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Peace, Love and Ukulele

Peace, Love and Ukulele

Peace, Love and Ukulele… It is the title of Ukulele legend Jake Shimabukuro’s CD. It is also an ideal…that music (in this case, the Ukulele) can bring peace into a chaotic world.

Bry Harris Kala Uke artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know that the Ukulele brings me a great deal of peace. It is a great stress reliever and helps take me to my “happy place”. 🙂 It also brings a smile to those who listen and I have found that it is hard to be in conflict with someone while they are listening to a Uke and smiling. (In my “humble opinion”, the Ukulele is the ultimate “weapon of peace” and should be given to everyone around the world at this very moment.)

At the beach this past week, I sat and watched the ocean waves while playing the Ukulele and wrote one song (Down at the Beach) and started another (Peace, Love and Ukulele).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got home and finished Peace, Love and Ukulele…I hope you enjoy it. (If at any point it makes you smile, please pass this along to someone who needs a lift!)

 

Peace, Love and Ukulele

V1)

Turning off the evening news
It's giving me the blues
We've got to set our sights much higher

Another day has come and gone
I'm just trying to hold on
I know that we can do much better

Chorus)

Peace, Love and Ukulele… we need more of…

The kind of music that can… help us

Finally learn to get along….

V2)

So many people fuss and fight
Everyone thinks they are right
Why can't we learn to love each other

Sometimes our pride gets in the way
And though we know what we should say
It looks like we aren't even trying

Chorus)

Peace, Love and Ukulele… we need more of…

The kind of music that can… help us

Finally learn to get along….

Bridge)

What if we could just remember
On this journey we need friends
The world would be a better place
If we could come together in the end

Chorus)

Peace, Love and Ukulele… we need more of…

The kind of music that can… help us

Finally learn to get along….

As a Kala Ukulele artist (or, Kala Uke Ambassador, as I like to sometimes refer to it), I am always looking for an opportunity to spread my love of Ukulele. It is never too late to pick up this wonderful instrument. It is a joy to play the Ukulele and have someone say that they had always thought of the Uke as a toy but have now changed their mind and realize that it is a great musical instrument!

Although many know me as part of the Parrot Island Band (a Jimmy Buffett tribute band from Atlanta, Georgia), I also write original music and enjoy taking the Ukulele into schools, nursing homes and any place that is looking for some fun music to lift their spirits.

My wish for everyone tonight is peace, love and, of course… Ukulele! Thanks for reading and listening…

Peace, Love, Ukulele 🙂

Bry Harris

Parrot Island Band

Kala Ukulele Artist

Peace, Love and Ukulele

 

 

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 Heidi Swedberg

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Heidi Swedberg

Continuing my quest to get to know other Kala Ukulele artists, today I share my interview with Heidi Swedberg. I love to hear from musicians like Heidi who are teaching and sharing music (especially Ukulele!) with the next generation. Thanks to Heidi for taking the time to share some of her thoughts and answers…

Kala Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

BIO (from Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band's Sonicbids EPK and  http://sukeyjumpmusic.com/)

“Actress/musician Heidi Swedberg (Seinfeld, Galaxy Quest) loves to share the joy of music with people of all ages.  She and her partner, Daniel Ward, make beautiful music together. They believe in the incredible power that being a music producer (not just passive consumer) can bring to all people, and believe we all have a song in our soul to share.

“When Heidi was 5 years old, she received her first ukulele from the Hawaiian Easter bunny while living in Kailua, HI. She has fond memories of teaching herself chords and writing songs in her room in Albuquerque, NM, the place she thinks of as home. She picked the instrument up again in 1992 in Hollywood, CA, while playing a singer-songwriter for a network TV pilot. Now life imitates art and she plays a singer-songwriter-teacher full time.

“She recorded her first album this summer in Albuquerque. Play is a family fun ukulele album which encourages you to pick up the instrument and play along.”

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“Los Angeles, CA is my physical home, but NM will always house my heart.”

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

“I have three older sisters and my parents were dynamic Girl Scout Troup leaders for them. My earliest musical influence was the voices of my family and a gaggle of girls singing from the scout songbook. We sang in cars, around the piano and around campsites. It was how we were pacified and entertained. I hope to record one of my favorite songs we sang together for our next CD.

“Current musical influences are as wide as the world and include everyone I meet. I was recently in Haiti teaching ukulele at an orphanage. The kids there taught me a song which we have recorded… I love to learn songs wherever I go. A mom from Panama taught me another song that will be on the new album. If you have one to share with me, be prepared to see me adopt it!”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“I got my first ukulele when I was 5. My family lived in Hawaii and the Easter bunny brought one for each of us in our Easter baskets. One of my sisters still has hers. Wish I had mine, but I loaned it to a boyfriend in high school. Many years later he returned a mandolin in its place.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I use a UBass in my band. It has a great sound, easy to travel with and is a conversation starter. A school where I teach has a bunch of Kala Baritones. I play one every week along with a chorus of 35 middle schoolers.”

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

“We are working on our new CD "My Cup Of Tea" and anticipate a spring release. Right now we have 17 songs from around the world, mostly in the folk tradition, but some pop covers as well. The instrumentation includes xylophone, tuba, guitar, stand up and electric bass, all manners of percussion, horns… and always ukulele. There will be a booklet included (like my last CD) which includes all lyrics and chords.

“We will be doing a spring tour from LA to Kansas City, where we will play the kid's festival Jiggle Jam on Memorial Day weekend. Dates will be available on my blog soon!”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has?

“Where can we send you monetary support?
To my Kickstarter campaign, which is coming soon! Until then, you can buy our first CD and sign up for our newsletter on my blog.

Kala Heidi a

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also find Heidi at:

Heidi’s blog http://sukeyjumpmusic.wordpress.com/

Website  http://sukeyjumpmusic.com/

On a personal note, I (Bry) picked up a new Kala Uke this week- the Kala Acacia Tenor (with a Mi-Si pickup added at the Kala custom shop).  Not only is this a beautiful Uke but it sounds FANTASTIC! The Parrot Island Band played the Music on the Bay event in Tampa, FL, this weekend and with over 700 in attendance, the active pickup system provided the needed volume (without sacrificing tone).

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala ukulele Bry and the Parrot Island Band

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.’ "

kyleukeicon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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