This week we are joined by ‘ukulele artist and teacher Corey Fujimoto. Corey started playing ‘ukulele as a student in Hawaii in the 4th grade and followed his inspiration from his father and various ‘ukulele virtuosos to take the ‘ukulele beyond it’s conventional tradition. Since then Corey has contributed a multitude of videos to The Ukulele Site and released his Na Hoku Hanohano Award nominated debut album Fables. Corey has gained a lot of respect in the ‘ukulele community not only for his masterful chops but his selection of classical pieces played with flawless execution.
Today we are going to listen to Corey’s version of Smokey Mountain Lullaby. Originally a duet with Chet Atkins on a nylon string guitar and Tommy Emanuel on steel string acoustic guitar, Smokey Mountain Lullaby is an elegantly written piece shying away from flashy technique. The beauty in this tune is in the subtleties and I think Corey has captured them in this live recording from Soul Sound Studios. Playing both parts on a Pono ‘ukulele and Pono guitar help create similar timbres as the original recording. The ‘ukulele starts with an intro of light finger picking on high voice of a G major chord, setting the tone and rhythm for this waltz. The main melody and first part of the song starts with the entrance of the guitar (0:20) and long sustaining notes from the ‘ukulele. He slowly builds the tune by filling in the negative space such as a soft strum (0:52) to separate the fingerpicking. I love his inversion of Cm (0:41 & 0:52) that’s not only unique but doesn’t get in the way of articulating the melody. He continues by sliding up the neck with the next part of the tune (1:05) and beautifully arpeggiates a Bb7 chord (1:15). A little silence (1:21) is all he needs to launch into the triumphant descending refrain (1:23). His punctuation mark at the end of the refrain comes to us in the form of a tasty hammer-on pull off (1:44). After taking the song around for another spin he concludes the piece with an elegant line on the ‘ukulele and “bell like” harmonics on the guitar (3:18).
In this fast world filled with glamour and flash it’s refreshing to hear an artist take the high road and show us that artistry is in the content.
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.