Liverpool’s musical heritage needs little introduction to anyone who hasn’t been living on Mars for the last 60 years. Whilst The Ukulele Uff and Lonesome Dave Trio don’t slot into the customary jigsaw one normally associates with the region’s creative culture, this album undeniably sparkles with that Merseyside musical magic.
With talented and nimble fingers in spades, the trio consists of Chris “Ukulele” Uff on, well, ukulele, “Brother” Bill Leach on Hawaiian guitar and “Lonesome” Dave Searson on guitar. Put together these three skilful virtuosos perform a mix of Tin Pan Alley tunes and 1920’s jazz with a generous layer of Hawaii to an exceptional standard.
This eponymous album, released in April 2015, is a glorious collection of tunes from the aforementioned genres including bouncing versions of “Stars And Stripes Forever“, “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Yes Sir That’s My Baby“. Well rehearsed and perfectly orchestrated this fourteen track album produces a wonderful blend of sound, skill and pure enjoyment that serves to simply make you smile.
The ukulele playing zips along with dramatic dexterity, full of fanned embellishment accompanied by a soothingly appropriate polished vocal delivery. I am confident I would be singing the praises of this album had a it been a solo effort, however the extra rhythmic and tonal levels the two guitars bring to the ensemble elevate the overall authentic ambience all the way to the top of Radio City Tower. The melody is often taken by the slide guitar to great effect and the harmonic tune of “Maui No Ka ‘Oi” infuses a real hair raising tingle to the piece.
I do feel, just sometimes, we forget that the ukulele works so effortless with other instruments. The slide guitar unquestionably partners our beloved uke like coffee and Costa, but here we see the two blending wonderfully with the regular guitar too. Perhaps more so with the soprano size (or concert) than any other, that sweet punchy strum carries its six string counterparts along like the gentle lapping waves of its ancestral home which lends itself to this time-honoured style so perfectly.
If you’re looking for some beautifully played traditional ukulele music festooned with flourishing fretboard fingering, you won’t find anything better than this.