I’ve recently returned from two weeks in Snowdonia, North Wales, having completed a fantastic two week internship with ukulele-building legend Pete Howlett. I’ve played a Pete Howlett ukulele throughout my time with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and Pete’s uke has accompanied me to Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House, Windsor Castle and the North Pole. Pete showed me extraordinary generosity throughout our time together and I learned a huge amount, I can’t thank him enough. Here are some pics of us hard at work and the fruits of my labour – a beautiful soprano koa pineapple ukulele.
So, in February I had a bit of a revelation and decided to learn how to make and build ukuleles. I’ve always loved making stuff – years ago I made wooden automata and would have continued had the Ukulele Orchestra not become so successful. Making ukuleles brings my love of ukes and music together with my enthusiasm for making things. Since that point I’ve been on a non-stop information-gathering mission. I’ve had help and hugely generous advice from some wonderful ukulele-makers: Aaron Keim, Marco Todeschini, Prof Chris, Clifford and Andy Miles. In particular Liam Kirby (below) has been a huge help, patiently explaining to me how to build one of his beautiful Soprano Ukuleles.
We’ve been busy delving deep into the cheesy recesses of our beings. If you enjoy classic tunes such as Let it Brie, Johnny B. Gouda or anything by The Edamned, this album is for you. Best enjoyed with Welsh Rarebit, this is written and produced by me, Ben Castle and Dan Teper for Universal. You can listen to it here.
Ben, Dan and I have been up to more mischief for Universal Music with this collection of oddball tunes, Quirky Vocals, featuring noises that we and others have made with our oral cavities. You can tell this by looking at the cover: two of the people are opening their mouths, and the third is humming while reading the music with her binoculars.
I’ve got a new library album up at Universal – Daytime Oddities. It was released through the 3Monkeys label with brilliant support and encouragement from Stockholmer Anders Lewen. I wrote and recorded it during lockdown to keep my spirits up. Hope it does the same for you!