Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2014 - Michael Adcock makes his mark!

I first met 16 year old Michael Adcock two years ago, the first time I went to a George Formby Convention at Blackpool. I remember admiring his Cartwright banjo-uke and chatting with him in the lobby of the Imperial Hotel as we waited for the doors of the convention room to open. Michael has long been a fan of Formby-style playing and is well used to taking the stage at Blackpool, wowing the audience with split-stroke prowess - but he hasn't stopped there.

There are quite a few talented young Formby syncopators right now; brilliant players, all of them - and boy, is it hard to play those Formby solos - but Michael is one player who has branched out and discovered the versatility of the wooden uke, including the music of Roy Smeck. Roy Smeck, self-styled "Wizard of the Strings" was as famous in America during the 1930's as George Formby was here in the UK. He played a number of fretted instruments including ukulele and dazzled his audiences with his playing. I've featured players of his music on here several times before...

Michael also became a huge fan of Peter Moss and has been studying his style, working hard to emulate his hero - to great result! Peter invited Michael to join him on stage at Blackpool, also at the Nantwich Ukulele Festival and now, this last weekend Michael joined Peter Moss and the other fringe players at the GNUF.

And his verdict? "Best weekend of my life!" Well deserved, I reckon.

And here are the pictures to prove it - playing this time with Phil Doleman and also with Ukuelelezaza, Remco Hautman-Jannsen...

Bottom - with the Mersey Belles and with Zoe Bestel....

Photos thanks to Teresa Adcock.

Huddersfield hosts the Great Northern Ukulele Festival 2014 - I wonder what Harold would have thought?

Our first visit to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Walking towards the Town Hall, we passed the magnificent building which is Huddersfield Railway Station with its classical style facade and rather large statue of Harold Wilson, prime minister during the early 1970's - the first thoughts that came into my head were memories of the three-day-week and industrial strikes - it made me feel my age. Thank goodness for the GNUF. Inside the Town Hall with my weekend pass wristband, I was promptly rejuvenated! Stick with me for a day or day or two and I'll tell you all about it from my perspective.... if you can't wait, get over to Got A Ukulele blog for a full run down..... Barry Maz does a fantastic blogging job, running round taking photos, taking notes on the hoof, it makes me feel tired just watching him at work! Me, I'm a lazy blogger, I'm afraid .... much too busy just enjoying the music and chatting, and generally hoping I'll remember enough detail to share when I get home!

Fear not, I've plenty to tell.... come back shortly and I'll have the first snippets ready!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

George Elmes wows them all at The HotSpot

I've been practising 12th St Rag. I was starting to get sort of pleased with it. Did a Youtube today, was going to share it with you - then I spotted THIS....

You know, George Elmes is just up there in the ukulele stratosphere. Watch this set.... 12th St Rag is number four, I think.... this is the sort of performance where you sit open-mouthed and think "Why do I bother?" Well, I bother because trying to play harder pieces is a challenge, it's fun, it's what music has always been to me... and I shall keep on bothering although I will never ever play like George Elmes, I shall be content to watch and listen to him, because that is just heaven... and I'll just keep on trying. But you know, I won't show you my 12th St Rag JUST yet after all..... please enjoy this instead!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Great Northern Ukulele Festival 2014 - got my ticket - have you got yours?

The second Great Northern Ukulele Festival (England) is being held this year in Huddersfield, after great success in Pontefract last year. And this year I'm going, even though it falls only the week before the GFS September convention in Blackpool. LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband) approves as he reckons he can spend lots of time exploring the Huddersfield taverns selling over a dozen different brands of real ale - should I say Real Ale!

With the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain headlining and a veritable host of big uke names performing and doing workshops, it's all set to be another rip-roaring success - so my advice is, get your tickets and workshop tickets NOW....

There are no fewer than seventeen workshops to choose from, over the two days (13th and 14th September) and they will sell out, so if you don't want to be disappointed, get it sorted! The workshops are selling well, and the latest additions to the list of workshop tutors are no other than two of my favourite performers, the great Peter Moss and Ukulelezaza (Remco Houtman-Janssen)

Peter Moss workshop

FROM MAJOR to MINOR, WHAT COULD BE FINER? - Music Playing Workshop Sat 13 Sep 2014, 2:00PM

"In the workshop we will explore how to play general root position chords.
Then I will construct popular chord sequences in the keys of C, F & G. Also
introducing Minor chords & relevant combinations. Next to explore what 4/4
& 3/4 mean and how they can be applied."

Ukulelezaza workshop

12th STREET RAG - Music Playing Workshop Sat 13 Sep 2014, 11:00AM

"Always thought the classic ukulele tune 12th Street Rag was beyond your capabilities as a strummer? It's not! Ukulelezaza will teach you the basic melody line and will show you how to elaborate on that with both the left and the right hand. Slowly at first, and with some practice you can speed it up and wow your partner, friends, family and pets even more."

Regular readers will know that I have featured both of these great instrumentalists several times in this blog - just search the tag-cloud at the bottom!

Five weeks to go and I'm quite excited about this festival - check it out, see who's going to be playing... and there's even a Festival Fringe! with a range of extra events!

Well - I'll see you there!

Thanks for dropping in!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Manitoba Hal - Ukulele Blues book! I've got mine.....

Manitoba Hal - what a lovely fella, what a great blues man... it was Ken Middleton who introduced me to Hal's music a couple of years ago, and when Jo and John Stevenson of Ukulele Crazy arranged for Hal to come and do a concert and workshop for us locally, last October (2013) I couldn't wait. I posted about it here. Both the workshop and the concert were superb, unforgettable.... I have Hal's CD's on my ipod, playing in the car - Hal makes blues on the uke sound the most natural thing in the world.

Then a week or so ago, I was reminded that Hal has now produced a book on his blues method - so I ordered one. The good folk at the Great Northern Ukulele Festival are assisting Hal in getting this book "out there", and the magnificent Mary Agnes Krell posted my book out to me with a sticker for this years GNUF... and a very classy sticker it is, too -

As for Hal's Ukulele Blues book, there's plenty in there to keep me busy for quite some time - the strums, progressions, shuffle chords, turn arounds, pentatonic scales, a few songs and more... I've read high praise of it, and here I'm adding mine! Get stuck in there!

Get your copy from the Great Northern Ukulele Festival on this link

There's also a link the GNUF shop with other goodies on their webpage, here....

Friday, 1 August 2014

A must-watch! Francesca and Catalina Davies - Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree

Still trying to catch up on all the blog posts I want to do...

We hardly recognised Francesca Davies in her 40's-style outfit and hairdo last weekend as she and her sister Catalina busked with Alan Yates, John Taylor, Stuart Lowther and Cameron Aitken at the George Formby Society one-day convention at Morecambe Winter Gardens. They drew the crowds with their skilled Formby strumming - but here's Francesca and Catalina as we are used to seeing them - this time wowing everyone in Blackpool at the June convention! And for once, not playing ukulele at all... this is a must-watch, as they sing together the Andrews Sisters wartime number, "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree". It's a real treat!

If these two sisters are not bound for stardom, I'll eat my hat! Francesca is sounding a little like Alma Cogan these days - remember her? And Catalina's voice rings out in the harmonies above. Absolutely delightful! They also performed "The Boogie-woogie Bugle Boy of Company B"... I can't wait to see what they come with next time!