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 ukulele has never been more popular, and Fred Sokolow's relaxed, user-friendly teaching style makes it easy to learn. Volume One of this three-part series starts right at the beginning, showing you how to tune and hold the uke.
Fred teaches you how to play songs of many genres, including Jambalaya, Stand By Me, Ghost Riders In the Sky, Every Day, Folsom Prison Blues, House of the Rising Sun, Aloha Oe and more. In the process of learning these classic tunes, you'll acquire several strumming patterns and over a dozen easy chords, enabling you to play in five keys. It's a great way to get started on the uke!
Fred slows all the tunes down and breaks them down so they're easy to learn. You'll also enjoy his "uke lore" stories about the the songs and the players. All the songs are written out in tab and music, with chord grids as well.
Whether you're a novice or a uke player wanting more repertoire and technique, there's plenty here for you. It's a great way to get started on this wonderful instrument, and a great way to expand your uke horizons!
82 minutes - Level 1 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Coming to the ukuleles emotional rescue is Fred Sokolow, erasing misconceptions that the sawed-off four string is a novelty toy, exorcising its painful past with Tiny Tim. Now filling that space is the restored reputation of a pint-sized workhorse ready for anything that blues, country, rock, bluegrass or pop can dish at its puny frame. As scrapper ("Nobody Knows When You're Down And Out"), romancer ("Aura Lee", melodically aka "Love Me Tender"), charmer ("When You Wish Upon A Star"), cowpoke ("Ghost Riders In The Sky") and rocker ("House Of The Rising Sun"), the uke proves to be a mighty little beast. And Sokolow's three individually available DVD courses teach you how to drive one. Progressively advancing from Beginner to Intermediate through Advanced skills, each ninety-minute lesson ramps up the complexity of technique: accumulating tunings, strumming patterns and chords; rolling in fingerpicking skills; incorporating chord-melody soloing. All of that while also building a repertoire as fantastically diverse as Hank Williams' ("Jambalaya") and Johnny Cash's ("Folsom Prison Blues", the Beach Boys' ("Sloop John B") and Buddy Holly's ("Not Fade Away"), Frank Sinatra's ("Fly Me To The Moon") and Irving Berlin's ("A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody"). Importantly, Sokolow also reinstates the uke's mini mojo. Anthems as great as "Sitting On Top Of The World" and "Matchbox Blues" help teach the art of playing 12-bar blues in any key, even right down to, of course, bending those stunted strings. The diminutive darling of the 1920's has become the darling of today, adored by organizations and festivals devoted to it, ruling airwaves through the phenomenon of Iz's transcendent "Somewhere Over The Rainbow/ What A Wonderful World" cover and a whole disc of Ukulele Songs from normally Pearl Jam'ing Eddie Vedder. Meet (and learn to master) the new compact cool. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag
Review: This is a great place to start for those wishing to learn the Ukulele. I understand the reviewer regarding guitar playing references; it is true that if you know the basic chords on the guitar, it is easy to transition, but for those who do not know how to play the guitar, simply take the chords and practice them; the simple ones Fred uses. This is somewhat 'presupposed' in his teaching. If you need a DVD lesson showing the actual chords in more detail, Marcy Marxer's DVDs for kids are great --adults need a touch of patience with the Sesame Street like demeanor, but she is also a gifted teacher and though I bought her volume 1 and 2 for my daughter, I used them to learn the basic chords.