Sunday, February 6, 2011

It's a four string happiness machine ...

The Ukulele ... said to mean "jumping flea" in Hawaiian.

The instrument, introduced to the Hawaiian islands by Portuguese immigrants in the 19th century, is undergoing a renaissance. According to a Time Magazine article Hohner Inc., which manufactures the Lanikai brand of ukuleles, saw sales shoot up 300% in 2010.

Why the sudden popularity? Well Hohner's research shows that during the Great Depression, only two instruments showed year-on-year increases in sales: the harmonica and the ukulele, both cheap, compact and easy to learn. History is repeating itself!

Forget everything you know about the ukulele — there, that was easy — and go do a quick Google search. The first video that pops up won't be some grainy clip of Tiny Tim or George Formby but a performance by a hair-gelled 34-year-old Hawaiian named Jake Shimabukuro. In 2006, the ukulele virtuoso's jaw-dropping rendition of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" hit YouTube and went viral, pulling in more than 7 million viewers.

I even noticed a poster for a Ukulele Orchestra in my local stationery store! I don't have one but one of the savages here on the Island does ... maybe I should give it a go!

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