Why are ukuleles everywhere? Don't get me wrong - I'm glad to see people picking up instruments and making music together. Nothing in the world pleases me more. But Memphis went from approximately zero ukuleles to Midtown being waist deep in the things. I'm not complaining, just saying.
There are group lessons, which I have endorsed. Local bassist Daniel McKee knocked me out with a bass ukulele solo at Midtown Music. When the Germantown Performing Arts Center hosted Jake Shimabukuro, the Andres Segovia of the instrument, last November, Memphis raised his bet and called in our own Memphis Ukulele Band (MUB) to open. Yep, we have our own ukulele band. You can see them this Friday, January 30th, at Otherlands.
The band started when Sun Studio engineer Matt Ross-Spang, musician Jason Freeman, and local NARAS chapter president Jon Hornyak began jamming on ukuleles at Sun Studio. They play some Sun rockabilly, some Memphis Jug Band, and added a rotating cast of Memphis roots winners like Jana Misener, Mark Stuart, Lahna Deering, and Kyndle McMahan of the Mason Jar Fireflies. Freeman and Hornyak play tenor. Ross-Pang play baritone. Deering plays a concert model, and Stuart is on bass. All ukuleles. So how did the ukulele revolution get started? Better ask Memphis Grammy Big Kahuna Hornyak:
"We all play Kamoa Ukuleles. Larry Nager introduced me to the owner, Sam Bonanno, about three years ago when I first became fascinated with ukuleles. Sam asked me to help him get his ukes in the hands of working musicians. He came to Folk Alliance the last year it was in Memphis and had a booth and led ukulele workshops. In addition to all of us in MUB, Luther Dickinson, Amy LaVere and John Kilzer, and many others play Kamoa. It is amazing how popular ukuleles are now."
Let's get this Kanikapila started!