This page has some of my Eilee music videos that I’ve been recording and compiling for some time. I’ve been shocked by how many requests I have had for this, so my fans have convinced me. 🙂
(Side note: if you’re looking for background info on my music making, and earlier posted media, see the main Music page), and follow the next link if you seek a calendar of Performances. NEW! Lessons can be found on the new Eilee Uke Lessons page.)
You’ll notice I have quite the affinity for vintage songs, items, wardrobes, decor and the like. I can’t resist making all of that part of my brand. I’ve been told my home is like a museum!
Before I get too much into explanations and how this page is structured, a little teaser…this little video was done rather spontaneously for International Jazz Day, April 30, 2020:
Since I have a teaching degree, I figured it made sense to make this an educational experience: I filmed milestones and beginning performances for posterity, and y’all get to learn uke playing and performing along “with” me, as well as getting familiar with my performance abilities. Like a football team with game footage, I looked at my videos and analyzed them for what I could do better next time.
Some vids load slowly if not hosted remotely, or they claim they aren’t supported formats, but don’t believe it!!! Often if you refresh the page or hit the link it will play anyway; especially if you pause to allow it to buffer. I know, it’s a bit like 90’s dial-up, but since I began by self-hosting, I will keep those self-hosted videos to lessen the strain on my limited Vimeo account; even if it is a bit of a time warp (kinda like a lot of my song choices). Consider it a personal challenge. Update: the Lesson videos are now hosted via vimeo.
As I said, I thought it just might be useful – perhaps – for those of you out there who are learning a new instrument, for me to chronicle my progress in developing both playing and performing skills, from the very beginning. Most folks don’t put this somewhat embarrassing fodder up for public viewing, but I believe transparency is the most educational way to go, and people aren’t born knowing; everyone has to learn. This series doesn’t just report my growing skill on the instrument. It also shows how I keep hammering away at my rather crippling stage fright: performing in various places, and even just recording progress on songs I’m working on at home. Stage fright is a very real problem for performers to fight, and in my case and many others, involves not only your voice shaking, but your hands shaking, making hitting the strings (or keys or valves or whatever) exceedingly difficult. I always play better at home – unless I’m recording, sometimes – because performance anxiety even gets me then! When I introduced myself at my first hootenanny, I mentioned I hadn’t gotten over the stage fright thing, and a musician in the audience assured me, “you never do”. Others have said the same; you just acclimate over time and learn to fake it ’til you make it, so to say. So as I learn to deal with it, I’ll share my techniques with you.
Of course, not every performance has offered me the luxury of someone being there who was available to record me. I have performed at informal private parties (birthday and anniversary) and at elder care facilities and a restaurant or two, on the 16th Street Mall, and numerous family functions and celebrations. I get material when I can get a video shooter to help me who doesn’t happen to be my host or their guests.
So here in my Videos page, I decided to put Public Performances together, Progress Updates (update: of these, only the Progress Updates have been moved to the new Lessons page) together, and then Church Presentations and then Special Stuff, together in groups. Lots later, I’ll add excerpts of Originals. I’ve also made some tutorials on the anatomy and use of the ukulele; look for those on the new Lessons page.
Notice: a lot of my videos are marked as copyrighted 2017, since that’s when I completed the finished versions of the videos, with titles etc. But the ones saying “3 weeks” or “20 months” and so on, were recorded just that amount of time after I began playing in July 2014; those yield the correct respective copyright dates for respective content therein. Public performance videos, however, are arranged according to locale.
So here are the vids for my Ukendoit! series – and a few extras. I didn’t think to check about my web platform/host’s size limitations initially when making videos. I list most of what will be here, as placeholders, as I update. (Here’s an update: I put on so many vids locally on my site now that my bandwidth is struggling, so I may take some off; so watch what you can while you can). Also, I don’t recommend enlarging these mobile-friendly videos, as they aren’t high resolution due to size constraints, and will just look blurry and awful.
I made jump links in the following OUTLINE to take you directly to vids I’ve added, shown in the following outline so that you can make some sense of content organization thereafter. Categories will be crimson; songs will be teal. Custom code is awesome (and time consuming).
I. SECTION ONE: Public Performances (Open Mics etc. – recent first, then in chronological order on early appearances)
A. Hootenannies and Open Stages/Best of Open Stage: Swallow Hill Music, Denver
aa. Amazing Grace
bb. Rain Song
cc. Dream a Little Dream…still yet to be edited & posted….
dd. Unchain My Heart…NEW! Just embedded from my Vimeo….
ee. Part the Waters/I Need Thee…NEW! Just embedded from my Vimeo….
ff. Don’t You Feel My Leg…NEW! Just embedded from my Vimeo….
gg. I’m Nobody’s Baby Now…NEW! Just embedded from my Vimeo….
1. I Put a Spell on You
2. Feelin’ Good
3. I Want to Be Evil
B. The Glenn, Northglenn & La Dolce Vita, Westminster & other venues
1. La Vie En Rose
3. Make You Feel My Love
4. What a Wonderful World
5. (continuous video) Smile and Feelin’ Good
6. Extraordinary Machine…still yet to be edited & posted….
7. La Dolce Vita, Westminster vids…still yet to be edited & posted….
II. SECTION TWO: Progress Updates
This section has now been moved to the Lessons page! It includes La Vie En Rose, The Nearness of You, Tonight You Belong to Me, at three weeks into playing the uke; Malagueña, Gloomy Sunday, Bésame Mucho, at 18 months; Effect & Cause, St. Louis Blues, at 20 months; and Dream a Little Dream, I Put a Spell on You, and I Want to be Evil at the 3-year mark.
III. SECTION THREE: Church Presentations
A. Christmas Music
1. (continuous vid) Mary Did You Know? and Silent Night
1. I’ll Fly Away
1. Rock of Ages
1. Amazing Grace (in 6 languages!)
Bonus! “Our Great God” is posted below this^
IV. SECTION FOUR: Special Stuff
A. Art Meets Music
1. O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
B. A Capella
C. Specials for Mom
1. Burgamasque Suite: Clair de Lune
2. Gianni Schicchi: O Mio Babbino Caro
V. SECTION FIVE: Originals
A. (no content here yet, oh, but wait….)
VI. SECTION SIX: Lessons
A. (This content has been assigned to its own Lessons page; videos have been made and are now posted).
Public Performances (Open Mics etc.)
If anyone had asked me, say, five years ago (it’s December 2017 as I write this) if I’d get on stage and sing (or do anything on stage) – church, open mics, anywhere – I’d have said they were nuts. Now I’ve discovered it’s terrifyingly fun to face your fear and do it anyway. It’s similar to the sensation of riding a roller coaster. If I could only channel the adrenaline into being awesome! That must be what the pros do. (Have patience, me; have patience.) Anyway, I haven’t made finished videos of all of these yet, but here’s a taste. First I’ll post more recent vids, and then go back to how it all began with the 1st Hootenanny.
A Small Revival at the Hootenanny
Swallow Hill Music, Denver, August 2017 – Amazing Grace (to the tune of House of the Rising Sun) – Words: John Newton, England, 1779 – and the music now known as House of the Rising Sun is of uncertain origin through many iterations, likely from a folk song dating as far back as the 17th century. My introduction to this song at the event: “Well, with this month comes Easter, and that inspired my song choice. When John Newton wrote…Amazing Grace, it didn’t come with a melody, and the song was superimposed over quite a few different melodies through the years–as was, in the 1800’s, pretty popular to do–in fact it can be laid over Greensleeves pretty well…but this wandering from song to song that these lyrics went over, means that there’s nothing too sacred in a melody. More recently, someone decided they would superimpose it over the chord progression for House of the Rising Sun–and I thought it was genius. And it’s sparked some debate amongst some Christians; some thought it was disrespectful – but as a Christian myself, I don’t find it that way at all: I respectively disagree. When you look at these two songs, and each man’s story, it’s a beautiful juxtaposition, and these two tales dovetail. Because in House of the Rising Sun, your symbolic man who is telling that story, is steeped in sin, yet wanting out of it, wanting to escape the enslavement, and is seeking salvation, and it’s sort of a lamentation, whereas, in Amazing Grace, which is in more of a major key rather than a minor, is a praise song, and this man is already saved, and is looking back at what he was saved from, and is terribly grateful for this. And you think of these two men who represent these two songs–they can look at each other: one, at the other one, as his past, and the other, looking back at the one, as his potential. And I think this echoes the dichotomy that a lot of Christians live in their walk, it’s this sort of trying to transcend humanity while still shackled to it; we’re still sinners but we’re trying to do better every day. And I think that these songs remind us, when you combine them, that we’re not to become self-righteous; we’re supposed to remain humble, and remember that temptations lie around every corner. It’s a reminder that believers or unbelievers, we have a lot more in common than we have in differences, and we should love each other. So that’s my reasoning behind this.”
A Step Outside My Typical Genres at the Hootenanny
Swallow Hill Music, Denver, August 2017 – Rain Song (Led Zeppelin) – Words: Jimmy Page, England, 1972 – This was my first attempt at playing my new instrumental arrangement for ukulele in front of people and I was still working out the kinks. Folklore is, that there once was an exchange between George Harrison of the Beatles and some member(s) of Zeppelin (be it Bonham, Page or Plant), saying that he liked their music but their problem was that they “never do ballads”…Page reportedly replied, “I’ll give him a ballad,” and he even quoted Harrison’s “Something” in the song’s first couple of chords of Rain Song. After I related this anecdote to the hootenanny audience, I told the crowd that I hadn’t brought my voice that night…but truth be told, nobody expected Page to sing Plant’s words while playing this challenging tune. If I ever do both, I expect a hefty raise.
Swallow Hill Best of Open Stage
Unchain My Heart – Words & Music: Bobby Sharp, USA, 1961 – I enjoyed playing with this arrangement of a Ray Charles classic.
Swallow Hill Best of Open Stage
Part the Waters Lord – Words & Music: Charles F. Brown, USA, 1975 & I Need Thee – Words: Annie Hawks & Music: Robert Lowry, USA, 1872 – This is a favorite hymn of mine and of many, mashed up a little with a more modern praise song.
Swallow Hill Open Stage
Dream a Little Dream – Words: Gus Kahn & Music: Fabian Andre & Wilbur Schwandt, USA, 1931 – What a charming little song; no wonder so many covered it, from Ozzie Nelson and his orchestra in 1931 to the Mamas & the Papas in 1968 and beyond. (video still in edit)
A Sassy Hootenanny in 2019
Don’t You Feel My Leg! – Words and Music: Danny & Blu Lu Barker, USA, 1938 – Swallow Hill Music, Denver, 2019 – Sometimes it’s fun to try on different personas and the blues, especially this risqué tune, certainly gave an opportunity for that, and the crowd had a ball with the act. A performer becomes the song if the audience is the priority. Not just a singer…an actress to a degree.
Almost Too Cute to Hoot
I’m Nobody’s Baby Now – Words & Music: Benny Davis, Milton Ager & Lester Santly, USA, 1921 – Swallow Hill Music, Denver, 2019 – This cover of a Ruth Etting classic is infectious and a big hit with the gang.
Swallow Hill Music, Denver, August 2017 – I Put a Spell On You – Words and Music: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, USA, 1956 – My mother in-law invited me to Swallow Hill, saying it was the best entertainment in town for $3 (free for performers of course). I was going to come in and observe, get the feel for the venue, audience, and genres…then I thought, “I’m just copping out because I’m afraid!” So I decided I was going to perform, no matter how scared I was, and came prepared as well as I could. You’ll never conquer stage fright if you never get on stage. When I get to the bridge of this song I quote another jazz classic melody while whistling to the same chord progression (I heard it in my head while working out the arrangement). Since I whistle through my teeth (as I’ve done since childhood), folks couldn’t immediately tell I was doing it; when they realized it and heard how true and clean the tone was, I got enthusiastic feedback on it. One of the workers there even approached me and suggested to me that I should give a class there on whistling technique. I of course was flattered, but had to admit that I have never even considered how to teach that method to someone else! Maybe sometime I’ll figure that out.
Swallow Hill Music, Denver, September 2017 – Feelin’ Good – Words and Music: Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse, England, 1964 – Folks told me they couldn’t tell I was nervous, but every missed/extra note you hear is from violently shaking hands. Local music legend Harry Tuft (after whom the theater we’re in is named) is M.C., and is kind and encouraging, and a real class act. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive group:
I Want to Be Evil – Words & Music: Raymond Taylor & Lester Judson, USA, 1954 – You can tell I’m loosening up some by now. I decided that I enjoy the song so much, and I want the audience to also, so I just committed. When I made a mistake, I spontaneously threw in an appropriate joke at my own expense, and the audience ate it up. Who knew I was a comedienne too? Well, I guess: these folks (since I cracked them up on all the Hoots so far). A couple even asked me if I was in the theatre…I found that impression very intriguing. You’ll see what I mean:
Open Mics at Bars/Restaurants: We shot a few videos at The Glenn, a bar & grill in Northglenn…a charming outdoor patio/stage, but it’s very dark; I barely salvaged our video from how dark that was. Sound quality issues were mostly my own nervous inexperience on these first two open mics. Wednesday nights weren’t big crowd nights, which could work for you or against you, depending on what you want. It was a lesson in dealing with distractions including a busy, noisy bar, sounds of food preparation, animated conversations, gusts of wind, feedback, bugs biting me, and my own frayed nerves.
1st Open Mic
My very first uke-fueled open mic, I chose an enchanting and predictable theme of Love Songs. First things first; I played the very first song I learned to play on the ukulele – and the very first song I was forced to make my own arrangement for: La Vie en Rose. Following that, I did Sway and To Make You Feel My Love. The outdoor patio was used for open mic in (tolerable) weather at The Glenn, and my hubby, on the spot, filmed it without light and in portrait mode, so ignore our video quality. My videos may say “summer” but it was really closer to autumn.
La Vie en Rose – Lyrics: Edith Piaf, Melody: Louiguy & Marguerite Monnot, Paris, 1947 – La Vie en Rose was my first song on ukulele. I tell some about it on my 3-week update video above.
Sway – Composed as ¿Quién Sera? by Luis Demetrio & Pablo Belrán; English lyrics: Norman Gimbel …how cool, I thought one night while watching their videos, that Rodrigo & Gabriela did so much percussion on their guitars when they played…it was like each of them had two instruments in one! I yearned to employ a similar yet simpler technique for just a taste of that energy in my own arrangements, and soon my version of Sway was born. I don’t know if the duo has recorded their interpretation of Sway, but if they did I’m sure it would blow me away.
Make You Feel My Love – Words & Lyrics: Bob Dylan, USA, 1997 – I fell in love with this song when Billy Joel first released this song, not realizing that “Piano Man” didn’t write it but Bob Dylan instead. Regardless, when you hear it at the right moment, it rings so true.
2nd Open Mic
My second performance at The Glenn I had developed a themed set I loved and hoped would be therapeutic for disgruntled employees, nerve-frayed parents and anyone who’s almost at the end of their patience for the week (but only half way through it); I call it the Awesomesauce Set. It’s meant to inspire, and though the crowd was tiny, I was told it did. 🙂 The Awesomesauce Set went over very well. Although there were only 8-12 people out in the slightly chilly patio (this was Septemberish and it had been raining that day), they managed to make me feel appreciated. Several came to me afterward and gave me great feedback, but one especially stands out: a gal who approached and thanked me for uplifting songs because she was indeed having a rough week. It was so lovely of her to make the effort of telling me, and it led me to feel like I could actually help folks in my own little way, so I forge on, to inspire and encourage others to do the same.
What a Wonderful World – Words & Music: Bob Thiele & George David Weiss, USA, 1967 – who isn’t reminded to stop and smell the roses by this song? And who doesn’t need occasional reminding?
Smile – Music: Charlie Chaplin 1936; Lyrics: John Turner/Geoffrey Parsons 1954, USA – a song that pulls at the heartstrings as it pulls you up by the bootstraps, this is a sentimental favorite. As a bonus (or not), at the end is my first shaky but well-received live performance of Feelin’ Good – Words & Music: Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse, England, 1964.
Coming soon? 16th St. Mall – first one was an initial shaky performance on someone else’s equipment, but I could do a clip vid – haven’t yet. Also shot vertical, which drives me bats, ick. Wind was blowing sheet music, hair and scant cash all over; watch the weather if you go to outdoor venues. This one is Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple. Other times I’ve done Beatles songs and folk tunes, but had nobody filming.
SECTION TWO: Progress Updates has moved to the Lessons page:
There are just a few of them here – they aren’t all ready yet either. My church has been a great place to serve my Lord with the gifts He gave me, and the icing on the cake is I get to work with a fun bunch of people. We’re like a bunch of siblings teasing each other and joking around between serious practices. We all deal with stage fright here by remembering that we truly have an audience of One, and He loves us unconditionally. You can’t beat that audience!
Yaaay, Christmas Music! These are Christmas specials I did for 2016 and 2017, put into one video. SONG TIMES: 0:45 Mary Did You Know? – Lyrics: Mark Lowry, Music: Buddy Greene, USA, 1991… and at 4:21 Silent Night – Lyrics: Joseph Mohr, Music: Franz Xaver Gruber; Germany, 1818
Coming soon: I’ll Fly Away, from 2013 I think, which is before I even thought of playing ukulele. I’m singing in a trio; this is a rehearsal recording. It has been completed but I still need to ask permission from the last remaining singer too, before I’ll post it.
Rock of Ages – Words & Music: Rev. Augustus Toplady, England, 1763 – a good traditional hymn is timeless. As a fan of both the song and the apostle, (Peter, “the Rock”), I had to pay (abstracted at best) tribute via voice and ukulele. Just why I relate, is explained in the video. I really love my church – and keep in mind that a church isn’t a building – it’s the people within…they are the structure on God’s foundation.
Amazing Grace – Words & Music: John Newton, England, 1779 – I found translations for, and sang, the first verse of this song in 6 languages. The story behind my doing so was significant in a few ways. When I was first moved to do so, it was a relentless urging from the Holy Spirit – I can’t explain it any other way because not only was I not eager to get onstage to sing solo, but I was also fighting severe short-term memory gaps due to my active cancer treatments of radiation and then oral chemo, and I felt unable to perform. As I said, God was relentless and I had to place myself and my trust in His hands. I approached my pastor with the idea and lo and behold, he told me he was starting a sermon series on Community – about tolerance and unity, and how all people are desired by God to be saved if they would only choose to. When I told him which song I had chosen, he asked if I knew the history behind it. I admitted that I did not. He told me, just like in this video he also tells the congregation (as he did both times we performed it for them): the writer, John Newton, was a particularly hated slave trader before he was saved and later wrote this song. Afterward Newton was friends with William Wilberforce and they were a powerful team in ending slavery in England, and that carried over to the U.S. So tolerance, diversity and community run all through this God-given idea. I consulted with Pastor Brian, who accompanies me on guitar (this was before I played ukulele), to vary the playing style with each culture represented as I switched languages singing. To complete the story, more divine help was given, in that I sang it by memory, despite my cancer treatments. You’ll see subtitles on the screen behind us, but they were not on the one in front of me – my memory miraculously performed with very complex material – and without medical assistance. Testify.
Here’s the odd, random and special stuff I can’t really categorize yet.
Art Meets Music
This is a video I made years ago featuring my paintings at the time, while singing on 4 tracks the different lead and harmony parts for the hymn O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go – circa 1882-84, Words: George Matheson, Music: Albert L. Peace:
Twisted – Music: Wardell Gray 1949; Lyrics: Annie Ross 1952 USA – here we have an a capella version of “Twisted” from way back in 2011, well before I played uke. I hated not having any musical context or guide, which is why I eventually turned to myself as my own accompanist.
SPECIAL FOR MOM:
Burgamasque Suite: 3rd Movement: Clair de Lune (Moonlight), Claude Debussy, France, composed 1890; published 1905 – my taking it on was truly a labor of love; when I first posted it, it simply said: “Merry Christmas, Mom! You’ve been a profound influence on me…thank you – I arranged and learned this piano piece on ukulele just for you. I miss you and I love you!”
I must say it was very well received.
Yet Another Classical Interlude:
O Mio Babbino Caro (Aria from Puccini’s opera “Gianni Schicchi”, from libretto by Giovacchino Forzano), Italy, 1918. Continuing on the theme of the video I made for my classical pianist mother, I venture into the land of opera. I know: I’m not trained, but all music is open to interpretation (that’s part of the beauty of it). Being in the baby steps of performing this one, I have yet to really make it mine other than having transposed from a soprano range to an alto one, made necessary by vocal chord damage I sustained in a recent violent bout with pneumonia (don’t play around with that if you get it; one should really rest one’s voice as much as possible through that). Devastating as this has been after previously enjoying a 3-octave range, I can only pray the damage is temporary:
Okay, this is a bit of a tease. Sorry. Much later, I’ll post some of my originals, but…I should pay some dues and build some cred first.
All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.