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A gaggle of Uke Heads in Santa Fe, NM, October 2023


"All I knew is that I wanted my friends and fans to play with me on my next album," says Canadian Folk Music Award-winner James Hill. "I wanted to give them an experience they would never forget.”

After nearly two years of rehearsals and recording, James Hill is releasing Uke Heads, a 10-song album "full of connection and feeling" (Ukulele Magazine), recorded at his studio in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, with contributions from 165 players and singers from 15 countries.

Make no mistake: this album sounds nothing like the campfire sing-along you might imagine. Instead, it's full of fuzzed-out ukulele, driving rhythms and big riffs à la Black Keys or White Stripes.


The raucous energy on songs like "Summertime" and "Hearts on Fire" is perfectly balanced by occasional detours into jazz ("Solid Gold"), sound collage ("Intermission"), flights of psychedelia ("O, Cecilia") and epic sing-alongs ("Lie Di Die," "Lucky in Love," and "The Night").

How did this all happen? In May 2022, Hill invited anyone to play and sing with him on his new album. He proposed a novel approach to crowdfunding: fans could purchase pieces of digital art (created by Hill), each of which would serve as a ticket to play on the recording. A fan's unique art piece would also serve as their identity in the online community that formed around the project.


Participants attended monthly rehearsals, practiced their parts, then recorded themselves singing and playing. Hill mixed the album himself, blending more than 100 layers of audio per song, a musical balancing act made all-the-more impressive by the fact that "the lead vocal and ukulele are always present without minimizing the contributions of the rest of the band." (Ukulele Magazine)


"Sure as the Morning" Special Edition Uke Head by James Hill


"Nine to Five" Special Edition Uke Head by James Hill



Impeccably crafted albums like Man with a Love Song (2011) and JUNO-nominated The Old Silo (2014), established Hill as "a man who makes songwriting seem effortless" (Exclaim!). Uke Heads is no different: every song reveals new and inspired turns-of-phrase. "The Night" turns a lonely thought into a stirring sing-along: "Only the night knows who we really are / Two satellites in freefall 'round a star." The album's first single, "Lie Di Die," relishes the bittersweet sentiment, "A flight is just a fall you walk away from," while "Lucky in Love" is suffused with Hill's dry wit: "Our love is like a winning streak / We could make more in a night than some make in a week."


At it's heart, Uke Heads is a collection of "well-crafted songs" (Ukulele Magazine) by an artist who has been honing the art of music and community-building for a quarter-century. With Uke Heads, James Hill and 165 of his friends are going out on a musical limb, redefining the sound of the ukulele and turning the opaque process of album creation into a lean-in experience.


Uke Heads "combines the feeling of togetherness that playing ukulele with friends provides with the professional sound of a well-produced record." (Ukulele Magazine). "Could Uke Heads grow beyond a community of album supporters into a lifestyle à la Dead Heads or Parrot Heads?" muses Nick Grizzle of Ukulele Magazine. "For some, perhaps it already has."


"Lucky in Love" Special Edition Uke Head by James Hill

Uke Heads is more than an album, it's a long-term project that connects people around the world through music. Here's what the future looks like for the Uke Heads community.


Phase 1: Uke Head Sale & Album Production
  • Initial sale of Uke Heads ✔️

  • Monthly workshops with James ✔️

  • Submission of recorded parts ✔️

  • Informal meetups exclusively for Uke Heads members ✔️

  • Mixing and mastering ✔️

  • Album artwork and design ✔️

  • Album production and distribution ✔️

  • Limited-edition apparel and/or merch available exclusively to Uke Heads owners ✔️

Phase 2: Album Release
  • Uke Heads album released to the public ✔️

  • Album launch party 

  • Uke Heads CD and art booklet ✔️

  • Virtual events ✔️

  • Multi-day gathering for Uke Heads members (requires additional registration) ✔️

Phase 3: The Future
  • Discounts on virtual and in-person events (e.g. concerts, workshops)

  • Opportunities to record on future tracks with James

  • Uke Heads continues as a creative community for ukulele players and singers (more info coming soon!)

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