A New Duke of Uke

dent with uke

At the start of every year I always have a list of records I’m looking forward to, and usually more than half of them end up being disappointments. So you won’t find any posts around here that list out a bunch of records I’m anticipating. Instead let’s talk about what’s in hand. Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele live up their name in both respects. They are a ukulele band and also pretty magnificent. You might think that Dent comes from that London nu-folk scene centered around the Duke of Uke ukulele shop, but in fact he’s from Mississippi. What’s a guy in Mississippi doing playing the ukulele? The same thing as Londoners, writing and playing uke pop songs.

Where the Londoners lean towards folk, Dent is more interested in crooning sunny pop numbers that incorporate 50’s do-wop, tropicalia, and tin pan alley. Dent may not look like the coolest guy around with his thick coke bottle glasses, but he’s got a voice that make the ladies weak in the knees. His songs are all catchy as a center fielder, funny and topical too. God Loves You Michael Chang tells the story of Chang’s victory over Ivan Lendel in the 1989 French Open and College Town Boy berates those people who linger around in their college towns long after graduation with dent singing College town boy get off your ass and do something. He’s also wiser than his years with the knowing You Can’t Force a Dance Party, even when you play all your favorite records. Dent and his ukulele remind me of a lot of people. He’s got a sunny demeanor like the Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, or Jonathan Sings era Jonathan Richman, throw in a some Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Poi Dog Pondering, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and, oh yeah, a ukulele.

The story goes that Dent was ‘discovered’ by Animal Collective while they were recording Meriweather Post Pavilion in Oxford, Mississippi last year. Though he was likely familiar to ukulele enthusiasts before now and even a few indie kids who attended Pop Fest last summer in New York where he shared the bill with the Cannanes, Hermit Crabs and Cats on Fire. Animal Collective dug him so much they’re putting out his record The Good Feeling Music of Dent May on their own Paw Print label in February. It was recorded with Rusty Santos down in Mississippi in a double-wide trailer, as opposed to just one of thos regular one apparently to accommodate the entire band. I have a feeling if Animal Collective hadn’t been in Mississippi to snatch up Dent and his double wide, a few other labels would be chomping at the bit to put this record out. A.C. Newman must be a fan, since Dent will be opening for all of Newman’s dates in February and March. This should provide the opportunity for a lot more people to get get the full on uke experience.

mp3: Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele – 26 Miles (from The Good Feeling Music of Dent May, out 3 February)

mp3: Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele – When You Were Mine (Prince cover)

2/20 Vancouver, BC The Biltmore Cabaret *

2/21 Seattle, WA Neumos *

2/22 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge *

2/24 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s *

2/25 San Diego, CA Casbah *

2/26 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour *

2/27 Santa Barbara, CA SOho Restaurant and Music Club *

2/28 San Francisco, CA The Independent * (Noise Pop)

3/01 Eugene, OR John Henry’s *

3/02 Boise, ID Neurolux

3/05 Minneapolis, MN 400 Bar

3/06 Chicago, IL Schubas

3/07 Pontiac, MI The Pike Room @ The Crofoot

3/08 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom

3/10 Ithaca, NY Castaways *

3/11 Toronto, ONT Lee’s Palace *

3/12 Montreal, QC Il Motore *

3/13 Providence, RI Club Hell *

3/14 Boston, MA Paradise *

3/15 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom *

* Opening for AC Newman


  1. bill p · January 7, 2009

    He played the same bill as Cats on Fire this summer at the NYC pop fest. He definitely won over the crowd, none of whom had heard of him before I don’t think.

    There’s a little Jens Lekman in there too..

  2. Allan · January 12, 2009

    Thanks for the Prince cover.

    He definitely won me over with just a few listens. I’m with you bill p, I see a lot of Jens Lekman comparisons.

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