Danielle Ate The Sandwich (aka Danielle Anderson) is a fantastic singer-songwriter from Colorado, USA. Her often hilarious, always poignant YouTube videos have garnered tens of thousands of fans (aka Fanwiches) all around the world. This is her ukulele story…

    What was your first contact with the uke?

    I rarely thought of the ukulele until I was at the home of my friend Brandon. I noodled around with his uke and loved it so much, I asked if I could take it home for a few days. I kept it for too long and he bought me one so he could have his back. After that, it’s a runaway love story! I never expected the ukulele to take over my songwriting or shape my career in the way it has. It’s been an amazing tool and an amazing way to meet new people and get out in the world and enjoy music!

    How do you approach songwriting?

    I don’t have a rigid or formal approach. I try to be open to however a song might come to me. I usually start with an idea or subject, or something that’s been on my mind. Then I noodle around on the ukulele, trying to find a good set of chords, then I play them over and over until words and melodies start to fall out of me. In my process, starting a song is more of an exercise in letting go. Trying anything, singing whatever comes to mind, some of it sensible, most of it gibberish, until there’s some form or outline. Finishing a song, then, is taking those loose ideas and whittling them down to make more sense, be more poetic, fit better in the line and stand nicely as the expression I intended.

    Making good YouTube videos is a lot harder than it looks. What’s your top tip for anyone who’s just starting out?

    I strive to make videos that are engaging and sincere, so I believe strongly in delivering a passionate performance. If you’re able to lose yourself in what you’re doing, as if you were on stage in front of actual people, you’ll give off a level of comfort, ease and intimacy that the audience will hopefully be drawn to. It’s just you and a camera in a room, but it’s good to give it all you’ve got!

    And technically speaking?

    Technically, I think it’s important to record a little audio and video, then listen back to make sure you’re a good distance from the camera or microphone to avoid clipping or distorted audio. It’s also good to make sure your camera is focused and centred and is set on something steady, with a light source of some kind pointed at your face. It’s easy to get caught up in the fancy lights and cameras, but truthfully, some of the most charming videos I’ve seen are very low-fi! At the end of the day, it comes down to whatever moment is captured and how people respond to it.

    You play Mya-Moe ukuleles. What do you like about their instruments?

    I think their ukuleles are gorgeous. They sound amazing acoustic and plugged in to a sound system, which is important for me since I’m performing a lot. They hold their tuning, they’re expressive, they’re well built. And aside from the instruments, I really like the team at Mya-Moe. Gordon [Mayer], Char [Mayer] and Aaron [Keim] are good people. I trust them and I enjoy their company – they’ve cooked me dinner! It’s nice to feel close to the instruments and the people who are building them.

    What did you do before you became a uke star?

    I was a seamstress at an alteration shop. I went to school for apparel design and production and wanted to own a store where I sold the things I made. The alteration shop job was the first ‘real job’ I got after graduating and was the one I decided to quit to pursue music.

    You tour a lot. What’s the most important item you’ve forgotten to pack?

    I’ve packed my car so many times, I know the way it needs to fit together. One time, something just wasn’t right, but I couldn’t figure out why. About six hours down the road, I realised I forgot to pack my sound system! Inevitably, I freaked out and assumed the tour was ruined, but it all worked out okay. I’ve tried to stop worrying. Most anything I need can be bought or borrowed. Pyjamas, deodorant and my phone charger are the things I always make a point to remember. I always have a hard time packing, even though I do it so often. I should be really good at it!

    Have you got a message for your Aussie Fanwiches?

    HELLO! And thank you for being my fans from so far away! I’ve always had some really strong YouTube friends in Australia, so there’s a very soft spot in my heart for you. I would love to come and play in Australia some day, but until then I’m so honoured to be in KAMUKE!

    Finally, why did you choose the stage name ‘Danielle Ate The Sandwich’? We need to know!

    I chose the name because I thought it sounded fun and interesting. I didn’t want to be another singer-songwriter with a boring first and last name. I like my first name and I like sandwiches – how they look and taste and come in different shapes and sizes – so I thought it made perfect sense. I’ve got so used to it, sometimes I forget how strange it is! I pulled it right out of my head!


    Colour: Blue

    Animal: Giraffe

    Food: Spaghetti

    City: New York (but I also like my city, Fort Collins, Colorado!)

    Word: Cigarette

    Hungry for more? Add danielleatethesandwich.com to your bookmarks bar today!

    Photo: Kaela Speicher

    This article first appeared in Issue 9 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store


    MOST Australian uke fans would know the name Rose Turtle Ertler.

    I first met Rose when I was a part of her first Ukulele Land concert in Sydney in 2004 and we often catch up at uke festivals and events around the country. I’ve always been amazed by her incredible creative energy, so it came as no surprise to me that she was involved with musicians and activists from the West Papuan community in Melbourne. She became a member of the Black Orchid String Band and they recently released a self-titled album.

    The first thing that struck me about the record was the beautiful presentation. I don’t know about you, but I still enjoy receiving a physical CD package in the mail. The enclosed booklet includes the wonderful stories behind the songs, many of which speak of the West Papuans’ struggle for independence from Indonesia.

    Politics aside, it’s simply a lovely album. The 10-piece band features traditional bass, ukulele, tifa (a type of drum) and three-part vocal harmonies.

    Fittingly, the lilting West Papuan Anthem gets things underway, then it’s on to Mystery Of Life, with its relaxed vibe and powerful lyrics about freedom. Next up, Melanesian (Brata na Sista) includes some nice steel-guitar work and a catchy chorus you’ll find yourself humming in the shower. The ukes get a good airing on Puke Elano (possibly my favourite) and Rose takes a starring role on Stars – a multilayered track that even features some beatboxing. The album finishes with a bang with Yako Pamane, a strum-happy tune that I think really sums up the friendly, generous nature of the West Papuan people.

    The music of Melanesia shares more than a little DNA with that of Polynesia, so lovers of Hawaiian music will certainly enjoy the Black Orchid String Band. In fact, I can’t think of a reason why anyone would dislike them. Their musical skill mixed with passion for their cause and an innate exuberance for life is an irresistible combination.


  • Ukulele Therapy: How The Ukulele Can Help You Through Difficult Times

    I was recently contacted by a reader named David Markham, who sent me this lovely story about how the uke has helped him. If you have a similar tale to share, please feel free to email me at editor@kamuke.com

    Placing yourself in a positive frame of mind is a very important thing, and playing your ukulele can help you do this – I know!

    Playing my ukulele is helping me get through the chemotherapy I’ve been undergoing to get over a low grade of leukaemia (chronic lymphatic leukaemia).

    I started getting sick in 2016, but it was not apparent something was really wrong until the beginning of 2017. It was a really stressful and depressing time, to say the least. Having tests done and then waiting for the results… I thank God I had my ukulele to keep my spirits up!

    Sometimes I would wake in the middle of the night, full of apprehension and dread about what was going on, and I would say, over and over, “I am healthy, I am healthy, I am healthy!” This was to prevent me from succumbing to despair and becoming totally despondent.

    When I would finally get up in the morning, the first thing I would do (and still do) is play my ukulele. 

    It’s like a machine that can put you in a better mood fast! And in this better frame of mind, it’s easier and more effective to think positive thoughts that will help you to get better.

    I like to strum and sing for a while before I check phone messages, building myself up before having to deal with a dreadful message from the doctor or, even worse, the insurance people!

    Sometimes I take it to chemo and play it in the parking lot before I go in. It’s not about being a virtuoso, it’s about you creating joy within yourself, building up your spirit, and you know that’s good for you!

    Occasionally I would be so tired, I couldn’t do much strumming or singing – watching ukulele videos on YouTube helped me. The Jive Aces, Taimane Gardner and Howlin’ Hobbit are personal favourites.

    As of December 14, 2017, I am in remission. The doctor said the latest blood tests were completely normal, “as if nothing ever happened”! Yay! And I know the ukulele was instrumental (pun intended) in getting me through this ugly ordeal.

    So, my friends, grab your ukulele and play the heck out of it and you will make your life better – and it will spread throughout the world!

    David Markham

  • Aloha, KoAloha!

    I FIRST visited the KoAloha Ukulele factory in Honolulu with my brother in 2001. We were welcomed like old friends and just happened to be there when incredible uke player Gordon Mark showed up and gave us an impromptu concert! It was absolutely fantastic and I’ve been mates with the wonderful Okami family ever since.

    In February, I returned to Hawaii for the first time in eight years and made sure to visit the NEW KoAloha factory. Check it out!


    I even got to play a couple of numbers for the guests on the official factory tour!



    ESTABLISHED in 1916 in what was then the Territory of Hawaii, Kamaka is the oldest manufacturer of ukuleles in the world and the name is still synonymous with quality. KAMUKE chats to production manager and third-generation luthier Chris Kamaka.

    What makes a Kamaka ukulele so special?

    Here at Kamaka, we really take pride in our work. We are fast approaching 100 years and I feel special just to be a part of it. Experience helps with anything and we all learn from our mistakes along the road of life. Through the years, there have been ups and downs, but it’s how you handle your journey that makes the difference.

    As a Kamaka, was being involved in the family business your only career option?

    No, I almost joined the US Air Force with aspirations to be a pilot. Now my two younger brothers are captains with Hawaiian Airlines and my son Dustin is a pilot flying with Trans Air, a cargo outfit here. I majored in business and art design with the intention to join the family business.

    What does your role as production manager entail?

    I oversee the production models, primarily to manage the orders and make sure everything is flowing properly. I also look over and check each instrument before we send them out. 

    There are more and more uke builders arriving on the scene all the time. How has Kamaka responded to that challenge?

    The ukulele has grown and the popularity is tremendous. Many builders today look to us to set the standard because we have expectations and we hold our craftsmanship at a high level. We try to continue to set the bar high and maintain a level of excellence which others look up to. I am glad there are more builders and welcome them. I don’t see others as a challenge to what we do.

    Why do you think we’re seeing such a worldwide resurgence of the ukulele now?

    The ukulele has always been a fun instrument. Technology (especially things like YouTube) has helped introduce the ukulele worldwide. There have been many promoters of the ukulele through the years, most recently Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and Jake Shimabukuro.

    How did the famous and often copied Pineapple Ukulele come into being?

    My grandfather Samuel Kamaka Sr invented the pineapple and actually had it copyrighted until a few years ago. He started building pineapple ukuleles in his garage in Kaimuki, experimenting with the sound.

    What’s your bestselling model?

    It’s pretty close, but I would say the HF-3, our four-string tenor model.

    Tell us about Kamaka’s proud history of employing disabled people.

    My dad hired many hearing-impaired workers and they turned out to be some of our best workers. My mom was an occupational therapist and introduced many of these workers back in the day. Their sense of touch was so sensitive that when my dad trained them, they could tell just by tapping on the top of the instrument whether it was correct or not.

    What can a visitor expect from the Kamaka factory tour?

    If you have uncle Fred as your tour guide, you will have one thorough tour, and I’m sure you will enjoy it tremendously.

    Check out the full Kamaka range and find your nearest stockist at kamakahawaii.com


    This article first appeared in Issue 7 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store


    This submission comes from David Waxman, who says: “I’m a ukulele player, a KAMUKE subscriber and a poet – and I’ve written a poem that involves a ukulele.  I think your readers might like it…”

    To A Ukulele

    Which I lift from its case, strum,
    sitting on our living room couch.

    Sarah, on high back chair, concocts
    cello counterpoint – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.

    A breeze moves lace curtains
    through windows open onto our patio.
    Sparrows skip among brown leaves.
    Beechwoods rise grey in our backyard.

    Beechwoods stood
    in my boyhood backyard,
    sentinels in Sherwood Forest.
    I blink twice. Sarah

    strikes a discord and I startle,
    look up from my uke –
    amber koa carries
    South Seas music.

    Sarah smiles, cocks her head in a question.


    In September, I had the privilege of performing at the amazing Central Coast Ukulele Festival here in Australia. It was incredibly well organised and just great fun, as you can see from the little photo gallery below. Anyway, I thought it was the perfect time to run my interview with Liz Kitney from Issue 10. Check it out below the gallery – Cameron

    Nestled between the cities of Sydney and Newcastle, The Entrance is a picture-perfect coastal town and the home of the Central Coast Ukulele Festival. Organiser Liz Kitney from the Central Coast Ukulele Club takes us through the ins and outs of running what is an increasingly popular event on the Aussie uke calendar.

    What made you want to start a ukulele festival?

    After a few performances during the warmer months, we noticed the crowd building every time. People enjoyed our performances so much, we suggested the idea of having a festival to The Entrance Town Centre management and they liked the idea. The following year, we went to the second Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival and when we saw how much fun it was, we were even more inspired to hold our own. So, in May 2012, we held the first Central Coast Ukulele Festival.

    Tell us about your location and venues.

    The first year, we held the festival in May. The second year in August. Now, we’ve set it for the last weekend in September. Four out of the five years, we’ve held the festival at The Entrance. We have two stages – one in Memorial Park overlooking the beach, lakes and mountains, and the Sails Stage, which is located on the waterfront and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. The dinner shows are held at the Diggers club and the after-dark venues have been at the Diggers and The Entrance Hotel. Last year, we were hit with inclement weather. At the last minute, we moved everything to the Diggers. The club staff were absolutely brilliant in helping to bring our entire festival indoors!

    How has the CCUF evolved? 

    The festival has been growing each year. It has a great reputation and it’s attracting folk from all over Australia and now internationally. We maintain it as a free festival for the community and visitors.

    What’s been your favourite festival moment so far?

    In 2015, after storms ravaged our area and the festival was forced indoors, we had an amazing time, with everyone in great spirits and wall-to-wall people all loving it. The club manager said he’d never seen anything like it before and the chairman congratulated us. We also set a world record – which we still hold today – for the most people playing more than three chords for more than five minutes while wearing a moustache! We raised more than AU$2000 for men’s health charity Movember. Having The Nukes arrive from New Zealand and being there in that crazy weather was absolutely brilliant. And Mic Conway is always a highlight.

    What is the trickiest part of running the event? 

    Everything! We don’t have a lot of funding, but we try to make it the best place to be with very talented players. We are busy raising funds all year.

    Do you have any advice for anyone who’s thinking of starting a festival? 

    Try to get sponsorships, funding and great acts… and keep calm! Communication is also a major part of anything being successful. A great team is precious.

    What’s your best tip for attendees?

    Simply stay and enjoy everything!

    What would you like people to take away from the experience?

    The event is free, so this is our gift to you all. It makes you happy. The acts are brilliant and everyone just shines at the end of the day. Nothing like live music to soothe your heart and soul.

    Which other uke festivals do you like? 

    We love the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival (another free event), the Mandorah Ukulele and Folk Festival in Darwin, the Cairns Ukulele Festival in Queensland and Ukulele Festival Hawaii.

    Do you ever get time to enjoy the event yourself?

    Not really. It flashes before my eyes. I enjoy our great acts and I try to meet as many folk as I can. This year, we had Cameron Murray, Mic Conway, The Nukes, Bosko & Honey and Mirrabooka. And a full program of ukulele collectives, groups, duos, solos and comedy. It was brilliant!

    How would you like to see the CCUF develop in coming years? 

    I’d like more people to know about the Central Coast Ukulele Festival. We are in a regional area between two big cities and our spot is just beautiful, with beaches, lakes, rainforest and ukuleles. We’d like to see more people come and enjoy the festival and our area.

    The 2016 CCUF featured Mic Conway, Phil Donnison, Bosko & Honey, The Nukes and Cameron Murray. Organisers Liz and Rob Kitney are pictured far right.

    Central Coast Ukulele Festival

    Where: The Entrance, NSW, Australia

    When: September



    By Cameron Murray

    THE first time I heard the Ka‘au Crater Boys’ On Fire, I nearly fell off my chair. Who were these guys? And, more importantly, who was their ukulele player? In more than a decade of being associated with the uke, I’d never heard anything quite like it. The technique, the precision, the sheer joy of it! To this day, On Fire is one of my all-time favourite instrumentals.

    I later found out the talented musician behind the ukulele was Troy Fernandez. In the early 1990s, Troy and his surfing buddy Ernie Cruz Jr (who sadly passed away recently) became the voice of a new generation of Hawaiian performers as the Ka‘au Crater Boys. The duo recorded four popular albums and won three Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards – the Hawaiian equivalent of Grammys.

    “I started playing when I was nine years old because in Hawaii every school has a fourth grade ukulele class,” Troy tells me. “When I got to middle school, I started watching Peter Moon and Eddie Kamae, so they were my heroes when I was young, mainly Peter Moon.”

    Troy started his first band when he was 13 and quickly landed a high-profile gig opening for Australian pop queen Helen Reddy at the Sheraton Hotel in Waikiki. “I was actually playing upright bass in the group because my friend was way better than me on ukulele and guitar,” says Troy. “They thought we were just kids running around. Our name was Us and we had tight three-part harmonies, good vocals, good music.”

    Troy and Ernie had been playing together for about a decade before the Ka‘au Crater Boys came into existence.

    “We were known as ET – Ernie and Troy,” explains the 53-year-old. “We started playing in clubs and I said to Ernie, ‘If we keep doing what we’re doing, one day someone’s going to come through the door and they’re gonna want to record us.’

    “That happened and then I told Ernie, ‘I don’t think we should use the name ET because if we get really big we might get sued by the movie guys!’ So Ernie said, ‘I know a name – Ka‘au Crater Boys!’ We’re from Palolo and deep in the valley, there’s a crater called the Ka‘au Crater. I thought, ‘It doesn’t matter what our name is, it’s not going to change the way we play.’”

    Soon enough, the Ka‘au Crater Boys were making waves on the music scene and Troy’s exciting playing style was causing a ukulele resurgence in the islands, particularly among young people.

    “We would go surfing at Hanalei Bay in Kauai and there would be some kids under a tree playing our songs!” says Troy with a grin. “Then we’d go surfing in Hilo on the Big Island and we’d be passing kids and they’d be playing our songs, too. So we found out that everywhere we go in Hawaii, there are kids trying to learn our songs.”

    So what does Troy think of the Third Wave Of Uke, a movement he helped kick-start with his astonishing skill on four strings?

    “There are so many good players, it’s amazing!” he replies. “So many ukulele makers. Everyone is playing the ukulele now, everyone around the world is picking up the ukulele.”

    As our chat comes to an end, I ask Troy if he has any advice for aspiring performers. “Never give up!” he beams. “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

    This article first appeared in Issue 10 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store


    SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)

    Director: Billy Wilder

    Stars: Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, George Raft

    WHEN Some Like It Hot was released in 1959, the ukulele was riding a second wave of popularity in America, largely due to influential television personality Arthur Godfrey’s on-air championing of the instrument.

    The classic comedy stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as struggling musicians who have to get out of Chicago in a hurry after they witness what is obviously supposed to be the 1929 St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

    Without a dime to their names and ruthless mobsters led by ‘Spats’ Colombo (Raft) on their trail, the hapless pair don wigs and nylons and manage to con their way into an all-girl band that’s headed for Miami. However, things get even more complicated when both men fall for the group’s soprano uke player, a vivacious blonde named Sugar Kane (Monroe).


    Despite the production being plagued by Marilyn’s hostile and unpredictable behaviour (Curtis allegedly described his love scenes with the icon as “like kissing Hitler”), the movie was a huge hit and Monroe won a Golden Globe award for her performance. In 2000, the American Film Institute listed Some Like It Hot as the greatest American comedy film of all time.

    Call us biased, but we reckon the uke played its part in the movie’s success. We can’t imagine the adorably kooky Sugar playing anything else!

    This article first appeared in Issue 1 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store


    By Victoria Vox

    AS I mindfully listen to other ukulele players, I’m often drawn to the groove. At this year’s Vancouver Ukulele Festival, Daphne Roubini (of Ruby’s Ukes) performed a song she wrote and explained it was to teach beginner players those first few chords. She established a rhythm, never rushing, and held her basic strumming in the pocket. It was absolutely beautiful and I forgot she was playing a straight up C chord most of the time.

    The truth is, what she did was quite difficult. Since I began teaching ukulele workshops in 2008, I’ve noticed how much people rush, vary the tempo, skip a beat or add a few when trying to accomplish some fancy fingering or rhythm.

    I’d like to compare playing a song to riding a bike. I’ve done a fair bit of cycling in the past few years and have learnt so much about efficiency, stamina and rhythm. This boils down to what cyclists call a cadence. (Musically, a cadence is defined as the movement of melody or chords that create a sense of resolution.) I learnt, in finding my cadence, to never stop pedalling and that I need to change gears, especially on hilly landscapes, to keep the same pedalling speed. The point is to maintain a groove. Once one stops the circular pedalling motion, it’s that much harder to get back into it.

    Playing ukulele is similar. When we’re learning something new, we naturally slow down at the challenging parts. However, practicing this way can affect the future performance of the song. Try practicing with a metronome at a tempo you can easily play the difficult chords or strum, even if the easier sections seem painfully slow. It’ll sound much better than slowing down for the hard parts and speeding up during the familiar areas.

    Keeping the groove at a slower tempo helps me understand the beats I am playing. I like to subdivide the beats mentally (into sixteenth notes) so every beat is accounted for equally. Also, it might help to imagine the drums and bass.

    The bottom line is, play whatever you’re going to play in time, be it super simple or fretted fancifully. Take your time. Give it feeling. They’ll all be screaming, “Groovy, baby!”

    Grab a copy of Victoria’s groovy new album When The Night Unravels at victoriavox.com

    Photo by Philip Edward Laubner

    This article first appeared in Issue 9 of KAMUKE, which is available in the Store