Sunday, 23 June 2013

Was this Ukulele Heaven? Ukulele Festival of Great Britain 2013, Cheltenham

The answer has to be..... yes.... oh most certainly it was..... I've just got back, although the fun continues today.... I have to be out again in ten minutes, leaving on a four day girlie break with my oldest friends.... but it will be with my head full of the fun and sounds of the last couple of days.

I can tell you - for a run down, get over to Got a Ukulele blog..... Barry Maz (lovely bloke) is not steam-driven like me, and seems to have kept up blog-wise with the fun. (And LSH and I can actually be seen on his first photo, from Friday night at the Exmouth Arms.... I'm just strumming along with the song of the moment. LSH enjoying the general ambience....)

I'll post some pics and share my thoughts..... next week. Sorry. My poor Long-Suffering Husband is poised this minute to take me to join my mates, who started their holiday this morning - while I was uke-busking in Cheltenham with 340 other joyful souls......

For now - the people - fab.

Workshops - bang on the nail....

Uke stalls, with ukuleles hand-built - fab.

Concert - out of this world....

I'll catch you later.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Johnny Foodstamp does Formby Nashville style at the George Formby Society Convention, Blackpool June 2013

Well - the GFS has surely never seen "Formby" done quite like this! Johnny Foodstamp and his lovely young wife made the trip over from Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday especially to attend the George Formby Society Convention. They flew in at 8.30 am and brought the Nashville sunshine with them. They saw Blackpool under blue skies with a blue sea, with people enjoying the beach, just as Blackpool should be.

In spite of the overnight flight and the jet-lag, Johnny was up for making the most of every minute with the Formby fans and star players, and he did.... the fun went on for those with strong enough constitutions well into the early hours! Johnny was made as welcome as the lovely weather he'd brought with him. The above performance of the George Formby numbers "She's Got Two of Everything" and "Under The Blasted Oak" was on the Saturday afternoon concert. Suited and booted for the occasion, you would never have known that he'd been travelling all night without a wink of sleep! Thanks to Pauline Aitken for the video! On Sunday, Johnny gave us "The Dumber They Come, the Better I Like 'Em", a deliciously un-PC Eddie Kantor number from the 1920's. John Bianchi did a lovely Youtube of this song last year... (see blogpost here 7th June 2012) and I'm sure Johnny Foodstamp's version from Sunday will be video'd and up for viewing soon.

And as for the June convention in general ... I can only say that it was one of the very best. I could never have hoped to see so many of my named ukulele heroes on one stage all in one day... just listen to who was there!

Johnny Foodstamp all the way from Nashville as I've said; Matthew J Richards, Mike Warren, Alan Yates, George Elmes was over from Ireland and gave us Limehouse Blues and lovely renditions of some of his short original pieces for soprano uke, Andy Eastwood managed to make the convention on both days even though he's very busy on the professional stage, and even.... wait for it... Ken Middleton. Yes, that's right, Ken Middleton, who came along to see what all the fuss is really about. He gave us a beautiful performance on stage of "I'll Fly Away" and "Try a Little Tenderness", jammed outside in the sunshine with George Elmes, and left with an inkling of what the GFS is all about, even if we didn't exactly manage to make a Formby fan of him! So glad you made it, Ken, and it was lovely to meet you in person at last!

Unfortunately, Ken had to leave before the 9.00 pm Sunday concert, and missed some highlights which I know he would have enjoyed... particularly Andy Eastwood playing Chopin on his soprano wooden uke. Absolutely breathtaking. Add Alan Yates on solo electric guitar with "Apache"; "I'll See You in My Dreams" beautifully performed and sung by Caroline Robson ... once more at the GFS I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Add in all the lovely performances by the wonderfully skilled split-strokers young and old, and the all-inclusive and well-named "thrash"... you know, there are just a few who just "don't get it"... but I get it... and I just love it.

More later. Thanks for dropping by... I have to go and massage my face. I've got face-ache because I still haven't stopped smiling....

Friday, 7 June 2013

John Bianchi, with "I'll Follow You" ...

Here's my very favourite uke player and singer, John Bianchi of New York... I could watch his videos all day long! Lovely playing, and what a voice.... that voice is reminiscent of Al Bowlly... you'd have to be in your 80's or 90's to actually remember Al Bowlly; he was a very popular singer during the 30's and 40's - killed by a land mine during the war. But he was my Mum's favourite singer, and when I heard his voice singing those lovely old songs, he became one of mine. And John Bianchi has that rare Al Bowlly sound, without a doubt!

This is what he says about this, his latest video...

"Here's my take on 1932's song "I'll Follow You", by Fred Alhert and Roy Turk. The song was recorded by Bing Crosby that year and was also a hit for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. The lyrics, outside the context of the lovely melody, read like a stalker's manifesto. Still, I have always liked the tune.

Recorded in the car this morning on an alternate side of the street parking day and played on my 1960s Martin 0. It was a hairy parking day - moments before I shot this, a guy stole a space two cars in front of me and caused utter havoc; it pays not to get upset on mornings like these..."

And that's surely a cool delivery of that lovely song. Drooltastic.....

To see the other videos of John's that I have posted on this blog, just find his name on the tag-cloud at the foot of the page! Thanks for dropping by!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Peter Moss, GFS Convention 1993 instrumental medley on wooden uke - amazing.

I make no apologies for posting Peter Moss again. Peter Pollard of the George Formby Society has just posted this video on YouTube of Peter playing an instrumental medley of well-loved classics on wooden uke at a 1993 GFS convention - and he writes,

"This was a brilliant performance from Peter, probably the best example of playing the wooden uke that I personally have seen on the GFS stage."

How wonderful was that! Twenty years ago this year - thank goodness Peter Pollard has long been recording these wonderful performances for posterity....and I wonder how long we shall have to wait before Peter Moss graces the stage at a GFS convention again. The next one is this weekend, 8th-9th June at the Imperial Hotel, North Shore, Blackpool... Matthew J Richards will be there, Mike Warren will be there, Andy Eastwood will be there! The friends I mentioned yesterday will be there, and many more stalwarts and newbies... and happily, I will be there to watch and listen to it all, but unfortunately for us, Peter Moss will not be there... if my memory serves me right, he'll be playing to packed houses in Nova Scotia. Apologies to all if my memory has let me down on that!

The medley Peter is playing - I can't nail the name of the first tune, which is definitely Spanish... but the second is Liebestraume by Liszt, and the third is popularly known as the Can-Can, from the light operetta Orpheus in the Underworld, by Offenbach.

Welcome back to the world of the wooden uke, Peter.... you've been away for far too long!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

George Elmes, with a blistering "Limehouse Blues"

George Elmes is a great player. I've featured him on here before. This time, his version of Limehouse Blues, with triples and split-strokes..... Limehouse Blues was written in 1922 and made famous by Gertrude Lawrence - read more here

He's a also a big Formby fan - and he's making it over from Ireland to the George Formby Society Convention in Blackpool next weekend, 8th-9th June! I know he'll be made very welcome - as will Johnny Foodstamp of Nashville, another devotee from further afield, indeed from rather further away. In March we welcomed Ukulelezaza, Remco Houtman-Janssen, who made the trip over from Belgium and set the place alight with his fabulous instrumentals. Every fan of Formby or at least his style of playing has to make that pilgrimage sometime! And we will be there again, LSH and I... our fifth convention in a row.

But back to George. George Elmes, that is! Read more about his music and his ukes and meet his idols here, on his own blog....