Joe Brown can justifiably lay claim to being the current King of the Ukulele. He has been cited by some of the world’s biggest rock performers as a world class player.
The top two ukulele performed favourites world-wide are ‘Over The Rainbow’, recorded by thousands of people, and ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ – recorded and popularised on uke by only Joe.
Anyone who saw Joe close the George Harrison Tribute concert with ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ can be in no doubt as to his skill set and feel for a song. No stranger to this particular one though he has actually been performing it for over two decades.
The ukulele has been an instrument Joe has always loved and played. In 1963 it even got him into big trouble. Joe was one of the very first artists to have a record banned by the BBC – his recording of the old George Formby song ‘With My Little Ukulele In My Hand’ performed on the ukulele was deemed way too risqué!
In 2006 Joe was approached by major USA ukulele manufacturer KALA, the direct result of ukulele sales having increased world-wide more than tenfold since the Concert For George. Kala credited Joe with much of that success and they asked him to design and endorse his own Signature Series. The Joe Brown Signature Series appeared in 2009.
So this Autumn sees the release of an album long overdue – “The Ukulele Album”.
As its name suggests it features the ukulele on every track, but not as a novelty. It is given its full weight as an instrument alongside raunchy electric and acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjo and lap steel and slide guitars with surprises galore. It’s generally a long way from George Formby (whom Joe met) though one of George’s songs is featured.
‘Ace Of Spades’ (the first single), ‘Pinball Wizard’ and the ELO hit ‘Mr Blue Sky’ are just three to get the inimitable Joe treatment.
Joe is joined on the album not only by his band, including his producer son Pete, but also by his daughter Sam Brown. Unable to sing through operations going wrong, Sam has since developed her own ukulele clubs in Henley and London and 35 of her ukulele pupils, under her expert tutelage, make group contributions to several tracks on the album.
Joe was brought up in the music hall tradition, segueing into Skiffle and then fully embracing Rock ‘n’ Roll. He spans the musical divides and is possibly the last British artist to do so.
His career has covered all aspects of entertainment – TV and radio broadcast, film, musicals, concerts – and his popularity has never waned. His music is contemporary while his shows embrace both new and old. Recently awarded an MBE and a Mojo Award for services to music, Joe tours regularly playing sell-out dates across the country. This Autumn sees him on the road again in support of the album.
Joe makes the perfect world ambassador for the Ukulele. He has long expounded that it should replace the recorder as the starter instrument of choice in schools.
‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’, Joe’s version, recently featured world-wide in the hit TV series CSI and the song is now the unofficial anthem for this humble, globally appealing instrument.
Joe’s new CD has already been called the Definitive ukulele album. The first single from it, “Ace Of Spades”, will be released on October 29th.
Joe Brown will be performing at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Thursday 6th December. To book tickets contact the Box Office on 01284 758000.