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A Little Ukulele Goes a Long Way

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Who knew that the lowly, little ukulele would have such a following? Last night, LAist – along with a few hundred uke aficionados -- caught a few of the diverse musical acts at the Southern California Ukulele Showcase. And now we know that the instrument that gets no respect is so much more than just Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe through the Tulips.”

Held at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown LA and hosted by KPFK 90.7’s Ali Lexa, the showcase kicked off the museum’s 1st & Central Summer Concerts. Last night we heard (and loved) the Bilgewater Brothers’ – a bona fide vaudeville act –old school jazz. Check out the uke player’s “eefing” (making mouthsounds that mimic a muted trumpet) in this video:

Or how about the Betty Boop like movements of singer Claudia Rose (but her killer voice makes up for it):

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We also watched the frenetic King Kukulele (a Haole from Buena Park) perform traditional Hawaiian music as if he were on speed:

We left before we could see the traditional Hawaiian music of Makena or Daniel Ho, but the showcase already opened our eyes and ears to the potential of the instrument. Hey, if you can have a violin-hip-hop mashup, then why not add a little ukulele to our daily dose of rock'n'roll?

But then again, maybe we'll just settle for Jake Shimabakuro's version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."