Showing posts from 2011

Ken Middleton & The Lost Art of Playing Fiddle-Tunes on the Ukulele

In the fall of 2004, The Old Time Herald (Vol.9 #5) ran a feature article of mine titled: Ukuleles In Old Time Music The purpose of this article (researched by Deb Porter and I), was first and foremost to shed some light on the role of the ukulele in the string band era. We explained in great detail, that the Ukulele was prominently featured in both the black Jug Bands as well as the white dance bands of the 20’s and 30’s. There were groups like The Fiddle Powers Family, The Hillbillies, Jimmie Rodgers, Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters and the Memphis Jug Band; all of whom sat alongside of the Vaudeville Crooners, who inspired the masses. Thus, the ukulele was at the forefront of both progressive pop music as well as keeping the old tunes from home alive.

It has been almost 8 years since that article came out and a lot has changed in the ukulele world. We have witnessed an explosion, the likes of which onl…

Lil' Rev Bonaparte's Retreat on Tony Graziano Baritone Ukulele


Lil' Rev and Will Branch -- The Me or Uke Blues

A song about real life...

Lil' Rev at The Coffee House Milwaukee


The National Jukebox & Record Hunting

The National Jukebox & Record Hunting:The National Jukebox is an online treasure trove of historical recordings, prints and sheet music from the Library of Congress and other major collections. The concept, not unlike that of a number of other digital archives, allows us to peer into the wellspring of our collective riches. If you are keen on fishing for the true vine or blasting into the bedrock of American sound and entertainment, than consider this (and others like it), the mother-lode and start digging via a musicologist of sorts, I have always felt that good musicians and true audiophiles should take the time to follow our roots trail back to its respective source, which in this case turns out to be rag-time, brass-band, ethnic, blues, gospel, early jazz, Hawaiian, hillbilly and tin-pan alley to name a few. All of these genres are available en masse on the National Jukebox so I encourage everyone to listen to the works of The Duncan Sisters si…

Lil' Rev sez, "Check This New Play-Along Tool Out"

Here's a tool that ukulele players can use to play along with songs. It has various tunings available but is set up for Soprano as ADF#B, Concert and Tenor as GCEA, and Baritone as DGBE. Be sure to check out UKULELE PLAY-ALONG and explore its powers.

Lil Rev's Merchandise

Lil' Rev at the Sunset Playhouse


Lil Rev makes the NY TIMES!

That's right Lil Rev was featured in an article back in December of 2010 in The NY Times Chicago Section. The story was about House Concerts and showed a picture of Lil Rev doing a house concert in IL.
If this interests you, click on the link below to read the story!

Philosophical Music Tips for the Aspiring Musician by Lil' Rev

Lil' Rev sez,
1)Look like you are having a good time. Otherwise, blacken a tooth or two.2)Let the mistakes roll right off you! Don’t call attention to them, we all do, including me, but it is best to let them go by, often folks don’t even know half the time when you screwed up, for the sake of professionalism, just keep going!3)Good eye contact is the key to playing well with others. 4)For BIG concerts, know your tunes well. 5)Talk to your audience, they love to be engaged! 7)Be in the moment! Not somewhere else. 8)Smile! Even if you are terrified! Or make sure you are wearing a dry pair Depends. 9)Think confidently and positively and you’ll play well. 10)In leading a song, be confident enough to pretend that your cheat sheet isn’t there. 11)Sing into the Microphone, not the air 12)Music comes from the deepest part of the soul, if you are tired, stressed, overworked or unhappy, it will show.13)It never hurts to know a few Jokes!14)Be a character….on stage, all possibilities exist! …

101 Licks for Ukulele & Other News

Dear Friends,

This is a post to let all of you know that my new book: 101 Licks For Ukulele is now available thru Hal Leonard Publishing.

Please spread the word to your ukulele groups and local music stores.

This book is a unique collection of blues, country, old time, bluegrass and jazzy-blues intros, endings, fills, hooks and cool little riffs to add to your grab bag of ukulele tools for all levels. The music is written in tab and standard notation and there is an audio CD for every track as well as a backing track for each chapter to try these licks out. The book sells for about $15.00

Soon it will be available on Amazon. Good sources for ordering would include:

Elderly Instruments


Hal Leonard's Website:

Currently, i am on tour on the West Coast and won't return to the Mid West until April.

I have a new CD with my good buddy…

A look back at the 2010 Milwaukee Ukulele Festival (and ahead to 2011)

Calling All Ukulele Festival Goers: (From The Directors Perch)

A look back at the 2010 Milwaukee Ukulele Festival (and ahead to 2011)

The 2nd annual Milwaukee Ukulele Festival was held in downtown Milwaukee on September 25th 2010, and by all accounts was a huge success. After a year of planning and organizing, things came together masterfully in large part due to our highly efficient planning committee and a large legion of Ukulele Club volunteers!

As a performer, I am always looking at Ukulele Clubs and Camps,
asking myself, in what ways could this experience be improved upon?
Sometimes, there are minor tweaks, and other times it is highly obvious what didn’t work. (I have watched many uke fests die a hard death for oh so many reasons, with the most obvious being pure exhaustion, but that’s another story!)

For example, the first annual Milwaukee Ukulele Festival ran workshops back to back all day and there was little time for jamming, socializing or shopping and the vendors travel a lon…