Ukafrolic - my fun, made-up word to describe fun times around ukuleles... to be sure I have been fortunate this year alone to have had very many memorable ukafrolics - some of which I have not found the time to tell you about yet, unfortunately - but surely last night's was rather - nay, exceedingly special! And I'm wasting no time in telling you about this one!
Perhaps you read the interview that Hawaiian ukulele super-star Jake Shimabukuru so graciously gave me in my last post. I had initially thought that I wouldn't be able to go to any of the four concerts that Jake is giving in England this week... family commitments and then the GFS convention in Blackpool at the weekend... but when a player as highly regarded as Jake is coming to the country for a first tour - how can you pass up the opportunity to see them? So I juggled things around a little, resolved to squash more things into less time, and bought my tickets for the first concert, Liverpool St George's Hall. Concert ticket, train ticket. Long-Suffering-Husband had his own commitments so with his blessing I would go alone. Could not wait.
The tour is being organised by Mary Agnes Krell of Grand Northern Events - organisers of the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival. Now there's a woman in a million. She has vision, belief and firm principles. The vision and belief to want to bring Jake here, to know that the ticket-buying ukulele community would want to see him and that the tour should be successful, and the principle that it should be a not-for-profit undertaking. Anyone can see the inherent risks...
I so wanted this tour to be a success - for Jake, and for Mary, so ably supported by her man, luthier Rob Collins (www.tinguitar.com)... I asked if there was anything I could do to help... next day, Mary asked me if I would help Jake's tour manager on the merchandise stall as he was totally unfamiliar with our currency. Yes, of course I would.
Jake is a huge Beatles fan... the team arrived on Monday, predictably jet-lagged and very tired by the long-haul flights - but off they went to do the Beatles tour of Liverpool... the Beatles Museum, the houses where the Famous Four grew up, the song-spots, (Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane) and the Cavern. Jake was delighted to play on the Cavern stage... after all, it was the George Harrison number "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that rocketed him to public recognition in the famous Youtube video that went viral.
I got a last minute request as I prepared to leave home yesterday morning to catch the train ... would I find a few minutes that day to pop into a music shop and buy an inexpensive uke for Jake to sign, as the Cavern Hall of Fame would gladly display it? No problem. A few hours later I was with Mary, walking through Liverpool to the venue, St George's Hall, armed with a little blue uke for the Cavern, and my own little white uke to ask Jake to sign. I knew I was in for a fantastic evening - and I was not disappointed!
It's getting late... I'll dying to tell you all about it... but will have to finish off tomorrow! Now don't go away... promise? So much to tell!
If you missed Liverpool you can catch Jake at Leeds or in Bath... maybe even in London as a few seats have been released... tour details here... If you're not sure that Jake is your thing... believe me, he will be! If you're in the UK, GET THERE!