Wednesday, December 1, 2021

An Interview with Ukulele Hunt's Al Wood

                          Interview & Spotlight On Uke Hunt W/Al Wood  

 The following post is part feature and part interview, that I did with Al Wood of the Ukulele Blog: Uke Hunt.

I have been a huge fan of Al's work with the blog for years now and feel that his effort to shine a spotlight on the ukulele, is worthy of any and all accolades, that one could muster.  

Al's work transcribing intros, solos, riffs, songs, posting uke news, and highlighting noteworthy you tube videos, makes his blog a real one-stop shop for both the aspiring ukulele student, as well as the real players, who want to brush up on an old riff or perhaps find out what's up and coming in the Uke world.

In addition to his work running the blog, Al has written a number of instructional e-books which are all available on his site http://UkuleleHunt.com as well as the print book: Ukulele For Dummies.

In an era when it's become very hard to maintain a physical print magazine, http://UkuleleHunt.com offers us all a glimpse of what a great blog can and should be. 

Ukulele Songstress Victoria Vox agrees with me when she recently said: "Apart from Al having the best ukulele site name ever, he's been around sharing his love of ukulele and promoting artists for as long as I can remember. The website is really a great resource for all things ukulele...and one could get lost for hours, or days!" 

Fellow Ukulele Crooner Danielle Ate The Sandwich adds: "Its always an honor to be mentioned on Uke Hunt, Al has mucho personal style and has some of the most interesting cover song choices on his You Tube channel." 

At the end of the day...those of us who ply our trade writing songs and hoping for a little recognition along the way, its guys like Al who's life work, helps others to discover something beautiful and for this we are grateful! 

So let's find out how Uke Hunt first got started...

Al says: "I started the blog in May of 2007 in the spirit of "Be The change you want to see in the world." He goes on to say "there wasn't much ukulele information online at the time and that he kinda got swept along when things were just starting to build steam." 

Prior to the blog, Al was doing a lot of guitar tabs for the Ultimate Guitar site and said that "it was natural to move into doing ukulele tabs, which in turn, led to creating my own site." (Folks reading this blog post today, should note, that the ukulele world was only just developing online back in 2007 and it's a very different landscape out there today. )Wood says, "At the time, there were only a couple of people doing tabs like Dominator and Pascal Fricke. Once I started my own site, it quickly grew into one of the bigger ukulele resources on the net." 

In a nice tip of the hat, Dominic Pieranunzio of Dominator Tabs, told me that Al was a really good player and that his work was "very accurate." Its always nice to get accolades from your peers and Dom like Al was one of the first people to put tabs up on the internet making him somewhat of a trailblazer like Al. 

( Dom's tabs can be found here now: https://liveukulele.com/tabs/dominator/ )

Ukulele Guru Craig Chee points out "early in my career, I received many emails from fans who found me via Uke Hunt. Chee says, "I'll forever be grateful to Al for all of the energy he put into helping to connect the international ukulele community."  

                                                        

Al Wood of The Blog Uke Hunt Doing Rhapsody in Blue

Wood says "the frenzy has waned since those earlier days, as much of the internet has been gobbled up by social media sites trying to maximize profits and realizing there's a lot of money to be squeezed out of the ukulele." "In the early days, the online ukulele world was small enough that you could keep track of it. I knew or at least knew of, most of the people involved in it. But the number of ukulele players online now is impossible to keep track of." Wood says his biggest motivation is "wanting to help people achieve a goal in their ability to play a certain tune and feel proud of themselves." 

I asked Al about his process of transcribing tunes and arranging songs...
Here's Al's Response: 
"The process varying wildly from song to song. But usually starts with listening to a song, picking out the chords, and melody and getting a general sense of how I'm gonna approach the song."

"The two main tools I use are Guitar Pro and The Capo App."

"The Capo App lets you slow down the music and change the key. Which I find invaluable when you're trying to arrange on Uke." 

"Its a fun puzzle reducing a whole song down to the point where it can be played on a ukulele and with the re-entrant string, there are so many options for any particular line that it never gets dull to me." 


Fountain of Uke: Do you have any favorite songwriters? 
Al: "On the songwriter side of things, Zoe Bestel (http://zoebestel.co.uk), her last album Transience was beautiful. She collaborated with Tobias Elof." 

Fountain of Uke: After writing the book: Ukulele For Dummies, what has the response been and are you thinking of doing any other hard copy or e-books? 
Al: "Ukulele For Dummies was such a huge undertaking I felt spent afterwards. There wasn't a whole lot I felt I'd left uncovered after that. The one thing I'd like to write is a book on arranging for the ukulele. But I have a hard time conceiving how I'd go about structuring that." 





Fountain of Uke: What's your desert island Uke and album? 
Al: "Definitely a Fluke for the ukulele. You'd need something sturdy and plastic to survive and the shape would make for a good paddle if you attempted to raft your way out. As for the album: Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I never get tired of that album. I think it's a masterpiece. Its also got heavy involvement from Bon Iver. I think those two are the greatest musicians of the 21st century so far." 

Fountain of Uke: Of All of the ditties that you've tabbed out, which one has become an ear worm that won't go away and why do you like to play it?
Al: Craig Robertson's Staten Island Slidehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PU2PWjL5tVQ
"It's my go to tune for warming up. Its the perfect ukulele tune. It uses so many of the tricks that work well on the ukulele and evokes the jazz age uke boom so well." 

Fountain of Uke: Any advice for the beginning ukulele player? 
Al: "Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent. If you make a mistake, you're often likely to make the same mistake again the next time you play. But if you can plant the muscle memory for playing something in your head by playing things slowly and without mistakes, you can gradually increase the tempo and play it cleanly." 

Fountain of Uke wishes to thank Al for his time and for all of the incredible ukulele mojo that he's put out for all of us to enjoy and mull. We believe Al deserves a lot more credit for his contribution to the ukulele world online and thus this blog post. If you agree, please share this post and let your ukulele friends know about Al's work and URL. 

If you'd like to support Al's work going forward he has a Patreon account at: http://www.patreon.com/ukulelehunt

Here's an encore of Al Wood doing a Kanye West Cover called: All of The Lights/Violent Crimes 


We hope you enjoyed this feature/interview! 

Musically, 
Lil Rev 
www.lilrev.com 


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An Interview with Ukulele Hunt's Al Wood

                           Interview & Spotlight On Uke Hunt W/Al Wood     The following post is part feature and part interview, that I...