Funny that YouTube, a visual medium, has become my main source for the discovery of music and new artists. As my musical journey leans more into the growing world of Ukulele slayers and acoustic ensembles, YouTube provides great inspiration from a span of 4-string players and artists covering multiple genres. Aye, the age of the guitar god may be over, but the era of the Uke slayer (or slayerette) is nigh. From four-string slaying to new Americana, here are my earworms for the past few months.
Discovered by none other than Don Ho at the tender age of 13, Hawaiian born Taimane Gardner has been ripping ukulele for nearly a decade. With a repertoire that spans all genres, and serious song-writing chops, her YouTube presence has fueled an international passion for her ethereal ukulele styling. Check out her four-sting version of the iconic Pirates of the Caribbean battle theme (a broken string doesn’t sink this ship), a truly unplugged recording of Chris Issac's Wicked Game, and The Moon, an original tune from her 2015 album We are Made of Stars. While you’re watching, take note of Tamaine’s six-string partner, Jazzy Jazz, a rock-solid performer in her own right.
(Photo courtesy of https://taimane.com/)
A regular on the uke festival circuit, James Hill is a one-man rhythm machine using open tunings and amazing finger-picking technique to render spell binding performances. On top of all that, Hill's dance-tap enhanced foot stomps add a rhythmic element missing in many similar acoustic performances . Check out this trio of tunes with life partner/musical collaborator/cellist/vocalist Anne Janelle, that includes Americana bluegrass classics Blackberry Blossom and Ah, Poor Bird (adding sweet harmony to Janelles vocals), and an original tune, Promenade, a cheeky tale of love lost at the local square dance.