Revenge of the uke

When NOW predicted the comeback of the ukulele.


When NOW predicted the comeback of the ukulele two years ago, many thought we were crazy. Tell that to the crowds coming out to the Ukulele Jam at Lula Lounge every Monday, or to the growing number of “serious” musicians seduced by its humble charms in recent years.

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And the instrument’s popularity isn’t just a local phenomenon, according to the new film Mighty Uke, which has its Toronto premiere tonight (Thursday, January 28) at the Royal Cinema (608 College). Tracing the ups and downs of the tiny guitar, the doc reminds us that the ukulele wasn’t always a novelty instrument and strongly suggests that it’s on the verge of a major renaissance.

The film argues that the reasons for the instrument’s contemporary appeal are the same as the ones that originally made it popular, before Tiny Tim associations pushed it into comedy territory: it’s cheap, portable and easy to play, embodying the punk rock DIY spirit even more than electric guitars. It’s the people’s instrument, and that kind of down-to-earth authenticity never goes out of style.

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