Tuesday, 27 September 2016

12th Street Rag in the stratosphere with Roy Smeck pupil, Vincent Cortese!

I first came across Vincent Cortese four years ago when I read and enjoyed his book about the legendary Roy Smeck, and his time as Roy's pupil and friend. (Roy Smeck: The Wizard Of The Strings In His Life And Times, by Vincent Cortese 2004 - read about the book here!)

Vincent and Roy Smeck became good friends, and one of the gifts Roy gave to Vincent was the extremely well-played ukulele that he's playing in this video!

12th St Rag is played by all the ukulele "greats" and has any number of variations.... but I have to say, Vincent's rendition here is in the stratosphere! Recorded just yesterday....

Vincent writes of this:- "This is a take on the Roy Smeck arrangement.. he taught me most of this, but figured out other choruses on my own... lots of mixing and matching as he never did it exactly the same twice."

Watch it on youtube here!

I bet you enjoyed that! Thanks for dropping in! I'll be back as soon as poss....

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Another cracking weekend with the GFS in Blackpool, and a Formby mash-up from Wisconsin!

LHS and I have just returned from the September convention of the George Formby Society at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool. It never fails to hit the spot. What a superb weekend! So many familiar, friendly faces when we walk in now... the first time we went, four years ago, we knew no-one, but we were made so welcome and slowly but surely we got to know people, and those people became friends. It's so nice to walk into a warm, welcoming atmosphere that is rather like a kind of family. Many people there are in friendship groups going back twenty, thirty, and forty years, and for a few, even longer - so it's quite an honour to be accepted as one of this long-standing and close-knit musical community. But all you have to do is to love George's music, be friendly and be kind to people, be patient and ask if you're unclear about how things are organised, and appreciate the work all the volunteers do. And remember - it's not all about individual performances - it's all about George!

Last weekend was no exception; a cracking couple of days. LHS (Long-Suffering-Husband) has now got a routine of disappearing for a while with certain other LSH's of my friends for a pint or two at one of the local ale-houses. He doesn't complain. And though he doesn't play ukulele, he's game to join in somehow if a suitable oportunity crops up. So last weekend he made an appearance as Winston Churchill, as it was Battle of Britain Day. A few witty asides vis-a-vis Europe got a titter or two, and he was happy.

I got to do a couple of songs on stage on Sunday afternoon, and then I helped out for an hour or so on the sound desk - adjusting the sound on the three stage microphones according to the loudness of performers' voices, bringing up the volume on the uke mic for the solos, and running mini-disks for the occasional backing track, which gives the band a chance for a little break. It takes some concentration, especially when you're still getting used to it. But it's good to take part, to sing a song or two and to find a way to lend a hand to help keep these wonderful weekends of entertainment running smoothly.

Saturday evening was a concert specially put together in advance - one song from each of George's films, with different performers for each song, and many had made huge efforts with costume for the occasion. It was an absolute joy! There will be photos on the GFS website and videos on Youtube in due course. I look forward to that!

Thanks to Chris Richards for the photos of myself and Himself above!

Edit - Peter Pollard's report on the September Convention is now up on the GFS website, together with a link to photos!

Getting back to normal today I took a peep at Season 240 of the Ukulele on the Ukulele Underground. It's a mash-up week - putting bits of songs together to make hybrid songs... and a Seasonista friend of mine, a George Formby fan called Randy McSorley from Wisconsin, USA has done this!

Isn't that just wonderful! Randy's pleasure in singing George's songs shines out clear and strong! So nice to know that George is appreciated and still giving pleasure world-wide!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

All Of Me - take all of me before I die laughing!

A touch of madness, for the Ukulele Underground Seasons of the Ukulele, Season 236... the host asked us to do a song covered at any time by Tiny Tim, and involve a puppet... and perhaps announce it with the words Juanita Banana! Tiny Tim was famous for singing in a high falsetto voice....

Well, I'm game for a laugh - and so, fortunately is LSH.... but this just had to be done with one take - no way was he going to do it a second time if I loused up the playing! So I ploughed doggedly on..... I still can't watch this without laughing til I cry!

All Of Me - a jazz standard written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simon and first recorded in December 1931.

Do please drop in again...