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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Music Ukulele master Bill Tapia
Ukulele master Bill Tapia
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3691
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2004-12-30 3:43 pm   Permalink

Bill Tapia will be celebrating his 97th birthday this coming Saturday, January 1. Tapia has been playing the ukulele for 90 years. Think about that: ninety years. He still plays today, I first heard him at one of King Kukulele's Tiki Taix nights. His style of playing is really gorgeous, quite jazzy. His version of Stars & Stripes Forever is stunning--as is his story of having heard John Philip Sousa's band play it in person when he was a small child in Hawaii. Anyone who has an opportunity to see him in person should do so.

For those who don't have that opportunity, I have a few things to share with you. The first is Tapia's CD, which I received as a gift this Xmas. It's available from Amazon (be sure to use the Tiki Central Amazon link, to help offset the costs of running TC!).

The CD has a number of newly recorded tracks, and includes a 1936 recording of Stars & Stripes Forever.

I also have some video I shot of Tapia at King Kukulele's birthday, and at a Tiki Taix night. These are honkin' huge video files, I apologize for that, and were taken on my digital camera rather than a proper video camera, and the sound is definitely sub-par, but it's what you get, so take it and be happy, dammit. Two of these are of him playing songs, and one is of him talking story for a short bit.

Tapia plays at King Kukulele's bday:

Tapia chats for a bit while the boys set up for him at Tiki Taix:

Tapia plays at Tiki Taix:

Happy Birthday, Bill Tapia!


Critiki - Critiki News - Ooga-Mooga

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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 0
Posted: 2004-12-30 9:36 pm   Permalink


Bill is indeed a master guitar jazzer as well as a great ukulele player. You can tell by his playing that he just exudes style and ability.

That night when he sat in on our set, he made a statement that I remind my bandmates of regularly. Don't play loud, play clean.
"I'm ashamed to be here, but not too ashamed to leave..."

Celebrate 'International Tiki Day' the second Saturday in August - hau'oli la tiki!

[ This Message was edited by: Tiki_Bong on 2004-12-31 11:48 ]

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Jeff Central
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 23, 2002
Posts: 1683
From: Columbus, Ohio
Posted: 2005-01-01 08:10 am   Permalink

Hey Humuhumu,

Thanks for the the great tip! I picked this up yesterday at Borders using my gift card and it is really nice. What a legend and todays his 97th birthday as well!! Happy Birthday Bill!!


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King Kukulele
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 22, 2002
Posts: 234
From: The Lemoyne Lanai in Echo Park, CA.
Posted: 2005-01-05 03:45 am   Permalink

Hey Humuhumu!
Thats really nice work there. I will let Bill know that he's got video on the web...hopefully he won't try to chase you down.
I love hearing his stories, he's got so many. He really is a treasure chest of nostalgia.
Thanks again to Bong and all the Smokin' Menehune's for playing at the birthday party, and great work from Shirley on uke backing up Bill.
Here's to Tappy and 97 more years!!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 01, 2004
Posts: 530
From: Enchanted Bay Area, CA
Posted: 2005-01-17 3:36 pm   Permalink


On 2004-12-30 15:43, Humuhumu wrote:

For those of you in the Bay Area that have to buy things by getting your hot little paws on it in a store, Hear Music on Fourth Street in Berkeley has this CD in the store, in the "South Pacific" section.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 1676
From: next stop Hulaville!
Posted: 2005-01-17 11:12 pm   Permalink

What a treat! Thanks for sharing the videos with us. When I got home after seeing him perform I tried to explain his talents to friends and family and of course did him no justice in my description of his playing. After seeing these videos (my friends that have seen it) finally...get it!

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 24, 2003
Posts: 59
From: San Diego
Posted: 2005-02-07 11:22 am   Permalink

Just got a new Bill Tapia CD in the mail today. Duke Of Uke.
www.moonroomrecords.com (label)
www.mountainapplecompany.com (distro)

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