The Versatility of a Uke

One day this past summer I was walking down a street in Vermont when I saw a folk musical instrument store.  I went inside and impulsively bought my first ukulele.  It is now my instrument of choice, mainly because of its size, though I do also like the nice tropical twang it has.  It is very comfortable to play and also very portable.  I can even play it while riding shotgun in the car!  Now I bring it almost everywhere.  


I’ve often wondered if there is something in the collective unconscious which gave us this desire for a lute-like instrument.  There are so many different types of stringed instruments that have evolved from different cultures.  Ukuleles originated in Hawaii, evolved from instruments introduced by the Portuguese.  Although they were once associated only with Hawaiian music, ukuleles are quite versatile and can be used in many different musical genres.  I created an OWL Ukulele Collection here for you to enjoy if you’d like to check out the different uses for this beautiful instrument.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ the last DJ.  Tom Petty & Scott Thurston play the uke on this rockin’ CD by one of my very favorite bands. 

Colbie Caillat’s Coco.  This is a beautiful album of folk-rocky music.  Jason Reeves plays ukulele on the song Tied Down

Bluegrass Goes to Town.  A collection of pop songs played in a bluegrass style.  Jack Clement plays ukulele on Piece of My Heart.

Carly Simon’s Reflections.  A folky collection of songs with Jimmy Ryan playing ukulele on Love of My Life.

Van Morrison’s Keep it Simple.  A folk-rock album where Morrison plays ukulele on That’s Entrainment, Keep it Simple and Behind the Ritual.

Carrie Newcomer’s The Geography of Light.  Chris Wagoner & Mary Gaines play ukulele on this Folk CD.

Anne Price’s Hearth & Fire.  Evy Mayer plays ukulele on Rivers of Texas on this very folky compilation. 

And I have to add my favorite movie of all time, Some Like it Hot where Marilyn Monroe plays ukulele on the song Running Wild (jazz) in her “all-girl” band with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.  One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) is thanking Jack Lemmon’s character “Daphne” for getting her out of a jam:

“If it wasn’t for you, they’d have kicked me off the train.  I’d be out in the middle of nowhere, sitting on my ukulele.” 

Daphne (Jack Lemmon in drag) says “Oh, it’s freezing outside!  I mean, when I think about you… and your poor ukulele!”

  Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at OWL and is hummin’ & strummin’ her ukey…

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