LIKE everybody else, Eddie Vedder was shocked by what the ukulele could do.
It was the late 1990s and Mr. Vedder was in Hawaii, decompressing after a tour with his band, Pearl Jam, when one of those modest, four-stringed instruments caught his eye in an out-of-the-way drugstore. He bought it, sat down on a nearby case of beer, and picked out a few melodies. It felt good.
“And then a couple of tourists came by and threw 50 cents in the ukulele case,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, there’s something going on here.’ ”