This is absolutely my new favorite group. I immediately searched out their website and purchased their debut album. First of all their music is precisely my favorite type of music (at least at this time). As stated on their bio, “They specialise in obscure and wonderful 1920s/30s jazz, Tin Pan Alley songs and traditional Hawaiian music, performed with a skill and authenticity that is rare today.” I couldn’t agree more. As I listen while I write this I’m absolutely giddy. I just want to jump up and shout, “Finally, someone gets it right.” What a treat to listen to.
From their bio, “Chris The Ukulele Uff & Lonesome Dave Trio is comprised of Chris ‘Ukulele’ Uff on ukulele, ‘Lonesome’ Dave Searson on guitar and ‘Brother’ Bill Leach on Hawaiian guitar.” It seems Ukulele Uff and Dave Searson the guitarist met in school in Liverpool (seems like some other group came from there) and played together in various project with Uff playing bass and Dave on drums or guitar. Now I’d like to have heard that rhythm section. It’s obvious these guys have played together awhile. They’re tighter than my old Levis.4pg DigipackLet me say that Dave’s guitar playing is exceptional. His rhythm is steady and moves with purpose and direction all the while functionally, if not tonally supplying, the bass part. His lead playing is also a joy to listen to…but it’s not great guitar playing that makes this group unique. Indeed the world seems filled with great guitarist.
In 2014 they teamed up with ‘Brother Bill Leach.’ I don’t know how this happened but fate or divine intervention must have had a hand in this union. Brother Bill is exceptional on the metal resophonic lap steel guitar. But once again…I’ve heard lots of super lap steel/dobro players.
And that brings us to Ukulele Uff. Let me quote from the bio again, “When Uff discovered the ukulele there was no stopping him. He practised day and night for years developing his own original style, until he felt ready to unleash his talents upon the world.” His wood shedding paid off. His style while playing his soprano somewhat reminds me of Roy Smeck. I first discovered this group on video versus audio and let me tell you his rhythm playing and flying fingers definitely fit the flea jumping definition while playing rhythm and chord melody…and then he’ll break into an up tempo finger picking lead and manage to keep the drive going. To me it’s Ukulele Uff’s soprano ukulele playing that sets this group apart and makes them unique, and after all, this is a ukulele site.
I could only find one CD, which I purchased as a download, titled “The Ukulele Uff and Lonesome Dave Trio Featuring brother Bill on Hawaiian Guitar.”
Their album is about half and half instrumentals and songs with vocals. As a vocalist, it’s the songs with vocals that I enjoy most…I think, though the instrumentals are so good I may vacillate on that depending on what I’m listening to at the moment. I think it’s that the songs with vocals make me feel I’ve stepped into the 1920s on a ukulele driven time machine that really makes them stand out.
I’m going to end this effusive review with their youtube video of “Crazy Words, Crazy Tune” to give you and idea of why this group really caught my attention. I hope they make it across the big pond someday. I might be the first one in line if they ever play somewhere within driving distance.