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Ken Middleton, ukulele player
May 16, 2010 8:03 PM   Subscribe

There are a lot of ukulele players covering well known songs on the internet but my favorite is Ken Middleton, a man in his late fifties from Northern England. Here are some of his videos: I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Just Like Heaven, Wild Horses and After the Goldrush. But he specializes in Leonard Cohen covers, even teaching a lesson on how to play Cohen songs on the ukulele. Here are three of my favorites: Take This Waltz, So Long, Marianne and Sisters of Mercy. He also asks and answers the question, what would Mmmbop sound like if it had been written by Leonard Cohen for the ukulele.
posted by Kattullus (33 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
He also has a personal website with mp3s and details about his ukulele collection.
posted by Kattullus at 8:04 PM on May 16, 2010


For ukulele covers, I've always enjoyed this anonymous artist, singing "I'm Yours".
posted by onalark at 8:09 PM on May 16, 2010 [12 favorites]


Oh, snap! Ken Middleton is handily shown up by the young man in onalark's link.
posted by snofoam at 8:12 PM on May 16, 2010


His "Sisters of Mercy" cover is lovely - thanks for this.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:19 PM on May 16, 2010


He truly rocks. To achieve parity with Jagger and Gram Parsons on the Stones' best song, humbling.
posted by unSane at 8:39 PM on May 16, 2010


Thanks for posting; this is really gorgeous.
posted by lalex at 8:42 PM on May 16, 2010


Nice.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:07 PM on May 16, 2010


It's settled, I'm buying a uke and taking up singing. Neighbors be damned!
posted by waxboy at 9:14 PM on May 16, 2010


what would Mmmbop sound like if it had been written by Leonard Cohen for the ukulele.

A question which has haunted me for years. Thanks for settling it. Finally.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:18 PM on May 16, 2010


OK, alright, onalark's child prodigy link has won my heart, and when that little guy improvises, it's even better. He's a natural-born performer, no two ways about it. I am an instant true fan.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:25 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I figure this is the place to share two of my favorite ukulele performances. One from Jake Shimabukuro who first amazed me with a ukulele, and a nice group effort captured by Lauren Zettler that just has a certain something to it.
posted by Lafe at 10:37 PM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


The question of "What would MMMBop sound like if Leonard Cohen had written it for ukulele?" is one that I had no idea needed to be answered until I saw the answer.
posted by naturalog at 10:45 PM on May 16, 2010


The Mmmbop link made my day! thank you so much for that.
posted by shinybaum at 12:19 AM on May 17, 2010


Thank-fucking-god it's not another teenage hipster girl. Hell, he eats them for lunch.
posted by sourwookie at 12:21 AM on May 17, 2010


System of a Down on Uke ... this one is killer live
posted by yoHighness at 1:25 AM on May 17, 2010


onalark, that little guy is A. Ma. Zing. His While My Guitar Gently Weeps instrumental is brilliant.

But how anyone can mention the ukulele without bring up the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is beyond me. Shaft!
posted by brokkr at 1:42 AM on May 17, 2010


Not to mention that DJ Tom Middleton has collaborated with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on, amongst other things, a ukulele covers song (amongst other things).
posted by MuffinMan at 4:05 AM on May 17, 2010


I bought a baritone ukulele a couple months ago. Unlike soprano, concert and tenor ukes (which are strung higher), it has the sound and fingering of the top four strings of a regular acoustic guitar. I'm really enjoying learning how to play it. Here's some advantages I've found that make the uke a better instrument (for me) than a regular guitar: it's smaller, lighter, and easier to hold and much easier to transport. It's less complex: with four strings the chord fingerings are simpler. Being smaller and simpler, they are markedly less expensive than guitars, too. A good (and that's good, not "good") uke will run you $100-$200; a price that would net you a piece-of-crap level guitar. With a price like that, even if you're not sure you'll love it, you can get an excellent instrument that won't limit you when you're learning.

And, you know, there's nothing quite like being 6'4" and rocking out with a uke. People notice you....
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:10 AM on May 17, 2010


Sweet Lord that Shaft cover is amazing!
posted by flippant at 5:59 AM on May 17, 2010


This was a surprise. Beautiful. Thank you.
posted by quarterframer at 6:45 AM on May 17, 2010


Oh man, Shaft, was great. Now, I am in thrall to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
posted by jadepearl at 7:53 AM on May 17, 2010


Oh, god, I remember what happened the last time there was a ukulele post.

And seanmpuckett, I'm 6'5" and rock this sweetness.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:55 AM on May 17, 2010


I've learned quite a few songs from the free tabs on his site including his arrangement for Wildwood Flower which is now a part of my repertoire. Also, his uke reviews helped me pick out a new soprano a few years ago. Yay for Ken!
posted by cazoo at 8:05 AM on May 17, 2010


Yay ukuleles!

The Mmmbop clip gave me goosebumps.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:50 AM on May 17, 2010


Dead Flowers has always been my favorite...
posted by Vulpyne at 9:46 AM on May 17, 2010


Vulpyne, we did that (with me on the aforementioned sweetness) at the DC Cortexapalooza last fall.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:31 AM on May 17, 2010


Truly awesome, MrMoonPie. I think I am more likely to go electric next time, but I am in no real rush. Except for a just discovered desperate need to write my own stomp box iPhone app. DAMMIT.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:02 AM on May 17, 2010


Yes, I do like his Mmmbop, a lot. And I really do like this new ukulele rage that's going around.

Here are some of my other performer preferences:

While my ukulele gently weeps - Performed by Jake Shimabukuro. Him playing Let's Dance.

Eleanor Rigby by Taimane Gardner, her channel.

Do you believe in magic? by Julia Nunes. Her channel.

As for Korean finger plucking child prodigies, my fave is Sungha Jung.
posted by nickyskye at 11:43 AM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Julia Nunes is achingly fun to watch and listen to. Some favorites:

John Legend - It Don't Have To Change
The Beatles - All My Loving
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:12 PM on May 17, 2010


I'm totally digging me some clawhammer ukulele.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:44 AM on May 18, 2010


Looking forward to listening to these later. I love me some ukes and some Leonard Cohen.

Unlike soprano, concert and tenor ukes (which are strung higher), it has the sound and fingering of the top four strings of a regular acoustic guitar.

FYI, these all have the same fingering as the top four strings of a guitar.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:33 AM on May 18, 2010


I can't believe no one has mentioned Danielle Ate the Sandwich yet. She does great covers, such as "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (sitting in front of an open fridge), "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and "I Get Ideas (When We Are Dancing)" by Louis Armstrong; as well as her own choons, "Canada", "El Paso", and "Goodbye Frankie" (on a baritone ukulele, @seanmpuckett). Is this "another teenage hipster girl" to which you were referring, @sourwookie?

@flapjax at midnite: speaking of clawhammer, you should check out "Railroad Bill" by ackeim.
posted by domeheid at 3:31 PM on May 19, 2010


Last night, my almost-15-year-old daughter proudly showed me the blister on her strumming thumb. I bought her a nice little soprano uke Saturday, and she's been playing it non-stop since then. She does have guitar experience, but this is the first time I've seen her truly amped about an instrument.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:25 AM on May 26, 2010


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