All Things Ukulele: Summer of uke


That was ROCKABILLY ROUSTABOUT, performed by Ukulele Hunt's own Woodshed. I've had nothing but Rockabillly on my mind for days.

This has been a pretty big week for me. I have my first ever performance in a bar with the Alice Chalmers and the Stick a Cork in Your Jug band tucked under my skirt; but ever since I’ve emerged from the smoky haze of Locals Only last Friday night, I’ve had nothing but Rockabilly music on my mind.

I am a girl who was pretty much raised on Rockabilly music. From my dad playing his guitar and serenading me with his own version of SHORTENIN' BREAD to countless music shows and Grand Ole Opry visits that frequently highlighted a rockabilly legend or two, I was pretty much brought up on the bounce and rhythm and twang of hillbilly rock and roll. Then there was the time when we were in Jr. High School and my friend Lori and I went to a rockabilly reunion show in South Bend with our mothers. Completely thrilled by the music, I sprung from my seat in the balcony and proceeded to bounce around. My mother, clutching her pocket book in one hand, swiftly pulled me down with the other, giving me a tight lipped nod of disapproval. Our antics were glimpsed from the stage by none other than Mr. Carl Perkins, who threw a look our way and declared: “That’s alright, little darlin’, you just go right ahead and dance!” My mother was powerless against his hillbilly sensibilities, and Carl Perkins became one of my childhood heroes.

I have good reason to be raving about Rockabilly music right now. This week is going to be a big week for rockabilly fans in the Indianapolis area. Thanks to The Blue Stone Folk School, New Orleans-based band, Michael Hurtt and His Haunted Hearts will be playing a one-night only event at the Noble Coffee and Tea Co. in Noblesville. Mike is an old friend of mine, and he is an amazing force. Before the Haunted Hearts came into being, he had another band called The Royal Pendletons. They were sort of a garage/surf-punk band. They made it to Indy once, touring with Sloppypalooza, after the Indianapolis band Sloppy Seconds met Mike's band on tour. It seems my Indy friends in bands have a way of meeting and befriending Mike Hurtt when they go to New Orleans. Vulgar Boatmen’s Dale Lawrence did the same a few years ago. Among other things, Mike has also toured Europe as the bassist with the Panther Burns. But, his love of authentic roots music finally lead him to form The Haunted Hearts. It's been said that the band is single-handedly responsible for resurrecting the original New Orleans brand of hillbilly music. That sort of stuff is music to my ears.

Their album, Come Back to Louisiana was recorded in Memphis, when band members were exiled from their city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. That’s the sort of stuff that makes a guy like Mike legendary—in New Orleans, where he is a fixture, and everywhere else he happens to go. After Thursday’s show, I am pretty sure he’ll become a legend in Noblesville as well.

COME BACK TO LOUISIANA, Michael Hurtt and His Haunted Hearts

To celebrate this reunion with a long lost friend, and our mutual love of hillbilly/rockabilly music, I’ve decided to devote this blog to Rockabilly Uke. Considering the versatility of the ukulele, it comes as no surprise that Rockabilly is a natural fit, with its simple chord progressions and bouncy rhythm. And, you know that I’m going to tell you that no one does Rockabilly Uke better than my favorite uker, Gus Raucous—GUGUG on YouTube. Here he is giving an Indiana Bushman ukulele a workout with LONEOME TEARS IN MY EYES, originally recorded by the Johnny Burnette Trio.

Everyone knows that Rockabilly hit its peak around 1958, thanks to Elvis and Sun Records. The music had broad-reaching impact, even influencing the Beatles early music. The current Rockabilly revival started waaay back when I was a kid in the 1980s, thanks to Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats. And I think there’s nothing better than a little Stray Cats tune played on a uke.

Here's a uker who calls himself AcousticMonster playing Buddy Holly’s THAT'LL BE THE DAY on ukulele. Ignore the fact that he's playing in linen closet, and that he is an excessive talker. I nearly axed this clip because of all the chatter, but he does a darn good job with the song.

The best gift that Rockabilly brings is spontaneity. It’s the kind of music that just comes over a person every now and then, and it’s always wise to have a uke on hand for such emergencies. This guy and his dog named Elvis are making quite a work of Carl Perkin’s Blue Suede Shoes.

While peeking around for some good examples of Rockabilly ukulele players, I stumbled on Danny Ducktail. He’s a great performer—and he really demonstrates how well suited the ukulele is to Rockabilly music.

I like Danny so much, I couldn’t choose just one song. Here’s I’M GONE:

Just to keep your enthusiasm piqued till Thursday, here’s one more great Haunted Hearts Clip.


WHAT: Michael Hurtt and His Haunted Hearts with Special Guests Patchwork

WHERE: The Noble Coffee and Tea Co., 933 Logan Street, Noblesville

WHEN: Thursday, September 2, 7-9 PM

HOW MUCH? Ten bucks. Students $5.

PS They serve beer.

WHAT ELSE: PATHCWORK STRING BAND, features Miss Holly Smith, who also plays fiddle with Alice Chalmers and the Stick a Cork in Your Jug Band, will be opening for the Haunted Hearts. That's just another reason for you to be there.


Don’t miss the next uke meet up this Saturday at the Sam Ash store in Castleton. Bring your uke and a song. If you don’t have a uke but want to see what it’s all about, come anyway. The fun starts at 10AM and goes till noon. I will see you there.


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