By Rachel Belle
Twenty years after he helped birth grunge rock, Eddie Vedder is helping to make the ukulele popular again. I got mine about six months ago and now it seems to be the latest hipster accessory.
So I popped into Dusty Strings, an amazing music store in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, to see if this is really a big trend, or if I just have ukulele fever. Co-manager Dan Murdoch says people are all over the ukulele right now.
“You can take it anywhere, you can travel with it, for some reason it’s not intimidating, it feels easier to get into and to get involved with. “
When I first got mine, people would sort of giggle at the mention of a uke, like it was some sort of jokey Hawaiian luau instrument.
“There’s always a preface of a chuckle there about the ukulele,” Murdoch says. “But as soon as you get into it you realize ‘Wow!’ It plays in tune, it’s like a guitar, it’s a small guitar, the same chords are there, so people who are familiar with the guitar can just pick it up and play it instantly. It’s very satisfying!”
Now, personally, I’m not into playing the Hawaiian style music. But Dan says the ukulele is not limited to that.
“There’s the old Vaudeville and that 20’s style of music. There are people who just want to do popular songs, do Beatles tunes, beach songs, camp songs. And there are people, like Eddie Vedder, who have taken it… It becomes an instruments that supports their own song writing and their own approach to music.”
Murdoch says you can get a nice sounding ukulele for as little as $75.
I have compared my uke to a puppy: I took it to Greenlake to play and strangers (actual strangers in Seattle!) came up to talk to me and hold it and play it. But, unfortunately, my neighbors are not like the people in Greenlake: they are decidedly not fans of my new little hobby. At least, that’s what I take the ceiling pounding to imply.