki central:

It’s a short documentary that I directed four years ago, as a teaser to a larger project about the Waikiki Beachboys… native Hawaiian surf instructors and nightclub entertainers from the jazz age up through the ’60s. There were two great generations of Beachboys, and even though there are still beachboy concessions on Waikiki Beach today, the music and scene is nowhere near what it was back in the day.
I hope you enjoy the clip. I have tons of interview footage ‘in the can.’

Jake Shimabukuro Solo in Australia

Now this japanese guy is one hot Uke player, I tell you. Interesting to see Pacific Longboarder write about him:

‘08 Monday, 11 February 2008Jake Shimabukuro (she-ma-BOO-koo-row) is recognized as one of the world’s top ukulele (oo-koo-LAY-lay) musicians, and one of the most jaw-dropping performers of any instrument. Renowned for lightning-fast fingers, revolutionary playing techniques, and wildly eclectic repertoire, Jake views the ukulele as an ‘untapped source of music with unlimited potential.’ It is no coincidence that Jake is the first ukulele player ever invited to perform as a solo artist at the Sydney Opera House! Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco and rock, Jake plays beyond all musical boundaries.It began when his mother gave him a ukulele lesson at age four. ‘When I played my first chord I was hooked,’ says Jake. Evolving from the heavily amplified riffs that earned Jake the reputation as ‘Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele,’ now Jake masterfully extracts the pure ‘clean’ natural acoustic sound of the uke, delicately making a single note smile or cry on his most recent releases, Gently Weeps and My Life. The highlight of Gently Weeps is Jake’s cover of George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ The video clip of Jake playing this in Central Park appeared on YouTube, and made Jake the medium’s first global superstar with over 3.5 million hits. When Jake had the honor of meeting Harrison’s widow, Olivia, backstage at his show with the Honolulu Symphony, she described feeling George’s presence with her when Jake played his rendition of Gently Weeps. From a modest beginnings at a Honolulu café, Jake has gone on to play at venues such as the House of Blues and The Knitting Factory (Los Angeles), The Birchmere (Alexandria, VA), Tipitina’s (New Orleans), Joe’s Pub and Knitting Factory (NYC), Ottawa Blues Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, The Bumbershoot Festival, The Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) and many others. Touring with Jimmy Buffett in ’05, ’06 and ’07 gave Jake ‘a priceless experience’ of playing to crowds of over 100,000. Jake’s first national TV slot was in December ’05 on NBC’s The Late Show with Conan O’Brien.

continue reading here Pacific Longboarder News / Reviews / Events

New Exotica CD

I don’t have it, but judging by the blurb alone it’s a sure shot.

Various Artists-Paradise Lost & Sound

Here’s what they say at Fleamarket Music:

Flea Market Music recently discovered a treasure trove of Island-inspired songs written in the 1950s and early ’60s by well-known LA studio musicians Ken Darby, Perry Botkin Sr., Mel Henke and others. Many of these tunes (“Legend Of The Rain,” “Hana Maui,” “Leis Of Jazz,” “China Clipper”) were originally recorded by Hawaiian exotica king, Arthur Lyman. Paradise Lost & Found features new recordings of these songs by WAITIKI, a group of extraordinary musicians who have a passion for this kind of jazzy exotic music. Other guest artists include uke sensation Abe Lagrimas, Jr. playing Perry Botkin’s 1950 instrumental “Ukey-Ukulele” and Chris Kamaka (of Kamaka Ukulele and Ho’okena fame) singing the Ken Darby classic “Legend Of The Rain.” Other standout tracks include “Duke Of The Uke” with Four Preps lead singer Bruce Belland. Rounding out the project are a few Jim Beloff songs including “Sunrise At Haleakala,” “The Hawaiian Turnaround” (with music by uke master, Herb Ohta) and “I’m Carrying A Tiki Torch For You” performed by King Kukulele and the Friki Tikis. Ukulele is featured on about half the tracks but it’s all fun. 14 tropical tracks!

Thanks to Tiki King at Tiki Central

Lyle Ritz Using Uke And Mac

Thanks to Lou Smith on The Exotica Mailing List

NPR – Weekend Edition Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lyle Ritz has logged over 5,000 sessions on the bass as a studio musician. But for his latest project, he wanted to figure out a way to make music on a computer. So Ritz bought an Apple laptop and a software program called GarageBand, designed for making home recordings. Six months later, he completed work on a new solo album.

‘Hardly anybody knew how to operate GarageBand, how to deal with it,’ Ritz says. ‘So I had to fool with it a couple of months.’

On No Frills, however, Ritz entered the bass line into the computer using a synthesizer. That’s because the album features Lyle Ritz’s other musical passion: the jazz ukulele.

Ritz is known as the ‘father of jazz ukulele’ for merging the genre with the four-stringed instrument, and his credits on bass include multiple pop hit singles. However, it was in college, while he was working at a Los Angeles music store, when Ritz first picked up either instrument.

‘This was in the 50s, when Arthur Godfrey, the entertainer, who liked to play the [ukulele], popularized the instrument, and so many people just had to have ukes,’ Ritz says. ‘And one day I picked it up, somebody wanted to see this beautiful, nice, big tenor uke, and I picked it up and played a few chords on it, and I was gone.’

After a stint with a U.S. Army Band during the Korean War—in which Ritz played tuba—he dropped by the music store and played a few tunes on the ukulele for his former boss. Ritz didn’t know that jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, the West Coast representative for Verve Records, was present.

‘I just about fell through the floor,’ Ritz says. ‘I couldn’t believe that I had actually played before this man.’

Kessel offered Ritz a record deal, and in 1957—50 years ago—Ritz recorded an LP called How About Uke?, the first album for jazz ukulele.

How About Uke and its follow-up 50th State Jazz generated little interest, however, and Ritz soon abandoned the ukulele for the bass. It was at that point when Ritz joined the ‘Wrecking Crew,’ the legendary group of studio musicians who played on many of the pop hits which came out of the Los Angeles area from the mid 1960s to the early 80s. Later, Ritz also played on film scores.

While Lyle Ritz’s bass was heard by millions, his jazz records for Verve were being studied by a generation of musicians in Hawaii, home of the ukulele.

Roy Sakuma is Hawaii’s foremost teacher of the instrument. ‘All of a sudden here comes Lyle with all these fantastic chord harmonies that just took music to a whole new level on the ukulele,’ Sakuma says. Sakuma tracked Ritz down in 1984, inviting him to headline his annual ukulele festival in Hawaii. Ritz ended up moving to the islands for some time.

Ritz currently lives in Portland, Ore., where he continues to experiment with music and new recording technology. He says he’s always fooling with his ukulele—after all, he did teach himself to play the instrument.

‘I’m a firm believer and exponent of the art of noodling,’ Ritz says. ‘You don’t necessarily have to have a goal in mind, you don’t have to have a specific phrase or song that you’re working on, but you just fool with it and things happen. And I call the result the fruit of the noodle.’

Lyle Ritz on iTunes