NPR logo

Songs from a Random House: Rockin' Ukulele

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4668018/4668023" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Songs from a Random House: Rockin' Ukulele

In Performance

Songs from a Random House: Rockin' Ukulele

Songs from a Random House: Rockin' Ukulele

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4668018/4668023" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Cover image: gListen hide caption

toggle caption

Alan Drogin (left) and Steven Swartz at NPR's studio. Julia Peck, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Julia Peck, NPR

Hear Songs from 'gListen'

'No Place I've Ever Been'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4668018/4668638" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

'Taste of Crow'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4668018/4668640" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

'Sleep Is a Sacrament'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4668018/4668642" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Steven Swartz during a Vibromonk studio recording session for the group's latest CD. Ned Wharton, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ned Wharton, NPR

Ukuleles don't always get their fair measure of respect. But that doesn't stop the New York-based band Songs from a Random House from using two ukuleles to create an unconventional pop-music sound.

The band was founded in the mid-1980s by singer/songwriter Steven Swartz and Alan Drogin. Swartz plays the baritone ukulele — deepest in register of all the ukuleles, which Swartz notes "is very much like saying it's the tallest dwarf."

Drogin's specialty is the soprano version of the instrument. Since 1997 they've partnered with violist Gregor Kitzis, string bassist Jason DiMatteo, and drummer John Bollinger since 1997. The group makes eclectic music that departs from the Hawaiian sound typically associated with ukuleles, lending the instrument more gravitas. There's even room for "Taste of Crow," which Swartz describes as an "angry ukulele song."

The band's most recent album, gListen, was released last year. They will perform in the near future at Tonic in NYC (June 8) at Baltimore's 14 Karat Cabaret (June 10) and at The Fire in Philadelphia (July 9). Members of Songs from a Random House recently joined Scott Simon for a chat and live performance.

Purchase Featured Music

gListen

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
gListen
Artist
Songs from a Random House
Label
Bar/None Records
Released
2004

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.