Alex Denney, the man with the ukelele
There are many ways to make folks happy but one guy makes folks in the NoHo Arts District happy with music. You’ve probably seen him around the neighborhood at the METRO station, at Starbucks or on stage at one of North Hollywood’s 20+ theatres. Meet Alex Denney, the man who jams on his ukelele.
What made you pick up the ukulele?
I’ve actually been a musician since middle school, when a friend wanted to start a band and said that he would buy I guitar and I should buy a bass. When I was nineteen I found an ukulele in a closet in a friend’s apartment. It had been left behind by a former roommate, and he said I could have it. I taught myself to play, and started learning covers and writing my own songs. I’ve been playing for about seven years now, and I’ve enjoyed how it has set me apart from other singer-songwriters who focus on the guitar (which I have never learned to play).
Why did you choose to perform at the NoHo METRO? Where else have you performed in NoHo?
When I first decided to start street performing, I experimented with playing at different locations. I’ve never had much luck at the obvious places, like Hollywood and Highland. Instead, I’ve had more success in spots with less competition, but still a lot of foot traffic. I remembered seeing another artist performing outside of the NoHo Metro before, gave it a try, and it has become one of my favorite spots to play.
Besides in front of the Metro, the only other spot I have tried in NoHo has been in front of the Starbucks on Lankershim and Magnolia. It’s not as busy of a spot, and I’ve only played there when someone else is already performing at the Metro – busking etiquette is that performance spaces are first come, first served, and it’s rude to interfere with another’s performance. I once had a bad experience with a certain religious group who felt that they had exclusive rights to the Metro on Thursdays, who arrived and started preaching over me on a loudspeaker even after I asked them to not set up so close. I ultimately left early, because I want people to enjoy my music, not suffer from the noise of clashing performances. I don’t play in North Hollywood on Thursdays, just because I don’t want to deal with them again.
Oh, and last fall I was in The Production Company’s staging of “Look Homeward, Angel” at the Secret Rose Theater on Magnolia.
What is your favorite song to sing with the ukelele?
If it’s a cover, it’s “Life in Technicolor ii” by Coldplay. It was a single, but not one of their big hits. Nevertheless, it’s one of my favorite songs to play because it uses some interesting chord variations, has a fun line to whistle, and it makes me feel good.
As for original work, “This Vampire Comedy” has always been a personal and fan favorite.
Playing music is a passion of yours but what is your main line of work?
I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting as a career, it’s true. I am also a professional radio DJ, and recently started at 100.3 The Sound (though don’t expect to tune in and hear my voice – I’m currently working behind the scenes). I also teach private ukulele lessons for beginners, and I do have spots for new students available.
What advice would you give to a young actor or musician?
If you want to make entertainment your career, don’t expect it to be easy. Plan for a long and difficult climb, but if it is what you love to do, go after it with all you’ve got.
What’s coming up for you?
Right now I’m in a spectacular production of the musical “110 in the Shade”, playing at the Crossley Theater until June 15th. Beyond that, I’m have some projects I’m working on, both musical and otherwise. For anyone interested in keeping up with what I’m up to, I invite them to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
For more music, make sure to check out www.thealexdenney.com.
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