Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Masters of their art, each signature on my Little White Uke! Who's there so far?

My Little Blue Uke (sky-blue Mahalo, taken everywhere) has a Little White counterpart - the one I won (so proud!) in a songwriting competition hosted by one of the Seasonistas on the Ukulele Undergound Forum last Christmas. I generally keep it as my D uke and it comes out occasionally.

Just before I left home for GNUF (Grand Northern Ukulele Festival)on Friday, I had a brainwave... so many of my ukulele heroes would be there... why not ask them all to sign it? And I did!

Almost all of the signatures on here belong to players featured on this blog more than once.

What they all have in common is that I love their music and they are indeed masters of their art. And all are quite different.

I regret that I didn't catch Zoe Bestel to sign it. She just gets better and better. Her voice is ethereal and her delivery will break your heart. She is featured on this blog more than once, as a singer who plays ukulele and writes much of her own material.

The work of both Mike Hind and Ben Rouse is pretty new to me. But Mike Hind (AKA Uncle Elvis) just owned the stage during his set - he did indeed hold the audience in the palm of his hand ... and Ben Rouse supporting him on bass (as he supported others, as well as doing a great set in his own right on uke) was phenomenal, he tore the place up. Such nice fellas, too, both of them. So they are there, kindly gracing my Little White Uke with their signatures.

So who of my known favourites have you spotted? Well... there's Phil Doleman; (music from the 20's and 30's - a great musician and performer - and teacher!) Manitoba Hal, blues uker extraordinaire; Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee, jazz standards and original songs, (soon to be married.... wonderful...) Aaron Keim, (The Quiet American) - all-style fingerpickin and all-round super-duper musician; Peter Moss, long-time virtuoso player on wooden uke and banjo-uke, Mike Warren, exemplary Formby player who plays a mean wooden uke too... young Michael Adcock, who is fast making a name for himself on the uke scene, and last but not least, Mike Hind and Ben Rouse.

I have room for a few more.

I know who I want on that uke. Superb musicians and entertainers all. And there's a space on my wall where it will hang for a while and inspire me to...


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hawaii and a great uke festival (GNUF)... what more could a ukulele girl ask for?

Did I tell you I was going away for the holiday of a lifetime?

Across two ponds to finish up on a rock in Hawaii?

Sure I did! And we got back last Tuesday after five days on the loose in Honolulu and then a cruise round the islands, finishing up sailing across the North Pacific to Vancouver for a flight home to England and a few days jet-lag. And a ukulele festival. Ukafrolics galore, dear readers, ukafrolics galore! The festival was GNUF - the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival, held in Huddersfield 23rd and 24th May. It was fantastic. I've just read Barry Maz's comprehensive account of it in Got A Ukulele blog... and if you want to read all about it I suggest you hot-foot it over there because as always, it's very thorough, and very detailed. I'll be saying a few things about it over the next few days. For now, here's David Morgan (DJ Morgan Ukuleles) with the beautiful uke he made that became MINE a few weeks ago (yes I did tell you all about it...) enjoying the buzz and the music in the pre-festival get-together in the Head of Steam pub on Friday!

What a lovely fella he is!

And here's one from Hawaii....

Where is this and who are the two lovely fellas here? That's Yours Truly in the middle, of course, proudly sporting my Ukulele Underground teeshirt... answers please in the comments! You'll have to sign in to Google... and sorry but there are no prizes! I just want to know you're there, and on the ball, ukulele-wise!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

She's the Most! video collaboration by Phil Doleman and Todd Baio

She's the Most - written by Murray Berlin... what a great collaboration this is! Lovely old song, great vocal by Todd... and you should know, dear readers, that's Phil Doleman on the small screen at the back - my new uke teacher! (Instrumental break, including the slide guitar - lovely stuff!)

Of course I shouldn't be blogging... I'm preparing for some fun-packed, ukulele-packed weeks ahead... a week or so around Hawaii, no less, and after that the uke festivals come fast and furious. My little blue travel uke is poised... I'll be telling you all about it, just as soon as I can....

Monday, 20 April 2015

Mike Warren, Leaning on a Lamppost...Ukulele Fever 2014

Mike Warren, one of the best exponents of the George Formby style of banjo-ukulele playing, playing at the concert "Ukulele Fever 2014" last October. George Formby's songs are often played with a backing band or backing track, but Mike plays unaccompanied here; it's a lovely performance of "Leaning on a Lamppost" and shows off his Formby-style expertise beautifully.

What is "Formby-style"? in a George Formby song, the song part (sung) is sung to a pared-back, simple accompaniment on ukulele, where the singing and the lyrics are the important bit - then comes a uke solo, usually banjo-uke, full of syncopated, tricky strumming techniques such as the split-stroke, which take ages to learn to do, especially at speed and in time, unless you're under 16......! (The GFS has many talented teenagers who play the style with great aplomb!)

It warms my heart to see George's music played at a ukulele event. Too many fans of the wooden uke in the UK disparage George and his music, which saddens me enormously, especially when it's done on stage. George Formby was a much-loved artist during the 1930's and 40's with his saucy songs full of inuendo, some of which were banned by the BBC! Not this song, though, which was written by Noel Gay and was first performed in the George Formby film "Feather Your Nest". It has become perhaps the most popular of all the songs George performed and a little lamppost is emblem and badge of the George Formby Society. George and his wife Beryl worked extensively during the Second World War for the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), and entertained civilians and troops, and by 1946 it was estimated that he had performed in front of three million service personnel.

If you want to learn to play Formby-style, visit Mike Warren's website...

And please - don't knock George. He's a Ukulele Hero!

Thanks for dropping in!

Friday, 17 April 2015

What - Widecombe Fair on Ukulele? Oh YES!

But this is NOT the song that you may have learned all those years ago - oh no!

As a child, one of my prize possessions was "The News Chronicle Songbook" - a book full of all manner of songs, which had belonged to my grandmother.
It was the only sheet music in the house, and I used it to play my recorder. I thought it a treasure trove, and discovered all sorts of songs which I would never have come across otherwise... sea shanties and old folk songs, spirituals, hymns and carols... it's still among my treasures now, and if it seemed battered then now it's even more so.
One of the songs I learned and loved was "Widdicombe Fair".. Widecombe-in-the-Moor is a village in Dartmoor National Park in Devon, and the song tells of Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All.... a tale of woe ... Dartmoor is NOT a place one would wish to get lost. If you don't know the old song, hear it here..

Anyway... as I told you last time, I have been hosting Season of the Ukulele, number 164, on the Ukulele Underground Forum. As my theme, I chose "All the Fun of the Fair"... and one of the "Seasonistas" found..... this video. I think it's a spine-tingling performance of this song by "Phil" of the Yorkshire Dales..... Here's his own page.... PhilzMusic

The song was written by Steve Knightley of the English folk duo Show of Hands, and is a reworking of the title and the theme of the old song. It includes the names of the characters and even Tom Pierce and his grey mare - but you never heard this tale before. I love it.... and had to share.

See Steve Knightley perform his song live with his South American cuatro here

Thanks for dropping in! Coming up - some of the songs from my "All the Fun of the Fair" week. Don't go too far away, now!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Day in the Life - The Ukelites cover... Amazing.

A uke and a U-bass and without doubt the most challenging of Beatles numbers .... unbelievable. Are these two something special or are they not? They are. THEY ARE!

Quickie post - could not delay. A bonus for the day! You are sure to enjoy this as much as I did!

Spring arrives and I'm hosting a Season of the Ukulele...

The land is greening at last, under our eyes. Along the roads, the hawthorn hedgerows are densely speckled with bright green - the buds that have just burst and will, within days, clothe them in the rich new green of the true spring. I love it. My heart and spirits rise along with the sun and the sap.

From my window, the horse chestnut tree in the front garden has also burst its buds and the leaves have begun to unfurl... and the pale pink cammellia below the bedroom window is smothered in perfect blooms.

I'm busy. I'm hosting this week's Ukulele Underground Forum "Seasons of the Ukulele" and the theme is "All The Fun Of The Fair". I Haven't hosted before and it's great fun - the variety and quality of the entries is amazing - as host I need to watch each video entry and choose winners after the week has ended. Five days still to go. If you follow the link, you can take a peek yourself... why not join up and join in?

And I had a uke lesson a couple of days ago, with Phil Doleman. I think I'm doing okay. I took my new DJ Morgan concert ukulele. He was impressed with it. I'm going to do a video review of it just a soon as I get a chance... and I'll post some of the entries from "All the Fun of the Fair" week.

And now.. washing, dusting, places to go, people to see, uke to practise.... onward and upward.

Thanks for dropping in!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

OldGardnerGuy and a North Country Girl - ukulele

"Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine..."

A stunningly beautiful video I simply had to share with you... a ukulele cover of the Dylan song from the 1960's, "Girl From The North Country" by one of the regular Seasonistas of the Ukulele Underground Forum, known to many of us "Rob", AKA "weegingayin" and on his YT channel, OldGardnerGuy.

The quotes from the song Scarborough Fair are clear.

The tender vocal treatment of this song is as mesmerising as it is different, as is the ukulele "dry-strum" accompaniment, done to rhythmic perfection here. All beautifully enhanced by the video images of north country Finland, shot by Rob near his home.

Made my day. I hope it helps to make yours.