Good morning!

Not everyone was able to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their loved one yesterday, so here is my tribute to those who still love each other, from afar or a-near, who were unable to be together on the appointed day.


And, as a special bonus to my readers right now, you can also download THIS version in the Key of C, the “People’s Key” LOL. Act now!

Tennessee Whiskey

Is this a drinking song??

A few years ago (2009), I traveled with members of the Dover Uke Heads – aka DUH! to the Liverpool Ukulele Festival being held – at the time – at the White Point Resort in Liverpool, Nova Scotia (this was before the fire). We were greatly excited about many of the workshops we were signed up for, but the one we were REALLY looking forward to the most was Irish Drinking Songs with Lenny.

Fast forward to 2015 and Chris Stappleton comes out with this arrangement of Tennessee Whiskey which becomes an instant hit. As I am not really a Country music fan who listens to the Country music radio or TV stations, I thought, “Oh yay, another drinking song, like Red Solo Cup or something”…. ha ha ha, I could not have been more wrong!

This song is set around the traditional blues chord progression and is played, as many blues songs are, very slowly. So you’ll have to develop a method of slow strumming that is pleasing to your ear as you go through this song. ALSO, he arranged it in 3/4 timing, so it’s also a waltz. It’s a blues waltz! LOL

I found this arrangement on the Bytown Ukulele Group website – they go by BUGs! – and I added a E7, because it’s in the key and I felt after listening to Stappleton’s official video a few times, that there is some kind of a chord change there, so I put that in. Also, I took out the slash after the D chord. After “strawberry wine” they had [A] [D] / [A] and I don’t see the need to play it that way. I don’t even really understand the need for the slash because my leader taught us that means 1 strum only, so you don’t complete the strumming pattern as indicated in the beginning of the song. IF you are even given a strumming pattern at the start. All depends where you get the song sheet from.

Lastly, I don’t play Bm the traditional way. Confession time: I drop the position on the 4th fret, and just play it as a barred chord, which I think is a Bm7??? Anyway, that’s what I do, sounds fine to me, Yes I make sure my uke is tuned before I play it this way LOL.

Road Trip Memories

Childhood memories…

The song I’m posting today, Best of My Love by the Eagles, has a special place in my heart.

My father of all people loved this band. He was heavily invested in the 8-track cassette tape players. There was one in our house, one in our van, and one in our BOAT (didn’t last, but hey, brownie points for effort).

The 8-track tapes played round the clock at our place and if we were driving in the van for more than 1 hour we listened to one from start to finish. The glory and genius of the 8-track tape was that it was continuous: it didn’t have to be re-wound like a cassette tape. And my father took full advantage of that!

The family van!

A 1975 Ford Econoline Club Wagon was our family vehicle until 1980. My father took us on our 1-week summer vacation to Calabogie Lake, Ontario every year, towing an aluminum fishing boat.

This 7 and 1/2 hour journey was made on Hwy 7 from Peterborough to Perth, travelling through such quaint little places such as Havelock, Madoc and Kaladar.

Sidebar: Although I haven’t been up that way in over 15 years, a couple years ago a friend of mine told me that the town of Kaladar holds a huge country and folk music festival on a farm every summer, and that the attendees come in with their trailers and camp there all weekend. It’s so big and so well known that the legendary Tom Cochrane likes to drop in and jam with the bands. Go Kaladar!

Fishing buffs: Between Kaladar and Perth is Sharbot Lake. My dad used to make a day trip just to fish there and he said that lake has some of the biggest fish he’s ever seen – and we live on Lake Erie, so that’s saying something!!

Perth: the town you are looking for after traversing the countryside. This town has Canadian Tire, fast foods, Tim Horton’s, car repair shops, gas stations, bait shops, grocery store and Hospital. But wait! Exit Perth on the 511 North, and this takes you strait to Balderson, Ontario, home of the best cheese ever. Stock up on this before you get to the cottage to enjoy with the wine you picked up in Perth. Balderson Cheese was a mandatory destination stop. We even stopped there on the way home to pick up a year’s supply!

Just up the road from there is Lanark, and this is your last chance to get any bug-spray or firewood before you go into no-man’s land. Also, it’s hilly as hell from this point on. What’s that? You thought Hwy 7 was hilly? Nah. We’re talking rollercoaster level from here on until you get to Calabogie Lake. (The next lake over, Centennial, is probably better known for fishing and camping.) This will only be assuaged by the opportunity to pull over and buy quarts of blueberries along the way. Yum!

So that’s a snap-shot of my annual family road trip to the (multi-family shared) cottage. The best part about it was the endlessly playing 8-track tapes of: Kenny Rogers the Gambler, Olivia Newton-John’s Greatests Hits, and a country and easy-listening compilation of hits from the 70’s called The Green, Green, Grass of Home. But his absolute favourite was The Eagles Greatest Hits.

We made 3 road trips a year: Florida for March break, Calabogie Lake in July, Florida for Christmas break (2 weeks). I have told my husband Jeff about how just preparing for these trips is a cherished childhood memory. Before my Dad bought the brown Econoline van we had station wagons – actual woody’s! My parents were both teachers since I was 5 years old, so I have a distinct memory of sitting in the station wagon leaning over the back seat, looking though the open back door watching my parents load all our stuff. And this was on Friday after school because we needed to get on the road as soon as possible. The station wagon was backed into the garage, the door was open and the kitchen door was propped open. Then we’d haul ass to Windsor to cross the border into Detroit as the first leg of our journey to Florida. One year we had a tire blow-out on the Florida turnpike – I remember always seeing these signs for KISSIMEE – and my Mom turns around and yells at my older sister and me, “Hold on, girls!” – I’m lounging in the back, leaning over the top of the back seat and my sister is sitting propped against the door with her legs lengthwise along the back seat, and we’re playing cards or something like that – I think I was 8, and when my Mom yells out to us LOL we grab each other instead of holding on to something! The wagon is swishing back n forth and we’re in the fast lane on the right, and my dad has no choice but to pull over on the far right with fast traffic whizzing by us while he changes the tire, then, on the return trip we blow another tire somewhere in another state. Dad said that’s what made him decide to trade that wagon for a van, and he’s always had vans since then. And he never had another second-hand vehicle ever, after that!

Enter the two-tone brown Ford Econoline van in 1975, with it’s cool sliding side door, and two bi-fold back doors. A small ladder was mounted on the back door on the right and the big spare tire was mounted on the back door on the left. The front seats were two luxury captains chairs that could swivel around backwards. This seemed revolutionary and modern! Then a short bench seat, and then a long bench seat that spanned from one side to the other. I had the short one and my sister had the longer one. Here’s my next childhood road trip memory: while the van is in motion, driving down one of the American I’s, ON AUTO-CRUISE (also very cool and modern) – my parents switched drivers. I’ll never forget it. It was kinda like the game Twister, ha ha. I never saw them do it again, but they probably did. Owning this van also ended our over-nighting at motels: it influenced them to “drive straight through”. Since our destination in Florida was 22 hours from home, my parents gave in to the temptation. We would be on the road by 5 pm Friday after school, eating sandwiches for supper, stop once we got across the border for a pee break, then my mom would tuck me into my sleeping bag by wrapping the lap seat belt around the outside of it and clicking it in behind me, just so she knew I was secure and wouldn’t slide off the bench seat while I slept. And I would go to sleep, and wake up in the morning to the wonderful smell of coffee brewing. She had a little coffee maker that plugged in to a utility outlet in the front console, and this thing would make 1 cup of coffee at a time and she just loved that thing. I did too, I loved waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee. One time, my dad reached around behind him and nudged me awake. He was telling me to wake up and see the sun rise over the Smokey mountains with him. So I got out of my sleeping bag and climbed into the front passenger seat and got to enjoy that with him. Found out my mom had gone into the back of the van for a lie down amongst all our luggage and shoes!

During this time while my sister and I slept through the overnight drives, my father played his 8-track tapes and we would listen to those songs over and over again. I would drift off to sleep with Kenny Rogers and wake up with Olivia N-J. During the day it was the Eagles all the way. In 1980 my Dad traded in the two-tone brown Econoline for a brand new two-tone blue one. They were virtually identical except for the colour, and the new one had chrome running boards. Dad traded the blue Econoline for a red Ford Windstar in 1985, and they continued driving to Florida until 2018. So for 10 years we travelled in a Ford Econoline for our family vacations. Good call Dad, ’cause those road trips are some of my best childhood memories! I even learned to drive and got my license in the blue Ford Econoline!

I hope you enjoyed my road-trip childhood memories. We had many adventures on the road, like the time my mom left her purse behind in an IHOP in Cincinnati, Ohio, but a staffer called us on our mobile phone – my dad was so modern!!! – and told her about it LOL she didn’t even realize til that moment – and my dad was put out because he had to turn around and go back, costing precious time! Sometimes one of us had to go to the bathroom – urgently!! – only there was no exit for miles yet, so my parents pulled over and we were given a roll of toilet paper and told to go crouch behind a bush. One time, between two doors, back in the station wagon days. We travelled with our dog, without our dog, with coolers, with packed lunches, boxes of snacks and home-made bottled water from rinsed out orange juice containers. I read Nancy Drew mysteries and did books of word search puzzles. And all the while, the music was playing, over and over. My parents sang along, I sang along. And to this day, when any one of those songs comes over the radio or comes up at karaoke or ukulele jams, I know it in my heart because it is directly linked to my happiest childhood memories.

In honour of that last sentence here is Best of Love and Homeward Bound. I hope you enjoy playing them together.

Country Roads

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Started compiling other songs that I saved up for this year’s songbook.

You can listen to the Youtube vid below. Olivia N-J used to start out with the chorus, at a slower tempo than the rest of the song. I don’t really recommend that unless you were going to perform it on a stage this way and the accompanying band knew this would be the arrangement. Of course, if you prefer the John Denver version, just start with the verse. 🙂

Once again, just posting for your enjoyment. I hope you like it.

Here is the songsheet: COUNTRY ROADS

Cat’s Ukulele Songbook #4

Sorry, this one took a bit longer to put together. I usually spend the time over the Christmas break compiling all the songs and formatting them but this year I was busier than usual.

Last year, we compiled a huge file of 80’s songs for a theme song night we held in Delhi at the Music Cafe. I also compiled Legion jam songs into two formats: one set of just lyrics with chord letters (so guitar players would feel comfortable) and an original set of song sheets with ukulele chords. I ALSO compiled a binder of Christmas songs of sheet music so my sister and her friend could play along with me for a “sing along” party that she held at her house. Co-ordinating their sheet music in the same key as my ukulele songs was a nightmare. I finally had to concede on some and just re-write mine in the same key as the sheet music. Sheet music, by the way, is hard to find on the internet for free. So remember that the next time you’re surfing around trying to find a song in a particular key: just get off yer duff and transpose it yourself, lazybones!

So the influence for this year’s songbook comes from the 80’s theme song night and the Legion jam songs. I posted hardly any contemporary or modern ukulele songs this year. I had gone back and revisited 2 songs that I had promised to the Colbie Callait category, so that’s what I contributed to that genre.

Cat’s Ukulele Songbook 4

The traditional Christmas ukulele songbook is still in the works. I think I have 7 songs out of 18 formatted. It will be coming out in the fall.

You can find all the other songbooks I compiled on the Songs tab. Scroll down to the bottom to the Songbooks section.

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Hits of the 80’s, Part 1: Country

Image result for 80'sI know the music of the 80’s has a reputation as being quirky, fun even, but to truly represent the musical hits of the 80’s I wanted to look at Country Hits of the era as well as Canadian, Pop and British or European, in as far as what made it onto the radio waves here in North America.

Part One is COUNTRY.

Here is one of our karaoke favorites and was a big hit on the Country Hits chart in 1982 and won Willie Nelson a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Always On My Mind  Image result for Willie Nelson

The Oakridge Boys had a massive hit with this light-hearted and fun song called Elvira, still within the country music genre in 1981.


Neither one of these songs was actually written in the 80’s. Elvira was written in 1965 and Always on My Mind was written in 1972 by Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson. But who made it famous? These guys. Willie Nelson’s version actually won him a Grammy Award, and Elvira put the Oakridge Boys on the country music map.

Image result for Grandpa tell me bout the good old days

The 80’s was a great decade for a mother and daughter singing duo who called themselves, quite simply, The Judds. Their country hits were Mama He’s Crazy in 1984, Have Mercy in 1985 and Grandpa (Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days) in 1985.

Grandpa Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days

Other personal country favourites from this decade are Fishing in the Dark, 1987 by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, as well as I Told You So by Randy Travis, 1988.

Stay tuned for Hits of the 80’s, Part 2: Canadian.  🙂 


Arpeggiated Chord Style

Girl crush im

So! This week I have been surfing the net, conducting searches, while muttering “Arpeggiated? What????” to myself.

After hearing Girl Crush by Little Big Town over the radio repeatedly, I realized I can sing it in my voice range and looked up the lyrics. It’s relatively new to the ukulele chording community, however, comments and instructions confused me.  The advice I read was “remember to arpeggiate the chords”, so that the chords sound right, and also for the proper timing of the piece.

Wow. Arpeggiate? That is some slang-ization of a musical term! An arpeggio in music theory means you play certain notes in a scale individually, following a rule or pattern. For the C scale, the notes could be 1, 3, 5, 8, 5, 3, 1 (c, e, g, C, g, e, c). In fact, while I was studying piano when I was younger, one of my favourite books, which neither my mother nor I can find, was Arpeggio Exercises for Piano. I loved it. It was full of wonderful patterns of all kinds of scales. I can still play some of them today. Here’s another example: 1, 2, 3 – 2, 3, 4 – 3, 4, 5 – etc.

When applied to a chordaccording to my recent internet researching – we arpeggiate the chord by playing the notes individually in a pattern instead of strumming. If that involves all four strings of the ukulele, then we also play that string as an open string indicated by a 0.

Here is the exact wording as gleaned from a site called Stack Exchange, found under Music: Practice and Theory (www.music.stackexchange.com):

An arpeggio is simply a chord played one note at a time. So if you’re playing in an arpeggiated style, then instead of strumming the chords, you’ll play each note of the chord one at a time.

Below is my rendition of the C chord in both strumming and this arpeggiated style, for comparison.

Strumming a C chord:

Strum C Chord

Arpeggiated C chord:

Arpeggiated C chord

Here is the pdf of the song Girl Crush by Little Big Town. It’s 2 pages: the first page is the words with the change of the chords positioned; the second page has each arpeggiated chord laid out.

Girl Crush 2

Have fun, I sure am!

Write Out Your Performance Songs

Ralph's Book on websiteA wise ukulele performer once told me that writing out your list of songs is the smartest thing you”ll ever do for a performance. In fact, I bought this person’s book, The Ukulele Entertainer, and it is dog-eared, corner-folded, highlighted, underlined and post-it-ed to the max. It is a well-loved copy! And Ralph Shaw is the author.

This book is full of great anecdotes regarding playing, learning, performing and other aspects of the ukulele such as replacing strings and making ukulele wine. A-hem! I’m serious now! I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Ralph twice at festivals and workshops and I keep forgetting to bring my book for him to sign!

Always In My Gig Bag

However, I highly recommend his book because it is literally jam-packed with tons of information, tricks, tips and stories. It even has illustrations! You can order it directly from him, also available in E-book form, here: Ralph Shaw’s website.

So one of the reasons I bought it was because it claimed it would show you “How to create a killer set list”. And there is a sort of “belief” that goes along with that idea, where you want to draw your audience in and capture them, then you can do your performance songs, and you can end with a couple of ideas. One idea is to end on a high, with an exciting and happy song, or you can end on a sing-along song that everyone knows, because singing along makes the audience feel good about them selves. For myself, having never busked (and Ralph is a veteran of busking on Granville Island out in BC), I have only used this technique for playing songs at my parent’s house, usually on Labour Day Weekend. They sometimes have a porch full of their cronies after the fireworks, and I entertain them a little bit with just a few songs. A couple I chose because they know every word and I know they enjoy singing along. Others I chose because I know my father will enjoy them and others because I want to show off, just a tiny bit. Those would be the lesser known Hawaiian songs.

MemorizedMy “set list” is on post-its stuck to a piece of paper. And I swap them out periodically. It is made up of songs that I have (most of) the words memorized to. Sometimes, I get the order of the verses mixed up, so that is why I have the first lines and then the numbers 2 and 3 circled under the first song on the right, Peaceful Easy Feeling. My father loves The Eagles, so that is for him. I start out with Peace Like A River, and I read the lines for each verse before I start, because I always mix the order up on those, too. And the pattern for the song is underneath that, which I use as an Intro, and after I play the pattern through once, I’ve got it and can concentrate on my singers-along.

Five Foot Two, I always have some kind of mental block going on there, where I will be telling myself, “I know it starts on C and then there’s a whole bunch of 7th chords….” and that’s as far as I get. So I write out the chord progression so that I can “hear” it when I give it a once through. I don’t have to worry about getting the words right for this one, generally EVERYBODY knows the words and enjoys singing them out in a raucus manner. Lots of fun. Everyone knows the Rollerskate Song and You Are My Sunshine, most people know Dream Baby and You’re Sixteen. I sprinkle the ones they aren’t going to know in between those: Pineapple Princess, Drop Baby and Coconut Island. I save the best for last with Drift Away and Hey Baby, which my hubby knows by heart and sings in the style of DJ Otzi, very loudly. So there’s my high ending.

The best part is: people complimenting my mother on having such a talented daughter! ;-P


I’ve Got My Toes in the Water….

This is a fun, light-hearted song by country band sensation Zac Brown Band. Their hit from 2008, following up their quirky 2005 hit, Chicken Fried.

Even though Toes is considered one of the Top 100 Songs of Summer, the song was met with critical acclaim being compared to Jimmy Buffet’s song material. But if people like a song, they like a song. Was Garth Brooks criticized for Two Pina Coladas? I don’t think so!

The official video featured cameo appearances from such heavy-weights as Kid Rock:

TOES ~ Zac Brown Band, 2008

INTRO:  [C] [F] [C] [G] [C] [F] [C] [G] [C]

STRUM: Calypso; D Du uDu; or Island rhythm


I got my [C] toes in the water, [F] ass in the sand

Not a [C] worry in the world, a cold [G] beer in my hand

Life is [F] good today; [G] life is [C] good today [G]

Well the [C] plane touched town, just about [F] 3 o’clock

and the [C] city’s still on my [G] mind.

[C] Bikinis & palm trees [F] danced in my head

I was [C] still in the [G] baggage [C] line.

[C] Concrete and cars are their [F] own prison bars

[C] like this life I’m livin’ in. [G]

But the [C] plane brought me farther, I’m [F] surrounded by water

And I’m [C] not going [G] back a-[C]gain.


I got my [C] toes in the water, [F] ass in the sand

Not a [C] worry in the world, a cold [G] beer in my hand

Life is [F] good today; [G] life is [C] good today –


[N.C.] Adios and vaya con [F] dios! Yeah, I’m leavin’ [C] GA

and if it [G] weren’t for tequila & pretty senoritas

I’d have no reason to [C] stay.

[N.C.] Adios and vaya con [F] dios! Yeah, I’m leavin’ [C] GA

Gonna [G] lay in the hot sun ‘n’ roll a big fat one,

and grab my guitar and [C] play.

The [C] 4 days flew by like a [F] drunk Friday night

as the [C] summer drew to an [G] end.

[C] They can’t believe that I [F] just couldn’t leave

and [C] I bid a-[G]deiu to my [C] friends.

Cause my bartender, [F] she’s from the islands,

her [C] body’s been kissed by the [G] sun.

And coconut replaces the [F] smell of the bar

and I don’t [C] know if it’s [G] her or the [C] rum!


I got my [C] toes in the water, [F] ass in the sand

Not a [C] worry in the world, a cold [G] beer in my hand

Life is [F] good today; [G] life is [C] good today –

Chorus 2:

[N.C.] Adios and vaya con [F] dios! A long way from [C] GA

Hey, and [G] all the mu-chachas they call me big papa

when I throw pesos their [C] way.

[N.C.] Adios and vaya con [F] dios! A long way from [C] GA

Hey boss, [G] do me a favor & pass me the Jaeger

& I’ll grab my guitar & [C] play.

INSTRU:  [C] [F] [C] [G] [C] [F] [C] [G] [C]

CHORUS 3:                                                     

[N.C.] Adios and vaya con [F] dios! Goin’ home now to [C] stay

Cause Senior-[G]itas don’t care-oh.  When there’s no deneiro,

you got no money to [C] stay.

[C] Adios and vaya con [F] dios! Goin’ home now to [C] stay

. . . I’m just gonna kick it on the lake

With my [C] ass in the lawn chair, [F] toes in the clay

Not a [C] worry in the world,  a P-B-[G] R on the way

Life is [F] good today, [G] life is [C] good today….

OUTRO:  [F]  [G]  [C]

I’ve Got Friends in Low Places!

The 1990 hit from Garth Brooks titled Friends in Low Places is to this day heralded as an anthem song amongst country music lovers.

It is “every man’s song.” It also sounds awesome on an ukulele tuned with a low G string!!

Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks

INTRO: [C]  [Gdim7]  [Dm7]  [G]  [G7]  [C]  [G7]

[C] Blame it all on my roots,  I [Gdim7] showed up in boots

And [Dm7] ruined your black tie affair

The [G] last one to know, the [G7] last one to show

I was the [C] last one you thought you’d see [G7] there

And I [C] saw the surprise, and the [Gdim7] fear in his eyes

When [Dm7] I took his glass of champagne

[G] I toasted you,said honey [G7] we may be through

But you’ll never hear me complain – – – –


Chorus:        ‘Cause [C] I’ve got friends in low places

Where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases

My [Dm7] blues away….and I’ll [G7] be okay…..

(Ohhh) [C] I’m not big on social graces

Think I’ll slip on down to the Oasis

Oh!! [Dm7] I’ve got friends, [G7] in low-oh [C] places.

Instrumental Break (8 measures)  C  Gdim7 Dm7 – – G  G7  C – –

[C] Well I guess I was wrong……I [Gdim7] just don’t belong

But [Dm7] then, I’ve been there before

Every-[G]thing’s alright, I’ll [G7] just say goodnight

And I’ll [C] show myself to the [G7] door

Hey [C] I didn’t mean to [Gdim7] cause a big scene

Just [Dm7] give me an hour and then

Well [G] I’ll be as high as that Ivory Tower

[G7] That you’re livin’ in!!! – – – –

Chorus, then “Everybody:” Chorus again.


Mysterious Third Verse:

Well [C] I guess I was wrong……I [Gdim7] just don’t belong

But [Dm7] then, I’ve been there before

Every-[G]thing’s alright, I’ll [G7] just say good night

And I’ll [C] show myself to the [G7] door

Hey [C] I didn’t mean to [Gdim7] cause a big scene

Just [Dm7] wait ‘til I finish this glass

And [G] sweet little lady, I’ll head back to the bar – ha ha

[G7] And you can kiss my ass!!! – – – –

Chorus, then “Everybody:”    Chorus again.