Uni and her Ukelele
The Ding! String Trio!
Cello: FAY FERENCY
Violin: ARIAS BEARDSLEE
Harp and Harmonies: DEIRDRE EGAN
Strumming a pink ukulele, Uni balances between sweet childhood whimsy and grown-up candor. Clothed in colorful outfits that evoke the \'40s by way of the \'80s, the petite songstress may admit a fondness for unicorns, but she avoids sugary overkill by virtue of her polished voice and warmhearted lyrics. It\'s the perfect plinky, wistful soundtrack for urban dreamers. – Tanya Feldman from Flavorpill
Fergie has nothing on Uni and Her Ukelele. With a shimmering voice, glittery makeup and quirky outfits, Uni is \"G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S.\"
Uni may not be \"flyin\' first class up in the sky\" like Fergie, but she will be traveling to Chico on the Amtrak for two performances Thursday and Friday in celebration of her album, \"As Gold.\"
Uni\'s appeal is not in her mode of travel, but in her music and relationship with her ukulele, Sally Luka, affectionately named by a friend\'s young daughter.
Fellow ukulele player and member of Chico duo Dick and Jane, Scott Itamura has played several shows with Uni and is excited to be on the Thursday bill at Cafe Coda, he said. He first saw Uni perform three years ago in San Francisco and was impressed with her combination of fun pop melodies and sunny sounds of the ukulele.
\"People hear that someone is playing the ukulele and they think Tiny Tim or some other novelty act, but Uni is talented and a true craftsperson,\" Itamura said.
For her latest album, Uni, who grew up in Santa Rosa, gathered a group of Bay Area musicians and dubbed them the Ding! String Trio to round out her sound, she said. The trio includes cellist Fay Ferency, violinist Arias Beardslee and harpist Deirdre Egan. The performance Friday at Crux Artist Collective will be the first time the trio has played with Uni in Chico.
Uni and Her Ukelele shows are always full of magic and unexpected surprises, Uni said. The show at Cafe Coda will be quiet and intimate, while the next day will be a full art experience. Other than music from Uni and the trio, there will be art by Chico\'s Laura Wirtz and a puppet performance written in honor of Uni. Pat Hull will be providing the music for the puppet performance.
Uni does not know the details of the puppet performance and is waiting to be surprised, she said. The only thing she knows is the night will be based on the idea of a shimmering forest.
A diverse mix of art is not unusual for her shows, she said. In 2006, Uni and her friend Poopy Lickles started organizing a series of shows called Club Unicornbread. They organize shows about every three months at various art galleries in San Francisco and showcase a large number of riveting performers.
Shows usually begin calm with a singer-songwriter, but by the end of the night everyone in attendance joins in on a roller-skating dance party, Uni said. Past shows have included performances by comedians and burlesque groups.
\"Usually it has an element of, \'We\'re out to have fun,\'\" she said.
Uni is upbeat and spontaneous, but she is serious about her music.
She has been singing and playing in bands for more than 10 years, she said. She taught herself to play the ukulele four years ago after she saw a friend play one.
Her music appeals to a large cross-section of people, she said. It is not rare to see families at her all-ages shows. Children are drawn to her personality and namesake, which comes from a unicorn, her favorite mystical creature.
\"My music is not kids\' music, but it\'s kid friendly,\" she said.
Uni\'s catchy melodies are bound to wiggle themselves into anyone\'s head, regardless of age.
\"She builds excellent melodies with honest lyrics and sings songs that ring true,\" Itamura said.
Uni\'s talent and outgoing attitude have created a following in Europe, she said. Next month Uni and Her Ukelele will tour Europe for the second time in a year, visiting France, Germany, Ireland and England.
While Uni usually tours with eccentric performers such as cabaret and puppet groups, she would one day like to tour with an established band, she said.
\"My goal is to tour with Gnarls Barkley or Cyndi Lauper,\" she said.
interview Karla Hernández from Chico\'s the Orion
Uni, the neo-vintage pop chanteuse/raconteur gathered up kickpants, a rockhawk and magical ruby slippers for the first time in 2004 and her 20’s punk movement has been gathering strength ever since.
On the world tour beat and in the recording studio she competes for the limelight with her prima Donna ukelele ‘Sally Luka’. Originally a singer/songwriter for over a decade, when she met the bawdy Uke she swallowed her pride and joined up for the raucous phenom that became known as Uni & her Ukelele, and having second billing has only made Sally more indignant. Having opened for the likes of James Brown, Huey Lewis, Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson, Ray Charles, The Four Tops, Tower of Power, Coco Taylor, Sean Hayes and Jollie Holland to name a few, Sally has had a taste of fame and Uni is now forced to take her to the top.
Uni’s lo-fi folk-pop, first album “My Favorite Letter is U” dropped in 2006 and the response was overwhelming. Her original and sincere take on the Ukelele coupled with her sweetly stirring and sometimes-haunting refrains unite to conjure the spectrum of catharsis.
Her recent EP “I’m On My Way” introduced her rock-ability with hits like the title track and “Twinkle Twinkle”. This new sound gathered more love from the fans and now the word is spreading magical wildfire.
Always keeping it fresh, Uni has recently gathered together a group of, super-powered, classical musicians to accompany her, and has formed “Uni & the Ding! String Trio” who’s album “As Gold” will be unveiled this spring in all its phantasmagorical brilliance.
This performer’s, pan-demographic appeal is most likely a product of her impeccable synthesis of fantasy and reality, and her ability to juxtapose seemingly incongruous moods and aesthetics. Pundits are often her heard to muse: “That chick f*$kn’ rawks!”