Archive | January, 2018

Mama Juju & The Jam Tarts

Mama Juju & The Jam Tarts embrace their inner girl power with quirky songs, big personalities and sweet harmonies. They easily slide across musical genres from folk to country, jazz, rock and blues. Their sassy and sometimes funny original songs have been well received at Festival performances and via the radio airwaves. A Mama Juju & The Jam Tarts concert is like a box of chocolates- you never quite know what you are going to get next! Mama Juju & The Jam Tarts know how to entertain and always create a fun, upbeat vibe whenever they hit the stage. They have recorded two CDs “Titbits” and “Ukulele Mama”


The Power of Visuals in Music

When working on a number of new projects in recent times, I am increasingly aware of the importance of great visuals in music and especially in music promotion. This visual dimension is one of those elusive obvious considerations that often gets missed by both artists and promoters.

As the old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words” 

I actually suspect that visuals may be even more impactful that that!

YouTube in promoting music

As well as using great photographs, video has become king in the world of communication. YouTube in particular is a major platform for artists and in the era of sound and vision on the move, people are far more likely to watch a short video that read an article.

YouTube actually added 500 million users between 2012 and 2017 which is an indication of how music is increasingly consumed in this way. In setting up the OUS platform we decided that video should be central on artist’s pages.

For my own band The Small Change Diaries, we decided to invest in video for the Birdman track from our second album. The video actually pre dated the La La Land movie, and interestingly had a similar wonderful dance sequence between Kier Brown and Amy Hamilton filmed in the record store. Ink Blot films did a great job

This video was a huge amount of work, but to date has attracted some good attention. As the old saying goes

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”

The Importance of using great photos

All smart artists and promoters appreciate the value of using great photographs. This often means good investment in hiring somebody who can do this professionally to get the best results. I’m constantly amazed  at how many artists and promoters use really sub standard photographs on websites and in promotions.

Here are some of my favorite photographs taken by Karen Turner 

Visual impact with record covers

Record companies have of course always known about the importance of a great visual image and many artists have classic album artwork. Classic covers include the Clash’s London Calling cover, The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers cover, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Andy Warhol’s famous graphic for the first Velvet Underground cover. These have become iconic images which of course work far better visually as vinyl album covers than as much smaller CD covers.

Collectable Music Visuals

Much of the work from photographers during 1960s and 1970s who took photos of classic artists is now highly collectable and a great investment. Genesis Book Publications specializes in very high quality books of such photographers. Once an artist dies the material becomes even more valuable. One example is for David Bowie’s artwork. The Speed of Life book is fully subscribed – see and can now be worth 500% more than the original retail price for the 2000 limited edition run.

Original prints of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and in more recent time Bruce Springsteen are starting to be great investments. I suspect the photographers when they originally took these photos would be surprised at how sought after these items are.


The visual image for a musical artist is a key ingredient in getting attention, if you see what I mean?



Grace Kendall

Heartfelt singer/songwriter Grace Kendall got her start singing original songs inspired about the Harry Potter books as part of a scene called “wizard rock.” Through that community, she developed her skills as an engaging storyteller and as a thoughtful performer. Over the years she has cultivated a reputation for intimate performances, often sitting on the floor of various venues and leading audience singalongs that sometimes end in tears. Through unconventionally structured songs backed with powerful vocals, Grace has developed her own style and isn’t afraid to take the ukulele to dark, sad, or angry places, although she also quite enjoys the sound of hope. Whether exploring the themes of her favorite children’s books or just telling stories inspired by her real life, Grace Kendall is a musician with a lot to say.

She has several EPs and albums available online, which mostly feature ukulele with some occasional guitar thrown in for good measure:


The Nukes New Zealand

The Nukes from West Auckland Aotearoa are far more than a ukulele band. Part vaudeville, part rat-pack, part musical car crash, this talented trio deliver an engaging mix of humour and originality that audiences of all ages will love. The innocent little uke is the instrument of choice and people will be staggered by what the Nukes are able to achieve with it. Great songwriting, musicianship and 3-part harmony combine to create a truly memorable, entertaining experience



Chris DeGirolamo

DeG is an ukulele performer/Songwriter based in Atlanta, GA. He performs original songs and covers of pop songs, but also Hawaiian language songs at luaus and Polynesian festivals. His original music has appeared on 2 charity compilation CDs, Ukulele Underground United : Song Still Remains, and Ukulele Players United to Decrease World Suck, Volume 1.

He founded the Southeast Ukers ukulele club in 2009 which currently has over 450 members on it’s Facebook Group. He also is the organizer of Chattahoochelele, which is an annual ukulele event near Atlanta where a flotilla of innertube riding musicians drift down the Chattahoochee River playing their plastic ukuleles. The 2017 event expects upwards of 50 participants.

A multi-instrumentalist (bass, guitar, drums) he plays cajon in the ukulele reggae band Drop Ready, featuring Seeso and Greg Golden.

Follow DeG on Facebook:

Follow Drop Ready on Facebook:

Support Kiva microloans to help improve the lives folks in developing countries by downloading this CD or donating to the Kiva fund:

Proceeds from this Ukulele Underground compilation will benefit the Duchenne Foundation for boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy:


How best to develop ukulele skills?

There are many reasons why people enjoy and play music. Some people are happy to learn to  strum a few chords and there’s definitely a place for that. Others like group strum alongs which can be terrific social events. Many ukulele and other niche festivals can be social meet ups and places where people would rather jam that actually listen to seasoned performers. A major ukulele social media site ran a poll where only 22.8 % of those polled would attend an event to see experienced performers v 52.9 % would prefer to jam with friends. Online there are lots of people asking questions about how to develop skills and the advice can be at times “questionable” at best although well intentioned. Phil Doleman wrote a great article on this very subject here 

In the UK there’s a great interest in promoting ukulele festivals and festival style events with one happening almost every 3 weeks, often with the same core artists. Some of these events have workshop opportunities for learning usually in a 60 minute or 90 minute format. In the past these snapshots have been a lot of fun, but of course there’s only so much you can do in this limited period of time. Memorable ones to date include a claw hammer introduction from Aaron Klein and a rhythm workshop by Phil Doleman. My observation in recent years is that many workshops are not fully sold out even though the actual festival is fully subscribed. This again reconfirms that the festival format is often focused on social interactions rather than learning.

The more intensive learning retreat model is in my view a much better way to develop skills for the following reasons. Firstly those attending have committed a period of time (usually a weekend) solely to musical learning. This makes such events a real immersion process. I have personal experience of attending two wonderful Martin Simpson workshops. This would typically be for a maximum group size of 30 attendees. During this time, we each have a unique opportunity to ask questions and learn a huge amount about the technical aspects of learning but also many other aspects of performing. The frame of the learning environment means students can really forget about worldly activities and only focus on music.

In the UK Sorefingers  have ab excellent reputations for providing excellent learning for students. Both Phil Doleman and Percy Copley are teachers with this group. In June this year Matt Stead is providing a very welcome new learning initiative with a residential ukulele retreat that looks very well organized with some really excellent teachers. See

OUS is all about creating NEW ORIGINAL MUSIC. Musical education is a key element in making this possible and in my view investment in developing such skills is time well spent. We never stop learning and being in the company of music professionals is only going to help with that process.


Jane Cameron

Singer, songwriter and more… A prolific songwriter, Jane brings a darker approach to the ukulele than you might expect. Jane blends folk, blues and jazz influences to create a sound that is as captivating as it is hard to categorise. Ranging from catchy pop folk to dark moody blues, her songs are rich in narrative, building characters and stories that are both familiar and fresh, humorous and heart-breaking.


Haji Basim

Haji Basim is a multi instrumentalist, singer songwriter, and producer. His refreshing and innovative blend of urban folk falls somewhere in between the intimacy of artists such as Sufjan Stevens or Josè Gonzales and the sensuality and groove of performers such as D’Angelo or The Weeknd, just to mention a few

Also see