Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Who I Am - Bushman World Ukulele Video Contest

This is my official entry in the 2008 Bushman World Ukulele Video Contest, and with only hours to spare.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wish You Were Here [Pink Floyd Cover]

This is the title track from the Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here. What I didn't know is that Stephane Grappelli plays violin on this track. I guess it is barely audible, and he is not credited on the album. He happened to be recording downstairs. As you may have guessed, this song is about Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's former guitarist, and his breakdown.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Christmas Song [Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire]

I just found out this song was written by Robert Wells and Mel Torme on a hot summer day in an effort to keep cool. Weird. Now, it's reportedly the most performed Christmas song of all time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Something Wonderful

Like I say in the video, this one goes out to my friend Shaun. We were in this musical together in high school. This is from The King and I, and I actually sang this in the musical as Lady Tiang. Click here to read Shaun's blog.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pure Imagination

I'm forging ahead into a new month. I'll try to keep doing this until I run out of material. Today is Pure Imagination written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I'd love to have seen Johnny Depp sing it, too, but it wasn't meant to be.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wow 30 days later...

..and I have a super fun video to show you. But first, I just wanted to say, if you ever want to get good at something, videotape yourself doing it for 30 days, and put it on the internet. This month has been SO good for my ukulele playing, it's not even funny. I think I am going to continue into December, like it or not.

So. this video is for a contest about games you can't play with your butt. Ukulele, although not quite a game (maybe to some), is definitely something you can't play with your butt. I'm going to post the link so you can click through to my youtube, watch it there, and give it a rating and/or a comment. Part of what we're judged on is our "youtube presence" so if everyone could watch it 80 times a day, that would be great. Just kidding, but tell your friends!

You Can't Play Ukulele With Your Butt

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008


Another Beatles cover today. This is a George Harrison tune, and this first of his to be included on the A-side of a record. It has been critically acclaimed as one of the best songs of all time, by the BBC and Rolling Stone magazine. In addition, it won an Igor Novello Award in 1970 for the best song, musically and lyrically.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Oh Darling

This is a Beatles tune, written by Paul McCartney, released on the 1969 album, Abbey Road. Apparently, Paul used to practice this in the bathtub. I guess great minds think a like, because I practiced it in the shower.

But what else was going on in 1969?

January 30 - The Beatles give their last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records. The impromptu concert was broken up by the police.

February 9 - The Boeing 747 makes its maiden flight.

March 18 - Operation Breakfast, the secret bombing of Cambodia, begins.

April 4 - Dr. Denton Cooley implants the first temporary artificial heart.

May 22 - Apollo program: Apollo 10's lunar module flies to within 15,400 m of the Moon's surface.
May 26 - Apollo program: Apollo 10 returns to Earth, after a successful 8-day test of all the components needed for the upcoming first manned Moon landing.

June 28 - The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the start of the modern gay rights movement in the U.S.

July 8 - Vietnam War: The very first U.S. troop withdrawals are made.

August 17 (my birthday)- Category 5 Hurricane Camille, the most powerful tropical cyclonic system at landfall in recorded history, hits the Mississippi coast, killing 248 people and causing US$1.5 billion in damage (1969 dollars).

September 2 - The first automatic teller machine in the United States is installed in Rockville Centre, New York.

October 21 - Writer and poet Jack Kerouac died at the age of 47, resulting from an internal hemorrhage (bleeding esophageal varices) caused by cirrhosis, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking

November 10 - Sesame Street premieres on the National Educational Television (NET) network.

December 4 - Black Panther Party members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are shot dead in their sleep during a raid by 14 Chicago police officers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Romance

I'm running out of songs! Not really, but it's getting tricky to find ones I can learn in a day. Anyways, My Romance is a Rodgers and Hart tune from the 1935 musical, Jumbo. Doris Day performed it in the movie version. Yay!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lush Life

Written and exclusively performed by Billy Strayhorn, until Ellington singer Kay David got her hands on it. I've liked Kay Davis for years now, since I heard my first Duke Ellington recording.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me

I recently found out about this tune... a standard I didn't know. It really swings, both in the tempo and beat, but also the melody swings up and down:

eyes kis- nev- they
your of your -ses I -er could
blue too, knew do

Thank you David Heyer, my lovely partner, for pointing that out. He's taking a PhD course now about these types of musical forces (Larson). And, he'll be looking for a professoring gig here in a few years...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Round Midnight

I decided to conquer a really difficult tune today. This is 'Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk. I found out from my good friend, Wikipedia, that he briefly toured with an evangelist while he was a teenager, and that his wife called his unorthodox piano sound Melodious Thunk, which seems highly appropriate.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Night and Day

I was helping a fellow singing friend out with this tune yesterday... he was singing a Billie Holiday-esque version of this Cole Porter tune. I decided to record this today because I was reminded of how much I like this song.

Interesting tidbit, Porter claimed this song was inspired by an Islamic call to worship he heard while on a trip to Morocco. Thanks, Wikipedia.

-Billie Holiday-

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who I Am [original]

This is a tune I wrote recently. It's called "Who I Am", which pretty much sums up what it's all about.

Here are the words:

Who I Am-
Ali Losik

I'm the girl in the back of the
class with a cap pulled on
down to my glasses and
sarcastic eyes,
bright and blue.

I'm the one who will play the pi-
ano 'til late just be-
cause I've got nothing else
better to do
It's sad, but it's true.

Everybody knows me and how I am:
I go and I remain.
Everybody knows me and who I am:
I'm different and the same.

I don't like to look in the
mirror because I don't
care how my hair looks to
I think it has grown.

I kiss all my cats and my
dogs before leaving the
house and they bark and they
meow at me
once I come home.

I'm accident prone, I broke my wrist
-bone one August night,
riding my scooter, I'll have to take that corner more tight.


Swimming is fun just be-
cause I don't have to re-
late. I put my head
and I go.

I don't like to read, I pre-
fer the tv because
reading reminds me of
school and how
that's all I know.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cheek to Cheek

I love this Irving Berlin classic. It seems like all these jazz tunes work so well on the ukulele. This one was harder to memorize in one night, so my apologies for no whistling solo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Til There Was You

This tune is from The Music Man. The Beatles later covered it. And now, so am I.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


This is an easy tune and it sounds like it was made for the ukulele. My dogs, Bruno and Zelda helped me with the filming today. Any jingling or grumping you hear in the background is all their fault. :)

This tune was written for Nat King Cole's album by the same name, released just before his death in 1965.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Does The Sun Shine

This is a They Might Be Giants tune. Actually it is "a remake of the song by Tom Glazer from the album Space Songs" (thank you Wikipedia), but I know it from TMBG.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We'll Meet Again

This tune was recommended to me as an "Ali song". My bandmate, Randy, thought that this would be right up my ali alley (ha). Anyways, I watched the end of Dr. Strangelove on Youtube:

and then I realized it that I have it in my extensive Rosemary Clooney collection (on the demi-centennial album). Anyways, here it is.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Treeman (original)

This is a tune I wrote based on some local artwork. It is also my first attempt at making my videos a little bit fancy. Here are the lyrics:

You have branches for hair
And a trunk for a torso and head.
You stand tall above the clouds.

In an amber twilight
fading to midnight blue.
The tie around your neck is straight and true.

Deeply rooted
in the earth
drinking poison everyday.

Dressing for the office,
Crisp, white collar peeks through your coat.
Routine your only truth.

your branches cross the edge of
the world that you call home
and reach into the unknown.

Watching silently
over the city
that is slowly killing you.

And the video:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stella By Starlight

Today's tune is Stella By Starlight, which was originally from a movie called The Uninvited. Today, I have put the sheet music that I use up for this tune. This is for educational purposes only...if you learn it, I'd love to see what you do with it. Like I said on the video, this is one of the hardest songs I've memorized lately. The ii-V progressions are definitely unusual in the first half.

Stella By Starlight

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Foggy Day

This tune was originally done by Fred Astaire in a 1937 movie called Damsel in Distress, and it's by the famed songwriting pair George and Ira Gershwin. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All In Love is Fair

Hey there. This is one of my favorite songs of all time, but for some reason, I hadn't played it on the uke until yesterday. Anyways, I thought I would share it with anyone reading this blog.

Stevie has had a most accomplished career, winning 26 Grammys (a record for a solo artist). But what is more relevant to us at the moment is that he endorsed Barack Obama, and "Obama responded to a Rolling Stone interview question that asked him who his musical heroes are by saying: 'If I had one, it would have to be Stevie Wonder. When I was just at that point where you start getting involved in music, Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness' First Finale and Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life. Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we've ever seen.'" (Wikipedia).

I'm glad my future president has excellent taste in music.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Killing Me Softly

This song is brand new for me. I think it's great, both the famous Roberta Flack, and the Fugees' version starring a young Lauren Hill. Really, Lori Lieberman was the first to record it, but Flack made it famous a few years later. And, Wikipedia tells me, "In 2008, it was ranked number 25 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop." Nice. Here you go:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I know what you're expecting. A Brother Iz-style rendition of the tune. Well, you're not going to get it today. I promised to do this posting thing for a month, and this is the first day I haven't felt like it. I went to the emergency room at 3:30 am this morning with my partner. He is fine, so no worries. He was getting sick, and thought he might be getting pneumonia like he did a few years ago. It's like ever since the pneumonia, he worries so much about getting it again, that he fools himself into thinking he's getting it. He did pick up a nasty cold at the convention this weekend, but it didn't rear its ugly head until this morning, so that's probably what he was feeling.

But now you know my secret: I record these first thing in the morning (which today is 11:15 am) and usually in 1-2 takes. This was my one and only take. No time for perfection today (or any other day, really). Here you are:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One of My Favorite Songs ever

I love this song, and I'm happy that I thought to include it in my gig book. Playing Saying Goodbye here was my Mom's idea, so thanks for the request, Mom! I also have a studio version available to listen to on my WEBSITE. I am thinking about doing a mini-set of this song, It's not Easy Being Green, and The Rainbow Connection. Here's the original, in case you were living under a rock when The Muppets take Manhattan was released in 1984.

Muppets Saying Goodbye - Free videos are just a click away

I really think it's good that kids who watch the Muppets are exposed to quality music like this, and no just the Hannah Montana rip-off tunes of today. They don't make tunes like this for kids anymore. Here's proof that the Muppets teach kids good stuff about music:

He's even using a metronome. And this one:

They're classical favorites, and they're well-done, on top of it. On the last one, I like how the chicken get out of their boxes at the end.

Now check out the impact:

Too cute. I remember singing all sorts of songs as a kid and recording them on my dad's super hi-tech tape recorder. Anyways, 25 years, many, many thousands of dollars
for music school and lessons, and too many hours to count later, here we go:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day By Day

Well, Wikipedia has let me down. No one else knows much about this tune, either.

However, Ella Fitzgerald recorded this tune in 1953, which was six years after her famous Decca recording of Lady Be Good. This was also the year she divorced bass player Ray Brown, with whom she adopted a son.

Ella was not the first to record it, nor was she the last. She is, however, one of my long-time singing idols, so learning more about Ella is always a good thing for me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'll Be Seeing You

This is another song I've been performing for over 10 years. But, not until I looked in my trusty Wikipedia, did I know the history of this song. Well, I knew it was popular in WWII, due to all the men leaving their wives/significant others. And, it was written in 1938 by Sammy Fain, and Irving Kahal. But here's the stuff I didn't know. I also didn't know the first 4 lines have a melody similar to Mahler's third. Not being an orchestral player, my knowledge of symphonies is lacking, I guess. I did know that it was played at the end of Misery, but I did not know it was played during the final episode of Beavis and Butthead, which is a TRUE work of genius.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Video Tutorial

Hell! Today I'm trying something new... a little tutorial of a chord progression I like to play to warm up, test out ukes in the store, etc. Here's the video:

And here's the progression (by hiC, I mean instead of playing 3rd fret for C, play 7th instead. All other strings remain open):

C / E7 /
A7 / / /
Dm / G7 /
C / / /

C / E7 /
A7 / / /
Dm / G7 /
C / / /

hiC / / /
C / / /
D7 / G7 /
C / / /

hiC / / /
C / / /
D7 / G7 /
C / / /

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dream a Little Dream of Me

It seems like we all know this tune due to the late and great Mama Cass, but it was actually first recorded over 30 years earlier, in 1931. This tune seems to beg for the ukulele, and it was the first uke song I ever recorded. If you're interested in hearing the "studio" recording (studio in quotes because the "studio" is actually my office), then go to my MySpace and listen. There are even more than the 6 regular recordings in my profile area. Anyways, have a good one.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Don't Know Why

So, contrary to popular belief, this song was NOT written by Norah Jones, like I think I said in the video. She made it famous, but it was written by Jesse Harris in 1999. It won three Grammys: best album, best song, best female pop vocal performance. I think the ukulele particularly supports this easy, laid-back song. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day Three, All of Me!

So, I did the third installment of 30. It's All of Me, written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons. This song has been around since 1931. In 1931 on this day, November 3rd, Monica Vitti (Italian actress) and Michael Fu Tieshan (Chinese bishop) were born.

So that was a Wikipedia tangent...where you're reading a Wikipedia article, and you end up clicking your way to something totally unrelated. I've heard a lot of my musician friends play this song, and one of my students said that "Everyone should know this song in every key!" I don't know if everyone needs to know this song in every key, but a jazz musician probably knows it well in at least three keys. It's a good tune, with a really solid chord progression, featuring falling-fifths sequences.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In My Life

I love the lyrics to this song (and almost every other Beatles song I know). I have a few students working on it right now, and I never get sick of hearing it. I am also finding that I am enjoying this project because I am learning about the songs I like to sing.

This tune originated with John Lennon and was released on Rubber Soul. According to Lennon, McCartney wrote the bridge and did harmonies. McCartney remembers it a bit differently, that he set all of Lennon's text to music. Either way, it features George Martin on the keyboard solo, who has been called the "Fifth Beatle."

In My Life has been covered by everyone under the sun, but I was surprised to fin out that it was played at Kurt Cobain's memorial service, as he was an avid Beatles fan.

As usual, my information was taken from Wikipedia. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Another You

Here's the first video! This song is (There Will Never Be) Another You. Music is by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon. Written in 1942, Wikipedia tells me it is one of the most widely performed jazz standards. This is true for me, as well. I have been singing this song since high school, and now I'm playing it on the ukulele as well. I have already heard from a viewer to show more of the ukulele in the videos, which I will try to do from now on. I am playing a stock Flea Market brand Fluke in concert size. This was my first ukulele, and I love it, love it, love it. It is green, and sounds great. I actually bought it for myself as an end-of-graduate-school present. Best present ever!

Friday, October 31, 2008

And it's not even November yet

So, I came across NaBloPoMo, which is National Blog Posting Month. They are encouraging bloggers to post every day for a month. This works out really well, since I've been trying to get my act together enough to start making videos of myself singing and playing ukulele. I'm not sure I can do one a day, but on those non-photogenic days, I'll definitely be writing something related to music or my two lovely chocolate dogs.


Bruno is a 5-year-old chocolate lab. He enjoys snuggling, kissing, eating dog food, doing tricks, and playing with his cats and friend, Zelda.


Zelda is a 3-year-old, and the baby of the animal family. She is at least part Chesapeake Bay retriever, making her very different from Bruno. Her favorite activities are pets, snipping at Bruno, pets, walks, runs, eating, pets, focusing, and barking like a crazy person.

So that's some info on the chocolate dogs, more on music later.
My Zimbio