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Interview with Aldrine Guerrero

Aldrine guerreroApril, 2009

Aldrine Guerrero has been on the ‘ukulele internet scene for a while now. His popular ‘ukulele videos include everything from a cover of the “Super Mario Bros.” theme to originals.

Guerrero is one of the creators of ‘Ukulele At any given time you will find videos, lessons, giveaways, and a forum running over with helpful people on UU .

Brad Bordessa: When did you first start playing the ‘ukulele and what sparked your interest?

Aldrine Guerrero: My first experience with the ‘ukulele was in the 4th grade (’94) and during a religious (catholic) gathering, a lady brought her ‘ukulele with her to play. I was curious enough to ask the lady to show me a few chords and teach me a simple song. But it wasn’t until the 9th grade that I really started playing the ‘ukulele. Everyone in school played it and I decided to jump on the bandwagon and strum along with everyone else.

BB: We all know you from your website, but your background is kind of a mystery. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

AG: I’m originally from Manila, Philippines. I moved to Hawaii (Kauai) back in ’92. Everyone in my family are music lovers. My dad and uncles all played the guitar and so I was exposed to all kinds of music from their era. During high school I played in the band. Under the direction of Larry McIntosh, David Yukimura, and Nina Saraos; I managed to gain some musical knowledge through the clarinet and saxophone. I participated in as much ensembles as I could handle (wind, jazz, etc) and then transferring all that knowledge and applying it to the ‘ukulele.

BB: Who are your musical heroes?

AG: Some of my musical heroes include my family and my instructors. They gave me the guidance and knowledge that shaped me to be the musician that I am today. Other musicians that I look up to are Steve Vai, Paco De Lucia, Carlos Santana, George Benson, Jimi Hendrix, Troy Fernandez, Herb Ohta, Chito Miranda, Paolo Santos, Jason Mraz, and of course Mr. Jake Shimabukuro. I consider Jake as my mentor. I’m really lucky and blessed to have Jake’s guidance and advice. He’s the perfect example of a musical prodigy with a pure heart.

BB: What do you think is the most important thing an aspiring ‘ukulele player should practice?

AG: To me, one of the most important thing an ukulele player should practice would have to be phrasing melodies. Any player could easily look up tabs and chords to play a song, but phrasing it correctly brings out the emotions and musical identity of the player. Take “Mary had a little lamb” for example; taking the same notes and melody but phrased differently could bring out a whiter, brighter shade to that lamb’s fleece.

BB: You are one of the staff on the very popular ‘Ukulele web site. What do you envision as the next level for UU?

AG: To be perfectly honest with you, I have no idea. The ‘Ukulele Underground as it is now has already surpassed all our expectations for the site. The UU staff works as a team. Ryan Esaki handles all the site related stuff, Aaron Nakamura is in charge of all the videos, and I handle all the content. I’m blessed to be a part of such an amazing team. Since the beginning, the site grew and we’re lucky to have such awesome members that are all diverse in every way from all corners of the world. Each one contributing their own knowledge about our favorite four stringed companion. We love all the members, viewers, and supporters in general. It has already passed our expectations, anything else beyond this would be a welcomed extra.

BB: Living on the island of Kaua’i and being the main man at ‘Ukulele Underground, how do you use your influence to spread a love for the ‘ukulele and aloha?

AG: We try and spread the aloha spirit through music. Aloha, music, and ‘ukulele shouldn’t be exclusive. With everything that we do, we try and emit positive vibes that comforts any musician willing to give the ‘ukulele a try. We (the staff) do as much as we can but the people who really spread that vibe are our members. We have a wonderful community of people who wouldn’t hesitate to help someone in need. They even hold meet-ups in all different areas to share their knowledge on a more personal level. It’s really awesome and I’m very thankful to have such wonderful people.

Aldrine is part of the K-Town Heroes. Check out my review of their album, Eat, Sleep, Music Sessions.