Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of a library of instructional books and DVDs for guitar, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, lap steel and ukulele. There are currently over a hundred of his books or DVDs in print, sold all over the world. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. The diverse musical genres covered in his books and DVDs, along with several bluegrass, jazz and rock CDs he has released, demonstrate his mastery of many musical styles. Whether he's playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion.
Born in Los Angeles September 14, 1945, by the early 1960s Fred was well known in the California bluegrass scene, playing with Jody Stecher, Brantley Kearns, Sandy Rothman and Eric Thompson. Relocating to Berkeley, he toured and recorded with a hippie rock band throughout most of the 60s, the Bay Area-based Notes From the Underground (Vanguard Records). In the early 70s Fred performed with R&B, rock, country and bluegrass bands. By 1975 Fred had played with bluegrass luminaries like John Herald, Frank Wakefield and Jerry Garcia, had opened for the Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, Country Joe and the Fish and countless other acts.
The blues is a universal language everyone understands. Fred has selected classic tunes that sound terrific on ukulele; some are sad, some are funny, some tell a story. Besides learning great songs by the likes of Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Blake, Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Henry Thomas, you'll learn licks, scales, turnarounds and techniques that'll enable you to jam with other players and ad-lib, blues-style. There's even a lesson on bottleneck/slide uke.
Fred makes it easy to learn, with split-screen, slowed down versions of the songs and helpful hints about the licks and picking styles. All the songs are written out in tab and music notation in the PDF file that comes with the lesson.
Titles include: Little Red Rooster, Diddie Wah Diddie, Wasted Life Blues, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Just a Dream, Fishing Blues, Hesitation Blues and When the Levee Breaks.
110 minutes - Level 2 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Howlin' Wolf's "Little Red Rooster" is the real culprit, the thunderclap from out of a sunshiny sky, the bad seed which transforms - corrupts, some may accuse - the adorable ukulele from happy camper into gnarly hellhound. Well, almost. Your eyes will bug nonetheless watching the unthinkable act of rumbling a bottleneck roughshod down its neck. Because right there, spitting out that wily slide riff, the world's friendliest instrument actually scraps and scuffles. But then instructor Fred Sokolow keeps plowing ahead, imparting whatever other blues moves - Muddy's "Hoochie Coochie" lick, dirty finger slurs, Blind Blake's sportin' right hand - get the uke's mini-mojo workin'. Its characteristically strummy personality toughens up, zapping out pinpoint notes. Blue notes, no less. And chord-melody playing only beefs up the attitude that much more with extra harmony oomph. Perfect, since the eight-song Blues for the Ukulele repertoire is the real deal. Enter Bessie Smith's chordally rich "Wasted Life Blues," the cryptic "Diddie Wah Diddie," the Skid Row anthem "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks" likewise floods out dire emotion with a nifty dip-down lick of its own. All told, you get fed a steady diet of historic grooves and groans that fed everyone from Lead Belly and B.B. to the Stones and Led Zeppelin. Not bad company. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag
Review: Blues For The Ukulele, Songs Of Hawaii For The Ukulele, Legends Of The Ukulele These three new titles by Fred Sokolow are an absolute delight for ukulele players. They all follow the same format so I'm going to focus primarily on the one with the most immediate appeal to me - Blues For The Ukulele. Big Bill Broonzy's Just A Dream, in the key of A, starts with basic strumming accompaniment comprised of simple, movable blues chord shapes and a bunch of generic blues licks applicable to any blues jams.
The DVD steadily introduces more advanced techniques like picking licks and pull-offs through an excellent selection of songs. Fishing Blues, Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, Hesitation Blues and Blind Blake's Diddie Wah Diddie all sound particularly great on the ukulele!
Little Red Rooster, played in open C tuning, is surprisingly effective, if acknowledged as something of a novelty by Sokolow's rhetorical: "Holy moly, bottleneck uke! What'li they think of next!?"
Each song is demonstrated in three stages - performance, teaching and split screen (to show what each hand is doing). Between the teaching, Sokolow tells a few anecdotes about the blues originators and blues folklore but there's no time wasted. While he's demonstrating the slowed-down sections, he sings too, so you always know exactly where you are in the song.