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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