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By Michael E. Miller
You probably know Eddie Vedder for things like singing and playing guitar in Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog, stage-diving, feuding with Kurt Cobain, feuding with Ticketmaster, and campaigning for the Democrats.
What you might not know about the '90s rock icon is that he is a bona fide ukulele enthusiast. And this week, he's bringing some of that Parrothead flavor to South Florida when he performs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
All right, Vedder's ukulele isn't especially Jimmy Buffettesque. It's more akin to the uke-rock fusion of Hawaiian shred sensation Jake Shimabukuro, whom the grungeman cites as a major inspiration for his first picking up the teeny-tiny, adorable guitar.
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Personally, we couldn't be more pleased with Eddie's decision to stare death in the face and take a plunge down the ukulele wormhole. Here are ten more whimsical instruments we think he should consider playing.
10. Kazoo — These days, the kids are crazy about their favorite bands playing classic albums from start to finish. And about hypercommemorative reissues of records you can still find for like a dollar at Goodwill. We think Eddie Vedder should convince Pearl Jam to become a kazoo-based ensemble and rerecord its landmark debut album and grunge milestone, Ten, with kazoos.
9. Vocoder — Yeah, everybody loves that song "Jeremy." But imagine how much more they would love it if Vedder's signature gurgle had a bit more T-Pain in the mix. And, hey, Neil Young embraced robo-sensual Auto-Tune on Trans. Doesn't Pearl Jam hang out with that guy?
8. Vuvuzuela — We were surprised to see that you could buy tickets to this grunge-ulele extravaganza through Ticketmaster. In the '90s, Pearl Jam made the fee vulture its number-one target in a vaguely political crusade for consumer rights within the music industry. If Eddie Vedder had really wanted his campaign against the corporatization of the concert experience to succeed, he should have rallied his long-haired, unwashed, reefer-burning fan base to "Occupy" every box office in the country. And they should have all been armed with vuvuzuelas.
7. Harp — Honestly, the harp would be less ridiculous than a freaking ukulele.
6. Finger Piano — It's a little-known fact that the guys in Pearl Jam antecedent Mother Love Bone were tremendous finger-piano enthusiasts. And we hear that Soundgarden frontman and fellow Temple of the Dog crooner Chris Cornell has a whole finger-piano concept album his label won't let him release. In conclusion, Eddie Vedder should play the finger piano.
5. Didgeridoo — If Eddie Vedder came out onstage and started blowin' a mean, soulful didgeri-tune, you know his audience would eat it up like hungry little piggies frothing at the trough.
4. Maracas — OK, fine. He can't play just maracas. It looks like Eddie is gonna have to learn how to play the ukulele with his feet.
3. Musical Glasses — Yo, isn't this dude supposed to be some kinda high-minded book reader? We're pretty sure he performs at campaign events and stuff too. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you play the goddamned ukulele? Vedder needs to get classy. Or maybe glassy.
2. Handbells — Kazoos, handbells... This list is turning into an Arcade Fire record.
1. Washtub Bass — Like we were saying, forget this Ticketmaster shit! Eddie Vedder needs to embrace American roots music, hop trains like a hobo, and spend his nights busking on street corners.