Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Episode #13 - Rock Music and the Ukulele

We're talking rock music in Uketopia Episode #13. Here are some helpful links on tabs, ukes that can rock out and some devices to record on!



Fender Pa'ina

Fender Nohea

Kala Archtop Jazz Uke

Great handheld recording devices:

H2 Zoom


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Transsiberian Pictures: Evidence of the Tale

This is how we roll on the Transsiberian Railway!

Oh look, another monastery in Russia. Yep. This is Leavitt and I in Moscow. Doing the Moscow tourist thing.

My new travel BFFs photo-opping in Moscow. Oh uh, sorry Leavitt.

Nat, me and Leavitt are at the Asia-Europe border. Two continents at once!

Leavitt and I are getting our inner-Soviet on with some military action. Lets be honest, it got boring standing and smiling for the camera.

Our latest song installment. I made up a song about the Aussie's traveling with us and how they are really drug runners and not tourists. Ha! Like we would fall for that story!

Leavitt and I run with all our might, mind and strength into the 42 degreed coldness of Lake Baikal. Every limb froze, but according to local lore, I now tacked on 20 years to my life.

Hitting the road in Lake Baikal, Russia. I've got my stuffed animal and ukulele strapped to my back-- the warmth before the cold swim in the lake.

One of our Mongolian modes of transport. I named him "Alpha"-- he was the alpha horse of the group and would not be any horse's second.

Leavitt testing her lungs, while I am testing out my ears on a Mongolian horn.

Our view from the Gobi Desert. Lots of um, well, err-- this.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Episode #12 - Part 2 of Tales of the Transsiberian Railway

Open Mic: Part 2 of the stories behind my 4 weeks traveling on the Transsiberian Railway from China, Russia and Mongolia. Traveling with my Kala Travel Uke, we took a tour through some very rural country and had some very amazing experiences.

The Strum: Special guest Steve Dayton talks about the new Kala Travel Uke. Very awesome thin bodied soprano made of mahogany back and sides, with a spruce top.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Episode #11

Open Mic: Here are some of the stories behind the journey. For four weeks I travelled via the Transsiberian Railway through China, Mongolia and Russia. It was quite the experience, so here are some highlights of the experience!

The Strum: Lanikai CK-C, a Koa Series concert uke

On the next episode of Uketopia: Part 2 of the Transsiberian Railway! Plus, special guest Steve Dayton shows off his new Kala Travel Uke on The Strum

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Part 1 - Vancouver to Shanghai

Here are a few pictures from the China leg of the journey. Everywhere we went, Drake the Travel Uke was not far behind!

Nat and Leavitt brave it out on Mt. Huashan. Walking on a plank and a very large sheer cliff. It's no wonder why they are called "Danger Leavitts"!

My school's mascot and my Kala travel strapped to my back-- I am ready to join the Terracotta Warriors!

Nat, me and Leavitt before our big climb up Mt. Huashan. Ah yes, the sweat before the even bigger sweat! It may not look like much, but it's the even bigger mountain behind us that goes up and up and I'm pretty sure to outer space!

Leavitt (left) and I on our 4-star accommodations a.k.a. the hard beds on the train from Shanghai to Xian. Not bad for an overnight.

The hard part wasn't getting everyone to smile; the hard part was getting a picture with just us in it! Welcome to Shanghai!

Rainy day in Vancouver, Canada at Capilano Bridge. The bright yellow ponchos were a big hit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Kala Travel Uke Makes it to China!

Drake the Kala Travel uke at the Forbidden City. Very hot day, but not enough to hold us back on playing some awesome melodies!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Episode #10

Uke News:
  • "Ukulele Helps Ease the Pain" By Kyle Norris of Michigan Radio
  • New Ohana Ukes
  • Kala introduces a new clip on tuner
  • Uketopia goes on Hiatus (around the world trip with Drake the Kala Travel Uke)
Open Mic: Utah's Highland Games-- Scottish Festival. The Uke + Bagpipes = Good Times

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ukulele Helps Ease the Pain

When times are tough, people cut-back on spending. But one little item has been selling quite well lately.

by Kyle Norris

We're at the ukulele jam that happens on the fourth Tuesday of every month. It's at Oz's Music in Ann Arbor. About twenty people are packed into a studio and it's cozy. Everyone strums a ukulele. And they're cruising through song after sing-able song.

Danielle Willner wears a ukulele necklace and has a ukulele tattoo. At twenty-two she's one of the younger people at tonight's jam. She says the ukulele has made her a more well-rounded and happier person. Willner recently got laid off from her job at a café.

"I had a really rough time with it. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, since the economy's not great here in Michigan, and the job market's not great. I went home and pretty much played for three days straight to help me get through the initial shock. It was very helpful and very therapeutic."

She said it helped her take her mind off not having a job and helped her focus on something more productive.

Stan Werbin sells ukuleles, along with a bunch of other instruments. He owns Elderly Instruments in Lansing. During the holidays, Elderly sold out of ukes. So far this year, ukulele sales are good.

"I would say this year based on what I'm seeing here we're probably up 10-15%."

He says as a business owner, this is a big deal because overall instrument sales are down by around 20%.

Now Werbin is just one store-owner in Michigan. But nationally ukulele sales are up, as well. Mike Upton is selling ukuleles faster than he can make them. Upton is the president of Kala Ukulele in California.

He sells ukuleles all over and business is booming. His sales of ukuleles are up 76% from '07 to '08 and he expects that upward trend to be similar this year. Upton says the economy is definitely a factor as to why ukulele sales are so good right now.

"You know people are exchanging activities, staying home instead of going out. And there are families playing the ukulele together and there are all kinds of clubs forming. There's the social component of people getting together and having a good time."

Upton says ukuleles don't cost a ton of money. You can pick up a decent instrument for thirty bucks. Upton's best-seller goes for $100. Plus there's the ukulele's sound.

Many people associate the ukulele with Hawaii and that tropical, good vibe. But actually, the ukulele was brought to the islands by Portuguese immigrants.

Upton calls the ukulele's tone bright and beautiful.

"Just the sound of the instrument is wonderful. It has a happy sound. It's tuned in a major key when you strum it open. It's hard to be sad when playing the ukulele."

Back at the jam the musicians have been playing non-stop for two hours. John McAuliffe is one of those jamming musicians. He teaches ukulele workshops at senior centers, children's camps, and RV parks.

"If you've had a rough day, whatever you're doing, if you're working or you have difficulties you pick up the ukulele and strum it a few times, then pick out a song you want to try and all of a sudden things are better."

He says playing the ukulele might not make things better forever. But for the moment, it can, and for him, it does.

© Copyright 2009, MICHIGAN RADIO

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kala Clothing

Yesterday I received two awesome Kala Ukulele t-shirts. This picture is actually taken of the back of the t-shirt and it has a larger Kala Logo. It's packaged in the coolest packaging-- a wee little uke shape!

Here is the front with a simple Kala logo. The women's shirts come in yellow and black. I recommend for any ukulele fan to show it off with these t-shirts!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Segment: Uke News

New Segment coming to the Uketopia Podcast-- Uke News!

Reporting from the world of ukulele, Uke News will focus on all things Ukulele.

If you have any news stories or information that is noteworthy, send us an email at:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dueling Ukes with Craig Miner

I promised dueling ukes, and here you go!
Craig Miner playing the Fender Pa'ina

Monday, June 1, 2009

Episode #09 Mess Up!

Mess Up!

I apologize for the mess up. I didn't catch that I accidently put in the intro to Open Mic in twice and forgot to intro Tips and Tricks. How I missed that is beyond me.

I'll get that changed today!

Thank you for all your support!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kala Solid Acacia Soprano

Look!! The Kala Solid Acacia is on eBay! Go Musicguymic and putting it up for sale-- $229 not bad.

Ok, I'm going to start saving up for it. I'll keep you posted on Twitter if I find out anymore about these Solid Acacian bad boys!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Uketopia Crossword

I'll post the answers soon! Hopefully some of it isn't too impossible to get right.

*1 Down - Brudda

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Uketopia Episode #08

Episode #08 is now up!

Welcome to the Uketopia Podcast!

Open Mic: Uketopia Podcast will follow Tamilisa to Acoustic Music located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. She will be demoing many ukuleles and looking for her very first ukulele. Acoustic Music is located at 857 East 400 South in Salt Lake City. They have a great selection of ukuleles as well as guitars, mandolins, banjos and more! I highly recommend checking out this great music shop when you are in town!

Tips and Tricks with Tamilisa: I’ll be asking Tamilisa advice on jam session etiquette-- oh yes, there is etiquette! If you would like Tamilisa to answer any ukulele or instrument questions, send us an email at:

For more information about our episodes, check out our blog at:

We’re also tweeting at Twitter and you can find us under: Uketopia

Uketopia is looking for sponsors on our podcast so that we can raise some money for some of the travel costs to go to the International Ukulele Ceilidh in Nova Scotia in October. If you are interested in advertising or donating to Uketopia, send us an email to:

Thank you again for supporting us here at Uketopia and keep on strumming!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On the next Uketopia Podcast...

Open Mic: Miss Tamilisa is getting her inner uke on and buying her first ukulele! Total surprise and so I thought it best to capture that uber awesome moment! In this impromptu interview, we go to Salt Lake City's Acoustic Music Store and check out the awesome selection of ukes (and some mandolins and banjos too). But she is a happy camper now and strumming away on 4 strings! The big question being... which uke is her first uke?

The Strum: No demo per se, Tamilisa is trying out a bazillion ukes, so it's like a mini demo of everything!

Tips & Tricks with Tamilisa: She will answer more listener questions!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chris the Luthier

Chris shared some of his pictures/plans of the guitar he built. Here is stage one-- looking over the plans!

You can hear about Chris' experience building his first guitar on Episode #07 of Uketopia!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Episode #07

Open Mic: Chris the Luthier

The Strum: Oscar Schmidt OU5LCE

Tips & Tricks with Tamilisa: That funky out of tune C-string

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Upcoming Episode #07

On the next Uketopia Podcast:

Open Mic: I'm chatting with Chris who just recently completed building his classical guitar. Not exactly a ukulele, but his 2 year project is awesome!

The Strum: We'll take a closer look at the Oscar Schmidt OU5LCE - a concert acoustic/electric

Tips & Tricks with Tamilisa: She will be answering listener questions and giving some great advice!

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Upcoming Episode

Hi All!

It's been quite the hectic week for me (Emily). I just graduated from college last week and now entering the real world-- or at least easing my way in to it! Now that I don't have projects, homework or finals to contend with, this will hopefully open doors to some exciting upcoming episodes.

Just a few things on the upcoming ukulele horizon...

  • Fender has just recently given Uketopia full access to the Fender Pa'ina! I plan to do a full demo of that on video for you all! We did do a segment on it, but this will give us a chance to really go nuts-- maybe use the amp!
  • An episode involving Scottish kilts... yes, kilts
  • More interviews. Rather than listening me yammer on about something, I've been working on lining up some awesome interviews! I've been wanting to get more interaction from ukulele experts, enthusiasts and specialists in the field. Those will be coming soon!
I appreciate all the wonderful feedback I've been getting from fellow uke enthusiasts! I hope that Uketopia has been entertaining for you, as it has been for me producing them. Feel free to suggest any ideas, as I am always open to making it more fun and interesting for uke fans!


P.S. Expect Episode #07 at the end of the week!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Next Episode...

Hi All! On the next Uketopia episode...

Open Mic:
  • Talking about different wood types on ukuleles. Koa, lacewood, spruce, mahogany etc.
  • Interview with a 7 year old on his first ukulele-- hear from the little diva

The Strum:
  • Samick UK-60

Tips & Tricks with Tamilisa: We'll see :)

Episode #06 will be available to download in one week! Stay tuned!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Slight Mess Up

I had to re-publish Episode #05, I didn't have a chance to test it out before publishing it. Everything should be in order now-- enjoy!

Episode #05

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Episode #04 Uploading...

Hi All!

I just finished editing the latest Uketopia episode. I had to do a little clean up work on some of the previous ones, but I believe I've got my metadata in order now! I apologize if you have any issues with the downloading the previous ones, but it should be in working order.

Open Mic: We'll be reviewing the Jake Shimabukuro concert that we had the opportunity to attend in Idaho Falls just the other weekend! What an awesome experience that was!

The Strum: Demo of the Oscar Schmidt OU2 - a fun mahogany concert uke

*New Segment* Tips & Tricks with Tamilisa: Listeners ask the questions, Tamilisa has the answers! Email us if you have any uke questions:

-- Remember a few episodes back when we chatted with Amanda Bush the opera star? She gave me a phone call the other week and said, "Emily, ukulele has made it to opera!" She was at an opera performance and noticed in the orchestra someone playing the ukulele! Hooray, the uke has made it's way into opera!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Now on Twitter

Yeah, we're tweeting

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Episode #04

For, April 1, 2009

Open Mic: Interview with Rigk Sauer of RISA Musical Instruments

The Strum: Checking out the Fender Pa'ina

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coming up in Episode #04

On the next episode of Uketopia:

Open Mic: I'll be speaking with Rigk Sauer of RISA Ukuleles to talk more about electrical ukes, ukuleles in Europe and all about RISA! RISA is the leader in electrical ukuleles and uses innovative designs for their awesome ukulele line.

The Strum: We'll be checking out the Fender Pa'ina

Look for the upcoming episode next week!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Episode #02

Uketopia Podcast Episode #02

Open Mic: Interview with Amanda Bush, student of music, opera star and friend

The Strum: Demo of the Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Uke

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Upcoming Episode #2

On the next Uketopia Podcast...

Open Mic:
A discussion with Amanda Bush about ukuleles becoming more popular in different genres of music; specifically, celtic, bluegrass and even rock music! Amanda Bush has a background in celtic and bluegrass music, but you can see her performing in operas right now. Her extensive knowledge and perspective of music gives a new look at the ukuleles place in the musical world!

The Strum:
We'll demo the Kala KA-T. A fun tenor uke by Kala.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Episode

The first episode of Uketopia is now ready for download!

Copy and Paste this URL into iTunes>Advanced>Subscribe to Podcast...

Or simply do a keyword search for Uketopia in iTunes!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Episode #1

In this first episode, we will be speaking with banjo ukulele fan Steve Dayton. Also, we will demo two ukuleles, the Makala Dolphin Bridge uke and the Kala KA-S soprano uke.


Welcome to the first episode of the Uketopia Podcast blog. This podcast is for ukulele enthusiasts and those wanting to become more familiar with the tiny four-stringed phenomenon!

In this first episode of Uketopia:

Open Mic: Interviewing Steve Dayton about ukulele playing and more specifically life with the banjo uke.

The Strum: Demo of the Makala Dolphin Bridge soprano uke and the Kala KA-S soprano uke.