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KAMUKE Ukulele MagazineKAMUKE Ukulele Magazine

KAMUKE Ukulele Magazine

Issue 12

KAMUKE is your passport to the ukulele world. Each beautifully presented issue includes fascinating features, pro playing tips and in-depth interviews with global uke stars. There are also compelling historical articles, gear reviews and much more!

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editor’s grass shack

ALOHA and welcome to the 12th edition of KAMUKE! Australia’s own Azo Bell is the star of this issue. If we had to use one word to describe his style, we’d go with mesmerising. Azo’s enthralled audiences from Sydney to New York since the late 1980s and we were thrilled to chat with him. We also talk story with another uke legend in the form of Englishman Andy Eastwood and introduce you to up-and-comer Alexandra Fisher from US band Alex And The XO’s. Jim Beloff takes his rightful place in the Hall Of Fame and I teach you how to do the versatile triplet strum. We also take a tour of Beltona Resonator Instruments and find out what happened to the Beltona Tiny Tim was playing when he collapsed at his last gig…

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amazing azo

IN 2004,the inaugural Ukulele Land concert was held at the historic Bondi Pavilion in Sydney.I was invited to perform alongside a bunch of players,including Azo Bell,who I’d never met before.Like everybody else in the room that day,I was astonished by his original,eclectic set.Fast-forward 14 years and Azo’s still exploring the myriad musical possibilities of the uke and leaving audiences spellbound. “Promoters tended to be open to the uke because it was novel and fun” Hello, Azo! What’s your earliest uke-related memory? Somehow I already knew what a ukulele was when I heard Peter Deane Butcher make wonderful music on one with the Hokum-On-Somble in the mid-1970s. In ’84, I inherited my grandmother’s Kumalae. I kept it by my bed and occasionally played a few notes on it when I awoke. Who taught you? I’ve had…

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NEW Zealander Steve Evans is one of the originals – a brilliant luthier who started building ukuleles in the dark days before the Third Wave. His metal-bodied resonators were a match for acclaimed vintage National ukes and he’s since enjoyed great success with his innovative fibreglass instruments. How did you come up with the company name? The name came from the old Decca Scottish dance music 78 label. I used to have a few of them and I’d always liked the sound of the word – and its descriptive qualities fit the instruments made by us. Why resonators? In 1990, I started a partnership in the UK with Bill Johnson to make reproductions of National Resonator instruments that were produced in the US from the late 1920s, through the ’30s and in to the…

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triple trouble

THE strumming technique I’m most often asked about is the triplet. I use it a lot in my own playing and it’s always well received. While it looks – and sounds – rather fancy, the mechanics are actually quite simple. As I tell my students, I can only explain the way I do it. Others may have different ideas, which is fine – there’s usually more than one way to achieve the desired result. Unsurprisingly, the triplet is composed of three parts. It begins with a down stroke with the nail of the forefinger. Next, the pad (or fleshy part) of the thumb follows – also a down stroke. Finally, the nail of the thumb comes up. So, at its heart, it’s D-D-U. But there’s more to it than that. How you go…

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alexandra fisher of alex and the xo’s

UP-AND-COMING artist Alexandra Fisher represents a new breed of uke player. For perhaps the first time in a generation, we’re seeing young men and women who are choosing the ukulele as a primary instrument, not because they feel an affinity with a bygone era, but simply because they like the sound and its musical potential. Alexandra and her band Alex And The XO’s are out there on the frontlines. What drew you to the ukulele? When I was in my first year of college in 2009, I’d tote my crappy acoustic guitar from class to class. The uke helped me sweat less during each walk! But really, when I picked up the uke as a complete beginner, I loved that I could make pretty sounds easily and the chords sounded so happy…

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andy eastwood

Do you remember your first interaction with the ukulele? When I was a tiny tot – maybe one or two years old – we’d go around to my grandad’s house and he’d play old vaudeville songs on the uke. That’s how far back my love of the uke goes; my earliest memory! And I was fascinated by it. As a child, I’d sing along while he played. Grandad died when I was six, but just before he did he bought me a cheap uke. It’s always been there. What did the Oxford examiners think when you turned up with a uke? And what did you play? I have to give them credit for letting me do the first-ever uke recital for my finals. Not only was it the first time anyone had played…