Such instruments as ukeleles, mandolins, balalaikas, etc. tend to languish in the forgotten wilderness of musical culture. But even the much-maligned ukelele (which I first saw abused on the Arthur Godfrey show in the 1950s), is capable of playing some great music, as is evidenced by the first clip below, a George Harrison tune performed in New York’s Central Park.
In addition to Salsa, Puerto Rico has some great if little known traditional music, including its own version of Bluegrass: the “jivaro” music of the mountains. In the next clip, Edwin Colon Zayas, a virtuoso of the “cuatro,” pairs up with an equally talented guitarist. Please note that there’s a short break in the sound in the beginning of the clip. As for the setting, I’m not sure why most of the audience comes across like the morning-after victims of “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” since I found the improvisation exhilarating.
Finally, if you want to see some amazing virtuosity on a Russian balalaika without even the use of a flatpick, check the following clip out: