Talk Story: Folk Uke

Yes, they’re the daughters of music legends Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie, but Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, aka Folk Uke, are stars in their own right. Armed with a guitar and a ukulele, the talented duo travel the world singing hilarious original songs, such as Knock Me Up and Shit Makes The Flowers Grow. KAMUKE chats to the ladies about their famous dads, uke heroes and cheesy pick-up lines.

Why did you choose the ukulele, Cathy?

Cathy: It was almost 20 years ago when I was hanging out at Amy’s house and picked up her ukulele. I hadn’t really played a uke before, but she showed me a few chords and I decided I wanted one for myself. So Amy and I went down to the local music store and picked out a ukulele.

Do Willie or Arlo play uke?

Amy: My dad played my uke once and sounded great, but I don’t think he’d played one before.

Cathy: Yes, my dad actually has a ukulele I’m hoping to steal one day!

How have your dads influenced your music?

Amy: Do you mean how have we influenced their music?

Cathy: Haha! Good point, Amy! It probably goes both ways.

What’s your songwriting process?

Amy: Usually, one of us thinks of a song and takes it to the other and we both write it… months, sometimes years, later.

Cathy: Sometimes it just takes a few minutes.

What do you think of hardcore ukulele people (like us)?

Amy: We love them!

Cathy: I get a little nervous playing for ‘ukulele people’ because they might notice I’m really not very good!

Do you have any uke heroes?

Amy: James Hill, Jake Shimabukuro and Cathy Guthrie. I just listened to the new recording of Jake Shimabukuro playing with my dad. It’s beautiful.

Cathy: Oh, I want to hear that! [Ed: So do we!]

You’ve been to Australia a few times. You must like it…

Amy: We don’t like it. We love it!

What’s been your most memorable gig so far?

Amy: I used to have one, but now I can’t remember it.

Cathy: It’s usually the last one we played.

We love your latest album Starfucker, which features both Willie and Arlo. Do you have to twist your dads’ arms to play on your records or are they always up for it?

Amy: Yes and yes.

Cathy: They’ve been happy to play on our records… so far.

Have you encountered many starfuckers on your musical journey so far?

Amy: Yes.

Cathy: And yes.

There are some super-cheesy pick-up lines on the track Sweet Talker. What’s the worst pick-up line you’ve ever heard?

Amy: The worst one I’ve ever heard was, ‘I’ve decided I’m going to have sex with you tonight.’

Cathy: One time, I was at a bar with my sister Annie and a guy walked up to her and said, ‘Do you wanna dance? I have a moustache.’ I still don’t know what that means, but I haven’t forgotten it.

Another great song on the album is All I Want For Christmas. What do you want for Christmas?

Amy: I want a re-do on the US presidential election.

Cathy: Yeah! What Amy said. I’m glad she got to answer these first.


Amy: Purple
Cathy: Teal

Amy: Spider
Cathy: Dog

Amy: Chocolate
Cathy: Mexican

Amy: Austin, San Diego, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Vancouver
Cathy: All of Amy’s choices are great and I’d love to visit Paris sometime soon

Amy: Love, compassion, fuck
Cathy: Ukulele

Check out for tour dates and merch!

This article originally appeared in Issue 11 of KAMUKE Ukulele Magazine, which is available in the Store

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