Friday, 27 June 2014

The Hawaiian theme went down a treat! More from the Uke Fest GB 2014

They'd got Taimane from Hawaii to top the bill - they'd got Craig Chee... so a Hawaiian theme for Uke Fest GB 2014 was a must. We had the weather, we had the music. We had the mood... a Hawaiian Ukafrolic in all but place!

Here are my mates, father and son Mark and Jim Watson... capturing the mood just beautifully, don't you think? It was great to see them again...

And here's another uke-pal Simon Grove (officially "Best Dressed Man"!) with Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee! The girl behind them is holding Sarah's de Silva Special ukulele, with the guinea-pig headstock... I had a hold of that, too... beautiful thing!

Craig Chee opened up the Saturday night concert, and brought Sarah on stage to join him. The songs they did together made one of the most heart-warming performances I've ever seen, their on-stage chemistry is perfect. Could be something to do with the fact that their off-stage chemistry is perfect, too!

For example - just watch this, a highlight of their performance together that evening..

Video by courtesy of Ed Doherty

Wonderful, just wonderful!

More to come... thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

In The Money with the Hot Potato Syncopators at Uke Fest GB 2014

The Saturday Night concert at the Uke Fest GB in Cheltenham was a blast from start to finish. The second act to appear was the band the Hot Potato Syncopators.

I'd never seen then before, but as soon as they came on stage in their suits with tails, I knew they'd be doing my kind of music - songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's, and doing it well.. but I wasn't prepared for the comedy... they were hilarious and fully deserved their standing ovation! Featuring two ukuleles and a teachest bass, and three of the most talented musical comedians I've ever seen, this band should be seen more!

Please watch and enjoy the Hot Potato Syncopators in their fabulous finale to their act, "We're In The Money"... video and photo courtesy of The Hot Potato Syncopators

And yes - I did catch some!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Uke-Fest GB 2014 - the Big Busk - a mass Ukafrolic!

The midsummer sun shone obligingly down from a clear blue sky, as we gathered with our ukuleles in the Imperial Gardens on Sunday morning, ready to hold a Big Busk outside Waterstones bookshop ... but a last-minute "Health & Safety" hitch over use of their balcony for the PA meant that the Big Busk stayed right where it was, on the lawn in the Imperial Gardens behind Cheltenham Town Hall. A much nicer spot for everyone to play anyway, I thought - as you'll see from my little video!

The Hawaiian theme was well in evidence from all the Hawaiian shirts and flower garlands sported by the ukers! And there was no shortage of dazzling costume hats, deely-boppers and sunglasses, all adding to the festival atmosphere. There were visitors from California and New Jersey, Australia, to name but a few of the foreign countries represented... and Hawaii was represented here by Craig Chee! Spot him on the stage here with Sarah Maisel, during "Making Love Ukulele-Style"!

And here's a grand photo, courtesy of Craig Chee!

A mass Ukufrolicking Busk that even managed to better last year's, in every respect! How that can bettered next year, I don't know, but I do know that they'll try!

Thanks for dropping in - I think I've just about recovered from all the fun!

Coming up, ASAP - the concerts and the new addition to the family, bought at the uke-fest - new uke!

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Ukulele Festival of Great Britain 2014 - The Ukafrolics came thick and fast!

LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband)at last decided that he'd suffered enough and dispatched me to the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain alone, with his blessing. Dear reader, do not kid yourself that "everyone loves the ukulele... they don't! And at a big uke-fest, it's very full-on uke. Well, he missed a treat at the Saturday night concert, but more about that later.

I wrote last time about the world-wide uke community that is the Ukulele Underground Forum, and the fun that some of us have with the Seasons of the Ukulele contests. Those who take part are known as Seasonistas! I have a go from time to time, if I can find both the time and a song... in the results of Season 116 (Tin Pan Alley) I actually got a "shout-out" from Eugeneukulele (host that week, from Tasmania) in the results video! That was lovely... I'd done "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"..)

You get to know the faces and "handles" of regular contributors. At Last year's festival, I wore my UU tee-shirt and as a result met Paul Redfern, one of the p'Ukes. This year, I recognised UkeyDave from his Seasons videos, and now that's another Seasonista that I've met!

So, here we are, UkeyDave and I, a contribution for the UU Forum thread "Seasonistas jamming with Seasonistas" not exactly jamming, as I'm not playing, just singing...

My apprehension shines out like a beacon!

That was just one Ukafrolic of several....

Coming up, a bit of the Big Busk; the new addition to my family of ukuleles, (I swear the fastest uke purchase I've ever made!) And - I'll be telling you about the concerts and the workshops I attended. Gold, pure gold.....

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Seasonistas Anthem, Ukulele Underground Forum - a Mega-Ukafrolic!

Adapted for the Seasons of the Ukulele
of the Forum

It's so good to be part of a ukulele community, people who share your love of the instrument. I take part in no less than four uke communities; James Hill's The Ukulele Way, which I jumped aboard and told you about yesterday, being the fourth. If you are a regular reader, (and thank you, if you are!) you'll know that I'm a keen member of the George Formby Society here in England, where LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband)and I have made a lot of friends. I often post about their meetings and conventions, and feature Formby players here and in the States. A local ukulele group Go Ukulele Crazy is another uke community that I belong to. They meet weekly to play and sing songs, and do concerts around the area. And then there's the Ukulele Underground Forum.

The UU Forum was the first uke community that I joined. A great bunch of people, so friendly and willing to help others and offer good advice... a couple of years ago, one of the members encouraged me to start taking part in the Seasons of the Ukulele contests, where one member in turn suggests a theme for songs, and folk find a song and send in a video. All great fun. And someone wins. The whole thing is a great confidence builder, when it comes to performance, singing and playing, and getting used to being video'd. And seeing yourself on video is great self-feedback about what you're doing right, and what you need to work on!

And now, the video above - what a fantastic Ukafrolic is that! So many of the folk playing there are my internet friends and I have even skyped with one or two! The editing job is simply stupendous, don't you agree? I love the addition of drums, glockenspiel, kazoo, and the recorder was a nice surprise! Lovely sound from Geoff there!

As I'm trying to get ready for my next Ukafrolic, the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain in Cheltenham (from tomorrow) I'll publish this post with no further ado!

Thanks for dropping in.... keep on strumming!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

James Hill - The Ukulele Way - Exciting new tuition series from the Master himself!

Now, James Hill is absolutely the Zeus of uke gods as far as I'm concerned, so I could not be more excited that he has just (yesterday) brought to the public a new online ukulele tuition series The Ukulele Way. He explains what it's all about right here...

When you've seen and heard James play his amazing no-loops-or-tricksversion of Billie-Jean, on YouTube, you become a fan... well, you do, don't you? Such creative virtuosity... and then, when you attend one of his workshops, as I did in Cheltenham at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain last year, you learn what a fantastic teacher he is. And what a really nice fellow. Then, watching him top the bill at the Saturday night concert - you learn just how diverse his ukulele repertoire is.

Like I said, The Master... and now I - and you! - can be a regular pupil and learn at his (virtual) knee! And no, dear reader, I'm not being paid to post this! But, having seen the 6 free video lessons, I hereby declare that I'm signing up my $9/month for the whole programme.

It's stupendous.

Get in there....

HIghlight number one - Andy Eastwood with Alan Yates, GFS Convention June 2014

And here's the first of my highlights from The GFS Convention, June 2014... Andy Eastwood and Alan Yates playing together - "When I Come Up On the Football Pools!"

Andy and Alan, two of the very best exponents of George Formby style playing. This song is not one of George Formby's, actually, and I know nothing about it, but the words will certainly ring a bell with "Brits" whose Dads or Grandads filled in those pools coupons every week, and listened with bated breath to the scores of all the football (soccer) matches at about 5.00 pm every Saturday, in the hope of winning a sizable cash sum - known as coming up on the football pools! You know, I don't know whether anyone does it any more... the very nature of it will have changed over the years.

But back to Andy Eastwood and Alan Yates! They have both been members of the George Formby Society since they were lads, often performing on stage together as youngsters - and what a joy to see them together on the Blackpool stage again, a most fitting finale to a stupendous talent-filled evening concert! Superb...

Monday, 16 June 2014

Andy Eastwood.... Lamppost solo, William Tell, Mr Sandman.... wow! Interview September 2012

Before I share with you Andy Eastwood in one of my highlights of the GFS Convention 2014, I just came across this and had to share it first! The interview is self-explanatory, but the particular joy is.... the solo from Leaning on s Lamppost, William Tell, George Formby's Gibson UB3, Mr Sandman, I'll See You in My Dreams... wonderful clip! Copy and paste the link...

Andy has been a GFS member since he was a lad, and a nicer person you could not wish to meet!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

My ukulele wishes are few, but here's one..

The sound of the waves, blue sea, blue sky, sand, sun and my ukulele - I've now played my uke on a beautiful sandy beach in the Mediterranean, with a little solitude, (no-one too near), and it was wonderful, something on my wish-list achieved... so where else would I like to play?

Here's a place. I love daises - just common, ordinary daisies, the kind that plague people who like nice, green, manicured lawns - the photo above, I took from the window of a train as it stopped at a station on my way home from London the other week... those are not lawn daisies, they are big 0x-eye daisies, but just as lovely, I think..... and no, I don't want to play just there, with the trains rattling past! But it would please me no end to find a field or other large grassy place teeming with daises and sit there on a warm sunny day with a gentle breeze blowing, playing my uke.... and when it happens, I'll let you know...

"Daisies are our silver, buttercups our gold,
These are all the treasures I can have or hold..."

Thanks for looking in!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Coming up - highlights of the GFS Society Convention, June 2014!

Coming up ASAP, highlights include Andy Eastwood with Alan Yates, Francesca Davies with Catalina and lots more! look in very, very soon...

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Strumming on the beach on a Greek island - just ukulele-heaven!

"Life for a Lady With a Ukulele or Two...." actually ten, now..... but when I go traveling, the one that comes with me is my little blue Mahalo, or simply "Little Blue Uke".

Just a couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Zakynthos, a Greek island in the Mediterranean, for a few days in the sun with my daughter. Just the two of us. A lovely chance to do some mother-and-daughter bonding. But not everyone loves the ukulele, in spite of rumours to the contrary... and my girl is one such. She's more for the guitar. So like a good-'un I promised "not to make myself a nuisance with it" ... and duly confined myself to a little solitary strumming in our holiday apartment, and a little more at a distance from others on the beach. I found an inviting little spot just in the sand dunes, spread my towel, got out my song sheets and whiled away an hour, strumming in the Mediterranean sun while number-one daughter whiled away an hour round the shops.

Now that's what I call a Ukafrolic!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

George Formby fans! New branch of the GFS to start in Chester!

Oh yes indeedy, Announcement! Hear this, hear this, a new branch of the George Formby Society is holding its first ever meeting in Chester on Thursday 3rd July!

From back to front, left to right - Greg Simister, Dennis Lee, Lewis Clifton, Cathy Darlington, Debbie Lee

Just look at this for a line-up of founder members.... the players shown here are all very active and talented members of the GFS, and regular readers and banjo-uke fans may recognise Lewis Clifton, whom I have featured a number of times in this blog, also Greg Simister, whose rendition of William Tell I featured here only a couple of posts ago! Dennis Lee (never seen without a smile and a word!) has been the Chairman of the GFS, and his wife Debbie recently made her Blackpool debut on the stage, to the warmest of GFS welcomes!

The Branch is being led by Cathy Darlington, another regular and popular performer whose lovely voice and ukulele skills I envy hugely!

So, where, you ask me.... Chester Rugby Club, 19.40, 3rd July and the first Thursday of the month thereafter! If you're a Formby fan in the North-West of England, want to play that super-syncopated strum, and to be a part of the warm family that is the GFS, be there! And I do believe the opening night will be quite something.....

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Caroline and Ray sing D-Day Dodgers at the GFS Convention, June 2014!

Since I raved about attending my first George Formby Convention in Blackpool in June 2012, it has become a four times a year pilgrimage, not to be missed if I can help it! Last weekend was one such trip, and what a weekend we had of solid music, companionship and fun! I love to take part, the demon just gets hold of me - and I had sensibly decided that this time I would not venture on stage as I hadn't anything properly prepared - the golden rule is, know it - words and music - so that you can't forget it! Well, I do know the chords to Lili Marlene really well, they are easy... so when, at short notice my very good friends Caroline and her husband Ray asked me to accompany them in a rendition of D-Day Dodgers, I was only too pleased for an excuse to get up on that stage! So here we are. Ray's very first time on stage... and Caroline's lovely voice... I first heard this song in the folk club I habitually frequented in the late 1960's, The Jug O'Punch, run by Ian Campbell in Birmingham. A fitting tribute for the D-Day commemorations. Lovely to be on stage with my friends, and not worrying about my voice!

Caroline explains the background to the song....

I should explain that the two day convention is pretty well exclusively devoted to George Formby songs on the Saturday, but Sunday has a lot of other banjo-uke and ukulele music - and the Sunday evening, when the regular band have gone home is quite informal. And that's when we did this, on Sunday evening.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Greg Simister plays the William Tell theme on banjolele.... what a treat!

The William Tell Overture has become something of must-do challenge for skilled banjo-uke players in the GFS, ever since Peter Moss first worked it out as a twelve-year-old back in the early 70's. I've seen a few performances by various players at the George Formby Society conventions in Blackpool, and I was thrilled when Peter Pollard posted this new video just a few days ago. Greg Simister was one of the very talented youngsters of the society, and over the last year has returned to the fold as a young man to the delight of all! He has a lovely easy way with a song, always a smile, and this instrumental further showcases his talents. There's a convention at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool tomorrow and Sunday... we will be braving the atrocious weather that has been forecast for the whole day to get there... I just hate to miss... and I do hope Greg will be there to wow the crowd this time!