Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band played their first concert at the Children's Museum of Phoenix this past weekend, and we had fun indeed. It was a wonderful little concert targeted to the mostly preschool-aged crowd in attendance, with Swedberg occasionally pulling out a silly voice, while the Phoenix version of the Sukey Jump Band (Daniel Ward on bass uke and Doug Nottingham on everything percussive) held down the low end. (I think the kids particularly liked Nottingham's Boomwhacker solo.) Swedberg and her band also played a few songs she picked up in her recent trip to Haiti. I've embedded a couple of the songs below -- "Tonton Bouki," the Creole version of "Frere Jacques," along with a Haitian lullaby. They also did a Haitian call-and-response. I'm really only appreciating now how lucky we were to catch the gig in such a small space.
While Swedberg didn't pull out her crate of ukes for kiddos at the show (though Little Boy Blue brought his new uke, as did another one or two kids), she did have lots of them for use at a workshop she hosted for 12-15 folks on Sunday afternoon in downtown Phoenix. While you can give ukes to preschoolers, kids have to be a little bit older to grasp the bare rudiments of musical theory you need to play the uke (or to have the patience to sit through the tiny little lessons). A lot was second nature to me, but Miss Mary Mack joined me, and it was definitely right at her skill level. (And while the notes/chords part wasn't new to me, getting guidance on strumming and finger-picking was a big help.)
Swedberg's not the only ukulele evangelist, but she's doing the one-on-one work that'll make this resurgence more than a fad. She's coming back to town in January, and I think it'll be a big deal. (Also, attention Austin City Limits Festival 2011: -- if you don't have ukes for sale during her performances, you people are nuts.)
Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band - "Tonton Bouki (Frere Jacques)" (Live at the Children's Museum of Phoenix) [YouTube]
Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band - Haitian Lullaby (Live at the Children's Museum of Phoenix) [YouTube]
Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band - "Mama Don't Allow" (Live at the Children's Museum of Phoenix) [YouTube]
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