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.
Though the ukulele came from Portugal, it became popular and got its name in Hawaii. In this 90-minute lesson, Fred presents the most well-known Hawaiian hapa-haoli standards, some that go back to the 1920s, others as recent as the 1960s. Mostly written by Tin Pan Alley composers who threw in a few Hawaiian words and phrases, these songs are still sung today wherever ukes are strummed.
Fred teaches beautiful chord-melody solos to each one, and shows you how to strum a simple accompaniment. 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: Blue Hawaii, Little Brown Gal, Ukulele Lady, On the Beach at Waikiki, Pearly Shells, Tiny Bubbles and I Wonder Where My Little Hula Girl Has Gone.
90 minutes - Level 3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: The ukulele does not mean "party animal." But close, though. "Jumping flea" is the rough translation from its native Hawaiian tongue; nonetheless a comparable referral to its pint-sized, fun-loving nature. In its honor, Fred Sokolow lays out a complete luau of hapa-haoli songs, a feast of Tin Pan Alley types whose lyrics paint tropical visions of grass huts, moonlit shores, and those pretty "Pearly Shells." You're set wise to the vexing question of "I Wonder Where My Little Hula Girl Has Gone." And, better yet, to the secret pineapple chord. "Blue Hawaii" gently sways in all of its utter loveliness, just as enchanting as when Bing and then Elvis became infatuated. Don Ho's songbook supplies crowd pleasers as irresistible as the quintessential singalong "Tiny Bubbles." As always, Sokolow comes researched well beyond all the chords, licks, and lyrics, dropping tidbits of historical insight amongst the technical know-how. He's not just a captivating pair of hands to gawk at, you know. Not even when he's speed-strums "On the Beach at Waikiki." - 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.