Tag Archives ukulele

These Celebrities Rock out on the Guitar or Ukulele in Their Spare Time

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These celebrities rock out on the guitar or Ukulele in their spare time. Celebrities are in some ways, just like you. Well, apart from the invites to the Academy Awards, marrying Princes, and trying to smuggle monkeys into Germany; looking at you Mr. Bieber.

One thing they do have in common with regular folk, is spare time, especially during the last year. Once the pandemic arrived in 2020, millions of people were unable to work, including actors and filmmakers. For regular folk, this meant staying at home mostly, and trying to find some way to keep entertained and busy.

Many people went online to look for movies and TV shows to watch, some played more games, and others decided to learn how to cook. One other hobby that many people started was learning to play an instrument.

Ukulele and guitar sales surged during the pandemic as people went online to purchase a new instrument to learn at home. It wasn’t just regular people either, many actors and celebs have also found pleasure in playing these instruments. 

Why the ukulele?

Person playing ukulele

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels

George Formby was one of the first people to bring the ukulele to worldwide attention. He did this through comedy, singing, and the cinema where he amassed a string of hits. He was at one point the highest-paid entertainer in the UK, and his movies were a hit throughout the world.

Since then, it could be said that ukuleles have not been seen as being quite as cool as guitars. However, many musicians understand the appeal of the ukulele, and musicians such as Johnny Marr and Billie Eilish are both notable players.

While it is perhaps more understandable that many people would gravitate towards buying a guitar, the ukulele has much appeal and is also easier to learn.

Musical apps such as Chordify allow anyone to pick up ukulele chords very easily and learn new songs. It is these types of internet resources, plus the low price of a ukulele, that are making learning music so popular now.

So who are these celebrities who like to chill out with their ukulele? 

Ryan Gosling

This Hollywood name has already shown he has a talent for music and dance after performing in La La Land, and Blue Valentine. The former movie won Mr. Gosling the 2017 Best Actor at the Oscars, but the latter movie revealed a secret talent.

In Blue Valentine, Ryan Gosling’s character, Dean, seeks to woo Cindy, played by Michelle Williams. In one scene, Dean plays Love at First Sight for Cindy on his ukulele while she dances in a shop doorway.

This might be just a scene in a movie, but when Gosling appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show he took out his uke and played the song again for the audience. If you need any more proof of Gosling’s musical credentials you can check out his band, Dead Man’s Bones. 

Dwayne Johnson

Yes, that’s right. Man mountain, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays the ukulele. Picture a really big man, who is literally walking muscle, holding what looks like a tiny guitar, singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Wait, you don’t have to imagine it, because the power of the internet means you can watch it right here

Tony Danza

The former star of Who’s The Boss loves nothing more than whipping out what he refers to as his secret weapon. Tony Danza has been playing the ukulele for years, and has played multiple times on talk shows such as The Rosie Show, but also on tour.

Danza who has starred on Broadway as well as TV and cinema has a band that regularly tours the country impressing people with his ukulele skills. 

Marilyn Monroe

Before her mysterious and untimely death, Marilyn Monroe enjoyed what might be for some, a surprising hobby. Although she practiced and posed for publicity shots with the ukulele, she wasn’t quite good enough for Hollywood, and her uke scene in Some Like it Hot was sadly faked. 

Is the guitar cooler?

White stratocaster guitar

Photo by Gustavo Borges on Pexels

For many, the electric guitar is the epitome of cool when it comes to playing an instrument. Ear-splitting solos, rocking out on stage, and filling up stadiums, are all linked to ax playing.

However, many musicians have found time for both. Billie Eilish might be pioneering a new wave of pop music, but she also has her own ukulele for sale now from Fender. Eddie Vedder released a whole album with only a ukulele and no guitar. 

So, is the guitar cooler than a ukulele? These celebrities might think so. 

Steve Martin

The legendary comedian is also an accomplished musician. As well as playing the guitar on stage in his comedy act and with the band, Steep Canyon Rangers, he can play a number of other instruments.

Martin is a highly skilled mandolin and upright bass player, as well as the banjo. It is the latter instrument that has won him many Grammys for his skills. 

Ricky Gervais

Another comedian who has used the guitar as part of his act, but also enjoys playing it for musical pleasure. Before finding fame with David Brent and the Office, Gervais tried his hand at music.

The short-lived Seona Dancing was a new-wave band in England that didn’t see much success, except in the Philippines where they became a huge hit. Later Gervais managed the UK band Suede, before taking his guitar and incorporating it into his comedy and acting. 

Actors who have guitar bands

For some celebrities, it isn’t just enough to play the guitar for fun, they need to have their own band too.

Johnny Depp, Jared Leto, and Keannu Reeves have all at one time had their own bands and recorded music. They have played live, and enjoyed some…err…success.

Jack Black has long made guitar playing and singing part of his life and his act. Part tribute band, part comedy, part rock, Tenacious D have actually enjoyed some hits and even their own movie. Black is probably the most successful crossover from acting to music, or is it the other way around?

Kevin Bacon is also an accomplished musician who plays with his Emmy-winning brother, Michael, in the Bacon Brothers. They have a long history of performing and recording albums.  

And some who went a different way

For some actors, the ukulele had no appeal, and even the guitar wasn’t cool enough. Perhaps these three actors decided they had enough of the limelight with filming, and they would prefer to be at the back of the stage where their music could speak for itself.

Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle, Christopher Mintz-Plasse from KickAss, and The Flash himself – Ezra Miller, all enjoy nothing more than getting behind a drum kit and belting out a solo. 

Conclusion

If you see yourself as Adam Sandler wooing Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates, then maybe try the ukulele. As a gateway instrument, it is hard to beat. Learning a chord ukulele these days is easy with online apps and resources, and the instruments themselves are affordable.

Alternatively, rock out like Russel Crowe on the guitar, and join the millions of other people who are taking up this instrument. Choosing either of these instruments doesn’t just mean you are joining an army of actors and musicians, you will be enjoying the sheer pleasure of making music.

By the way, Ryan Gosling also plays guitar, because of course, he does.

Read more celebrity articles at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by Flickr, Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay & Creative Commons

Bands Interviewing Bands: Juliet K & Lake Lady

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Bands Interviewing Bands is one of my absolute favorite features to conduct and to read, and the reason is simple: there’s nothing quite like two artists interviewing one another. They understand each other in a way that only an artist can, and they come up with compelling, vibrant questions that allow us the deepest insight into their careers and their personalities—who they are at heart. Our latest installment finds Brooklyn songstress Juliet K and Bay Area’s Lake Lady interviewing one another about their respective music scenes, the stigma of the ukulele, and their songwriting process. Check it out below.
Lake Lady: Where are you living in Brooklyn? Are you from there?
Juliet: I live in Williamsburg/East Williamsburg, but I’ve only been here for three years. I’m originally from the lower Hudson valley, in a small suburb outside of NYC.

Juliet: How did you end up in the Bay Area?
Lake Lady: My husband and I are nomadic spirits. We’d started our relationship after a month-long national tour in a band by moving to Austin, TX. After 3 years there, we were yearning for something new and wanted to be closer to family. In the fall of 2014, we got married in Southern California where both of us have relatives and decided it was time to return to the West Coast. Long before we knew each other, both of us had visited the Bay Area briefly and liked it, so I did some research and we opted for Oakland. It seemed like a happy medium between East and West Coast vibes. Now that I’m here, I realize it has a vibe and culture all its own and we absolutely love it.
Juliet: What does your local music scene look like? 
Lake Lady: We’ve only been here a year, but I can say that it is rich and diverse and growing (partly because of artists getting priced out of SF – although, people are starting to have to move farther and farther out here in Oakland, too. But we’re fighting to stay!). There’s a great sense of community here and activism, all of which filters into the art. There is a rich history of blues, jazz, hip hop, spoken word. There’s rock, folk, electronica, world music, soul, RnB, you name it. I love going to the practice spaces here and listening to all the different sounds coming from our city.
Lake Lady: What was your recording process like?
Juliet: It was strange but cool! There were two elements to it—most of the recording happened in six days when me and four guys who played very multipurpose roles as instrumentalists/engineers/producers were holed up in a house with a recording setup that Paul Johnson, the primary engineer, brought. The rest was done in scattered sessions with Kevin Blackler in Brooklyn. It was really incredible in some ways because the people I was working with were so wonderful and the material really evolved, but it was also very intense.

Juliet: What was your recording process like? Did it change your understanding of the songs at all?
Lake Lady: I wouldn’t say my understanding of my songs changed with this project because I recorded and produced the songs myself first and found someone who was onboard for my vision. But with “Will Your Feelings Change?” Midnite Tiger produced that one on his own. I had a hook and when we met, I wrote a keys part in the room and he just ran with it. That was our first collaboration and it was such a breeze that we decided to do a whole EP and add four more of my songs to the mix!
For all of the other songs, Midnite Tiger imported my home recordings, remixed them, and we re-recorded my vocals in his studio in the Oakland Music Complex. We’d only have a couple hours in the morning before the metal bands would come in and drown us out so we had to work fast. It was fun.
Lake Lady: How did you select which two songs to have available for streaming?
Juliet: I picked “Live With Me” as a first single to release because it’s probably the most upbeat on the album, and the most classic alt-folk song, and I think it’s pretty catchy and fun for the kind of music I make. I picked“Nebulous Space” in part because I feel really pleased with how it turned out, but also because it’s pretty different than the first single. Very different mood.

Lake Lady: What can we expect from the rest of the album?
Juliet: It’s a pretty diverse thing! I think what’s most consistent across the board is the themes and lyricism. This album definitely has a sense of imagism really grounded in place. Also none of the released songs so far have ukulele on them, which a handful of the ones on the album do.
Lake Lady: Awesome, uke players unite!
Juliet: Maybe this is just my experience, but I feel like there’s sometimes a stigma against the uke as not a serious instrument, when obviously it’s an instrument with a long tradition of incredible musicianship. I think this is in part a gendered thing, that it’s become seen as feminine and undervalued as such. I obviously love it though; I think it has a really wonderful quality of its own. What’s your relationship to the uke? What made you gravitate towards it and how do you think you use it?
Lake Lady: My first show with the ukulele someone asked me what I instrument I was playing. I told them ukulele and they said, “Yeah I thought you said that. I didn’t realize that was a real instrument – it sounded great!” So yes, there is most certainly a stigma around ukuleles and, I’ve discovered, accordions, too! I’m not sure what the joke is with accordions, but with ukuleles I think it’s the size and the fact that the soprano and sopranissimo models, which are the ones that most people are familiar with, are used in music education just because they are easier for little ones to hold. Ukulele is also used in children’s music, I think because of the joyful nature of its sound. So these are the things that people associate with it, even musicians.

Juliet: How do you place yourself in a genre?
Lake Lady: I’ve never been one to fit into a box in society. My music is the same. It’s always a hybrid of a lot of things and my ultimate goal is to carve out my own sound. Within that though, I think my songs generally have a pop like structure with leanings in different directions, depending on what I’m working on. This EP is a soulful singer-songwriter sound with electronica infused beats.
Follow Juliet K (for fans of: Sharon Van Etten, Julia Holter)
Pre-Order Album / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Follow Lake Lady (for fans of: Massive Attack, Portishead)
Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pre-Order ‘Better Day’
Read more Music News on ClicheMag.com

Bands Interviewing Bands: Juliet K and Lake Lady. Photo credit: Andrew Piccone on Juliet K (left) Photo credit: Nye’ Lyn Tho on Lake Lady (right)