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Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Bry Harris

I became a Kala Ukulele artist a few months ago and I have been interviewing some of the other Kala musicians in order to get to know them better (and hopefully help others to get to know them as well). Since I am waiting to hear from some of the other Kala artists, I thought I would share my own story as an introduction to the Kala community. I have really fallen in love with the Ukulele in recent years and view myself as a “Ukulele Ambassador” of sorts…. In addition to our band (the Parrot Island Band), I love to take the Ukulele into schools (and to senior groups) and teach them about the Ukulele. Since I have added the Uke as the main acoustic instrument in the band (in place of guitar), I have had many wonderful conversations about the Uke and I have made several “converts” to this neat instrument.

Bry Harris Kala Brand Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio:

I grew up in Tidewater, Virginia, and have had been drawn to the memories of lakes, rivers and the ocean ever since. When I graduated from high school, I was named “most likely to open for Jimmy Buffett” (ok, it was a ‘tongue in cheek” accolade and officially it was something like… “in 5 years Bryant will likely open for Jimmy Buffett”- but time has morphed into the “most likely to” reference :)).

While I did play in bars and restaurants for awhile in college, I took and extended break from music (about 25 years!) and began playing again for others around 2006. I started a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band that now includes my wife (steel pan) and good friend, Kevin Garrelts, (congas) and myself (vocals, guitar and, of course, Ukulele). While we started as a cover band, I have written around 30 songs that we add to our set lists and they have been very well received.

We recorded a Trop Rock CD, Parrot Island Getaway, which consists of original songs and has been played on Internet radio stations from Key West to California, New York to Alaska and even Canada. The Parrot Island Band has been nominated 3 times as Trop Rock duo/trio of the year at the Trop Rock awards that is held in Key West, Florida.

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“I currently live in Acworth, Georgia… about 45 minutes to an hour north of Atlanta.”

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

“I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old in the 70’s. I was influenced by the likes of James Taylor, Grand Funk Railroad, the Eagles, many of the great singer/songwriters of my youth such as Dan Fogelberg and Harry Chapin. Probably the biggest influence on my music (and no surprise to those who know me) was Jimmy Buffett. I loved his fun-loving persona and tropical themed music. Jimmy’s music still influences me today!

“In addition to Jimmy Buffett, the music that I listen to today comes from a broad range of “Trop Rock” musicians that paint musical scenes of beaches and palm trees but are not necessarily known to the general public. I love musicians who play because of their passion for music… but like me, may never play in front of large crowds or on mainstream radio.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“I have only been playing the Ukulele for a couple of years but I have definitely been bitten by the bug. I keep a Ukulele out at home to play while watching TV or just for the fun of it (and to relax and work on new song ideas). I also have another Uke in my office and take a break now and then to play a few chords (I find it boosts my creativity and makes the rest of my work day more enjoyable).”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I play the Kala Acacia Tenor (KA-ASAC-T) with an added MiSi pickup. I also keep a Kala Long-neck Soprano (KA SLNG) in my office. I use this Uke when I go to preschools or elementary schools to teach them about the Ukulele (or sometimes just the letter “U”!).”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“Our first CD, Parrot Island Getaway, has been out for a few years now so I should be announcing our next CD (but we are still trying to figure out a way to get moving on that). I have written enough songs for a new CD and my plan is that when it comes out, it will be one that features the Uke, steel pan, congas and U-bass (so if there is anyone out there wanting to help us get this going, just let me know ;-)).”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course;-)

“Q: Jimmy Buffett is on the phone and wants to know if you would like to have lunch and play a few songs together?”

“A: Let me check my calendar and call you back (JUST KIDDING! ;-)) Yes, just let me know where to go… I’ll be right there!”

I get an extra question since this is my idea… 😉

“Q: Why did you switch from playing guitar to Ukulele?”

“A: While I have always loved playing the guitar, there is something about the Ukulele that relaxes me and moves me in a deep way. I feel as if I should have been playing the Ukulele all my life and that it is part of my “purpose in life” (to play the Uke and somehow bring joy to others through it). I am just beginning to explore how the Uke will be a part of this next chapter in my life and I am really looking forward to discovering the answer….”

All for now

I hope I can get in touch with some of the other Kala Ukulele artists and have more of these interviews in months to come… until then, pick up a Ukulele… strum a happy song and make someone smile…

Peace, Love and Ukulele

Bry Harris

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Ukulele Artist

Kala Uke Artist Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Jesse Daniel Edwards

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Jesse Daniel Edwards (Jay Smart of the Smart Brothers)

I have enjoyed getting to know some of the Kala Ukulele artists and although I am almost done with those I have been able to reach so far, I hope I will catch up with some more over time. Thanks to Jesse Daniel Edwards (Jay Smart of the Smart Brothers) for giving us a chance to get to know him a little better.

Bio (taken from jessedanieledwards.com/about/)

Kala artist Jesse Daniel Edwards

Jesse Edwards' first language was music.

"I loved hearing my granddad sing songs from the "Sound of Music" while strumming his ancient uke. I learned to play by watching and listening at his feet at the ripe old age of 4."
Born with a love of music and a natural talent for singing and picking up pretty much any instrument he got his hands on, Jesse studied guitar, bass, drums, piano, clarinet, saxophone, and the oboe growing up. In Jesse's teen years, his classical training clashed with his many punk and heavy metal bands. Since then, he has adopted a unique blend of folk and roots music as his characteristic style.

"I spent a lot of time touring around the US with my brother and we cut our teeth in towns like Nashville and Atlanta. As a result, the music of the region, specifically the Southern roots and folk music of Appalachia have really affected me artistically," Jesse says of his inspiration and sound.

Jesse has recorded 3 nationally-released albums, 4 solo albums, and 2 live albums – as well as music for an independent film. He has toured professionally on the festival and college circuits for the past 4 years in the US and abroad where he has shared the stage with notable acts including Matt Costa, John Prine, Roger Clyne, & The Squirrel Nut Zippers. His award-winning songs have been featured in radio, TV, and film and are available on ITunes, Amazon, Verizon V-Cast, and Napster. He lives in Carlsbad, CA, and is an officially endorsed Kala Ukulele artist.

 

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“Current home: Running Springs, CA”

2) What were your earliest/ and current musical influences?

“Earliest musical influences: gospel and traditional music. It was all my brothers, sisters and I were allowed to listen to.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“Started on the uke at age 6, listening and watching at my granddad’s feet as he played old family songs.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I play a Kala tenor.”

Kala artist JaySmart

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“Not on the road at the moment; heading in to the studio though to work on an acoustic album which will be out in the summer.”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course;-)

“Have you ever performed Bohemian Rhapsody on solo Uke? The answer: hell yes.”

You can find Jesse at jessedanieledwards.com

www.facebook.com/thesmartbrothers

Here at the Parrot Island Band, Linda (my wife and steel pan player) and I had a fun day playing at a surprise wedding shower and tomorrow we play for a home school prom (we will provide the music while the students are having pictures taken) and then I get to share a few “words of wisdom” to the students between dinner and their dance… still trying to figure out how to work the Uke into this part but sure I’ll think of something. 😉 Until next week….

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala ukulele Bry aa

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Rachel Pearl

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Rachel Pearl

Thanks to Rachel Pearl for taking some time to answer a few questions as our Kala Ukulele artist of the week! As Rachel lives in Nashville, we are not too far away (Atlanta, GA)… hopefully I can find the opportunity to hear her live soon. I have enjoyed listening/watching some of her videos and it is obvious that Rachel is a person with great talent and a passion for her music. Without delay, here is another Kala Uke artist interview….

Kala artist Rachel Pearl 1

BIO (from www.facebook.com/RachelPearlMusic/info)

Rachel Pearl hails from Bowling Green, KY, where she grew up with music. Her mother is a popular blues singer from that area and her great Uncle Bill has played at Woodstock and made music all over the world.

She moved to the Nashville area in 2000 to learn more about herself and music. She travels the US with her ukulele and guitar singing original jazzy tunes, Top 40 hits and jazz standards.

Such is the enigma, the phenomenon called Rachel Pearl. She has such a range of technique in her work and is not afraid to experiment with some amazing results. With her jazz background and classical training, she tackles pop music with all that she's got, unafraid of shying outside the norm. Her ability to bring together classic sounds with current pop iconic music distinguishes her from many other musicians and also points to a growing trend. Pearl brings a warm vocal tone and vintage taste to electronic popular music. These days Rachel Pearl's new sound has been heavily influenced by artists such as: Oh Land, Robyn, Florence and the Machine, Kimbra, Lady Gaga, Imogen Heap, Katy Perry, Natasha Bedingfield, Madonna and many more.

Kala artist Rachel Pearl 2

1) Where is home for you at the moment?    

“Nashville is my home! They call it Music City for good reason. There is so much talent here. I visit other big music towns like NYC and Los Angeles, but they don't feel like home. They are great for inspiration and collaboration though.”

2) What were your earliest/ and current musical influences?  

“My earliest influences were artists like Bonnie Raitt, Cyndi Lauper, The Beatles, Herman and the Hermits, …..I listened to so many things growing up. My mother had stacks of vinyl records and my twin sister and I would listen on our little record player. My current influences range from Ella and Julie London, to Katy Perry and Oh Land.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“I started playing ukulele after a relative passed away and I was given their instruments. It was three years ago. One was a mahogany soprano, the other a tenor banjo ukulele. Both were at least 60-80 years old and I felt that they deserved to be cleaned up and played.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

I love the solid acacia tenor and the (now discontinued) curly mango tenor. One of my favorites is also the arch top. It has a wonderfully warm sound.”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)? 

“My newest release is my self-titled CD "rachel pearl". It is pretty different from my jazzy CDs, but I think that music is all about taking chances and learning new things as you go. I've been songwriting more than I ever have and I've been learning a lot. I will return to a more acoustic sound, I'm sure. And I still post ukulele videos from time to time.” 

Kala Uke artist 3

You can also find Rachel at:

www.rachelpearl.com

www.twitter.com/rachelpearl

www.youtube.com/rachelpearl

Facebook

 

 

 

Here on Parrot Island (that imaginary place where the Parrot Island Band resides), I finished a new song this week. 🙂 The title of the song is If You Want a Happy Song and is a reminder (to me and hopefully others) that we are responsible for our own happiness and have the choice each day to write our own happy song….  We have a gig at a small coffee shop this weekend and will have the opportunity to play this song live. I always enjoy sharing new songs with people and, even better, when it is in a small setting. Until next week….

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Ukulele Artist

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist RJ Kaneao

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist RJ Kaneao

Thanks to RJ Kaneao for taking time to answer a few questions in my quest to get to know some of the Kala Uke artists better…. I stopped by RJ’s webpage and really enjoyed hearing his music and finding out more about him!

RJ Kaneao Kala Uke artist

Bio (taken from www.rjkaneaomusic.com)

Combining reggae grooves, heartfelt ballads, and Polynesian rhythms, RJ Kaneao's unique blend of contemporary sounds and traditional beats lends to the color of local Hawai'i and Pacific (Polynesian) music. Performing alongside such greats as Don Ho, Melveen Leed, the late Dennis Pavao, Mana'o and Company, Kawao, Fiji, Various Marley's, the late great Braddah IZ Kamakawiwo'ole and many others, RJ has spent much of his life fine tuning the details of island music.

 

As a Polynesian entertainer traveling the globe with Tihati Productions, RJ's exposure abroad has helped craft his musical style into a much desired local pleasure. Once the musical director for Tihati Productions on the Big Island Chapter, he continues to honor and share his Polynesian heritage with all.

Along with many local artists, RJ Kaneao's influences include Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, John Mayer, Elvis Presley, James Ingram, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Benson and Frank Sinatra. "Weird, huh?!" Not really, considering the eclectic mix of tunes from the catchy lines of "This is 4 My Lady", "Ooh Now Girl", "Sip'n on Wine" (TORU CD) to laid back ballads like "Love You Driving Me Crazy" (LANUI CD). He credits much of his success and musical guidance to his mentor, Kalama Ku Koanui, and his family as inspiration, especially his son, Aaron.

With his fourth release, "Best Of Me", RJ Kaneao highlights his musical inspirations once again and brings his journey back to its roots. Recorded completely in his own studio, "Best Of Me" is a testament not only to RJ's musical gifts but his technical skill behind the boards and as a producer as well. "Best Of Me" is RJ's latest giving of himself back to his listeners, fans, friends and family.

From the relaxing love groove “Babygirl” and “You're Beautiful” to the more upbeat “Just Friends” to the already well requested  smash hit single, “All Night”, RJ shows that he still has a rhythm and step for ladies. The island pop “Ooh Baby” throws down the funk, while “Karakia No Te Atua” (“Best Of Me”) seeks to hold strong the support for struggles of the Polynesian man in today's world. Ending with a smooth R&B ballad, RJ's “I Can't Leave You Alone” is a tribute to the softer and more romantic, heartbroken side of his music. With 14 original tracks in total, RJ Kaneao's "Best Of Me" is the culmination of the creative mind and musical talent of one of Hawaii's hardest working entertainers.

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“I am in Hawaii for the most part but toggling between flying to L.A. on red-eye flights to get where I need to go. I realize the move is probably something in the near future.”

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

“I've pretty much been around music since I was in my mother’s belly…lol. My family has been deeply rooted in music and entertaining when I was a child and as I progressed through my school years. I've been on-stage since I was like about 3-4yrs old but my earliest recollection is probably when I was about 6, so my earliest influence has to be my family. My current musical influences range from musicians, artists, vocalists and just some everyday people. To be able to pull influences and a better understanding of your music and how it runs, indeed, in sync with your life, can bring so much depth into your music.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“As a child I always fiddled around with it, and in Hawaii it’s a normal thing. I started taking it more seriously when I was about 14. But I've been a lead guitarist professionally for about 18 years and from time to time switch it up with ukulele.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I am playing a Kala Mahogany cutaway. KA-SMLTE-C”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“I have my two most recently released albums on iTunes and some singles, songs I produced for other artist etc.

“As far as tours, there has been talk, but nothing confirmed, as of yet.”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course 😉

“Question: What is Music to me, like, what is the definition?

“Answer: to me, music is sharing, giving, expressing, beauty of creativity, but most of all, a giving of pure love.”

You can find RJ at  www.rjkaneaomusic.com

Facebook 

Youtube

As I have mentioned in previous interviews, I greatly enjoy the diversity and talent among Kala Ukulele artists. Kala has some world class (and world traveled) musicians playing their Ukuleles. I hope some of these guys/gals make it to Atlanta so I can meet them in person! 🙂

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Uke Artist Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Justin Fox

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Justin Fox

As I have been reminded in these interviews, not only do musicians have a variety of musical styles, but we also have a great deal of diversity in backgrounds and personal lives. With Easter just a few days away, I thought it would be a good week to post my Kala Uke artist interview with Justin Fox who is using his music (including his Ukuleles) to reach out to others in faith and love…

Kala artist Justin Fox

BIO: (From http://www.justinfox.com/story/)

“My dad is a forester, my mom is a folk singer…My uncles are butterfly collectors, tile layers, Scientologists, and flamenco dancers…

I was dreaming of being Kris Kristofferson in “Convoy”.  I wanted to be a truck driver.

In 1989, while playing Poison’s “Fallen Angel” to a packed crowd of screaming teenagers, I felt God tap me on the shoulder. We were driving home the last few songs of our set, the energy was building, and as I took in the moment, peering through the smoke and the lights, caught in the audience’s joyful response, it seemed like I heard God quietly say, “I want you to do this.”

A few years later: 1993, still before the age of the Internet, email, cell phones, Chris Tomlin, Delirious, or Third Day… I began the adventure of my life, visiting youth groups, camps, and Sunday services with just a batch of original songs, a trunk of cassette tapes and my acoustic guitar. I was on a brand new road to where music was going in church, and logging hundreds of thousands of lonely miles up and down California, at odd hours of the day and night, joining the rushing current of 18 wheelers, I realized I had finally got my wish…

I was a truck driver!

I graduated in 1993 from Bethany University in Santa Cruz.  I married Heidi, the love of my life, a week later, and we are thankful to now be celebrating 20 years of marriage.  I’ve produced ten CD’s of original music…oh, and four children. As our kids grew (three teenagers now!), my desire for a more local, close-to-home existence and some dramatic nudging of the Spirit prompted a change.  I had been “on the road”, full-time, for over seventeen years and an opportunity opened up to serve at my local church while attending graduate school at Biola’s Talbot Seminary. Three years later, I have earned an M.A. degree in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care and will graduate as a licensed spiritual director.

I currently serve as City Pastor to Costa Mesa through ROCKHARBOR Church, lead worship at Lighthouse Community and other various venues, write for David C. Cook’s TRU discipleship curriculum, and accompany college students as a spiritual director at Biola University.”

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

Costa Mesa, CA

2) What were your earliest/ and current musical influences?

Earliest musical influences: Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Beach Boys

Current musical influences: Jack Johnson, Black Keys, Mumford & Sons

Kala artist justin Fox b

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

Seven years ago

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

Two gorgeous soprano ukes – one with dark wood and traditional stylings and one that's lighter with modern elements including a pickup with EQ and Tuner!

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

My first Uke recording was "Handiwork" and that set me on the journey.

Here's the track:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/handiwork/id118443388?i=118443099

You can find Justin at http://www.justinfox.com/

This week, I (Bry/Parrot Island Band) was invited to Open Arms Preschool in Acworth, GA to introduce the Ukulele as they learn the letter “U”. I love sharing the Uke with young and old alike and the kids had a great time and were very well behaved. While we usually play for adults (corporate events, neighborhood parties, private events, etc.), this was a fun time that I’m glad I could be involved in…

Until next time…

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Uke Artist Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Stuart Fuchs

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Stuart Fuchs

As another week starts, it is time for another Kala Ukulele artist interview– this time we hear from Stuart Fuchs. From the sound of things, Stuart is very busy… thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, Stuart!

If you live in the Tampa, Florida area- stop by and visit Stuart… here is some information Stuart sent me last week, “I'll be giving a Ukulele clinic on Tuesday 3/26 @ Sam Ash in Tampa…the Dale Mabry location.  The details are at www.stufchs.com on my calendar.”

For the rest of us, here is some more information on Stuart and his Ukulele travels…

Kala Uke artist Stuart Fuchs

BIO: (http://www.stufuchs.com/about-stu/)

Stuart Fuchs is a performing artist, multi-instrumentalist, music educator & workshop facilitator.  He plays everything he can get his hands on, but specializes in Ukulele, Gypsy Jazz & Classical Guitar, Didjeridoo, and Percussion.

“Stuart travels the world with his collection of instruments and loves to spread joy through music, with spontaneous (and scheduled) acts of musical kindness.  Have you ever been treated to a spontaneous serenade in an airport gate, or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office?  If you heard soulful and peaceful refrains coming from a smiling Ukulele player, that was Stu.

“Stuart Fuchs has worked as a performing musician, teaching artist & workshop facilitator for nearly 20 years—playing many styles of music on Guitar, Ukulele & healing music on overtone rich instruments such as Tibetan Singing Bowls and the Aboriginal Didjeridoo.  Stuart has been called a “modern day pied piper” and has performed & taught music to a diverse array of populations—from corporate executives & toy designers at Fisher-Price Inc., developmentally disabled adults, juvenile offenders, and hospice patients.  Stuart believes passionately in the healing power of music to be a vehicle for personal expression & wellness—he finds great joy & purpose in guiding individuals into a more humanistic and natural experience of their innate musicality.”

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“In my sweetheart's arms!  No, really, I was born in the Bronx, NYC.  Home for 17 years has been Buffalo, NY.”

2) What were your earliest/ and current musical influences?

“Earliest? My Father was a classical guitarist & I grew up listening to him play.  At a very tender age, he taught me a few things about it & then let me have one of his guitars.  I would take it into the woods and then try to make the sounds of birds.  

First music that made me want to play was George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue & my sister's David Bowie & Beatles LP records. Songs by Monty Python, Pink Floyd & Jimi Hendrix were what I first learned to play. Currently listen to just about anything that has soul & is not overly produced.  I'm open to a lot.  I love roots music of America, Indian classical music, jazz, New Orleans funk, Classical, The Rolling Stones, Django Reinhardt….I'll stop now :)”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“First Uke was a cheap-o soprano in 2001.  I had no idea what it was, I just knew I wanted a small axe to play on the bus & cheer me up during Buffalo's bitter winters.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“My endorsement with Kala was sealed with a Marcy Marxer signature Uke.  The fine fellows at Kala's shop set it up just as I like it & IT SMOKES! (Thank you Ryan & Crew!)”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“Yes indeed!  On 3/3/13 I released my first SOLO CD called "Stukulele". You can hear and buy it at http://stukulele.bandcamp.com/album/stukulele.  I have also launched a NEW WEBSITE at http://www.stufuchs.com/.

I am currently touring with Bhakti Yoga/Kirtan artists David Newman & Mira, accompanying them with my guitar & Ukulele…singing ancient & very healing Sanskrit Mantras.  It's a meditation method & a limb of Yoga known as "The Yoga of the Heart".  Look up "Kirtan" for more.”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course;-)

“Q) What is the best palindrome you've ever heard?  

A) "I'm a lasagna hog.  Go hang a salami". “

(Stuart… you got me there… I learned something today… I had to go look this up.  😉 For the rest of us, a palindrome “is that peculiar marvel of language when words or sentences read the same forward and backward” Good one!)

Kala Uke artist Stuart Fuchs

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find Stuart at:

http://www.facebook.com/StukuleleStuartFuchsMusic

http://www.stufuchs.com/

From here on Parrot Island (yes, it’s a state of mind, but I spend so much time here that sometimes it’s hard to remember I’m not really ON an island :))… I hope everyone’s week is filled with sunshine, palm trees and the sound of Kala Ukuleles (that’s your cue… get off the computer and go play your Uke!)

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Uke Artist Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Will Kimbrough

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Will Kimbrough

I saw a picture of Will Kimbrough playing a Kala 8 string Ukulele about a week ago and thought that Will would make a great Kala Uke artist. Today I saw his picture up on the Kala Brand Music web page confirming that he is now a part of the Kala Ukulele family! 

In my interview with Jim Mayer (Coral Reefer Band/Jimmy Buffett), he mentioned that he and Will had been playing the UBass and Ukulele on some of the songs on Buffett’s upcoming CD. As I am a big fan of Jimmy Buffett (and the wonderful musicians that he surrounds himself with), I was excited to hear that there will be some Uke on this project. Will confirmed that he “just played the Kala Uke all over the upcoming Jimmy Buffett album!! Probably half the songs have the 8 string tenor Kala on them…” !

If you haven’t heard of Will Kimbrough, you have missed out on some great music. Will is not only a superb song writer but an outstanding musician. While Will sits in on some of Jimmy Buffett’s concerts and recording sessions, he is a wonderful talent in his own right… OK, enough superlatives from me… check out Will Kimbrough for yourself.

Kala artist Will Kimbrough

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio:

“Will Kimbrough was born and raised on the Gulf Coast. He has been out playing music since his first band at the age of 12, and on the road since he graduated high school. Will's bands include Will and the Bushmen, The Bis-Quits, DADDY and now Willie Sugarcapps, his collaboration with Grayson Capps and Sugarcane Jane (Anthony and Savana Crawford). Will has released 6 solo albums in addition to 6 albums with his various bands. Will's songs have been recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Little Feat, Todd Snider, Jack Ingram and others. He has worked in the studio and live with Buffett, Snider, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Mavis Staples and way too many others to mention here. Will produced two of Todd Snider's finest albums (East Nashville Skyline and The Devil You Know) as well as Adrienne Young's Grammy Award nominated Plow to the End of the Row CD. Will is currently on tour all over the U.S., finishing his upcoming solo CD and working on the debut Willie Sugarcapps CD

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“Nashville”

2) What were your earliest/ and current musical influences?

“ Hank Williams, Beatles, Mississippi John Hurt”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“3 years ago”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“8 string tenor!”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“ Currently finishing a solo CD, and beginning a CD with Willie Sugarcapps—my new band with Grayson Capps and Sugarcane Jane (Anthony and Savana Crawford).”

Kala Will Kimbrough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find Will at:

www.willkimbrough.com and Willie Sugarcapps- Home  for tour dates, news, blogs and information.”

Thanks again to Will for answering a few questions, here’s wishing you a year of gigs and fun… and of course, more Uke! 🙂

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), Will is always welcome to sit in and Uke with the Parrot Island Band (here in Atlanta, Ga but have Uke, steel pan and congas and will travel)- aloha!

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Uke Ambassador Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Kyle Heimann

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Kyle Heimann

Our next Kala Ukulele artist is Kyle Heimann. I’m really enjoying getting to know some of the other Kala artists and the wide range of musical styles and backgrounds of this group. Kyle and his duo look like my kind of people (a little “goofy” but a lot of fun 🙂 ). After doing a little search online, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it but I think I could fit in with this group pretty easy (in fact I’m thinking about taking my Uke and stalking them for awhile 😉  ). Without further adieu… here’s Kyle!

IMG_3036Kyle-utar-01

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio:

“Kyle is one-half of a musical duo called Popple (an acoustic, humor rock band). He mostly plays a tenor ukulele and kazoo, although the nose-flute and harmonica usually make an appearance. Popple travels around the country speaking and entertaining youth and they are bearded.” (Editorial note… I’m not sure if the band or the youth is bearded but I may just show up one day to find out!)

PoppleJumpColorSq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“I live near Fort Wayne, IN.”

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

“My mom comes from a very musical family and her dad (my grandpa) taught music, directed groups and owned a music store. So, I kinda went from piano to trumpet to guitar to ukulele. There was probably a couple dozen other instruments that I have messed around with or currently do. I love goofing around with all kinds of instruments but ukulele is my main one, followed by guitar.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“I bought a $35 ukulele in 2003. I was playing guitar with another guy (the beginnings of our band, Popple), and worked the ukulele into one song, then two . . . now, I usually don't take a guitar to a gig.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I have a Utar (now discontinued) and a Kala KA-15S that are both fitted with electronics. I also have a Ubass that is tons of fun. But, mostly, I play a Kala KA-ASMTE-C and an Archtop, both tenors. They feel fairly similar and I can never decide which one I like better. That is 5 Kala instruments for those keeping track at home.”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“I am in a band called, "Popple." We travel around playing mostly for youth groups, retreats, and other church functions. We call it ‘Acoustic-Humor-Folk-Beard-Rock.’"

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course;-)

“I wish people asked me if I used steroids. That would imply that I look very strong. The answer would be, ‘No, this is all natural.’ "

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Any group that plays kazoos and Kala Ukuleles is OK by me and if they are ever nearby, they are more than welcome to sit in with us (the Parrot Island Band from Atlanta, GA).  Thanks to Popple for taking their music and reaching out to young people… keep spreading the Uke!

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala ukulele Bry

Kala Ukelele endorsing artist Jim Mayer

Kala Ukulele (U-bass) endorsing artist Jim Mayer

I first met Jim Mayer a few years ago at a Parrothead event (Tropstock) in Cocoa Village, FL.  While our band (the Parrot Island Band) opened the event, Jim, brother Peter, Nadirah Shakoor and Doyle Grisham (all members of Jimmy Buffett’s band, the Coral Reefers) were the musicians that everyone came to see (including me!).  There were a number of other Trop Rock bands/performers at the event and it was a thrill for me to be a part of the event that had some of “Jimmy Buffett’s band” to get to meet up close.

On Saturday of Tropstock, Jim (who also goes by “Uncle Jim” for his children’s music events) played for all of the children who had come to the event. I enjoyed seeing someone who plays for a band as big as the Coral Reefers also share another side to his music. I have since seen Jim present his IM4U Anti-Bullying program to elementary and middle school students in Alabama (organized by my friend, Derek Raulerson) and I was moved by his passion for helping young people through his message and music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I looked at the list of Kala Ukulele artists, I saw Jim’s name under those who play the U-bass (a baritone Ukulele that is built to be played as a bass). I thought it would be interesting to ask a few questions and hear about his current music projects (one of which includes the Kala U-bass)…

Bio (taken from http://www.unclejimrocks.com):

Jim’s talent shines on both electric and upright acoustic bass, playing with performers ranging from jazz legend Mose Allison to James Taylor to Ringo Starr. As a member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band since 1989, Mayer has been writing, recording and performing worldwide with Buffett.

In addition to appearing on numerous television shows, some of Mayer's career highlights have been: touring with and opening for The Moody Blues and Chicago as a member of PM [the Peter Mayer Group] (1989), performing as a Coral Reefer band member at President Clinton's Inauguration (1992) and President Clinton's White House Birthday Celebration (1995), performing with Joni Mitchell in a benefit for the New Orleans Homeless (1994), performing with Robert Greenidge, Michael Utley and Grammy winning artist Ralph MacDonald at the Trinidad-Tabago Jazz Festival (1996), and being featured on the XM Kids Rumpus Room Concert Series.

Mayer has played on over thirty studio recordings. Some recent recording credits include upcoming CD releases from Little Feat and JD Souther. And in his spare time, (spare time, what's that?) he's engineered and produced eleven CDs in addition to his own.
Jim resides in Nashville where he works continually to improve the lives of children and their parents with music and videos. He loves dogs, climbing trees, and chunky peanut butter.

Uncle Jim presents a compelling anti-bullying program entitled “IM4U” (I’m for you).

 

Kala Jim Mayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

 “Nashville, TN”

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

 “ Earliest: The Beatles
   Current: Brett Dennen

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

  “Four years ago”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

   “U-Bass”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“Just finished recording the new Buffett release in Key West, FL. The Kala U-Bass was used on special songs and sounded fantastic and unique; the band was digging it. Will Kimbrough sat next to me and played an 8-string uke and rocked on it.

Personally I am working on a Bully Prevention Teaching Program for young children called ‘IM4U’.”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course;-)

“Q:What keeps music interesting and keeps you inspired?

A: 1) Believing that notes I play really matter and require my complete attention, dedication and focus.

2) Keeping perspective by having a sense of humor about where my notes fit into the larger scheme of things. The ocean, the sky, a forest, a lake are all amazing and inspiring.”

I have been a Jimmy Buffett fan for many years and I have also become a fan of Jim Mayer as well (both as a person and his music). Although I am not in the same league musically to Jim, it is neat for me to be able say that we are both Kala Ukulele artists. 🙂 I look forward to hearing Buffett’s new CD when it comes out and I will be listening for Jim’s U-bass and Will Kimbrough’s 8-string Ukulele…

While we are certainly no Coral Reefer Band, our little Trop rock trio (the Parrot Island Band, a Trop rock/Jimmy Buffett tribute band from Atlanta, GA) is always ready to play some Buffett tunes while Jimmy and the rest of the band are filling their venues. I like to promote our little group as “Jimmy Buffett on a budget” and there are many groups like ours throughout the country who are thankful for the opportunity to share our love of Buffett music.

Thanks Jim, for taking the time to answer a few questions and always being ready to share your love for music and your infectious smile…

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Brand Music Bry Harris

Music On The Move

Music On The Move

Music On The Move. Last week I was invited by music teacher Cheryl Walburn (former Parrot Island Band steel pan player) to her school, Roberts Elementary, in Dallas, GA, to participate in their weeklong event called “Music On The Move”. Each day a parent or friend of the school (my category) was asked to come to the school and introduce a musical instrument to the students in their classrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During their music week, I was told there would be a mandolin, guitar, violin and even someone who would sing opera to the students. My instrument, of course, would be the Ukulele (Kala soprano) and I started off the event on Monday.  Having recently agreed to represent and promote Kala Ukuleles (they call me an “endorsing artist”, I like to think of myself as a Kala Ukulele Ambassador 🙂), I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce these young people to a wonderful instrument.

With Mary McDonald as my school guide, we set off to visit as many classrooms as possible. When we entered each classroom, I asked if the students knew what instrument I had with me. Answers from the younger students ranged from “banjo”, “guitar” and even “violin”. I gave the students some background information on the Ukulele and then played my song, “Parrot Island”. I was happy to see that the kids not only enjoyed the song, but really seemed to enjoy the Ukulele.

Music on the Move

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My song “Parrot Island” is a song about an imaginary island filled with palm trees, a clear sandy beach and dolphins jumping in the nearby waters. I asked the kids what they would want to bring or do on a visit to Parrot Island (I told them there would be a soda machine and all drinks were free) and they came up with some fun answers. Some wanted parrots, while others wanted to parasail. A few wanted to swim with the dolphins, while others wanted to see sharks (without teeth, of course). Only one class wanted their cell phones and video games and while I told them they could bring them to this wonderful (yet imaginary) place, I hoped once they got there, they would want to enjoy all the fun (and outdoor opportunities) that would be provided.

Music on the Move

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did stop by the teacher’s lounge while some were on a break and they seemed to enjoy a few minutes of entertainment too. Several mentioned reminiscing of some “beachy” place they had visited. On the way to another classroom, I encountered a class en route in the hallway. I sang them a song quietly and as another class came from the other direction, I paused to let them pass. The teacher stopped and asked if I would continue and when I finished, both classes erupted in applause (so much for playing quietly!). The highlight of the morning came when I heard a student yell from down the hallway… "There's Ukulele Man!". Yup, that was fun. 🙂

I left Robert’s Elementary School with a smile on my face and I feel like I left the place a little more joyful that morning. I was followed by a mandolin player on Tuesday and was told that many of the students were convinced he was playing a Ukulele!

Music On the Move - A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I usually play for adults as part of the Parrot Island Band (a Trop Rock/Jimmy Buffett tribute band from Atlanta, Georgia), my time at Roberts Elementary was a blast. I enjoyed hanging out with the students and they were all very well behaved. I hope I have the opportunity to return to this event next year and maybe even visit another school, should the opportunity arise.

As warmer weather approaches, remember us if you are planning a community event that needs some tropical music…maybe a party for your HOA (Home Owners Association) event or even a customer appreciation outing. We also play a number of fundraisers throughout the year and I also like to play at house concerts if you would like a more intimate musical environment.

Peace, Love and Ukulele,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala ukulele Bry

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Snap Jackson

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Snap Jackson

As a new Kala Ukulele endorsing artist, I wanted to get to know some of the other musicians in the “Kala family”.  Dustin Barber was kind enough to be the first to respond to my request for an interview and I enjoyed getting to know more about him and his tremendous talents. Snap Jackson (and several others that we will hear from in coming weeks) is my next featured artist.

Kala Snap Jackson Uke artist

Bio (from Snap’s website): “In July of 2006, after hearing John Hartford’s Mark Twang album, singer-songwriter, Snap Jackson walked into a music store in Stockton, California and purchased his first banjo. He has been obsessing over it ever since. In addition to both Scruggs style and clawhammer banjo, Snap also plays the ukulele, mountain dulcimer, and the harmonica. In recognition of his efforts, Snap was nominated in 2010 for the Northern California Banjo Player of the Year award and in 2011 he received an endorsement deal with both the Deering Banjo Company and Kala Brand Ukuleles. When he is not on the road fronting his band, Snap Jackson & the Knock on Wood Players, he can be found at home playing the banjo and spending time with his family. Some of Snap’s major influences include: Nina Simone, Jerry Garcia, John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Stevie Wonder, and Townes Van Zandt.”

The following questions are just a few that I thought would help me (and others) get to know Snap a little better:

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“The road, but Stockton, California is where I keep my clothes.”

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

“My mom was a big fan of soul and old school r&b music: Kool & the Gang, Switch, Tower of Power, Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Commodores, Stevie Wonder, and artists of that nature. My father, on the other hand, was into the more mellow stuff like James Taylor, America, John Denver, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and the early Michael Jackson stuff. My Grams, Molly Bustos, exposed me to mariachi music at a very young age. I still enjoy listening to mariachi music very much. To me, mariachi music and bluegrass music have many commonalities; the harmonies, timing, themes, and even some of the same instruments are used in both styles of music. Both genres were created by and for the working man. I also grew up listening to a lot of hip hop music.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“About 5 years ago.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“The tenor spruce top cut away is my main Uke on the road. For the type of music that we do, it really cuts through and gets the job done.”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“We just released Kaleidoscope, our second full length studio album consisting of all original songs. [The first album is A Breath of Fresh Air.] Both albums are available on itunes.”

Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players

 

 

 

 

 

You can also find Snap at:

www.knockonwoodplayers.com

Facebook

I really appreciate Snap taking the time to answer these questions. I also took some time to listen to Snap and The Knock On Wood Players on Youtube (just Google and you can find several great videos) and was impressed with the quality and professionalism they put into their music. I enjoyed seeing how Snap worked the Ukulele (he is also a very talented banjo player) into the mix that includes (among others) guitar, stand up bass, and fiddle.  I hope that Snap and the band make it to the Atlanta area before too long – I’ll be there if they do!

Until Snap makes it to Georgia, keep us (the Parrot Island Band) in mind if you are here in the Southeast and looking for some Tropical Ukulele music (Kala Uke, steel pan, congas and soon U-bass). In addition to some fun cover tunes, we also play a number of original songs and have been nominated three years in a row as Trop Rock Duo/Trio of the year.

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Uke Ambassador Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Dustin Barber

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Dustin Barber

I (Bry) received some good news this week as I joined the Kala Ukulele “family” of endorsing artists/musicians. I thought it would be interesting to get to know some of the other musicians who play Kala Ukuleles and since I have met and listened to Dustin Barber before, I thought I would ask him to answer a few questions. I hope some of the other Kala artists will be willing to participate in this project in the coming weeks.

Dustin Barber Kala Uke Artist

 

 

 

 

In looking at Dustin’s website, I took a few highlights (read the rest at dustinbarber.com) to share in this interview….

“Dustin Barber, known to his friends as "Dusty," began playing guitar at age 7 in Ft. Worth, Texas, where he was born. His father Sam bought him an electric guitar and taught him classics such as "Walk Don't Run" and "Wipe Out," which he leveraged to win elementary school talent shows. Soon after, he was playing complicated classical pieces.

His first big opportunity to tour internationally, surprisingly, was with a Southern Rock / Country band. This required that he set aside his Charvel and pick up a Telecaster, but as a fan of Chet Atkins, Ricky Skaggs, and Albert Lee, with whom he studied, he had no trouble combining his progressive rock skills with blistering country chops.

Presently, Dusty is touring the world with the Godfather of Soul, the legendary Al Green. Performing on stages from London to Madrid and television shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he has remained incredibly busy in 2008. This experience has brought his talent to the forefront, and has proved that he is one of the most versatile guitarists in the nation.”

I first saw Dustin play a couple of years ago at a Parrothead event (A1A Parrothead Club’s Beach Bash) in an event that we (the Parrot Island Band) were also playing in. Dustin played guitar and Ukulele in Jimmy Parrish’s Band The Ocean Waves. If you have the opportunity to hear Dustin play guitar or Ukulele, make sure you don’t miss it!

Dustin Barber plays Kala Ukes

 

 

 

 

The following questions are just a few that I thought would help me (and others) get to know Dustin a little better:

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“Jacksonville, Florida”

2) What were your earliest/ and current musical influences?

“My father would be my earliest influence and my most current influences would be Bob Marley, Al Green and tropical music!”

3)  When did you start playing the Ukulele?

“I started playing the Ukulele around 2008.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I am currently using a Kala Spalted Maple Cutaway w/pickup (KA-FMTE-C 4-String Tenor), Kala Mahogany 8-String (KA-8. 8 string uke) and a Kala Travel Uke (KA-SSTU-FMCP. Travel uke) with onboard compass in case I get lost!”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“I am currently the touring/recording guitarist for The Reverend Al Green, The Conch Fritters, Steel Bamboo Band and The Dustin Barber Project.”

Check out some of Dustin’s projects below…

dustinbarber.com

steelbambooband.com

theconchfritters.com

Dustin Barber

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to LIKE the Conch Fritters on facebook to keep up with their dates and new releases! If you haven’t gotten a copy of their new CD "Deep Fried", you can find it on Itunes, Cd Baby or their website at theconchfritters.com.

Thanks to Dustin for taking the time to share a little of himself with me. I hope that we have an opportunity at a future event to sit down and play our Kala Ukuleles a bit. I know that I could learn a lot from such a talented musician!

In the meantime, if you live near Atlanta, GA,  I (Bry) would love to come play at your event (or maybe you’d like to host a house concert).  The Parrot Island Band not only plays some classic Jimmy Buffett tunes, but we also play other tropical songs by bands like Zac Brown, Kenny Chesney, etc.  In addition to some fun cover tunes, we also play a number of original songs and have been nominated three years as Trop Rock duo/trio of the year.

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala Uke Ambassador Bry Harris