February 24, 2011


I've been playing a lot of music lately at the Spy Vibe lair. My attention has been on checking out interesting and rare instruments. One of the coolest things I've played is a gourd banjo, which is a fretless instrument with great blues possibilities! I'm interested in two makers, who made gourd banjos played by Mike Seeger (New Lost City Ramblers and brother of Pete Seeger), Bob Thornburg and Jeffrey Menzies (Menzies sound samples here). Another maker to check out is the Banjo Factory. During my recent missions to various music shops, I couldn't help but notice that the most recent ukulele craze is still in full-swing. Uke, you ask? Anyone who still doubts the possibilities of these little wonders should check out Roy Smeck, the "wizard of the strings," playing Tiger Rag in an early talkie short film here. Below is a more contemporary player, who interprets the James Bond Theme beautifully. There are many versions of James Bond music out there. What are some of your faves? Any unusual arrangements or peculiar instruments?


  1. Going to see Ukelele master Jake Shimabakura next month. Seen him before and he's fantastic!

  2. Thanks for the heads up! Jake will be at the San Francisco Jazz Fest in March I'll try to get tickets.

  3. I got a new tenor uke for Christmas, and I've been playing it much, much more than my guitar. Maybe I should try to work up a spy tune on it? I bet the theme from Danger Man would sound pretty good.

  4. Danger Man would be awesome! Other contenders: Third Man Theme, Wild Wild West, Avengers, UNCLE, The Look of Love.

    I'm considering a baritone uke :)

  5. It seems like the Mission Impossible theme would be a natural for the uke.

    If you are becoming a ukulele fan you must give a listen to Beirut's Gulag Orkestar. It features an abundance of ukulele and mandolin.


  6. Interestingly, Tattered and Lost posted about ukuleles today: http://tatteredandlostephemera.blogspot.com/2011/02/its-happiness-boys-friday_25.html
    Oh, and it would never have occurred to me to play Bond on a uke. Very nice.

  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce33j0BMhAQ&playnext=1&list=PL939DB0D0BA4B906E

    Secret Agent Man, with tutorial
    Uke Jackson

  8. Oh, and please come to one of my band's gigs and you might win a ukulele as part of Ukuleles for Food. Info on my web page UkeJackson.com

  9. This is Great! Thanks! I'll post a more prominent link so readers can check this out. I've got a baritone, but your tutorial inspires me to consider another uke :)


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