Monday, 22 June 2015

Caroline Stewart at Ukulele Festival of Great Britain 2015

The theme of this year’s Ukulele Festival of Great Britain – “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Clearly, there would be fairies. Look, I’m girlie, I like fairies, I’ve got a lovely pair of black fairy wings that I wore on a charity “Fairy Walk” one midsummer’s night… but this year I was accompanied by Caroline – and Caroline’s strictly a no-nonsense girl who would promptly have disowned me had I gone adorned in wings, ivy and flowers…. so I made the sacrifice and stuck to my Ukulele Freak tee-shirt – and on the Friday night get-together at the pub, the Norwood Arms, we held our breath and went wearing “Formby Style Rules” tees complete with George Formby photo that LSH (Long-Suffering Husband) had had printed for us. Sporting those teeshirts felt like going to a meeting for vegetarians with a placard saying “EAT MORE MEAT”. Seriously. George Formby, his banjolele and his music are viewed with varying degrees of disdain by a sizeable proportion of the ukulele-playing community in Britain. But not all, dear readers, not all. And as card-carrying members of the GFS (George Formby Society) (actually, Caroline is the Chairman, no less…) we felt compelled to fly the Formby flag.

The teeshirts raised some smiles. I think they were friendly… and in that great waiting-room for ladies, the Ladies loo, a great place for chatting while you wait your turn, a conversation with one lady revealed a great love of the Formby style… and my teeshirt was by that time concealed by my sweater, so it wasn’t prompted by that! Anyway, that evening in the pub beer garden, we gave the friendly types at our table renditions of a few Formby favourites… Window Cleaner, Blackpool Rock, Grandad’s Flannelette Nightshirt. And we felt better.

The festival was stupendous. I love it, love it, love it. The workshops, the bazaar, the concerts, yes and the Big Busk…. I’ll come back to post on all that.

For now, switch to Sunday afternoon. Back at the Norwood Arms. Open mic, strictly one song each. So Caroline went up. “Are there any fans of George Formby out there?” Oh yes, there were… they bellowed their approval. So Caroline gave them “Baby” – a song she sings and plays so very beautifully. Here it is. Played on a 1920’s Gibson soprano strung with Living Water Strings.

Went down well, didn't it! It turned out nice again.

(As ever, I missed that introduction, switching the camera on…. Pfffft!)

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