Today we get our americana on with a group known as The Quiet American. The duo consists of husband and wife Aaron and Nicole Keim who play American folk ranging from traditional ballads to raggy choruses. Both are multi-instrumentalist so at anytime you may see them with a guitar, banjo, accordion, and of course an ‘ukulele. Now living in Oregon, Aaron is a luthier at Mya-Moe ‘ukuleles and Nicole is focusing on her fiber arts business in between gigs.
The Quiet American takes on the jug-band standard by Papa Charlie Jackson, Shake That Thing. Aaron leads the group with vocals and an accompaniment by his resonator ‘ukulele. The group starts the tune with punchy hits which grabs the attention of the listener before launching into the infectious swinging rhythm. After a couple of verses they take the hits again before launching into first a harmonica solo (0:59) then into a finger plucked ‘ukulele solo (1:25). After 12 bars of fingerpicking he switches over to double stops and approaches the rest of the solo more melodically (1:40). The final two verses (Shake that, shake that, shake that thing) start off without the ‘ukulele which brings the energy level down (2:19). Scratching on the muted strings he adds texture before doing a turn around into the final verse (2:32).
Tasteful is a great way to describe Aaron playing on this track. He doesn’t overplay and adds just the right texture that compliments the other instruments. The ‘ukulele almost disappears when the band is fully going yet you can really feel the emptiness when stops playing chords (2:19). That is a good sign of tasteful in-the-pocket playing.
We are very lucky to have Aaron and Nicole teaching a workshop at Pacific Winds this Wednesday (9/16). They will be focusing on strumming patterns that can be used for many different songs.
UkePrints is a curated playlist of some essential ukulele tracks that all ukulele player should listen to. These songs have left a legacy for future players and in essence, sound impressions of the ‘ukulele or what I like to call them: UkePrints.