This week we turn our attention to ‘ukulele virtuoso and local Maui boy, Derick Sebastian. Derick is a monster player with a list of credits to match his skills. Having opened up for Brian McKnight, shared the stage with Jake Shimabukuro (multiple times), and played for various events from the PGA to Pixar, Derick Sebastian is no name to miss. He has 4 album releases.
This week we take a listen to one of Sebastian’s originals performed at the 2014 TEDxSantaCruz titled Eddie Bush Tribute. The theme for this talk was “Activate,” so Derick talked about his mentor Mr. Ellis (Mistah) and how he activated his ability to express himself through the ‘ukulele. In a moving speech Derick recounts his experience with Mr. Ellis and holding back a tear begins to play.
Sebastian displays this beautiful composition with almost flawless execution and integrity. He introduces the first theme of the song with descending double stops on the 1st and 2nd string (2:50). Placing his index and middle finger on the 1st string for the melody, Sebastion utilizes the other three strings to slowly arpeggiate the chords to harmonically and rhythmically accompany the tune (3:11). Palm muting first on the open 3rd string and slowly adding in one string at a time, Sebastian develops a short crescendo to then open up the tune (3:35). Strumming with mostly his index finger he alternates between a Dm7 and a Cmaj7 chord to set the feel of the next section (3:41). Shifting his hand closer to the bridge to get higher attack, Sebastian fingerpicks with pull-offs and hammer-ons in the style of Troy Fernandez alternating between his index finger and
thumb (3:55). He jumps into the next section with syncopated chords and at first a descending line then an ascending line on an Am chord (4:06). Using unique voices of Dm7 and Cmaj7, Sebastian introduces his other fingers to his strumming to fill in the empty space a little more. While on the Cmaj7 he has a bass line running on the C string as he continues to strum, creating more movement (4:23). Jumping down to first position, Sebastian creates more variation of the two chords by climbing up and down the neck with double stops, droning the open C string (4:34). From there he takes the song around again with some variation such as the hammer-on/pull-off line (4:53), the repeating riff on Am (4:58), and the dynamic drop on Dm7 (5:07). I love how you can distinctly hear his triplet strums as he wraps up the tune and climbs up the neck with double stops (5:41). Sebastian slowly repeats the introduction one more time to bring the song to a close.
If you continue to watch the video Sebastian also plays a medley of tunes including Fur Elise and Stairway to Heaven. Definitely worth checking out as well!
UkePrints is a curated playlist of some essential ukulele tracks that all ukulele player should listen to. These songs have left a legacy for future players and in essence, sound impressions of the ‘ukulele or what I like to call them: UkePrints.