“The ukulele has been around for more than 140 years but it’s enjoying renewed popularity, with sales of the instrument tripling in the past decade. As Melinda Breda explains, the pint-sized instrument has returned from pop culture purgatory.”
What’s in Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.
Daphne Roubini’s career arc doesn’t make much sense. Her resume includes stints as a masseuse, aroma therapist, jazz singer and a personal coach. Now, Roubini’s go-to gig is running what’s billed as the largest ukulele school — Ruby’s Ukes — outside of Hawaii, and she does it without a single cent spent on advertising.
Her first ukulele was supposed to be a gift for a child, but Daphne Roubini just couldn’t keep her hands off it. Some 10 years ago the accomplished jazz musician – a native of London, England who now calls Vancouver home – bought her nephew a blue ukulele for his second birthday. To sweeten the deal, Roubini asked her husband, musician Andrew Smith, to teach her how to play “Happy Birthday” on the little blue uke. The problem was that in the process of learning that simple little song, Roubini fell in love.
Sit down with Vancouver Ukulele Festival founder Daphne Roubini and you end up talking about more than the instrument that artists from Joao Fernandes to Tiny Tim to Eddie Vedder have all done their best to make famous.
Vancouver’s First Lady and Duke of Uke, Daphne Roubini and Andrew Smith are Ukulele Jazz/Folk Balladeers. With her captivating voice and their ukulele skills, together they’ve wowed crowds at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Vancouver Jazz Fest and Mission Folk Fest, in addition to delighting audiences across Canada and their native UK.
Coming exactly as advertised, A Ukulele Album is indeed centered around the instrument favoured by four out of five descendants of Hawaii’s King Kalākaua. But don’t expect the duo of Daphne Roubini and Andrew Smith to sound like the house band at the fabulous Royal Hawaiian on this low-key but charming full-length.
“Instantly captivating, Ruby & Smith ooze charm with their stripped down approach to jazz/folk balladeering.” Robert Collins, Music Correspondent, CTV BC.
“… the hippest Ukulele that you can hope to hear.” Ken Pickering, Artistic Director and Co-Founder, TD Canada Trust Intl Jazz Festival
“…evocative vocalist, Daphne Roubini, who sounds at once retro (think Billie Holiday and Madeleine Peyroux) and yet cheekily modern and on trend.” Georgia Mancio ~ Artistic Director and founder ~ ‘Revoice’ Festival, London, UK.
“She’s Daphne Roubini, the one with the Billie Holiday voice, all breath and wistfulness. He’s Andrew Smith, the one picking ukulele behind her, alternating between strumming and single-string leads. Together, they’re Ruby & Smith” Ukulele Magazine
“The two uke aces have crafted a jazz-dusted record made for hanging out on a ramshackle porch in Louisiana at sundown, a mint julep in one hand as the fireflies hover in the forest.” Georgia Straight