One of my very favourite websites and ukulele communities is the Ukulele Underground Forum. Based in Hawaii and a branch of the Ukulele Underground, it has a membership of thousands who discuss all things ukulele and share uke videos. Since joining about a year ago, I have been so impressed by the members' knowledge, eloquence, and readiness to help new players. One of the main rules is "Don't be a jerk".... and people rarely are.... the team of volunteer moderators are a superbly able bunch who keep the peace if someone is getting hot under the collar.
I'm also hugely impressed by the sheer talent of players on there. Coupled with the community spirit, a little project has begun, the brain-child of a forum member in Australia ("pabrizzer"). He has gathered together a number of forum members to send a little white ukulele on a journey around the world. The Little White Uke has left Australia, traveled to Spain, the Netherlands and Germany, and is now in Britain. "Filipinouker" in Somerset recorded this lovely video .... it features the national anthems of the UK, the Phillipines, and some beautiful playing, as well as great scenic shots.
I asked "filipinouker" how long she had been playing, and how she began her own journey with the ukulele. This is what she shared with me.
"I've been playing since May 2012...before then, I never thought much about ukuleles - I considered them to be toys!
My husband and I were in the Lake District on holiday, and it was wet wet wet for the whole week. One afternoon, I got fed up walking in the rain and sought warmth and shelter in a music shop. I pretended to be interested in the rows of ukuleles hanging on the wall (I really was NOT interested). To my shock horror, some of them cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds! That got me curious. Why would a silly little toy cost that much?!!! So I picked one up - one that cost £300, and with the help of a chord chart that was lying around and the encouragement of the shop assistant, I managed to strum a C chord, a G chord and an F chord. I was amazed by how beautiful it sounded!
Three hours later, after I had tried all the ukes :D - I walked away with what I could afford then: an £80 Kala-CEM (concert size, exotic mahogany top). I have, since then, sold it and bought an Ohana CK42R (solid sinker redwood top) and a Mainland all solid mahogany soprano. It is like a drug, uke playing!
Also, since then, I thank God for miserable rainy days because, often, they can lead to something good... in this case, it opened up for me the happy, sunny world of ukulele music!"
On facebook, there's a page called Little White Uke Around the World, where you can see more pics of the LWU on its travels.
I was slow on the uptake with this great little project... by the time I had caught up with what was afoot, it was too late to be a part of it. A little sad, there... there's only room for about 24 names on the uke - everyone participating is signing it... so numbers were limited by that.
From the UK, the LWU is traveling on to France, Finland, then to America. And from there, back home to "pabrizzer" in Oz.
Bon voyage, Little White Uke! Travel safely! :D