Ukulele Me

Is it just a reflection of my own taste in music, or is the ukulele, previously relegated mostly to novelty tunes and Hawaiian music, been enjoying somewhat of a comeback in recent years? I like to think it’s at least partially due to the influence of Stephin Merritt, although maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

I know Amanda Palmer, who is primarily a keyboard player, took it up because she wanted an instrument that was portable.

She makes good use of this as well, often wandering around in the audience while playing a uke tune. I also seem to have heard that the uke is somewhat easier to play than other lute-style instruments, but as I’ve never tried it myself, I can’t vouch for this and could be wrong. What’s particularly interesting, however, is that it seems to be the chosen instrument of girls who are going for a cute image. It’s become the go-to twee instrument, or something like that. Notable female uke players who come to mind include:

Zooey Deschanel

Abby DeWald of the Ditty Bops

Nellie McKay

Robin Goldwasser, wife of John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, and member of the trio The Last Car

Kim Boekbinder, formerly of Vermillion Lies

Okay, maybe that’s not THAT many, but it still strikes me as a bit of a trend. What do you think?

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5 Responses to Ukulele Me

  1. I think it’s becoming kind of a geek thing. You have to admit all the musicians you named are not exactly mainstream, but all have geeky followings. And I know ukuleles are brought up surprisingly frequently on the GeekMom blog, by even more than just the one writer whose son is going to college for ukulele (seriously yes). So, yes, I think it’s on the rise, but only in certain circles….

  2. The uke is such a great instrument. Gotta love it.

  3. Also: Molly Lewis is so awesome.

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