Don’t let them fool you. It ain’t as easy as it looks. But it’s definitely as fun.
The ukulele is often billed as a good beginner’s instrument, easy to pick up and pluck, less intimidating than a guitar, and a lot more transportable than a piano. And while that may be accurate ― learn a few chords and you can eke out some simple songs ― to get really good requires serious time and discipline.
George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain merges both truisms into a rambunctiously fun show of crowd-pleasers and musical mastery. They return to Santa Barbara this week with their signature singing and banter as they play through a repertoire that hits all sides of a radio dial, from Tchaikovsky to Nirvana to Otis Redding. Also listen to riffs on electronic dance music (EDM) and tunes from spaghetti westerns.
Founded in 1985, the Ukulele Orchestra’s current lineup has been performing together for more than 20 years, delivering standing-room-only concerts around the world. They’ve played at Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and the Queen’s 90th birthday, all without drums, backup tracks, or any electronic trickery. Their latest studio album, By Request: Songs from the Set-List, features tunes most requested by fans.
UCSB’s Arts & Lectures presents George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on Thursday, April 4, 8 p.m. at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or see artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.