Kurt Cobain started on the Ukulele?

Did you know that Kurt Cobain started his career on the Ukulele?

I’ll be honest. I didn’t either, and I love the ukulele and was a massive Nirvana fan.

Watching the new Kurt Cobain film, Montage of Heck I spotted a very familiar four stringed friend hanging out with a less familiar, young Kurt Cobain. Apparently, Jimi Hendrix also started out on the ukulele, but I’ve yet to find a photo of that, and I’ve been looking since 2007. If anyone out there can help with that, I’d be eternally grateful!

Pics or it didn’t happen?

Well, thanks to Brett Morgen for including the clip, I was able to screen grab it.

So, here you go:

Kurt Cobain playing ukulele as a Child

Kurt Cobain playing ukulele as a Child


One day, I’ll tidy up the Famous Ukulele Players page and add him in there. One day, when I’m up to date with all the emails waiting for a reply…

Ukulele Workshop with Del Rey

Ukulele Workshop with Ukulele Blues Queen Del Rey. 10 September.

It is with the greatest pleasure that I announce Learn To Uke’s first blues workshop with with the brilliant virtuosic Blues Queen – Del Rey. She takes the ukulele to a new level, and will have you playing the blues either with chords or picking if you want to, by ear. Then, stick around and you’ll be wowed when see her play a show for you. Everyone who’s seen her comes away impressed. Don’t miss it!


Del Rey’s Biography:

I started playing guitar when I was four. At the age of thirteen I was introduced to the world of traditional acoustic music, when a friend and I stumbled into a concert at Folk Arts Rare Records in San Diego. About 20 people were sitting on the floor under the record bins listening to a kid named Tom Waits play his original songs.


Lou Curtiss, proprietor of Folk Arts and artistic director of the San Diego Folk Festival suggested I quit wasting my time playing “Stairway to Heaven” and listen to some Memphis Minnie. He put me on stage with Sam Chatmon when I was fourteen, and introduced me to Lydia Mendoza and Howard Armstrong. Lou gave me recordings that still influence everything I do on solo acoustic guitar. I soaked up country blues, stride piano, classic jazz and hillbilly boogie. It was a musical education hanging around the record shop.

Thirty years later, I became fascinated with the ukulele. I try to play the same kind of complicated rhythmic blues and ragtime on four strings as on six. I expect a lot out of the little instrument.

“The ‘ukulele taken to a new level of musicianship”. (John Book)

“Virtuosic in just the right way, which is to say, in order to realize a musical idea. A very nice unlikely blend of things, accessible, slightly nostalgic, but fresh and thoughtful. ” (CD Baby review, “At The Ukeshack #1)

I play solo concerts world wide and also present a concert/lecture on women musicians called Women In American Music. I also collaborate and tour frequently with Steve James, Suzy Thompson and Adam Franklin.

I’ve contributed to projects in honor of The Mississippi Sheiks, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Johnny Cash. I occasionally write about music for various publications, including Acoustic Guitar.

My latest full-length album, featuring Suzy Thompson, Matt Weiner and Hans Teuber is Art Walk. I also have a recent ukulele and guitar duet sampler out with Adam Franklin called Rocket Red and Ruby Chard. All albums available from Hobemian Records

  • Rocket Red and Ruby Chard with Adam Franklin 2014
  • Art Walk 2014
  • Four and Six 2012
  • Hen Party with Suzy Thompson 2010
  • Blue Uke 2008
  • At The Ukeshack #1 with Matt Weiner 2007
  • When The Levee Breaks 2006
  • Tonight with Steve James 2004
  • Why Say No? with The Yes Yes Boys 2002
  • Twins with Steve James 2002
  • X-Rey Guitar 2000
  • Hot Sauce1995
  • Boogie Mysterioso 1993
  • I recorded a 45rpm record in 2010, the proceeds of which benefit Transportation Choices Coalition. With Del Rey and the Blues Gators I recorded Chartruese (Hobemian 1991) and Cafe Society (Kicking Mule 1985).

I’m sure you’re all excited now, so do…

Book a ticket to Del Rey’s workshop here. [this event was in the past]

Ukulele Workshop in London with Virtuoso, James Hill.

Ukulele Workshop with Ukulele Virtuoso, James Hill. 17 June.

James Hill and Anne Janelle

It is with the greatest pleasure that I announce another workshop with with the wonderful James Hill and Anne Janelle. If you didn’t already know, James is one of three true ukulele virtuosos that I am aware of in the world. The words ‘ukulele virtuoso’ are used liberally by some to describe guitarists who are able to hack and play lead lines on a ukulele, but I know of only three actual ukulele virtuosos. In June 2015, you’ll get to have a workshop with one of them. Very exciting!

Even better than that, you’ll get double the fun. The amazing Anne Janelle (James’s wife, and incredibly talented partner in crime – a phenomenal cellist, performer and recording artist.) will be with him. They are in town is because of Anne’s tour.


James Hill’s Biography:

A singer, songwriter, educator and virtuoso instrumentalist, James Hill is a man on a musical mission.  It’s a mission that reaches beyond the concert stage and into communities, homes and classrooms around the world.  After all, what’s left when the applause fades and the bright lights go dark?  Perhaps only the sound of ukuleles strumming happily into the night…

So. If all this excites  you, then you can

Book a ticket to James’s workshop here.

Jake Shimabukuro

This is an oldie but goodie. This video possibly inspired a generation of YouTubers to take up ukulele.

Here is Jake Shimabukuro, Ukulele Virtuoso, playing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’