We got invited to play a house concert in Big Bear over Alison’s birthday weekend. Hosted by Alison’s former student, Bob and his wife Lori in their lovely home. Only a 3-ish hour drive from San Diego we took advantage of being in the area and stayed an extra night. Complete with nature hiking, a few hours at the Zoo (Bob runs the Big Bear Zoo!) yummy food and of course our performance. Fun times for sure! Thanks Bob and Lori!
A little Birdy and the Bow Tie interview with San Diego News! Click here to see original article.
Birdy & The Bow Tie to strum vintage jazz at Te Mana Café
It’s possible that when it comes to respect, the ukulele is the Rodney Dangerfield of musical instruments. Due to its small size, only having four strings and ease of play, to many folks it’s not much more than a toy, and a limited one at that. Of course in the right hands, such as with the duo of Birdy & The Bow Tie, who perform at the Te Mana Café on Oct. 15, ukulele can be played to virtuoso levels and is the perfect accompaniment for fun and sing-alongs.
Comprised of Alison Marae and Wil Forbis, the evening will include a performance of vintage jazz tunes as well as an opportunity for ukulele enthusiasts to join in and strum along. The duo’s name is a nod to the instruments first heyday in the 1920s.
“We brainstormed band names and discovered that every name we came up with was taken,” she laughed. “We mostly just wanted a name that represented a duo and had a slightly vintage vibe about it. ‘Bird’ was a slang term for singers of the era and the fellas wore bow ties, so it fit.”
For Marae the choice to play ukulele over an another instrument was pragmatic. “I started playing because a friend gave me a ukulele,” she recalled. “I play piano, but wanted something portable that I could accompany myself with when I sang.
“I tried the guitar many, many times but my hands are too small. So when I got the ukulele I had already learned some basic chord shapes on the guitar and applying them to the ukulele was so easy! I was hooked right away and couldn’t put it down.”
She notes that despite its minimal strings and size there isn’t much of a limit to the types of music that can be played on a ukulele. “Maybe not death metal and rap,” she joked. “But honestly, anything goes these days. There’s this group from Australia called Bosko and Honey and they definitely have an edgy sound. Sort of avant-garde ukulele meets hard rock. They’re a trip!”
Marae considers the ukulele to be easy to play but as with anything, the more a player put into their craft, the more they will get out of it. “You can master anything with practice and patience. And more practice,” she said.
The music Forbis and Marae play covers all genres, but there focus is vintage material. “Jazz is a term that gets applied to music from the early 1900s up to modern day.” She said. “What we preform is vintage jazz, which applies to music from the 1920s to the ’40s. You could think of it as the pop music that came right after Dixieland.”
The pair have also added some vintage ’50s and ’60s country to their repertoire as well.
Birdy & The Bowtie recently returned from a successful West Coast tour, where they found a growing audience for ukulele music. “There’s a lot of interest in ukulele music not only nationwide but also worldwide, particularly in Europe right now,” Forbis said. “We toured France and England about a year ago and had some great shows there.”
The pair considers, performing music it’s own reward. “Singing and playing music for the elderly and children is my favorite,” Marae said. “I also really enjoy teaching music.”
Forbis considers music to be an endless source of inspiration. “It’s just a giant, mysterious world you can never get tired of exploring,” he said. “For instance, lately I’ve been reading a lot about music composed by computers. This is actually something that’s been going on for decades though you don’t hear much about it,” he mused. “The music world is full of surprises.”
Marae is particularly pleased to see people of all ages coming together at their performances, especially when the audiences join in. “There is something really wonderful happening when everyone is playing and singing together. Its music therapy, it’s community, it’s friendships and it’s fun,” she said.
We’re hosting another group ukulele strum along coming up on October 15. Bring your ukuleles and join in on the fun while we strum and sing popular tunes together! All levels of ukulele players (and singers) welcome. Includes a mini performance by Alison Marae and Wil Forbis (Birdy and the Bow Tie) and by special guest ukulele artist, Brandon Cruz!
We’ve put together an eclectic, fun new ukulele songbook for you and it’s located here.
Date: October 15 from 6-8pm
Location: Te Mana Cafe. 4956 Voltaire St. San Diego CA 92107
Neighborhood: Ocean Beach.
Cost: donations appreciated
The show will be located on the patio, so bring a sweater or jacket.
Also, we highly recommend that you download the songbook to your iPad or computer. Since it gets darker earlier, we want to make sure you can see the music!
We filmed a live music video, covering the classic early jazz song, Bie Mir Bist Du Shein. Filmed and edited by Eliah J. Razo.
We’re opening for Ukulenny on Sat, June 25 at 7pm. Bring your ukes and we’ll play some vintage jazz in our opening set.
Located at Subterranean Coffee Boutique: 412 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 in Hillcrest We’re asking for a suggested donation of $10 to pay musicians and for the venue. This will be a lot of fun and hope you can make it!
June 22 at 6-7pm
Bring your ukes to the North Park Library in San Diego for another ukulele strum and sing along! This event is free to the public. We”ll see you there! Peace and Mahalo
Unplugged Music Festival. San Diego on May 1 at Polite Provisions. Two sets. 3:30-4:40 and 5:30-6:30
We’re headed on European mini-tour to Paris and London!
Oct 21, 10pm Culture Rapid/Paris Lit Up. Paris, France
Oct 24, 9pm Onze Bar, Paris, France.
Nov 6, 8pm, Cavendish Arms, London, UK