Friday, August 20, 2010

Brian Hefferan & Lil' Rev Videos

Brian Heferran is a Lansing, MI based ukulele madman! He is a walking encyclopedia of early Tin Pan Alley Music, Ragtime, Blues and Old Time Music. He has been an employee at Elderly Instruments in Lansing for eons and this guy lives and breathes ukulele like no one I know. We share a love of ragtime and old time tunes and whenever I am in MI we try to blaze a path that leads us to a a few happy hours of jamming and video making. Brian is often accompanied by his lovely wife Lynn who plays a homemade upright bass and they harmonize beautifully together. Brian has also been a great resource in my quest to find old tunes and sheet music, he seems to know every obscure song I manage to dig up and I can't stump him with my music history inquiries either! At present, Brian has posted almost 70 videos on You Tube, many of which focus on early ragtime music. He is, to put it simply, an American Treasure and I am always honored to make music with him. We made these two videos on Friday the 13th of August 2010. Enjoy! Lil Rev
In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down (Lil' Rev's version of this old blues was inspired by Leroy Carr, Scrapper Blackwell, and Big Bill Broonzy.)

.Sandy Boys (An oldtime West Virginia fiddle tune. Lil' Rev plays this mostly with clawhammer technique, and Brian fingerpicks.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I am announcing a new ukulele partnership with Kala. We have teamed up to present a traveling workshop for absolute beginners called: Uke Can Too, which will teach basic strumming, two chord songs, silly tricks and much more!
As I tour extensively around the U.S. I am often asked if there's a workshop for absolute beginners and this is his answer to that question. Thanks to Kala, for providing 24 Thin Body Travel Ukes to me so I can now accommodate up to 24 students.
The best part of this deal for those looking to get started on the ukulele and see if they like it, is that Kala and Local Music Stores will be underwriting the cost of this workshop and newcomers will be treated to a free 90 minute workshop -- that's right it's free!
So watch to see if Lil' Rev is coming to your town to teach the Uke Can Too workshop. As many of you know, I am the author of the Hal Leonard Ukulele Method Book Series and was a Grade School Music Teacher and College Lecturer with extensive experience working with both kids and adults. My approach is fun, educational and enthusiastic and I am looking forward to embarking on this ukulele adventure.
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fountain of Uke Music Links

MAGAZINES: (The old time herald is one of my favorite magazines for great articles on real old time music history past and present) (American & World Folk Music fill the pages of this fine magazine. Originally started by Pete Seeger back in the late 50’s/60’s this magazine has a rich and varied history.) (America’s very first Blues magazine! Covering traditional and contemporary blues in America with an emphasis on its African American purveyors, this magazine is always filled with top notch writing, reviews, news, and lore.) (My second favorite blues history magazine! Leans more towards electric blues, but still a good magazine going strong for a number of years) (The magazine of Folk & World Music!) If you are into old music, this is a great resource for old sheet music pre-1922 public domain material posted by the UCLA-at Davis A guild dedicated to the preservation, perpetuation and continuation of all things ukulele worldwide.

MISCELLANEOUS MUSIC: (Find a Jug band near you! Keeping Jug Band History alive.) (Get your iphone app and stream all folk, all the time from this great online radio program for lovers of traditional and contemporary folk music) (the source for America’s richest repository of traditional music, folk, blues, Yiddish and all things Moe Asch! Folkways was the label that released the incredibly influential Harry Smith Anthology also the home of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Josh White, Lead-belly, Sonny Terry, Cisco Houston, Mike Seeger, The New Lost City Ramblers and so many of my other heroes! This is real music people! Folkways records have and will remain some of my deepest musical influences. This is, as they say…music of the people, by the people, for the people!) (Looking for old music? On the hunt for old tunes, the way they sounded so long ago? This trove of old time cylinders, digitized is the mother-lode of antiquity for anyone with a yen to hear the real deal.) (Digital collection of rare old sheet music for download and viewing. If you are hunting for old tunes as I often do, this is sometimes the place to start!) One of a small handful of historic music Organizations in the country dedicated to perpetuating the folk arts thru lessons, concerts and workshops. A must visit when in Chicago. Avoid copyright infringement by knowing both the laws and the tunes available for us all to use. Anything composed prior to 1922 is fair game. Because the ukulele world relies heavily on old time favorites, this site is a must for every ukulele player. Public Domain Song listing. Elderly Instruments is one of the single greatest online mail order stores for music related merchandise in the country. When in Lansing visit their store as well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Ladies & Gentlemen! Come one! Come all!
The Milwaukee Ukulele Festival
September 25, 2010
9am -- 10pm
Website is now up and running.
Check it out!
While it still needs some editing,
it is up and running!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I wrote Wonderfully Askew over the winter of 2010 while touring up the California Coast. Barbara Brooks of the Monterey Ukulele Club took me for a tour of the charming little town of Carmel By The Sea, as we came to the Old Spanish Carmel Mission, she pointed out the architectural traits that time has not been good to, and in doing so replied, “but isn’t it Wonderfully Askew,” to which I thought, everything I love about life is wonderfully askew! The phrase stuck with me as we worked our way up the coast, soon a new song was born.
I am accompanied by three of my favorite players on this video…Gerald Ross, Marvin Reitz and Kathy Reitz…these guys are all stellar players and really know how to listen to the music, not overplay, complement what a guy is doing without hot-dogging it or getting in the way like a lot of folks often do. It is pure joy to make music with these guys and I have come to adore them. Gerald Ross, is as many of you know a dynamite player who specializes in swing, rock and blues influenced ukulele styles, as well as some mighty fine steel guitar playing. Gerald is in demand on the ukulele & music camp circuit and I couldn’t think of a better guy than Gerald to learn from.

The chords to this tune are Bb, Eb, F7 as well as a C7 throw in along the way. The turnaround is classic 1920’s stuff!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lil' Rev playing with Brian & Linda Hefferan

Here's an old Papa Charlie Jackson number featuring Lil' Rev playing harmonica, mandolin and guitar along with Brian & Lynn from the Fabulous Heftones. Be sure to see Lil Rev's YouTube videos at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lil' Rev's Top 10 List for Listening

Many of my fans often ask me," Lil Rev what are your favorite ukulele recordings to listen to?" or, "what should i be listening to as i am developing as a player?"
First off let me say, one should be regularly surfing You Tube for great ukulele music. There is nothing like seeing and hearing a stellar performance. With that said, there are a lot of vintage & new Ukulele Recordings that i would highly recommend to every budding ukulele player.
Here is Lil' Rev's top 10 Ukulele Album (or tune) list:
1) James Hill & Anne Davison: True Love Don't Weep (2009 Borealis) This is a stellar collection of traditional flavored music from choice covers like Oh Susannah on slide ukulele to Rocking Instrumentals like Richards Reel and Ode to A Frozen Boot. James has one foot firmly planted in the past and three feet in the future! I love this guy!
2) Lyle Ritz: How About Uke? (Verve 2004) This is a classic reissue of a 1957 recording that set the world on fire! Lyle is a legend, one of the original Wrecking Crew members (Lyle is a killer bass player) and this particular recording so far as I know was the first album of its kind to feature Jazz Tunes like Don't Get Around Much Anymore and Lulu's Back in Town. Everyone should listen to this album. This is the way it is supposed to be, straight ahead, tasteful, understated, masterful soloing and never over done. In an era where blazing, peel the skin off your forehead ukulele playing is all the go... i am summoned to point out that what moves me most, are the notes that an artist chooses not to play.
3) Brian Hefferan: Music Box Rag (Heftone CD02) Rags, Cakewalks and Marches from the dawn of the 20th Century arranged for ukulele! Need i say more!
4) Pops Bayless: American Novelty Hailing from Austin, Texas, Pops Bayless (one of the founding members of the Asylum Street Spankers), is rare breath of fresh air. Steeped in Vaudeville Traditions, Pops is a writer of timeless tunes, Double Entendre Delights and Blues Ballads.
5) The Double Decker String-band: The Rest is Yet To Come (5 String Productions 2006). One of America's greatest old timey bands! Bruce Hutton plays solid old time Banjo-Ukulele like the old hillbilly players of the 20's and 30's. Rock Solid! Classic!
6) Jake Shimabukuro: Crazy G - This is a little gem of chord harmony and arranging, it is also a tip of the hat to the Ragtime era and great practice for every ukulele player in developing finesse and speed. Yes, this is a simple tune, but, aren't the best melodies the simple...think camp-town races, grandfathers clock, dixie, there is a reason why certian melodies linger and others do not, Jake got it right on this one!
7) Ukulele Ike: Sings Again The Disney Sessions produced some great takes of Cliff Edwards singing his favorite songs, and while the ukulele is often obscured by the session players, this is a gem of an album.
8) Bill Tapia: Duke of Uke (moonroom records 2005) Like Lyle, Bill is from a generation of players who understood clearly what a tune calls for...tasteful solos, the melody, and good does of Jazz and Blues to color a classic tune. Bill said to me in NY recently, Lil Rev, everything sounds like a scale, these young kids don't know when to tone it down! Keep it simple and lean into it once in a while!
9) Hokum Blues: 1924-1929 (Document) These recordings represent the very best of the Blues and Jug Band Styles for Ukulele.
10) King Bennie Nawahi: Hawaiian String Virtuoso (Yazoo 2000) Like Roy Smeck, Bennie was a brilliant player whose mainland tours inspired a whole generation of steel guitar players in the country, jazz and blues tradition.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NPR goes to MILWAUKEE, Visits the Uke Club

Hello All,

Here is a great Video on The Milwaukee Ukulele Club, which I founded a few years ago.

It was featured as an NPR Podcast for state or the re:union show. Sound of The Re:Union: The Milwaukee Ukulele Club

Pretty Cool!

Lil Rev

Monday, May 24, 2010

Here's Sample Post #1 -- Sittin' On Top Of The World

(Instruction Information)

Here I am about to embark on a new journey. In the invisible world of the internatz.

Allows you to make things more clean & purdy
Allows you to gather stuff from other places in the internatz and put it in a post.

Below is your song from YouTube, If you are on the COMPOSE you see a box. If you are on HTML then you see computer goobeldiegook. Important Note: YT has a bunch of different picture sizes. Notice the word WIDTH="___" which is at the top and bottom of the GB (goobeldiegook). I have found that the maximum size I have is 425 or you go beyond the border on my blog.