In honour of my Uncle Bert’s birthday, I had to post this great article I tripped over at BoingBoing.com.
The first musical instrument I ever learned to play was the banjo-uke. My Dad’s a cabinet-maker, and one of his early projects was to make a couple of the miniature banjos for my Uncle Bert, who was an avid George Formby fan and damn good banjo player. Growing up hearing him play impressed upon me that it’s pretty tough to remain in a bad mood when you’re playing a banjo. I got my first one when I was twelve.
A banjo-uke is the near-cousin of the ukelele, which has been enjoying something of a renaissance on the internet of late. One of the weirdest, warmest and wackiest homages to the uke—as well as to music, to politics and to humour—is neatly wrapped in a “Benefit Concert for Warren Buffett”: two guys play every song in the Beatles library (164 songs, for the record—pun intended). Full details are available at this Ukulelia blog post but the best part is the dénouement. Our boys deliver a brown paper bag with bills and coins representing “hundreds of dollars” to Mr. Buffet, himself. The video of that exchange is a treat, and is reproduced below.
Happy Birthday, Uncle Bert.