ʻUkulele Resources: A Selection

Aloha Dear Readers! I am a historian. I love sources. So here is another list of some notable resources about ‘ukulele. Some resources.

1. Websites

Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum. A nonprofit organization founded in 1996 and dedicated to preserving ukulele history. The website includes profiles of 19 inductees to date, and a cool “Reference Desk” section with many images of methods books, sheet music, and ukulele instruments.

Nalu Music Ukulele Arcade. The site assembled by the late John King, musician, recording artist, historian and author. It is rich in historical tidbits on ukulele manufacture, and wonderful essays.

‘Ukulele Guild of Hawai‘i. Begun as a gathering of independent luthiers, this organization holds regular exhibitions & conferences.

Flea Market Music, Inc. Jim & Liz Beloff publish ‘ukulele methods and songbooks, and offer two lines of modest-priced instruments, the Flea and the Fluke. The online store is an emporium, and the siteʻs collection of links is extensive and international in reach.

Ukuleles by Kawika, Inc. Numerous resources for luthiers, and for identifying vintage instruments.

2. History of the ‘Ukulele

“A New History of the Origins and Development of the ‘Ukulele, 1838-1915.” This essay by John King and Jim Tranquada was published in the Hawaiian Journal of History in 2003.

Jim Beloff, The Ukulele: A Visual History (Backbeat Books, 2003). Covers history of the instrument, vintage sheet music, players through the decades, and assorted tidbits.






Daniel Dixon with Dixie Dixon and Jayne McKay, Ukulele: The Worldʻs Friendliest Instrument (Gibb Smith, 2011). This just out. Similar to Beloff in scope, celebrating the ukuleleʻs current global popularity.




3. Documentary Films

Rock That Uke, directed by William Preston Robertson & Sean Anderson (Bald Guy With A Dent In His Head Productions, 2003).  A glimpse into the ukulele subculture in the punk and post-punk scenes.

The Jumping Flea: Tales of the Modern Ukulele, directed by Paul Kraus (North Pacific Productions, 2006). “An artful exploration of the ukulele,” with interviews with ukulele makers and performers.

The Mighty Uke: The Amazing Comeback of a Musical Underdog, by Tony Coleman and Margaret Meagher (Tiny Grant Films, 2010). “A documentary about the global resurgence of the ukulele in the 21st century, filmed in Canada, the US, England, France, Israel, New Zealand and Japan.”

4. Anthology CDs

Legends of Ukulele. Various Artists. Rhino R2 75278, 1998. Produced by Jim Beloff. Performers include Roy Smeck, George Formby, Arthur Godfrey, Eddie Bush, The Kalima Brothers, Nelson Waikiki, Eddie Kamae, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Ka‘au Crater Boys, Ian Whitcomb, Lyle Ritz.


Legends of the Ukulele. Various Artists. HanaOla HOCD 54000, 2003). In contrast to Rhino’s international coverage of players, the two volumes produced by HanaOla Records focus on Hawai‘i-based performers such as Jesse Kalima, Eddie Kamae, Eddie Bush, Ohta-San, Kimo Hussey, Benny Chong, Imua Garza, and Jake Shimabukuro.


Legends of the Ukulele 2. HanaOla HOCD 99000, 2008. Moe Keale is the elder figure on this CD populated otherwise by current players such as Troy Fernandez, Jon Yamasato, Brittni Paiva, Bryan Tolentino, Daniel Baduria, and David Kamakahi.





With My Little Ukulele In Hand. Various Artists. Properbox Records.  This four-CD set surveys ‘ukulele across time and geography. CD 1 focuses on early 20th-century Hawaiian performers playing Hawaiian songs. CD 2 showcases American performer Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards performing popular American song standards. The lion’s share of CD 3 is the British performer George Formby. CD 4 features headliners from popular music and jazz, such as Jimmie Rogers, Louis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby.

© 2011 Amy Ku‘uleialoha Stillman. All rights reserved.

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