So, a couple of years ago I was starting to feel a bit more confident about my ability to figure out how to play songs I love on the ukulele so when my sister’s birthday started to roll around I offered to record something for her by request.
She gave me a few options (“Marshall Crenshaw’s “There She Goes Again”, U2’s “Beautiful Day” and Grateful Dead’s “BirdSong”) and I played around with them a bit and decided that my best bet was Bird Song.
But I was defeated. I couldn’t figure out the main lick that goes throughout the song, or what do in the verse, and so on. I kept hacking at it but had to give up.
Now, a few years have passed, my chops keep getting better a tiny amount at a time, and I’m getting more confident in playing and singing live (I had planned to layer up a track for her and was only doing audio at the time), I decided to try to work out Bird Song again and discovered that I was able to break it down and arrange it (somewhat) for the uke!
I’m still working on it, especially putting it across, playing the lick that overlaps the singing a bit, and what to do in the weird solo section, but I did manage to give J her birthday present, just a few years to too late, yesterday, and now I’m sharing two takes more publicly.
One of the songs I’ve been playing the longest with the Reuben Kincaid is an original by Cecil Vortex about prison booze called “Pruno.”
In fact, before the Kincaid even got together Pruno was one of the first tunes Cecil taught me and that we played together, and it was one of the first songs I recorded myself playing with Cecil, when I started to get the idea that this playing music together thing is actually pretty cool. At the time we were playing it on piano and uke but not TRK plays it in our current power trio format, with Cecil on guitar (sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric), the Reverend So-Called Bill on bass, and myself on ukulele, of course. Vocals on the “I don’t want to be right” chorus by hillbilly leprechaun Shmuey, who would himself never make or consume pruno.
Over the last few years we’ve played the song scores of times, usually with some major or minor flubs. The version I’m posting today is done in the slow epic/anthem mode, and has its share of clams, but is also a fairly representative demo of how we play “Pruno” today:
The third song in our Cheeses & Tequila set was a semi-obscure number by the Replacements called “If Only You Were Lonely.” For equal time I’ll post the Vimeo version here (but then I’ll go and “like” the YouTube version so it shows up on Facebook where people actually notice when I post something):
My partner in Cheese and Tequila, Bill DeRouchey, has been busy putting us up all over the interwebs, so as a followup to that vimeo embed from yesterday of Bill singing the punk classic Anarchy in the UK, here’s a youtube video of the second song from our Ukepalooza set, Big Star’s “I’m in Love with a Girl” (by Alex Chilton, R.I.P.), which I semi-inaudibly dedicated to the lovely B, who could not be there:
That little bit between the two “All that a man can do…” bridges may be first ever live recorded solo.
Samantha Soma, the lovely the talented bride of my partner in ukulele crime, Bill DeRouchey, shot some footage of our Ukepalooza act at WebVisions, where we debuted our duo act known as Cheeses and Tequila.
Bill has now chopped it up into four video segments (one for each song) and posted them to Vimeo, so here’s our opening tune, “Anarchy in the UK”:
It was our first performance together after rehearsing mainly over the internet, so be gentle! :D