A mishmash of Ukuleles, Yosemite, and Strum Shops

My buddy Rob phoned me up earlier in the year to see if I wanted to go to Yosemite and climb Half Dome.  I said yes.  Then I realized that seventeen-mile cardiovascular death march was going to require me to actually be in shape.


So, at 47 years of age–it’s back to the gym for me.  Lots of cardio, moderate weight training, and especially leg work.  August 20 is the permit date, and hopefully we will be ascending the ominous cables to summit without too much physical depletion–or an also-ran reprise of Bob Magic’s Shattered Air.

I’m on the slow road to dropping 20 pounds, and it looks like I might pull it off before caloric gate time.


I’ve stepped out and started carping about teaching guitar and ukulele.  I know the word ukulele has a rich tendency to make one take the next literary exit, but just humor me for a moment.  I get it.  That appalling Tiny Tim helped coagulate the instrument in the musical bloodline as a toy, but just sit back for a moment and see if the potential doesn’t loosen the clot here:

Aside from being a writer, I have protracted plans to build a student base, quit my current, soul-sucking job and say “I’m going to work today.  I’ll be playing guitar.”

What a drudge, huh?  And if you’re wondering yes, I’m a good player.

The ukulele has something the guitar does not, however:  Sonic limitations that keep the journeys simple–even if the music is complex.  It seems and IS–attainable–even to those whose confidence has been the prohibitive factor in their apprehension when it comes to learning an instrument.  And while I usually HATE populist rhetoric on all levels–it truly is “The people’s instrument.”   Hit me up if you’re into Skyping a four-string journey.


I recently attended The Strum Shop’s monthly play-along in Roseville, Ca. (Last Saturday, actually) and I was blown away by the enthusiasm I saw.  The entire music store was PACKED with people of all musical calibers; all with their ukes, tuners and club-centric songbooks.  They sat and jammed and sang some twenty-odd songs before leaving.  I managed to spend a some money as well before leaving, but I did not leave before my longtime friend and store owner, Stu Herreid, helped further metastasize my enthusiasm for the instrument by giving me a TON of teaching resources and advice.

I’m telling you one thing.  The Beatles’ O-Bla-di, O-Bla-Dah is possibly the funnest song I’ve ever strummed in my life.  A little research on the broad berth of available ukulele arrangements will show that practically no arenas remains untouched by those making compositional transpositions.  The Frozen soundtrack for one (and I have already hacked out my OWN finger style version of Let it Go. I’ll be posting a short video soon).

That is not to say everything fits.  Though I have to at least applaud the genuine marketing risks taken here, even though I think it nearly impossible to miss a target audience more than this:


Just think about it for second.  Minor modalities are possible on four strings, but c’mon.  How in THE WORLD is one supposed to serenade one’s own slide into perdition with music that was deliberately constructed in the dropped-tuned, subterranean thunders of the electric guitar and transpose it to the ukulele?

Next up: Slayer performs Tiny Bubbles at NAMM.

This entry was posted in Books, CS Lewis, Music, Ukulele, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A mishmash of Ukuleles, Yosemite, and Strum Shops

  1. Steve says:

    Getting in shape is not going to happen in 14 days, however doing something now is better than nothing. I think you’re just going to have to slug it out. Any weight you can drop will be helpful – less to lug up. I speak from experience. Until I got into cardiovascular shape through my running regimen, I used to refer to my annual climb up one of the mountains in Vermont as “my annual stress test.” This year when I went up, I barely raised my heart rate. Kudos to you for doing it, though! I’d love to go with you.

    Yes, I have a feeling the ukulele and Black Sabbath’s music were not meant for each other.

  2. I should say I actually started a couple of weeks ago. I’ve already made significant gains in my stamina. Belt line is already waning too.


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