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I’m in a Ukulele State of Mind

I’m in a Ukulele State of Mind

I’m in a Ukulele state of mind. That’s right. The Ukulele puts a smile on my face and relaxes me when I am stressed out. I cannot hold a negative thought in my mind while I am playing the Ukulele.

Whether with the Parrot Island Band (a Trop rock Jimmy Buffett tribute band in Atlanta, Georgia), or playing by myself… the Ukulele has become a source of relaxation and joy. While noodling  (a technical term meaning “just messing around”) on my Ukulele last week, I wrote this song I’m in a Ukulele State of Mind:

 

I’m in a Ukulele State of Mind

Chorus)

My ukulele puts a smile on my face

My ukulele takes me to a good place

I’m feeling better all the time

I’m in a ukulele state of mind

No matter what I’m going through

I know just where to turn yes I do

Everything is better all my skies are blue

What could a ukulele do for you?

Chorus)

My ukulele puts a smile on my face

My ukulele takes me to a good place

I’m feeling better all the time

I’m in a ukulele state of mind

When it’s hard for me to smile… sometimes,

I try to change my thoughts this is what I find

My ukulele it never fails me

It puts me back on island time

Chorus)

My ukulele puts a smile on my face

My ukulele takes me to a good place

I’m feeling better all the time

I’m in a ukulele state of mind

Bridge

I close my eyes and take it in

Hear the sound of peace feel the joy within

Chorus)

My ukulele puts a smile on my face

My ukulele takes me to a good place

I’m feeling better all the time

I’m in a ukulele state of mind

A “Ukulele state of mind” is a great place to be. For me it is a place of beaches, palm trees and smiling faces.  Feeling stressed or worn out? Maybe you should pick up a Ukulele and strum yourself to a happy place… I’ll be there waiting with my Uke…

Beaches and blessings,

Bry

Parrot Island Ukulele

Parrot Island Ukulele

Parrot Island Ukulele. As I have admitted earlier, I have been bitten by the Ukulele bug. I find it to be an extremely relaxing instrument and I love introducing the Uke to folks who have never heard one (or have a suspicious view of the Ukulele).

I started the day by visiting the members of the Durham Foundation (a fundraising group at Durham Middle School in Acworth, Georgia). After I played them a few songs, I shared with them a little about our band (the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia). It was a very nice visit and they must have enjoyed our visit as they enthusiastically took all of the business cards that I brought.

My next stop was the area where the middle schoolers are dropped off each day. I was asked to be one of the community greeters and thought I would play them a little Ukulele to start their day. While I received the expected eye rolls and head shakes (after all… they ARE middle schoolers), I did get a few grins and some seemed to enjoy the music (shhh… don’t tell anyone!). A few of the students did not know what a Ukulele is so perhaps I planted a few seeds that will grow at some point in the future.

As it has been a very dreary day here in Georgia (rainy and a bit chilly), I thought I would put together a quick Ukulele video (played on my Sruce top Eddy Finn Ukulele) of one of my first songs… “Parrot Island”. Parrot Island is really a state of mind, a place with palm trees, parrots and a tropical breeze. I am including the words, feel free to put on a Hawaiian shirt and sing along…

 

Parrot Island

We all need a place where we go just to get away

Call it a holiday and stay for awhile

Leave all of our worries and hurries a mile away

Come climb aboard today, just bring a smile…

Chorus:

Just sit back and close your eyes, soon we’ll be there

The beaches are white and the ocean is clear

The palm trees are blowing, do you feel the breeze?

On Parrot Island come do as you please…

We all need a dream that will keep us awake

A special place we can go throughout the day

To help us remember to take time to play

Come climb aboard and we’ll be on our way…

Chorus:

Just sit back and close your eyes, soon we’ll be there

The beaches are white and the ocean is clear

The palm trees are blowing, do you feel the breeze?

On Parrot Island come do as you please…

I know you are wondering, “Can this really be”?

A place you can go in a moment of need

Would you like to go to that Island with me?

Just climb aboard and I will promise you’ll see…

Chorus:

Just sit back and close your eyes, soon we’ll be there

The beaches are white and the ocean is clear

The palm trees are blowing, do you feel the breeze?

On Parrot Island come do as you please…

 

As the Eddy Finn Ukulele Ambassador (www.eddyfinnukes.com), I am always looking for places to play and spread the joy of playing Ukulele. You may also be in need of a Trop Rock Jimmy Buffett band this spring or summer, so please keep us in mind and contact us at www.parrotislandband.com if we can be of help. Until then…

 

Beaches and blessings,

Bry

Low G Aquila String Review

Low G Aquila String Review

Low G Aquila String Review.  I received a low G Aquila string in the mail a couple of weeks ago to try on my Eddy Finn ukulele. Ukuleles are generally strung with a high G string (in the progression of GCEA strings), but the low G string is an octave lower.

Edyy Finn uke set up with low G

I put the low G Aguila string on my Eddy Finn Spruce ukulele (spruce top/mahogany back and sides). The Eddy Finn Spruce ukulele is sometimes referred to as a “guitar player’s ukulele”. My Eddy Finn uke has a great look with a nice cutaway and its coloring is similar to my Martin acoustic guitar. It also has a pickup so that I can play it with our band (Parrot Island Band; a Trop Rock/Jimmy Buffett tribute band in Atlanta, Georgia). While many traditionalists are not fans of pickups in ukuleles, the one that Eddy Finn uses provides a great sound for the types of events we play (maybe another trait that guitarists find appealing?).

So how does the low G string setup sound?  The traditional tuning (high G,CEA) provides a brighter sound that is usually associated with the ukulele. With the low G tuning, the ukulele has a lower top end sound (more bass sounding).

Some people say that the low G string makes the ukulele sound more like a guitar (making it a great compliment to the Eddy Finn Spruce ukulele). In playing with the low G set up, I’m not sure I would say it sounds more like a guitar… but it does set the ukulele up to play more like a guitar with the strings going from low (G) to high (A). This also gives more notes on the lower end and a more ‘mellow” sound (you can find a more in-depth discussion on the topic here).

How do I like the low G setup? I think it sounds great! I also picked up an Eddy Finn Bamboo uke (I’ll share some thoughts on this beauty in another blog post J) that I will keep as my high G string setup. One lesson I learned in trying out the low G string… don’t be afraid to experiment!

While I’m at it, stop by and check out the Eddy Finn Spruce Tenor giveaway at www.eddyfinnukes.com … running now until October 31stThis message brought to you by Bry Harris, an Eddy Finn Ukulele Ambassador (endorsing artist/musician) 😉

 

Beaches and blessings,

Bry

Apology Accepted

Apology Accepted

Apology accepted.  I received an apology on Saturday that I gladly accepted. We (the Parrot Island Band, a Jimmy Buffett tribute/cover band from Atlanta, Georgia) were playing for a community event in Roswell, Georgia. It was a pretty easy event, as gigs go; we were set up between a few vendors and played as people passed by.

There were a couple of musicians playing after us and one of them was listening carefully during a couple of our ukulele songs. When we were putting up our equipment, this musician said, “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I owe you an apology….” I was wondering what he had to apologize for since I didn’t know him…. He continued, “I have always thought of the ukulele as a toy and after listening to you guys play, I realize that I was wrong!” We spent several minutes talking about the ukulele and where he might pick one up. (Of course, I recommended Uke Republic…a great group over there to help you figure out which ukulele you need.)

This is serious fun

What a great compliment. As the Eddy Finn “Ukulele Ambassador” (endorsing musician), I love telling people about Eddy Finn Ukes… and I also have fun playing a really neat instrument.

When people think of the ukulele, many remember Arthur Godfrey from the 1950’s or Tiny Tim from the 1960’s and think of the ukulele as either an instrument used long ago or as a prop for a novelty act. The truth is that the ukulele is an instrument that many musicians play today and it is currently riding a wave of popularity.

Some who play the ukulele today are Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder (rock) and Michael McDonald If you ever want to hear an incredible ukulele player, just check out Jake Shimabukuro. Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that Jimmy Buffett also plays ukulele from time to time in his shows.

Parrot Island Ukulele Eddy Finn

Although it was a pretty quiet day in Roswell, I felt like I had changed someone’s perspective about the ukulele and that is a great feeling. If you live in the Atlanta area (we do travel some with enough notice), maybe you would like to relax and enjoy some Parrot Island Band music. With steel pan, ukulele/guitar and congas, you can count on us taking you to a “happy place”… AND we are affordable (we don’t call ourselves “Jimmy Buffett on a budget” for nothing).  :)  

Beaches and blessings,

Bry

Old Man and the Sea

 

Old Man and the Sea

Old Man and the Sea. They say that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so I’ll keep this post short.:) This picture was taken a few weeks ago while we (the Parrot Island Band, a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia) were in St. Augustine, Florida. We played as part of the A1A Beaches Parrot Head Club’s Beach Bash event.

Bry Harris play Eddy Finn Ukele to relax

As you can tell by the smile on my face, I love sitting on the beach… I also love playing my Eddy Finn Ukulele (or uke for short).  What better than to combine the two and sit by the ocean, reflect on the beauty and play a few songs… I did… as Jimmy Buffett sings, “I want to go back”… “Someday, I will”…

Beaches and blessings

Honey I Shrunk My Guitar!

Honey, I Shrunk My Guitar!

If you have been following the Parrot Island Band lately you will see me (Bry) with a lot of pictures holding a ukulele (sometimes called uke). At some point during our gigs, I will usually say something to the affect that my favorite guitar was left out in the rain and Linda tossed it in the dryer… causing it to shrink. :)

Bry Harris loves his Eddy Finn Uke a Trop Rock Favorite

My very first guitar was an Epiphone Nylon String/Classical guitar. At the age of twelve, I was given my guitar and a few group lessons at the local YMCA. We also had a “bluegrass club” at high school where students taught each other songs by groups such as the Eagles, James Taylor and yes, Jimmy Buffett (to name a few).  [Yeah, I know these aren’t bluegrass musicians, but that’s the only way we could get together and play the songs we liked.] Beyond the YMCA and friends at school, I have found many excellent musicians over the years who were willing to share their talent and musical knowledge…thanks!

While I have had numerous guitars over the years, I have always enjoyed the sound and feel of the nylon string guitar. About a year ago, I picked up a ukulele while in a local music store and enjoyed the similar sound that the ukulele makes to that found in the nylon string guitar (a little more mellow and strings that are a little easier on the fingers).

I have found the ukulele to be a very relaxing instrument. It has been said that you can’t play a sad song on the ukulele. I am not sure if that is true but I know that playing the ukulele usually puts me in a good mood.

Parrot Island Band plays Eddy Finn Ukulele

The ukulele is easy to take with you when you are traveling and a great instrument to have in the office. I keep one at home and one at work, often pausing for a few minutes to relax and play a song or two before getting back to whatever project is in front of me. The ukulele is also a great instrument to have with you when sitting at the beach. :) While at St. Augustine Beach last week, I had a great time sitting beside the ocean and playing some relaxing uke music.

Jimmy Buffett Tribute band Trop UKES

While I would have said a few months ago that I was a guitar player who dabbled in ukuleles, I now feel more like a ukulele player who plays a little guitar. I still have a lot to learn about playing the ukulele and it will take continued playing until it feels as natural as playing the guitar. That being said, I am glad to have added to the ukulele to my life.

As an added bonus to having picked up the ukulele, I have also become an official “endorsing artist/musician” for the Eddy Finn Ukulele Company. The Eddy Finn Ukes are not only great sounding instruments but they are reasonably priced for the average person. Add a “fin” to the sound hole and market it as a ukulele for those who love islands and beaches… and you have a perfect match between the Eddy Finn Ukulele and the Parrot Island Band (a Trop Rock -Jimmy Buffett tribute trio from Atlanta, Georgia).

Looking for a new instrument to learn? Why not consider the ukulele (and an Eddy Finn Ukulele at that)? Affordable. Highly portable. The ladies love them (OK, I can’t speak for ALL ladies, but my wife, Linda, and this really cute three year old at our last gig think they are cool). Easy to learn to play. Relaxing and…FUN! What are you waiting for? Put on your flip flops and go get a ukulele!!

Beaches and blessings

Toes In the Sand

Toes in the Sand

Toes in the Sand…. Not only are these words part of a great Zac Brown song, but it is also the name of a great little ukulele store in Flagler Beach, Florida.  I dropped in on “Capt” Rob Plympton this past week during our (the Parrot Island Band) time at A1A Beaches Parrothead Club’s  Beach Bash” .  Rob took some time to show us this great store, one that sells sandals, flip flops, and some cool ukuleles! (address: 819 N Oceanshore Blvd., Flagler Beach, FL 32136 phone 386-283-1996)

Bry visits Capt Rob and Trop Rock Ukulele shop

Parrot Island Band visists Flagler Beach, Florida

As the Eddy Finn “Goodwill Ukulele Ambassador” ;-), I was pleased to see that Rob carries a good number of Eddy Finn Ukuleles, in addition to his other ukuleles and uke supplies.  Rob is also the President of the Phuncoast Parrothead Club and a ukulele player himself (Rob, why didn’t we play a few songs together?  Now, I really do need to go back to visit Toes in the Sand!

Bry Harris has his eye on these Eddy Finn Ukuleles

Toes in the Sand and Toes int he Flip Flops

“Capt” Rob is one of those people I connected with on facebook and finally met in Key West last year.  I always enjoy meeting people like Rob “in person”, and to see him at the ukulele shop was an added treat.  Flagler Beach is also home to our friends Dale and Peach (“From Flagler Beach”) Hench and also Trop Rock musician Capt Nick Nicholson.  (I’m sure you are wondering, but everyone in the Trop Rock world seems to have a cool name like “Key West” Kev, or Capt., or something tropical…)

Let's go sell some Eddy Finns!

Surfs up for the Parrot Island Band

A side note… we (myself, Linda, Kevin and Wendy Garrelts), also visited Finn’s Beachside Restaurant. While not related to Eddy Finn Ukuleles, it was a great place to eat lunch.  With an upper deck overlooking the ocean, it was a perfect place to relax and enjoy a delicious cheeseburger.  Finn’s Restaurant is within walking distance of Capt. Rob’s uke and flip flop shop – be sure to check them out next time you are in the area.

Bry Harris sees Finns everywhere

Flagler Beach home of Dale and Peach

Eddy Finn “Ukulele Ambassador”

Eddy Finn "Ukulele Ambassador"

As some of my friends have seen over the last month or so, I have become an “official” Eddy Finn Ukulele Musician/Endorser. I like to think of myself as an Eddy Finn “Ukulele Ambassador”, spreading the good news and fun sounds of this great line of ukuleles (sometimes refered to as "ukes")….

Bry and his new Eddy Finn Ukulele

While the Parrot Island Band has been playing as a Trop Rock/ Jimmy Buffett tribute band (here in Atlanta, Georgia) for several years now, our sound continues to evolve.  Replacing the drums with congas and getting smaller (moving from 4 piece band to a duo/trio group), we have gravitated to a sound that you might associate with palm trees and island breezes.

Parrot Island Band plays Eddy Finn Ukulele

This year, we have also added the ukulele to the band, as I (Bry) have enjoyed learning to play this fun instrument over the last couple of years. A few months ago, I went to a local ukulele store (Uke Republic) and owner, Mike McQueen showed me around and answered my numerous questions about his store and the dozens of ukuleles that were on the wall.

Parrot Island Band buys their Eddy Finns at Uke Republic

One ukulele that caught my eye in particular was an Eddy Finn Ukulele.  Not only are these ukuleles fun to look at (the sound hole is in the shape of a shark fin, a symbol that is often associated with Jimmy Buffett and his song, “Fins”), but Eddy Finn Ukuleles also have a beautiful tone as well.

The Eddy Finn slogan is “play to your senses”.  They even have a patented smell that leaves you dreaming of a tropical beach somewhere. I ended up buying a Spruce/Tenor Eddy Finn Ukulele that has just come out on the market. This beautiful ukulele has a built in tuner and pickup that has helped me blend in with our other instruments (steel pan and congas).

Linda sporting her Eddy Finn magnet

Since I have already taken my new ukulele to several local gigs, it is time to take it on a road trip. Look for pictures on http://www.facebook.com/ParrotIslandBand  as the Parrot Island Band heads to St Augustine, FL, to play in A1A Beaches Parrot Head Club’s event, “Beach Bash and Volley Ball Tournament”. We will be playing July 14th by the pool from 12-3pm and I (Bry) will have my Eddy Finn Ukulele with me, playing both Jimmy Buffett tunes with an island flavor… but also adding as many Trop Rock originals as we can fit in.

I also look forward to sitting by the beach and strumming on the ukulele…maybe there is a new song to be written as I sit back and enjoy the view…

Bry Harris is Edyy Finn "ukulele ambassador"

 

Beaches and blessings,

A Fun Time at Uke Republic

A Fun Time at Uke Republic

One of my favorite places to visit is now Uke Republic, a cool little ukulele store in Austell, Georgia, (5000 Austell Powder Springs Rd., SW Suite 290, Austell, GA 30106). You can also find Uke Republic online at www.ukerepublic.com. Owner Mike McQueen not only sells beautiful instruments but also takes time to answer questions and share his passion for the ukulele.

Parrot Island Band shops at Uke Republic

(Uke Republic Store)

My first visit to Uke Republic was a treat, as Mike not only greeted me enthusiastically, but had Radio Margaritaville playing in the shop.  Of course, being a part of the Parrot Island Band (a Trop Rock  – Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band here in Atlanta, Georgia), I immediately had a good feeling about Uke Republic :).

Mike McQueen welcomes Bry Harris of the Parrot Island Band

(Mike McQueen and Bry Harris)

Mike took the time to show me the wide variety of ukuleles in his shop and was extremely knowledgeable about ukuleles in general.  Of course, I gravitated to the Eddy Finn Uke that has a fin pattern for a sound hole (for non parrotheads, the fin is a symbol that is widely associated with Jimmy Buffett).  Mike ordered the Eddy Finn model that I like and helped hook me up with a neat little ukulele stand and case.

Bry with his new Eddy Finn Uke

(Bry and his new Eddy Finn Uke)

I’m adding Uke Republic to the list of “stuff parrotheads like”, although this store appeals to musicians who enjoy all styles of music. If you are looking for a place to sit in and play with some other ukulele enthusiasts, ask Mike about the group that meets at Uke Republic regularly to share songs and enjoyment of the ukulele.

At a subsequent visit to Uke Republic, I met Mike’s store partner and wife, Donna.  I enjoy seeing a family owned/run operation with such nice people. Looking for a new ukulele? Or maybe your first one? Drop in (or go online) and get to know the good folks at Uke Republic…  Maybe I’ll see you there!