Bozeman Ukulele Picnic Sunday, Aug. 17 2014

The date is set! Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret will host its 2014 Summer Ukulele Picnic at Lindley Park Pavilion (in Lindley Park) from 3:30-10 pm on Sunday, August 17.
JAM! All are welcome to join us for a no-host picnic, ukulele jam and play-along.


3:30 pm UKULELE CRASH COURSE: If you don’t play the ukulele but want to learn, we’ll offer a free BEGINNER crash course to get you up and running. Fill out the contact box below to register for the lesson so we can provide enough lesson materials and loaner ukuleles*. (*Space is limited. Lesson is geared for a mixed age group, but is likely too fast-paced for children under 8 years old.)

6:00 pm PICNIC, JAM and PLAY-ALONG: Bring your ukulele, your picnic dinner and “play-along-able” song(s) to share or perform (if you like). Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret will provide ice cream, lemonade and song sheets for some ukulele tunes that we can all play along on. If you have a special request to add to the songbook, please let us know now!

8:00 pm Sunset Flash Mob? Depending on how things go, it might be fun to walk over to Peet’s Hill and salute the sunset with a ukulele tune. We’ll see!

Other details: Beer/wine are allowed, but moderation is strongly encouraged. Dogs on leash are allowed in the park, but they can be pretty distracting, so you’re encouraged to leave them home.

GET IN THE KNOW: Join the Ukulele Picnic Facebook Event or ask to be added to our mailing list for updates about this and other events!

Playin the Montana 4-H Congress blues

On July 9 and 10 Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret gave a ukulele crash course to 35 teens and a few chaperones during Montana 4-H congress. It was amazing how fast they learned! Most of these kids went from never having touched a ukulele to playing 4-chord songs like “Johnny Be Goode” and “Dynamite” all within within a couple of hours.

We started out with rhythm and rhyming games and before the workshop was over, all could play C, Am7, C7, G7, F, G and Am. We even had time to break into groups to write and perform original versions of “The 4-H Congress Blues.”

Volunteers Susan Johnston and Debra Waggener helped keep ukuleles tuned and keep fingers untangled (Also, Debra took these great pictures during Wednesday afternoon’s workshop!) With 17 students per session (a few brought their own ukes) we leaned on our ukulele community to lend ukuleles.

Thanks Mark G., Susan J., Geoff G., Debra W., Shawna L., Catey L, Wren G. and Mike G. for letting these kids use your ukulele! (And thanks to all who have paid for lessons or given tips/donations, the funds from which helped me buy six ukuleles to use as loaners and rentals.) And thanks, Montana 4-H for inviting us. We had a great time!

Here is the curriculum I used, in case you took the workshop and want to review it, or teach someone else. Yes Uke Can 4-H Lesson

Oldies Singalong at the Rest Home

Throughout the summer I will be leading a ukulele-accompanied oldies sing-along for residents of the Gallatin Rest Home in their activities room.

This on an ongoing/adhoc basis. Basically, Mondays at 3 at Gallatin Rest Home (1221 Durston, Bozeman) but check the B.U.C. event calendar to make sure we’re confirmed. Anyone who is able to play along (or even just sing) is welcome to participate.

We sit at tables with the residents so that everyone feels like part of the singalong and it’s not like a performance. It’s very low-key and casual. Just print and bring your song sheets, bring your ukulele, and show up a few minutes before 3pm. (There are no practices. It’s fine just to sing along on any songs that are beyond your playing level, but most of them are pretty easy!)

Here is a PDF of the 20 songs (most gleaned from other sites): Rest Home Singalong and some additional songs we’ve added: Rest Home binder 3

If you have songs to add to a second set list, feel free to suggest them.

So you want to chuck, chunk, and chicka…

At our recent Hawaiian lesson, several people asked, “How exactly do you do that “chucka” thing? Can you slow it down?”

That percussive chucky strumming sound that you hear in a lot of ukulele songs can be done either with your chording hand or your strumming hand. To “chuck” with your left hand, you just lift the chord partially, so the strings don’t ring and instead produce a deadened or muted sound. (You may be familiar with this effect, because it’s easy to do it unintentionally!) However, this only works if there are no open strings in the chord.

That’s why most players do the “chuck” thing by deadening the strings with the palm of their strumming hand. That may sound difficult, but it’s fun and not too hard to learn!

Stuart Fuchs does a great job of showing how to do it in this clear, step-by-step video. If you get out your uke and play along with him, you’ll be chucking within 10 minutes.

After you get the hang of it, you can chuck along with any song and mix up strums and chucks to create rhythms.

In this Hawaiian song, Mark Sinclair modifies a simple down-up down-up shuffle to something more like up-up-chuck-rest,” but you could do down-up-chuck-up” and get a similar sound.

In this cover of “I’m on Fire,” Mark is doing something along the lines of “down, chuck-up, down-up, chuck-up.”

If you can’t keep up at first, pause the video and do the strumming slowly until you feel confident. (Here’s a sheet with chord diagrams for I’m On Fire)


Sing along in Hawaiian with Mark!

At our Hawaiian ukulele class, Mark Sinclair taught us several authentic songs.
He was kind enough to record videos of the songs for us to practice along with so we’ll be (kind of) ready to join him on a few Hawaiian songs at our next Ukulele Jam (Sunday, May 18).

So far we have added subtitles with lyrics and chords to Ka Pua U’i:

The other songs are at our new Bozeman Ukes YouTube Channel.

Chord sheets for the Hawaiian Songs that Mark taught us are here in PDF form: Hawaiian Songs May 2014 .


Hawaiian Ukulele with Mark Sinclair – May 2014

May-Ukulele-Jam-2014-V Our friend Mark Sinclair (AKA Baker Mark) will host May’s ukulele jam! Yay!

When Mark was a school teacher in Hawaii, he taught his students traditional Hawaiian songs and techniques. Now, we’re in for the good fortune of learning some Hawaiian songs straight from the Hawaiian’s mouth. — A perfect way to greet the month of May!

May is our last Ukulele Pizza Jam before summer hiatus, so don’t miss out!

PREVIEW the Hawaiian songs on video HERE.

DOWNLOAD a practice PDF of the Hawaiian Songs May 2014

WHERE: Colombo’s Pizza & Pasta (back room)
This is low key and fun, so don’t be shy! Bring a fun song to perform or lead, or just bring your uke and strum along. Mark will lead us on a few Hawaiian songs, then it’s open mic and jam. Let’s play some songs to say goodbye to winter and hello spring! Bring any song you like for the jam/open mic. (It doesn’t have to be Hawaiian.) Come as early as you like to order pizza and beverages.

Don’t have a ukulele?

You can now rent one from B.U.C. during the session for a suggested donation of $5. (The money goes to buy more ukuleles for future use in classrooms and community enrichment efforts.) If you would like to attend, but don’t have a ukulele, please send a note via the contact form below to reserve one. (If you don’t have $ for a donation, that’s OK, it’s just a suggestion.)



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Ukulele Power Ballads! April 6 and April 13 2014


April is POWER BALLAD* month! Marla will host April ukulele sessions with a bevvy of ballads from Journey, REO Speedwagon, Air Supply, Manfred Mann, Foreigner, Boston, Styx, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Kansas and maybe a couple of surprises.

SUNDAY APRIL 6th, 1pm-3pm  -  Open Lesson at the Public Library (small meeting room)
Starting at 1pm at the library, Marla will coach you on the basics of a few techniques commonly used in power ballads. Then we’ll walk across the street to Cafe M for an easy-going sneak preview of songs that we’ll play the following week. Think of it as a library lesson followed by a ukulele Power Ballad coffee klatch. — All are welcome! BYO Uke!

SUNDAY APRIL 13th, 7pm-9pm  -  Ukulele Pizza Jam at Colombo’s (backroom)
Marla will provide music sheets for some power ballads that all can play (and sing! emotively! …if that’s a word!) along on. There will be a mic set up, so bring a song you’d like to lead or perform, or just bring your uke and have fun strumming along. (The theme power ballads is just for inspiration — bring any song you like!)
Power Ballad Chord Sheets (PDF): Power Ballads
*What’s a power ballad? “An outgrowth of ’70s stadium rock, the ’80s power ballad combined keyboards, acoustic guitar, orchestration and tender lyrics with thundering guitars and drums…contributing to the rise in popularity of hard rock.”
If you were alive between 1975 and 1990, you can probably sing along with the choruses of a LOT of power ballads! If not, isn’t it about time you were exposed to the musical bedrock of baby boomer culture? A lot of them start out with pretty little fingerpicked intros and then descend into crushing rock and roll leads (which I for one can’t play, but we’ll have fun anyway!) The chords tend to be pretty easy and the structure repetitive, so don’t be shy: Come…strum…and be awesome!!


March Ukulele Blues Madness — March 16, 2014

March-Ukulele-blues-Jam-2014 If you got the Montana Midwinter blues, here’s your chance to get out your ukulele and play ‘em.

Mark Grenier (that bearded guy who you see riffing all over the place while the rest of us are just strumming) is our host for this month’s ukulele fun.

Mark will be the host of our first ever UKULELE PIZZA JAM!
(In this case, a UKULELE PIZZA BLUES JAM!)
Mark will have a mic and amp set up so bring a BLUES song to lead or perform, or just come strum or riff along. This is going to be our first time uke-jamming at Colombo’s, and we are looking forward to a fun time! Everyone is welcome, but seating is limited, so come early if you want to grab some grub and a good spot.

WHERE: Colombo’s Pizza & Pasta (back room)
WHEN: Sunday March 16

If you’re a beginner and you’d like to practice up a bit before the jam, here’s a little cheat sheet for a 12-bar blues song in 4 different keys, and some blues scales. Once you get the hang of this, you will be ready to play along with most any blues song!  Beginner Blues

(Big thanks to for the scale graphics that I used in the PDF)

B.Y.O. UKE! — See you there!

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That was fun… Valentine uke night 2014 in review

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As is often said in ukulele lore, “I thought it would be funny to wear that pantsuit…” and then comes the morning after…

Thanks everybody for coming out to an incredibly crowded but pretty darned fun Valentine open mic and play-along! Thanks again, Wild Joe’s Coffeespot for hosting our event for the second time in a row, and making us feel very welcome. And thanks to all the helpers, open mic-ers and play-alongers who stuck with us through the crowds! We hope you had as much fun as we did.

The next events will probably be a bit quieter and lower key, but just as much fun!

  • An Open Lesson — Sunday, March 2, 2014, 1pm at the Bozeman Public Library Small Meeting Room
  • Our first-ever Ukulele Pizza Jam — Sunday, March 16, 2014, 7pm at Colombo’s Pizza (Back Room)

Valentine Play-Along Practice Preview

valentine songs 2014For those of you who would like to practice up a bit ahead of time for our Valentine Ukulele Open Mic & Play-Along Night (7-9pm Feb 14 2014 at Wild Joe’s in Bozeman) here’s  a PDF of the songs with chord charts pretty much as they’ll be on the 14th. (We will hand out songbooks the night of and it’s possible that they might differ slightly from this draft, but it will be pretty close.)  valentine songs 2014

These (and maybe a surprise or two) will be the songs that we all play together. It will be fun! Everyone is welcome!

The evening of Feb. 14 2014 will go something like this:

6:30pm* - Sign up for remaining open mic slots. (They are going fast online! You can DIBS an open mic slot NOW or sign up night-of, on a first-come basis. — So, dibs a slot NOW if you want to be sure that we allow time for you to perform.) Please note that since time is limited, we ask that performers play only ONE song until everyone has had a chance. If there is extra time, we’ll ask for encore volunteers.)

*Don’t to forget to buy a drink or treat to show appreciation to our generous host, Wild Joes!

We break up the night into four half-hour sets:

7:00 First set of open mic

7:30 First set of play-along

8:00 Second set of open mic

8:30 Last set of Play-Along (Audience votes on “Saddest Song,” “Sweetest Song,” and “Most Elegant Valentine Attire.”) (Your own interpretation of elegant is encouraged.)

9:00 Awards and last play-along song.

It will be a hoot! Even if you don’t have a ukulele, you can come, sing along and vote! But if you DO have a ukulele, come, strum and be awesome!

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