Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015, a Ukafrolicking year, to be sure

You know, looking back over the past year, I can't believe what a fantastic year it has been. I feel so blessed. We have been lucky in 2015 - no major mishaps, new illnesses or traumas, ... so many blessings to count. We're still standing. Good times with good friends, and lots of music.

The Ukafrolics of 2015 were many and varied, and my wonderful Long-Suffering-Husband was there for most of them, hopefully not suffering TOO much, although he doesn't play (determinedly stuck at being able to play only one chord - well, two if you count C6!) George Formby Society Conventions in Blackpool, all four of them; a trip to the Isle of Man with the GFS to celebrate 80 years since George's film "No Limit", which was filmed there; the odd visit to a regional meeting in Stourbridge (our nearest)
and one to the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle in Mirfield in the frozen north in January... and he sent me off without him to the uke festivals GNUF in Huddersfield in May, and UFGB in Cheltenham in June, to be entertained, learn from workshops and have fun with ukulele friends. Added to that we had holidays in Madeira, Hawaii and Majorca - Little Blue Uke came with me everywhere. I've posted here all about those, too...

This was the year that I decided that to make significant and structured progress, I needed professional input... and began lessons with Phil Doleman. This is to be highly recommended! Phil's a great teacher and I really look forward to my lessons, always coming home with new stuff to practice!

New ukes - I've had three; a solid electric VOX which is fun to use, and two beautiful instruments made by luthier Dave Morgan of DJ Morgan Ukuleles. Since I've had those, I can walk past a shop window full of ukes - seriously, I can! I have no cravings for others. My Morgan ukes are real beauties.

I've talked about all these things in posts over the year - but there's one photo I haven't shared before.

Leamington Ukulele Festival in July - everyone singing from the song book - and the wonderfully gifted Matthew J Richards fretting his vintage Martin while my Martin, LSH, strummed it and sang his head off also... oh, that was such fun - what lovely people! Photo thanks to Chris Richards.

As I write, 2016 is fast approaching, the bells will soon be ringing out in my corner of the world. Wherever your little corner is, I hope it's safe, dry, warm and comfortable and that you've got a loved one and a ukulele near to hand. Happy New year, everyone, and wishing you good health - thanks for dropping in!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

John Pak - great ukulele playing, a lovely voice, and great videos!

Here is one of my favourite players, singers and makers of video..... it's John Pak! AKA paxukulele on Youtube! Just take a few minutes to enjoy some snippets of golden oldies, beautifully performed in John's 2014/2015 ukulele review - and then give him a sub, if you haven't already! The snippets in this review are all from John's videos of the last couple of years. If you don't find them totally inspirational I'll eat my hat...

And watch for his gorgeous baby granddaughter Lulu! What a little beauty, and such a delicious moment, the tiny babe in her Grandad's arms!

John was born in Hawaii and has been playing ukulele since he was 12 years old. He now lives in Japan, and making videos for Youtube is his main hobby. He tells me that he finds the editing software "Garageband" very useful... I've heard this a lot. It's a total mystery to me!

Thanks for dropping in - don't go too far away now, will you...

Friday, 18 December 2015

Rachel E Manke with Just What We Want!

Talking about writing original songs on ukulele, here's one just written by Rachel E Manke, one of my favourite ukulele artistes! A three chord song - always a treat to learn and play - I IV V7... (or here, G, C, D7)

I love the sentiment there - if anyone understands just what matters in this life, Rachel does! And she knows how to put it over - with confidence and great style! Search the tag cloud at the bottom for more posts on Rachel... she's the bees' knees....

Thanks for dropping in... do come back now...

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

This made me cry today - I feel so honoured!

December, as always, has been hectic, and will continue to be so right up to Christmas. It’s always the same; in October I start to get the miseries because summer has gone and we are into the long, dark fall into winter; November sees me cleaning windows and glass to try and make them sparkle and lighting candles to try to displace the murk - and I start to do small Christmassy tasks like buying cards, then December arrives and all is chaos – just too busy to be the slightest bit grumpy. And much activity has been uke or music-related. I don’t really know where to start, to tell you all about it!

I know…. One lovely thing was that in November LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband) and I went to see the wonderful folk-rock band Steeleye Span in concert. Maddy Prior, my personal goddess of song was front of house afterwards, and as Maddy remembers everyone who has ever been to her singing workshops at Stones Barn in the Scottish borders, she greeted me warmly, and - wait for it - I told her how pleased I was to see her playing a ukulele in one the band’s numbers! This is new, this really new! Maddy said that, yes, the uke is just great for song-writing…

Well, I discovered that myself, about eighteen months ago, when I was inspired by my friend’s daughter’s beautiful wedding in Scotland, and wrote a song about it. My next attempts were for a competition on the Ukulele Underground, “Write a Christmas song…” I wrote two songs, a novelty song about snowmen and a carol. I was thrilled to bits when the carol won – what a Christmas present! The lovely man in Australia who hosted the competition did his own video of my carol, a version I really love – he does it so much better than I do… there’s a link to it on the page “My own songs”.

And that brings me to the thing that has made my day, that moved me and made me weep this morning. I had a message on my own video of the carol, “Tread Softly To The Stable”, a kind soul saying he liked it and would use it with his uke group next year – and that he had seen it because of the version posted by “pabrizzer” on the Ukulele Underground today… now, it was pabrizzer in Australia who held that competition and chose my carol, and he has indeed recorded another version of it accompanied by beautiful cello and a lovely vocal by members of his family, which I’m sharing here. I feel so honoured and moved by this and it made me cry. So I have to, just have to, share it with you…..

You know, I would never have written this song if it were not for the ukulele... the reasons for this will make a good subject for more posts!

Thank you for dropping in, thanks for reading, thanks for watching, I appreciate your company. Please come back, I'll be here soon.