Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I play the ukulele.

Okay, admittedly, the title of the post is more an affirmation than the truth at this point.  I'm teaching myself to play the ukulele.  I'm hoping that if I keep telling people, I won't get bored and stop before I can actually play something well enough for someone to hear.  At this point I can get through the chords to "Popeye the Sailor Man" without stumbling and can stumble through a few more songs.  The lovely part is I've found ukulele chords and charts for free all over the web.  Everything from traditional ukulele music to modern rock songs.  So, I've got plenty of material to work on.

Cool things about the ukulele:
   A professional grade instrument can cost you as little as $100.  Not many other professional grade instruments are that cheap.
   The uke was originally a Portuguese instrument that was modified by the Hawaiians.
   They don't really make left handed ukuleles.  You can always flop the strings, but it's not recommended. (This is important to me as I'm left handed.  It felt really weird at first holding the instrument the "wrong" way.)
   Apparently, ukuleles are addicting.  Few people only have one.  (Yes, I already know what I want for my second one, but I'm not gonna until I'm comfortable playing in front of other people.  This is my bribe to myself.)  George Harrison apparently had quite a collection of them.

So, why would one want to play the uke?  Well, for me it was kicked off by an impromptu jam session at Christmas.  We had traveled to one of my cousins houses and didn't have a single instrument with us.  My husband grabbed a set of spoons and added percussion.  I pretended my voice was a flute and added upper harmonies to songs I'd never heard before.  Somehow, I didn't suck and was even complimented by one of the professional musicians in the group.  (insert happy dance here)  So, we did get to participate. On the drive home the next day, I lamented the lack of a good basic instrument that I could haul around.  Something small, but not like one of my flutes.  I'm not any good at making up harmonies on flutes.  So, an instrument that I could just chord along.  And then a song came on the radio.  And the answer was obvious.


I did make myself wait 3 months before actually looking to purchase one, just to make sure I was serious.  
And, yes, I do have the chords for "Hey Soul Sister" now.  Although, playing it is more a drunken crawl than a stumble.  But I'll get there!

Now to go practice.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Yankovic is a god" - Waldo Butters

Okay, he may not be a god, but I'm willing to accept an avatar of a very twisted musical god who likes food, loud shirts and accordions.  Yes, I'm talking "Weird Al" Yankovic.  Last night he performed at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie and the hubby took me as part of my birthday present.  Now I have been a fan of this man since his very first performance on The Dr. Demento Show back in 1979.  Rock and Roll accordion?  Yeah, I'm in.  I've only seen him live once before (about 20ish years ago), but it was an incredible show, so I was really jazzed to be going again.

So, the show.

We sat down between a early 20 something couple and an older gentleman who looked rode hard and put away wet.  The male of the youngsters had Weird Al albums as a child, but hadn't heard any of his newer stuff.  The girl had never heard him, but came because the guy invited her.  I let them know it would be a good show.  The older gentleman (and I say older in relation to the youngsters, he was probably about my age) had, like me, been a fan from the beginning.  And these seats?  Row H, front and center.  I had a great view of my favorite madman.  Weird Al started the show exactly at 8:00.  (Jimmy Buffet is the only other performer who I've known to start at the time the ticket listed.  I approve.)  They started with the polka medley from the new album - Polka Face.  Boom! Energy.  He was playing an electric accordion of all things (I didn't even know Roland made electric accordions).  The song ended and he ran offstage.  Up comes a video - an interview from Al TV.  Video ends and here he and the band are now dressed as Nirvana.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  We lost count, but it came out to about 15 full costume changes and 5 or 6 partial costume changes.  During the actual changing he'd run clips from Al TV, The Weird Al Show or cultural references to himself in various TV shows and movies.  HELL of a show.  Aside from the electric accordion, he played a regular one (you can see it in the video below), 2 different keyboards and a harmonica (complete with bored looking roadie holding it for him during the harmonica solos in "Ode to a Super Hero").  During "Wanna B Ur Lovr" (a song that is composed almost completely of bad pickup lines) he actually walked around the audience and sang to various women (and one man).  At one point I was about 3 feet away from him.  (Yes, I squeed.)  Of course he was singing to the young girl that we were sitting next to, but she was right on the aisle, so I can't fault him there.  After nearly 2 hours of this, they said goodnight.  We waited patiently (if you can call chanting his name and clapping patient) and the band then came out in Star Wars get up.  Along with a chorus line of Stormtroopers and Darth Vader.  Weird Al then sang "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda" to wrap up the night.  I was quite pleased.  And very pleased that he mixed in a good bit of his older stuff along with the songs from the new album. 

So, here's the song that started him on his looooong career as the worlds number one weirdo:

And here's what he's doing now:

Yeah, he's still a god.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Music Based Life Form

My name is Lynette and I'm a Music Based Life Form.

No, I'm not 12-stepping to get over it.  I'm bragging.  I love being a MBLF and I love to share my music finds.  That's why I've started this blog - to share my obsession. 

Perhaps I should start with a definition.  A MBLF is not necessarily a great musician.  I've known some who have no talent in creating music at all.  I, personally, am solidly an amateur when it comes to creation.  I've also known folks with professional grade abilities who were decidedly not MBLFs.  So, a Music Based Life form is a person who requires music in their life.  Signs of a MBLF include:
1) They surround themselves with music constantly. 
2) They have trouble focusing on conversation if there is a good song in the background.
3) They will unconsciously tap their foot or move their hips to background music even if they are focused on the conversation.
5) They are constantly forcing their friends to listen to the new music they've discovered.
6) While they may have a favored genre of music, they tend to like a wide variety of genres.

There is more, but this is a good enough start to give you an idea.

So, in this blog, I'll be sharing things that I've found, blathering about concerts/shows I've seen and giving my opinions on musical trends.  Keep in mind everything here is my own opinion and is not meant to force anyone to agree with me.  I welcome discussion, but request that there be no poo-flinging.  At this point, I've no idea how often I will post.  I'll try for once a week at the minimum.  We'll just have to see how it goes.