The Beatles hold a big place in the hearts of many. Also in the wallets of many, but that’s another post. Its probably safe to say that their music has been adapted into every style imaginable. What about Rap you say? Grey album. Deal with it. Moving on. As the widest reaching pop band in history, their songs translate well. You can play a Beatles song on any instrument, from Bazouki to Oboe, and its going to sound pleasing. So when my friend Mika mentioned there was a Beatles Ukulele tribute, you know I was down.
The Uke also holds a place in my heart. So simple, yet so effective. If I could record an entire album of Henry Mancini standards on ukulele featuring Biz Markee on Vocals, I’d do it in a second (if Biz would only return my calls). There was also a brief moment where Mika and I had a band called Mikatini and The Shakers, featuring duel Ukulele and hand percussion/pedal steel guitar. So on a Sunday night, we headed to Brooklyn Bowl, in the heart of Williamsburg, ready to be entertained with some ironic interpretations of British classics, on Hawaii’s most adorable 4 string instrument. We certainly got more than we bargained for.
Now, let me just say, if our names were not on the bowling wait list, and had that list not been very long, we would have been out of there much sooner. There were so many problems, I don’t even know where to start. First off….and this may be a confusing one….LACK OF UKULELE. I know, I know. Its right in the title of the event! But seriously! What I walked in to find, seemed like a cover band of local dads, sloppily rocking out to some Beatles covers, poorly rehearsed, with one guy who looked like an overweight Sean Lennon on Uke in the back corner of the stage, barely amplified. You could not even hear it. After 3 false starts of “The Long and Winding Road” I was sufficiently insulted, and just gave up overall. Eventually they got through the tune, but by then, the magic was gone.
One other consistently annoying factor in most Brooklyn events, is an irritating MC. Where do they find these people? Its always like some less funny, more sarcastic Janeane Garofalo type, who always then sings a song with the band, and this song, is always not good. This particular host kept reminding the crowd she went to art school. What other than “well that explains it!” are you supposed to say in response to that? Don’t they know some jovial big dude they can give a couple beers to and have them introduce bands? I am 100% sure that would have been better than this chosen MC.
Later on, after a short break, the music did get slightly better. Hockey themed band “Zamboni” took the stage and performed a competent version of “And Your Bird Can Sing” which was like a breath of Hockey Flavored Fresh Air. One of the dudes from Guster played a forgettable song, then a crowd of the most stereotypical hipsters you or your mom has ever seen, tore through some shit I can’t remember. It was that good. Had I not been bowling at the time, I would have thrown something at them, stole their parents money out of their wallets, and left.
Now, the point i’m trying to get across here has nothing to do with The Beatles, or any of the bands which performed this evening. Well, maybe with the Beatles a bit. The point is this. If you advertise a “ukulele tribute to the Beatles” you should probably focus a little more on the actual ukulele. Thats like having a Garlic Festival and just putting a little garlic powder on top of each dish as an afterthought. We were certainly duped. Think of the potential for awesomeness this event had. Imagine 3 ukulele players on stage, baritone, tenor, and soprano (all types of uke) playing “She Loves You Yea Yea Yea” dressed in the Sgt Peppers uniforms, doing some great vocal harmony. How great would that be?! “8 Days A Week” was practically written to be strummed on the uke.
One day, we’ll have our Beatles Vs Stones debate. I believe its obvious that I am a Stones guy, but I will say that one main advantage Los Fabulosos Cuatros have, is that you cant really translate “Satisfaction” to the ukulele.