What is a 30's Uke Girl up to these days??

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I have been writing music and performing professionally for 30 years.  Since moving to Florida, I've added many new originals that embrace the Florida scenery, history and lifestyle.  This has been met with great enthusiasm from crowds all over the state.  I currently have two CDs out but am now working on one that is exclusively Ukulele.  

I plan to use this site to give back, meaning, I will be posting info on where to go for festivals, sites that are all about Ukulele, song sites, and fun photos and pics of local and national events.  Enjoy and most of all Have Fun!  

Remember this, Never Stop Dreaming, But, Now Is The Time To Take Your Dreams To The Next Level, And Start Living Your Dreams!!!! quote by Norine Mungo :)

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Monday, November 21, 2016

SongWriting! 101 and 1/2 by Norine Mungo

So here is a post I wrote awhile back on my blog, I Sing Folk Songs, about the art of songwriting.  I am copying this over from that blog, so, no, this is not plagiarism, lol, cause I wrote it in the first place.  Haha. But I get lots of questions about songwriting and I have done many workshops at festivals about this subject, so here is my version, pieced together through the years, of how to write songs. 

Now, I wrote this for the Folk Writer who, notoriously , writes 20 verses and does two songs an hour.  Yeah, that one!  I help people narrow the focus of what they are trying to say in their song, and engage the audience into their story.  This works for ALL songwriting, so, without further ado: Songwriting 101 and 1/2 by Norine Mungo aka 30s Uke Girl!

Welcome to Songwriting 101 and ½
Because the hour long songwriting workshop is nowhere near enough time to do more than inspire you to write, I’ve created this mini book for you to read after our session today. 
Your mentor, Norine Mungo
So, who am I to be teaching YOU how to write a song.  I know what some of you are thinking.  LOL.  So, I will give you a little background on how I got here first, before I dive into this lesson.

I’ve been writing music since I was 16.  Was it great music at first? Mostly not!  But it was a start, and it is so cool now to go back to those beginning songs and compare them to what I’ve written over the past few years.  If you see the growth in your music, you are going in the right direction!
Through the years I have picked up knowledge from so many sources and applied them to my songwriting. I’ve read books, talked with mentors, upped my skills on the guitar, and practiced writing something every day.
When I was performing in our Country Rock Band, Reach For The Sky, we were the house band at a club in Santa Clara, California, called The Horseshoe Club.  That is where I met Joan Baez.  She used to come in with her friends from the Arthur Murray dance studio, and she loved dancing to western swing.  One night, as I was sitting down on a break, she turned to me and put her hand on the back of my hand.  I turned to her and said, “Hey Joan!”  I mean, it is Shut The Front Door, Joan Baez touching my hand and looking directly at me!
She said, “I like your songs. You are one of the most prolific songwriters I’ve met in a long time.  How many songs have you written?”

I said, “Well, about 40 now.”  I kept calm but my heart was racing just a bit.
She then said, “You are killing your voice in these clubs when you have a skill for writing.  You need to get out of the clubs before you ruin your voice.  And, you need to write every day.  Write 300 songs.  Once you’ve reached 300 songs.  Nobody can stop you.  You’ll be that good!”
It’s not like we became buddies or anything.  It was just that one chance encounter.  But I did ask about the 300 songs.  I was thinking, How will I ever get to 300?

She told me the most important thing I learned about songwriting. “Every idea for a song should be written down.  Once you’ve put any work into that idea, no matter where you are in the process, it is now considered a song.  It might not be complete yet, but it is a song!”
It took a life time to get here but, I now have over 350 songs. 
Another thing that has helped me in my writing is that I have been a performer most of my life, from childhood on.  Starting with 17 years of dance school, leading to high school and college musicals, then vocalist for disco bands, rock bands, country rock bands, jazz standard trio, western swing, and of course, Folk music. 
As a performer, I see the song from two perspectives:
 Can I dance to it? And, can I sing it? LOL.
Also, as a performer in live shows with bands, I know that the set list must be diverse enough to keep the audience listening or dancing.  With that in mind, you can see how it translates to my songwriting.  I write each song with a beat to tap your foot to, or with emotional lines to deliver an impactful memory. As I write each one, I try to make them different beats and keys and content so that, once I have enough for a show, the audience gets a diversity that keeps them excited song after song. 
Welcome to my world! It is a chaotic one at best.  I can’t even drive to the store without seeing something that influences me in a way that I want put it down in writing.  
My little pamphlet is created to take you on this journey and help you think like a well rounded writer! Enjoy!
OK, enough about me, on to the mentoring of YOU!!
Where Do I Start My Song??
That is like asking, what comes first, the chicken or the egg?  In song writing, I think that you can approach each song from a different angle, and as long as you eventually get all the parts going,  you will finish strong.  For some, the words come first, or just the story idea, or  poem.  For others, they start writing a melody that leads to a feeling or emotion and the words come after.  Like I said, there is no right or wrong on where you start, but where you finish is the key. 
Christopher Cross spoke about his song, Once You Get Stuck Between The Moon and New York City, the theme for the movie Arthur.  He was flying in over New York to work on the song for the movie, and they got stalled due to bad weather.  Like 3 to 4 hours, hovering above the clouds, waiting to land.  He said he looked out and saw the moon shining down on the tops of the clouds and he thought, “this is what it’s like be stuck between the moon and New York City” and once he thought it, it stuck.  He got pen and paper out and began the song in the air.  I am pretty sure he finished it before they landed.  
Your inspiration can take you on a great journey, as you develop your idea into words and music.
As for me, I view songwriting from multiple vantage points.  The story, the poem, painting the picture with words, the melody, the lead riffs and musical hooks, and harmony, all come into play with everything I write.  
This is not to say that all songwriters will come at their songs from so many directions.  Many songwriters are lyricists, and many are strictly composers, dealing only with one aspect of the song. 
I think, though, that in the genre of Folk, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, and most Americana and Roots music, the artist, like me, does a bit of everything.  Therefore, I will approach this mini class with the slant on creating the whole package for you.  
But, given that, I want to impart to you a love of writing the story of the song! That is what people expect when you call your music Folk.  If  you don’t have any starting point yet, but you feel you have a song idea.  Try to write down your thoughts first, not even poetically, so it’s just your outline of a story.  You will be amazed at how the song starts developing from there!
Writing Formula Story Folk Songs!
Why Formula??
 It is not a sell out, regardless of what you’ve been told! There are purists’ out there that say a formula kills the buzz.  I don’t buy that! You need to think formula as you are creating your work, just like a painter.  He does a sketch, then a base coat, then layer upon layer of colors until he/she has a masterpiece.  They follow a formula! 
Granted, we could take a monkey and hand him a couple of different paint buckets, and let him slosh it on the canvas.  That is cool.  But the attention span  of the viewer will be brief, and the memory of the slosh marks won’t stay in the viewers mind for very long.  Unlike  Starry Night or Water Lilies, whose marks and swirls, make you look at the paintings in depth. These are paintings that have endured through time because they evoke an emotion.  Without all the layers that the master artist created, they would be nothing more than slosh marks.  (Though, at the time they were created, there were some purists who said Monet and Van Gogh’s paintings were just slosh marks. LOL)
I like to compare writing songs to painting masterpieces.  I want to leave something enduring, and timeless.   It takes practice to become a master.  If you are serious about writing music, then you must practice  your art every day! A painter and a novelist will tell you to paint or write everyday! So practice, think formula and have fun. It is a gift to your audience!
What ARE Formulas!!!!!
Odd place to start when we are talking about Folk music, but let’s look at Rock for an example of formula!
In Rock N Roll, you will find mostly hooky lines and dance grooves, lots of repeats, and many story lines that are simple themes.  Yet, they are very successful! Why? Well, that’s because they give the listener something to grab onto.  When those lines repeat, and are simple, we tend to sing along, don’t we? That is what makes them memorable.
Also part of the formula is the chord progression.  The absolute basic chord progression is 3 to 4 chords.  Some songs have only two chords.  Some even only one! Experiment with the different keys and progressions to get diversity in your portfolio of songs.  Because chord progression in another whole subject, I will only tell you to learn from some good books that teach the number system and how the chords go together.  Again, it is like learning to paint.  If you look at a color wheel, there are certain color families that go well together, and some that look just awful.  The same goes with chord progressions.  Put the wrong ones together, and it is like nails on a chalk board.  LOL.  
Like I said, for this pamphlet, we will concentrate on structure and leave the actual chord selection for another class.
Rock N Roll!
Many Rock songs have the simple formula of:
A Lead Intro, 2 verses, a chorus, a lead, 3rd verse,  last chorus and lead out with musical hooks throughout the song.  
Let’s take that apart and explain as simply as we can  for the novice writer. 
1.      The lead intro is something that might stay on your mind after you hear it.  Like Smoke On The Water, you will hear that guitar line in your head just from my stating the title of the song! If you are too young, and have never heard it, go look it up on the net!  That is a quintessential Intro Lead.  Also, Day Tripper.  Both of these songs lead intro repeat throughout the whole song making them the most memorable.
Another example of an intro lead line is The Air That I Breath.  This line NEVER repeats again in the song, but as soon as you hear it, you know what song it is.  One last lead line I can mention is Surfin’ USA . Again, it is played one time, at the beginning, never repeats again, but was so strong that you jump up to go dance as soon as it starts.  If you are not familiar with any of these songs, look them up on YouTube.
Yes, not every folk song is going to get that type  of a lead in.  But why not strive to create a memorable line so that everyone will automatically know the title  of the song when you start your riff! This line can be the same as the melody of the chorus. It can be the melody of the first line of your song.  Or it can be something that never repeats again in the song.  Remember, this is your starting point that gets the listeners attention.
2.    In rock, there is also something called a musical hook.  This is a musical line you play on your instrument that repeats in between your verses.  It could be the same as the intro or, preferably, this is a new line that traverses the verses and choruses.  It acts like a bridge without words. Listen to Chad and Jeremy’s A Summer Song. You will hear the opening riff repeated throughout the song.  This is  a musical hook!
3.    The 1st verse should set up your story.  Like any good story, you need to get the audience’s attention with this verse.  And, even more importantly, the first line should be the bait!   A great example is Downtown.  “When you’re alone, and life is making you lonely, you can always go, Downtown”.  You automatically want to hear more of the verse.  Another example is Aqualung.  OK, it is harsher, but think about it.  The first line is, “Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent”.  You are hooked into hearing the rest.  One of the best lines I have heard was from Eleanor Rigby.  “Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice in  the church where a wedding has been, lives in a dream”.  Those opening lines make you want to know more about the person, place or thing in the song.
The rest of the first verse expounds upon the first lines.  Just like the first paragraph in a good book.  You make or break the connection with the audience in that first verse.  Make it strong.
4.    The 2nd verse goes into more detail about the situation, place or person.  I would compare it to the frosting on the cake.  1st verse is the cake, 2nd verse is the frosting.  Don’t you think it is funny how people remember and sing along with the first verses and choruses of songs, but mumble the 2nd one.  That is why.  It is the frosting.  Certainly important to the content of the story, but let’s face it.  You can eat cake without frosting, but you usually don’t sit down and eat  bowl of frosting without the cake. 
This verse is certainly important though.  Remember, you’ve already opened strong with a character or statement, and now you want to give some background on that person or statement.  Like in Come Dancing by The Kinks,  the first verse talks about the situation when  their favorite dance pallor gets mowed down for a parking lot, and ends with My Sister Went There On A Saturday. Then the second verse goes into detail about the sister and her dates.  The second  verse expounds upon his sister going dancing.
5.      OK, the Chorus!  There are many rock songs that repeat the same melody for the chorus.  In fact, Tom Petty sings Run Away Train as the first verse AND the Chorus.   But, essentially, a good chorus will evoke the emotion of the song, and it is a point of differentiation musically from the verses.
The chorus will raise you up with higher notes and get louder, or bring you down with lower notes and become quieter.
It can get a different beat or less instrumentation, or added instruments! 
Bottom line, it is a change point in the song that keeps the interest going and gives the audience something to grab onto.  It breaks the monotony of too many verses!
 A great Rock chorus example is Stand By Me.  The instrumentation is doing the same 4 chords as the verses, but, the lyrical movement and the melody change the beat of the song at that moment.   And everyone sings along with that chorus.  Another example is Pinball Wizard.  The verses are frantic and draw you into the energy of a pinball game, but the chorus changes to Attitude, with the beat and words and melody giving you the vision of someone who is the king of the pinball game.  Go listen to it again, you will see what I mean.  After the chorus, it goes back to the frantic motion.
6.    The 3rd verse should give closure to the song.  It should resolve the  story in some way.  If the gist of the song is , I’m  A Loser, then the resolve could be, But I Am Going To Get Better, or, I Will Never Be Anything Else, or But So Are You.   See what I mean?  Let’s say the gist of the song is about love.  The last verse is going to resolve whatever you’ve been speaking of in the rest of the song.  Just like the final chapter in the book reveals the bad guy, or tells of the fairytale ending in a love story, your final verse will give the listeners closure and solve the mystery for them.  Etc.  Great example of a final verse is from You Don’t Know Me.  The resolve of the song is that he/she walks away, never knowing that you love them. 
7.     Many  songs add a bridge in the middle or towards the end of the song.  A bridge usually has far less lines in it than the verses and choruses, or it could be more.  It is almost always an entirely different melody than the rest of the song.  The bridge is usually a retrospective moment in your story.  It is a side story to your story, or an early resolve of  the situation you are speaking about.  It is not something that you will repeat anywhere else in the song.  And, not all songs have or need a bridge!!!  But, if it can be effectual to the purpose of the song material, then develop a bridge! An example of a great bridge is from a country song, In My Dreams.  It starts with two verses, the chorus, a verse, then the bridge, then a fourth verse resolving the story, and a final chorus.  It has the lead in and outro as well.  This is a well placed bridge!!
8.    The last chorus is usually a repeat word for word of the main chorus.  This is what the listener remembers most.  It pounds the message into the brain as to the gist of the song.  Not all songs end on a chorus, but many do.  Also, many songs will follow the formula but add the first verse after the last chorus, repeating that introduction to the song.   Again, this makes your song more memorable.
Another thing to note about a chorus, first or last, and hopefully both, is if you can repeat a line from one of the verses in the chorus, you have done what they call in soccer, a Hat Trick.  Talk about a Lyrical Hook Line!  Also, if this lyrical hook line is super strong and much repeated in your song, you might want to make it the title of the song!
9.    Finally, your outro should be a musical figure that takes you out of the song.  It can repeat the chorus or the verse, acting as a tag at the end and lets the listener know that the song is over.  It is the Ta Dah of your song.  Another way to do your outro is to tag your last lyrical line of the chorus or verse.  So, as in Goodness Gracious Great Balls Of Fire, you repeat the last line “You Broke My Will, But What A Thrill, Goodness Gracious Great Balls Of Fire”, twice at the end. That is a perfect tag.
Standard Formulas!
Ok, so enough about Rock! LOL.  Let’s talk more formula.  There are many ways to configure your Folk song.  Here are some simple formats to play with.
1.      Intro, 1st verse, chorus, 2nd verse, bridge, chorus, repeat the 1st verse, tag last line, outro. 
2.    Long Intro (going through the melody of your song musically), chorus, 1st verse, 2nd verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro.
3.    1st verse (starting song with the words right away), 2nd verse, 3rd verse, bridge, outro.
4.    Intro, 1st verse, bridge, chorus, 2nd verse, lead line (can be a repeat of the verse melody), chorus, 3rd verse, chorus, outro.
5.     Intro, 1st verse, 2nd verse, chorus, lead line, 3rd verse, chorus, outro with a tag of the first lyrical line of the song.
6.    Chorus, 1st verse, Chorus, 2nd verse, Chorus, 3rd verse, outro on the Chorus. 
There are many more ways to combine your verses and choruses effectively, but use these as a starting point to refine your direction!  You will use these and other formulas you find to keep your song moving, and making it very interesting for the listener!
So what defines a Folk Song!
The difference in our genre of music is that we want to tell a story, or make a statement.  Maybe it is a funny story, or a sad one, or just a good story about a person, place or thing.  Maybe we are passionate about a cause or a situation out there in our community or the world at large.  But what I’ve seen happen, many times, is that writers in our genre tend to get stuck on the story verses, and never develop the song into a formula composition that hooks the listener and engages the audience into participating with the writer. 
You know what I am talking about. You’ve heard those songs at the open mic nights, the ones with 20 verses, each one different, that go on, and on, and well, you might be one of them, so don’t feel bad.  This is what this mini crash course is all about. 
So, let’s say you’ve already written that 20 verses.  A novelist will tell you that they just write everything down and then they revise later.  
Good advice for a Story Folk Writer.  Go ahead, write it all down.  Now prepare yourself to let some of them go.  Or incorporate the most important points from each verse into less verses.  Keep in mind, like a good story should, the bait lines, the frosting, and the resolve.  The choruses can be as simple as repeating a specific point line from your verse.  Take that line, and add more thoughts to it, creating about 4 lines, or 2 lines, or 3 lines! Or, like the Beatles, Just keep repeating, I Wanna Hold Your Hand!  LOL. 
Remember,  don’t get hung up on what comes first, the chicken or the egg.  I get asked all the time, “Do you start with a melody or the lyrics, or do you write a poem and put it to music later?”
I think that everyone comes up with their own method of putting the songs together.  It isn’t right or wrong to start with any of those.  The words might come first for you, and  melody develops around the rhythm of the meter of your poem.  Or, you might be one who starts humming a tune and then you develop words to match your melody.  It is all good.  
No matter where you start, it’s where you end that matters!  Follow one of the formula’s to make sure that once you’ve got your words and melody, you will have a viable finished product that the public would be interested in hearing.  
The greatest cause in the world, sung without some type of formula, will fall on deaf ears.  People get bored quickly.  
We are in a world of fast pace, remote control change artists who can’t even sit through a TV show without flipping the channel constantly.  Think of that when you are singing your song to an audience.  Keep that song flipping for them from interest point to interest point, or they are off to doing their grocery lists in their heads. 
Also, if you are doing a whole show based on your songs, remember to set up your show list with diverse keys, beats, and subject matter.   Again, you don’t want to have everything you write sound the same.  That is why I give you so many formulas to choose from.  Practice using a different one for each song you start.  That way, you will sound interesting all the way through your set. 
Lastly, concerning the length of your song, a good 2 ½ minutes to 4 minutes, tops, is best.  That is a standard timing for air play on a radio.  My friend Jane Gill, author of the book, A Matter Of Pride, once said to me, “I am always amazed how a songwriter can say in one page of music, what it takes me 250 pages to say!”  Think of that when you are struggling to give up those 20 verses.  A great song will still only be one page of typed words!
If you find your typed song hitting two full pages with standard font, or worse, going to the third page, I am telling you to cut that baby down!
As To My Method!
Ok, here it goes. I am consistently starting my songs differently every time.  I have stood in the keyboard section of Guitar Center, and heard a drum beat that sets my mind awhirl.  The melody or words just start popping into my mind, and next thing you know, I am running to the counter asking for pen and paper.  I write a few of my thoughts down, and then when I get home, I fiddle with those thoughts. 
Another time, I will see something in the news, or hear a story about someone we know, that makes me think deeper about the person, place or thing.  I fiddle with the story a bit, fleshing it out and then start working on a melody line or lyrics.  
But mostly, I like to start with a story.  I push myself to come up with new stories that I have totally made up in my head.  Like my song, Mrs. Edna Pomeroe.  She doesn’t exist.  I put myself through writing exercises all the time.  I thought of writing something about all the women I knew who were now alone, having outlived their husbands.  From that exercise came one of my most requested songs!
Now It’s Your Turn!
So here goes, your exercise for your brain muscle! 
1.      Write down possible story lines every single day.  Get a journal and keep jogging down your thoughts as they hit you.  If you are at work or in a situation where you can’t write in your journal, see if your phone has a recording section to speak your thought into it.  My android has something called rich text.  OMG, it has saved my mind.  I get a thought and I grab my phone and write myself a message.  If you are driving and you have hands free, you can call yourself and leave yourself a voice message.  LOL.  Yes, I have done that!!
2.    Every day, take a look at those thoughts in your journal, and pick one to work on.  If you have a computer, and you have Word Document, it is awesome cause you can play with the story, developing  the thought.  
I have all these mini stories just floating around waiting to gain my attention.  That is why, even if you are working on some songs already, keep revisiting that journal as well.  What only slightly drew your attention before, might later become a passionate thing that you want to write about.
3.    Every good story needs a person, place or thing! In a novel, you need a protagonist. It can be a static or dynamic character.  Dynamic meaning growth!   In my song, Jacque, the character is dynamic in that he crumbles from what once were great dreams and ambitions to being a chalk artist on the street.  In other words, there is movement in the characters life, for better or for worse. 
In Will McLean’s songs, he developed his characters from real life personalities and places from Florida History.  Your character could be a Lake, or a Mountain, or your character could be The Boy Next Door, or The Girl At The Soda Shop.  Your character could be Single Moms, or The Fight To Save X, Y, Z Place.  It could be a past President, or a War Hero.
 Your person, place, or thing is the key element to your story song.  If it is fictional, be as creative as you’d like with your character.  But if it is about a real person, or a real place, then get all your facts, do the research and paint that picture as accurately as you can. 
4.    Willie Nelson once said, “I never write my new song down until I can remember it from day to day.  If  I can’t remember it, no one else is gonna remember it either!”  I liked that.  That is why I just write down thoughts.  When I am starting to create  the meat of the song, I many times just play the guitar and start playing with words and let the whole thing sort of develop for a couple of verses.  I am not going to lose the theme as it’s been jogged down, but as to the content of the actual song, I wait an hour before I even start writing the words on paper.  When I come back to it in an hour, if I still have the melody and words in my head, I know I am on to something that others will remember too.  This is just a method that I use personally to judge the metal of the song. 
You might think, NO WAY, and write down every rhyme that comes into your mind. That is fine too, and if that works for you, then use it.  But if you find that your songs get boring to you, or to those that are listening, then you might want to resist that way and follow Willies!  I can say that I became a much better writer after learning this discipline!
5.     Feedback! Humble yourself to accept feedback from friends, foes, peers etc!  Tell your friends though that you want honest feedback!  When I am writing my novels, I get certain friends and family to read my works as I go.  I get great feedback that helps me stay on target with my story, and to keep the reader engaged and invested in the saga. 
You need to do the same thing with your songs before you go public.  Now, not everyone is going to like what you wrote.  But if the majority of your proofers like what you did, then add it to your show.   If you get the soft shoe shuffle from your friends, get them to tell you why.  Did you write too many verses? Did your song stay on theme throughout, or did it stray to too many thoughts that confused the listener as to what the main subject was about.
Ask them to sing the chorus with you.  If they can kinda repeat that chorus, this is a very good thing.  When you are done singing to them, ask THEM what the song was about, don’t YOU tell them.  This is very important as you will learn quickly whether you have something interesting that caught their attention. 
6.    Now that you’ve written your song, and you’ve proofed it with friends and peers, and you’ve done it in front of strangers, and everyone loves it, and you go running to your home recording studio, and you make your own CDs, and everyone loves it, and some national company hears it and decides they want to go to the Real Studio, get ready to rewrite your song! Producers will notoriously change many things about your song.  They may change your intros and outros and the leads and hooks in between.  They may ask you to rewrite the chorus, or change and tweak the melody.  
     Now this is where you decide whether doing what the producer wants is going to make you feel like a crazy sell out!  If you have doubts about that producers ideas, ask them to show you some before and after work that they’ve done and make your decision based on whether or not you think that they actually improved the artists songs.
Remember too, that if they make major changes in your song, they will own part of the song as a co-writer!  It is one thing for a producer to arrange the song for you, adding other instruments etc, but to change words and melody gets into copy write issues.  Be aware of what you are giving up!
You may be one who wants total artistic control of your work.  You may feel better about just doing your own CD’s, booking your own gigs and staying local, or small touring of small events.  That is great.  Just know and be true to yourself.  You want to be a happy artist.  But if you feel you have a really big message to give the world, then you will probably have to work with a producer that will want to influence the direction of the song. 
Take heart though, cause YOUR song might be so good, and complete that they don’t want to change a thing! But in reality, that usually never happens.  LOL. 
Last Thoughts
I know this is a short recipe on how to write a song, but I hope it inspires you to create better songs going forward.  If I’ve influenced you and motivated you to get out there and start writing, I hope you will email me and let me know of your journey and your successes.  Nothing would please me more. 
In parting, when I was in my 20’s, a band mate recommended a book to me.  It was called, “If They Ask You, You Can Write A Song”.  It was all about formulas and it changed my direction for the better. 
I also became a better writer when I learned to play my guitar better.  Learning to play more than those 5 basic chords is real handy! 
So moral of the story:  Don’t be resistant to knowledge and skill!  Develop both and you will increase your happy factor and your credibility with the music industry as a whole.  
Do you need to spend 70,000 dollars on a college degree to be  great songwriter?  Well, Will McLean certainly didn’t!  Does theory help.  Yes, it certainly can.  But the most important thing in songwriting is. . . . Can you be creative????  I know that my mother in law can play the piano like she is in a symphony, but she has stated many times, if the song isn’t written down, she can’t play it.  And as to writing her own material, she said that she had never even attempted it.  So, you see, her theory didn’t produce a songwriter in her!  It made her a great musician!  Theory can’t replace creative thought.  But theory can take creative thought to the next level!  
What I want to you think about is this.  Am I a creative person?  Can I play an instrument to show other musicians what I am hearing in my head. Can I write a formula song that the listener is drawn to.  Do I wax poetic? Do I like telling stories?
If you answered the creative part with a positive, that is the chef in you.  The instrument is the pot in which you are going to cook. The formula is the recipe. The poetic is the ingredients.  The telling story’s is the serving of your dish!   Now get cooking!!!  Writing!!! You know what I mean!!! 
Ever Yours, Norine Mungo southtampaukulelejam
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And for some of my cool original recipes, for actual cooking, I have a blog called Mama Mungos Soup Kitchen on Blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

It's A Ukulele Day now on Soundcloud, music and lyrics by Norine Mungo

South Tampa Ukulele Jam
hosted by Norine and Vinny Mungo
with their live Ukulele Band
Reenee & The Rollers

It's A Ukulele Day

Here you go peeps from around the world, I'm posting It's A Ukulele Day, music and lyrics by Norine Mungo and performed by Norine aka 30s Uke Girl and also aka Reenee of Reenee and The Rollers.  We performed this at the Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway on both Friday night to Kick Off the weekend and on Sunday with Ty and his Hawaiian Group to Close the Festival.

Thank you all for your overwhelming response and requests for this song.  I will love knowing that y'all are performing this song at your clubs around the world!  My motto, "No Nukes! Play Ukes!"

For those that heard the beginnings of this song several years ago, when I first wrote it as It's World Ukulele Day, yes, this is the same song, but revised to reflect that, heck EVERY DAY is A Ukulele Day, not just once a year!  So, have fun, and please let me know if you are doing this song at YOUR clubs, and also, keep us in mind if you ever want to have us at YOUR festivals and workshops!

Later Dudes, Dudettes, and to all my peeps, Blessings in Abundance are wished for you and yours!
Ever and Always, 30s Uke Girl!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Catching Up on all the events!

Holy Moly, Peeps, I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted.  Wow!  It's been a very busy year for our band and our ongoing very successful jam session, South Tampa Ukulele Jam.  Festival Season has come up fast for our group, and we are performing every month through Feb 2017.  This Saturday is the Country Jubilee Festival at Heritage Village, Largo, where our band performs at 11 am on the main bandstand.  The Gazebo for those who know the place.  LOL  And, this will be the first year that Tampa Bay Ukulele Society has been honored to host two workshops at the festival, for beginner and advanced beginner!! Go to Tampa Bay Ukulele Society Meet Up for more information!!

Also, Vinny and I, Norine, AKA  Reenee, will host the open mic at The Whistle Stop in Safety Harbour,  this month of Oct on the 27th.  Format is that we do one song with the members, then start the open mic, get up a few folks, then Vinny and I will lead y'all in another song. Etc and so forth through out the night!  Bring your Ukes even if you don't plan on getting up!!!

Next,  The Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway is FAST approaching!  Nov 4th thru 6th!  Guess what PEEPS??? Vinny and I will host the open jam on the opening night of the Getaway!  How cool is that??  So everything you expect from the South Tampa Ukulele Jam you can expect on Friday at the Getaway!  Yes, it is Rock Rock Rock as we lead you with a live band, percussion, bass, amped and loaded!  Be ready to bring your outdoor Voices, cause we're gonna SING OUT!!! 

December 3rd is the 2nd Annual Uke It Out Fest hosted by WMNF 88.5 and our band is included for a 2nd year.  This year it will be at Cage Brewery in St Pete.  We are booked for this one as Reenee and The Rollers.  

The South Tampa Ukulele Jam is back at Fendig Library in Nov, always the 3rd Saturday of the month, and Nov's Rock Theme is .  .  ..   Woodstock!!!!!  YES!!!  Dec will be back at Jan Platt for our Holiday Jam, called Rock N Roll Christmas II .    Then in Jan 2017, back at Jan Platt, for dot dot dot  The White Album!!!  Don't miss this one!!!  Get there early!!

Also in January, The Pinellas County Folk Festival will be held at Heritage Village and we are assuming that our band will be back for our 4th year!  I'll keep you posted on that one!!

That's it for the moment.  I will try to post some pics soon.  We are recording albums, working the day jobs and playing every night!  Woot.  Life is good!  And I will work on the blog to clean up the sites making sure links are still good.  I will also hunt down the uke fests across the world and get them posted and updated on the left side of the blog.  Something for everyone!!!  Later Peeps!  Love ya as always!!  30s Uke Girl

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tampa Bay Ukulele Society's Annual Getaway Festival

Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway has come and gone.  What a weekend! What a line up!  What a concert!

Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel This was sweet, jazzy, and harmonies were ethereal! I must say I teared up at the lyrics, the vocals and the exceptional playing of the Ukulele.  The workshop they gave was so awesome for all levels.  I found myself practicing much of what they taught throughout the days following the session!  They filled in at the last minute for a cancellation of performer, Hal Manitoba!  We were all thrilled that they were able to swing by and be a part of this festival again!

Stuart Fuchs What can I say? Stuart Fuchs has become a dear friend of mine.  The versatility of this performer is mind boggling!  Running the gamut from Jazz, Gypsy, Formby, Vamp, Rock A Billy, he kept us guessing as to what he would do next!  The Brazilian/Latin pieces were exquisite! Classically, there is none to compare, but pair that with a spiritual take on performing and throw in Didgeridoo, and you have an experience bordering on ZenErgy!   That is a word I made up to explain Stu to all my peeps!! ZenErgy!!! His workshop is still being talked about today on Facebook. Everyone LOVED this workshop!

Danielle Ate The Sandwich Then! OMG!  LOL.  This girl of whom I honestly didn't know a great deal about, just stole our hearts!  Her lyrics were honest and soul searching, and irreverent at times!  I LOVED IT!  Here we have someone who seems so natural and confident, and funny and sure and true, AND, what a vocalist and ukest!  I honestly didn't know what to expect but I am SO glad I got to experience her workshop and performance in person!  She is also very delightful in person, with a relaxed demeanor, and upon meeting her, you feel like you've known her and have been friends all your lives.  Def want to see this performer again!

Aldrine Guerrero  Shut The Door!!!!  What a go give spirit this guy has!  And to top off his humble soft spoken personality, add the driven expertise of a heavy metal Shimabukuro looping monster talented Uke-Al-Alien! Aldy G blew the roof off of the Concert with a feverish build up to a finale that NO ONE WILL EVER FORGET!  His hand was moving so fast at the end, that I literally couldn't see it anymore!  He had about 20 (or so it seemed) amazing loops going together that had us standing and screaming at the end when he raised his hands and just let all that music sink in as it played on without him!  O. M. G.  Workshop was awesome with finger exercises, (that we were so happy to do, lol, cause that didn't hurt or stretch our hands at all, no, no, it was so kind to show us that we needed to do this every time we are going to practice! LOL), and again, referring to Ukulele Underground, we can  continue to build and grow our skills!  

Overall, it was a spectacular weekend, with the exclamation point on awesome fun being Mike Hind, the MC for Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway!  More on him and his unbelievable journey on another post!  Needless to say, don't know what it would be without him!  He is so very much a part of this festival, and this Bermudian is one heck of a Floridian!!  LOL

A big thanks to all the volunteers and the committee for all the hard work and planning that went into giving us the Super  Sized Fun Weekend of a lifetime!  Jay Nunes and the whole committee are to be applauded for this fantastic line up and a seamless three days that will be memorable for all who attended!

 Also, the vendors this year as always, they Brought IT!  Perfect selection and blends from each vendor, Augustino LoPrinziUke Republic , Mainland Ukulele , Rhythm Inlet UkuleleDixie Ukulele  and none other than Mim's Ukes
A big thank you to all the vendors and your family and friends who came and helped everyone take home new babies, and helped with set ups and strap pegs etc.  Also for all the donations for the raffles!  So many happy ticket holders!
  Next years plans are already in the works and TBUG is going to the BEACH!  YAY!!!!  More on THAT later too!  
Ever Yours, 30s Uke Girl, Norine Mungo


Thursday, June 18, 2015

South Tampa Ukulele Jam

South Tampa Ukulele Jam starts in 1 month!  Jan Platt Library has opened its doors and arms to embrace the Ukulele!  Starting on July 18th, at 1:30 pm, South Tampa Jam re-ignites its engines and rolls out music every 3rd Saturday!  

Just like before, STJ will always have a theme each month, and per tradition, will have a mic and a P A set up so that invited performers can also perform for the group.  

In the past, we've had some amazing performances from the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society members.  I am looking forward to this new journey within the library system, and hope that all of the members love the new venue too!  

We are rolling out the first jam at Jan Platt with the theme, "Elvis is IN THE HOUSE"!   23 songs, 12 are in the key of C, many are three to four chords and some are challenging.  There will be something for every level of player.  We might even have a power point to put the music up on a screen.  Now that would be cool!  

I will be hosting the jam with my band mates, Vinny Mungo, Rick Alley and Pete Spera.  Our ukulele band is called Reenee and The Rollers.  Reenee comes from my name, NoREEN, (actually spelled Norine, but for the sake of pronunciation, I give you the traditional spelling. Reen, Reenee!  We play originals and rock n roll with Tenor Ukes, Baritone Uke, Bass Uke, and Cajoun!  Well practiced, we are working hard to make your jams seamless and energetic!  

See you all in a month!  The countdown starts now!  Ever yours, 30s Uke Girl, Norine Mungo

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway lineup announced!

Holy Cow!  The line up for the 2015 Getaway is Stupendous!  I'll post videos from the various artists as time permits.  The tickets will disappear the moment they open the gates on July 1st Midnight!  Manitoba Hal, Stuart Fuchs, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, Aldrine Guerrero, and MC Mike Hind will perform concerts and conduct workshops in the November extravaganza! I can hardly wait.  I'll post when I get done with all my events.  Lots of great bios on the TBUG Site!!!  Ever, 30s Uke Girl.

Tampa Bay Ukulele Society Library Lending Program rolling out May 26th 2015

That's right boys and girls, the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society has been growing exponentially over the last two years and now tips over the 800 member mark.  People from all over the continental USA as well as those from Europe and beyond are joining up with Florida's West Coast Ukulele group.  Based in the Tampa Bay Area, with events just about every week in many parts of 4 counties, TBUS has made an impact in the community and is ready to Give Back!

The Library Lending program is just another example of the TBUS non profit outreach to those who might not either have the funds to buy and learn the ukulele, or might think that they wouldn't be able to play the instrument.  The program includes workshops at a multitude of libraries spanning the counties of Hillsborough and Pinellas.  Dignitaries and news media plan to attend the first workshops which will be held on May 30th at two libraries in each county.  The workshop for the trainers will be held on May 26th in Clearwater and you can get information from the site on the locations.   The Tampa Bay Ukulele Society link will take you to the meetup.com site where events are posted for the membership.

The society is still taking donations of Ukuleles and funds to buy Ukuleles to place in the libraries with books, tuners, and gig bag.  The workshops will have multiple ukuleles on hand for the attendees and the workshops are free to the public.  The format will be simple and easy for the beginner who might not have ever picked up any instrument in their life. This is amazing folks! So, if you are of a mind to help out, or you have so many ukuleles that you might want to part with some that would help others out, please contact the society and they will welcome your generosity as will the libraries.   Organizers to contact are Jay NunesCosmo Sagristano, and Tom Hood.

 This is such a go give moment and we hope that our example and those of other ukulele groups who have rolled out these programs to the libraries, will catch fire across the country.  If you are reading this from afar, you might want to find out how to roll this out in YOUR neck of the woods.

As always, Happy Strumming and all that, 30s Uke Girl

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway! Almost Here!!!

We are fast approaching the Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway weekend festival! Held in Clearwater, it runs from Nov 7 to Nov 9. 

 Everyone is bristling with excitement, anticipating one of the best weekends ever for Ukulele Fests here in the Bay Area.  Not only are there great performers for the Saturday night concert, but most of these amazing performers also will be conducting workshops on Saturday, as well as participating in the "Jam" that goes on throughout the weekend in various spots all over the hotel. 

 That is the big draw and a big reason why the tickets sell out in hours for this getaway.  To be up close and intimate with these National and International performers, well, it's Priceless!!

 This year we have headliners that include Victoria Vox, Lil' Rev, Uncle Elvis aka Mike Hind,  Narciso Lobos, AmandaLynn, Uncle Zac, Colin Coleman,and a special performance by the TBUG Allstars!! 

 Ty & Mapuana  accompanied by Steve Boisen, TJ Wedger & Big Jim Allen  will finish the weekend with the Sunday Luau! 

On top of all that, the vendors are supreme this year!  Uke Republic is back in the house by popular request!! Featured in the Fall issue of Ukulele Magazine, this power house out of Atlanta has quite the story, from it's humble beginnings to the speed of light transformation that has become a household name in Ukulele circles around the globe!  

Vendors also include  custom ukulele artists  Augustino Lo Prinzi luthiers, need I say more? Then   Mim's Ukes, Mainland Ukes, & Dixie Ukuleles are also major favorites and represent a large portion of all the major brands of ukuleles. Mim loves to set up your ukulele and has all the tools right there at the event!!

 Rhythm Inlet returns again this year to bring sunshine from the Venice Sarasota area. They have built a huge following in our Southern counties of Tampa Bay in all things percussive!  From that foundation, they began with a humble selection of Ukuleles, and now have expanded their efforts to supply the Sarasota and all surrounding areas with the happy little fleas!

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society members gather together for a Mini Concert given by the TBUG AllStars, followed by a huge jam led by Jay Nunes who not only hosts a monthly jam event in Clearwater/Largo area for Tampa Bay Ukulele Society, but also gives Private Lessons, and has a serious  following of ADDICTED Ukulele enthusiasts who can attest to his dedication to all things Ukulele and his amazing teaching style!  Jay also performs with Todd Hughes as The Two Ukes here in the Tampa Bay Area! Fun, eclectic music from many generations that everyone loves to sing and dance to, performed, of course, on the Blessed Ukulele! 

  This jam will be followed by an Open Mic hosted by yet another event leader with Tampa Bay Ukulele Society, Big Jim Allen.  Allen performs in many groups around Tampa Bay as well as solo, and is the founder and performer of Ukulele Weddings!  Getting married on the Beach?  Coming to Florida for your Wedding?  Contact Big Jim Allen for classy beach ukulele music.  

Speaking of our own talented performers here in Tampa Bay, if you haven't checked out AmandaLynn yet, oh man, you better do it quick, so you can say, "I knew her when!"  Her voice and lyrics, well, talk about floating on a pink sunset cloud of trills and content that speaks to the heart and soul, I am amazed with each impactful session she produces!  You can catch more of AmandaLynn on Youtube or click on her name above under headliners to visit her website and get information on CDs and performance schedule. 

The weekend moves on with workshops and concerts by the headliners on Saturday, and then on Sunday,  more mega jams, raffle giveaways of amazing Ukuleles and merchandise, and a Luau with Hawaiian music and great buffet.  

Really, who could ask for more?? As always, I will be showing many of the event leaders from other parts of the state and outlying areas my transitional chording technique that is helping many first timers move quickly into jamming with the groups. Since the article came out about our happy crazy 3rd largest uke group in the nation in Ukulele Magazine, I've had many inquiries from these other leaders as to what I am teaching at the Beginner Sessions. Just watch for me as I will be there all weekend.  Happy to share with you!  Ever yours, 30s Uke Girl, Norine Mungo!!  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

UKETABS.COM One Great Site!

So, about a year ago, I think I went to this site and loved that I could get my Ukulele tuned there.  I saw chord charts and thought, "Nice Site!"

What I didn't realize was the massive song file they have there, and not only can you print it out or save it with your log in, but you can transpose it to your key!

I spent the last couple of days, on my free hours, previewing  the songs from the vast list of artists on the site.  Truly amazing folks!  We had some fun tonight with ABBA and The Beatles, as well as some other rock.  It makes it easier for us event leaders when someone else has done all the work for us, and all we have to do is print it out for the jammers and beginners.

Please give this site a look or, if you haven't been there in a while, like me, please give it a 2nd look!  So much help and information on this one web page, you could be there for days!!  Again that is UKETABS.COM  Tell em 30s Uke Girl sent ya!!!  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Andi Zack Country Singer Songwriter and Ukulele Artist

New discovery!  I asked a friend in Nashville if she knew of any country artists that were using the Ukulele as a main instrument.  With all the surge in Rock and other genres, I was curious to see if there were those among us who delved into the Country scene with the little tyke in hand!  
Andi Zack
My friend stated that I should look up Andi Zack!  Very first song I click on in the youtube format is a song called OH!  Written by 

Andi Zack, Karyn Williams and Jennifer Zuffinetti

I hope to get some history on Andi and how she came to play the Ukulele and a little about her journey!  So until then, here is a link to her Facebook  Page,  
https://www.facebook.com/AndiZack , and below  is the video of OH.  Please check out her other videos and like her page!  We need MORE Ukulele in Country Music!!!  Ever, 30s Uke Girl, Norine Mungo!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Story Of Stax Records

This is a video journal from Youtube on the Story of Stax Records.  I have interjected some tidbits from the history but hope that you watch all the videos as well. 
As we are doing songs from the STAX catalog this Saturday here at South Tampa Jam, I wanted the members of Tampa Bay Ukulele Society to learn about this great story!
There are 8 videos.  If you prefer to just watch them in order, scroll down to each one and watch.  
They follow each other in order from 1 through 8.
I have placed some photo history and little snippets of memories from the Stax History in between the photos and the videos. 

Enjoy this walk with the Kings and Queens of Soul.
And, if you are ever in Memphis, go see the Academy and the Museum.  Tell them I sent ya!!! 
Story Of Stax Records Video 01

Stax began in 1957 as Satellite Records, originally to produce Country music from Jim's garage.  Sister Estelle became financially involved in 58. They eventually moved to Brunswick where Stewart met Chips Moman and he became acquainted with R & B.  At the urging of Chips, the business moved back to Memphis. Siblings, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton changed the name to STAX in 1961 when they combined their names STewart and AXton.

Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart
In that neighborhood and area of Tennessee, the video tells of a time when White and Black did not mix together in any form of business or otherwise, and so, the enigma of STAX was an amazing miracle that became legend!

I don't think the original vision that Jim Stewart had for his little label was missed at all.  As he became more enamoured with R & B,  and as Estelles astute ear for danceable rhythm continued to influence the records, the two gained the respect and loyalty of all those who worked with them.
The Story of Stax Records 02

The whole surreal environment happend in a racially tense time in Memphis.  White and Black staff members and musicians, all coexisting together in harmony, producing the most memorable songs from Soul and Funk that we still recognize today!
By 1962, STAX had turned the tide from being a well known regional label into
 a Nationally recognized R & B label, along side Motown and Atlantic!

Story Of Stax Records Video 03

926 E McLemore Ave, South Memphis, Summer of 1962!  STAX Records moves into the old theater and rolls out hit after hit!  The neighborhood rallies around the building and there is dancing in the street from the speaker placed outside the record shop attached to the recording studio!

Hits like Gee Whiz, Green Onions, Barefootin, Last Night,
Knock On Wood, Midnight Hour, Mr. Big Stuff, Hold On I'm Coming, Land Of A 1000 Dances, Soul Man, Sweet Soul Music, Dock Of The Bay, well, it is almost countless, it goes on and on, hit after hit.

                                                      The Story Of Stax Records 04

STAX draws the known and the unknown,
who became known to the world!

The whole history of Stax Records spans from 1957 to the present day, as it has resurfaced on the hallowed ground from whence this phoenix rose, burned and rose again!

New records, young talented inner city kids, old masters of soul, all coming together to create a new phenomenon in the halls of STAX, and the attached academy.

Now a Museum and school, rising out of the ashes to burn bright once more, STAX goes on, and is influencing music into decades beyond 2014!

Story Of Stax Records Video 05

The Mar-Keys

The Mar-Keys were originally signed as The Royal Spades.  They were a local band with horns and a soul sound.  They were white, and upon entering the studio, everyone embraced them in, and they became a significant power for the label.

Their hit, Last Night, soared and crossed genres!
They eventually melted into and teamed with Booker T becoming Booker T and the M.Gs.

Story Of Stax Records Video 06

Estelle Axton

The record shop next to the theater was established by Estelle, in the cinema's old foyer where refreshments had been served.

In a time when the youth of the area had to go over a long route to get to Sears to buy a record, this little record shop ignited the neighborhood into a dancing frenzy!

This also allowed Estelle to judge what the kids likes and what they didn't like so well, allowing her to influence the types of songs the label produced!

The little shop employed local youth, and gave a place for young hopefuls to listen and learn.  It also helped with cash flow for the recording studio, as they struggled in the beginning to create their sound.

Many a writer undervalued Estelle and her contributions to STAX, but a recent writer, Robert Gordon, brought to light all of the accomplishments that Estelle was known for.  He also wrote about the love and respect that all the performers and staff had for this woman of soul!!
Story Of Stax Records Video 07

Booker T and The M.G.s
Steve Cropper replaced Chips Moman as A & R director, and also played guitar on sessions.  The house band varied but constant session players were the likes of: Lewie Steinberg on Bass, Curtis Green on Drums, and on Horns were Floyd Newman, Gene Miller and Gilbert Caple!

Booker T. Jones, pianist and multi instrumentalist, became a session player by 1962 as well.  He was joined by Cropper, Steinberg and drummer, Al Jackson Jr to form Booker T and the M.G.s

Story Of Stax Records Video 08

Eventually, as is expounded upon in the videos, Stax was no more, but not for long.  As I stated earlier, this company of American Soul resurfaced many times/ 

 Though the original building was torn down, and nothing left but an empty lot, the dream of STAX compelled many to come together and form a unified front to get grants and donations from private patrons, until, once again, a vision unheard of before, emerged as a new dream.

STAX is once again on McLemore Ave.  It is now a thriving museum and a charter school for inner city kids.  This music school graduates senior classes that are 100 % accepted to colleges and universities across the country.  Many are accepted to the Berklee College of Music.  They work hand in hand with the Stax Music Academy to produce and influence some of the great musical minds of our future!  

Here is a link to a site which combines both together! Berklee City Music Network
 Enjoy the journey to the Soul Side and let your heart soar!   Ever, 30s Uke Girl, aka Norine Mungo