I’ve been playing ukulele for five years now. It began when my friend James to stay with his wife and children for the weekend in July 2007 armed with a blue Mahalo ukulele. He taught me some basic chords jotted on a piece of scrap paper and I learned I’ve Got The Whole World In My Hands. It felt really good and from this moment I was hooked. James had been taught by Mr C from the UPHoS group in Sudbury Suffolk, who was running a school club at the primary school they both worked in.
Prior to this, my journey into music had included trying the oboe at school (it was the only instrument left), borrowing and attempting to play the guitar, and taking a six-week evening course in piano. Shortly after my first meeting with the uke, I borrowed it from James and took it on a family holiday to France, armed with a few song sheets UPHoS played and a how-to-play book. I returned home, bought my own ukulele (a green dolphin bridge Makala) and began obsessively scanning the internet for any songs of interest that were easy and I could play and practice at any given opportunity, much to my other half’s annoyance.
I founded the The United Colours of Ukulele – now PLUC – as there were no ukulele clubs in the area. I meet Rufus (fellow member) at Ukulele Wednesdays and had already spoken to Ray Shakeshaft about how to set up a club. He gave me lots of invaluable advice. A venue, The Lewis Club, was found, advertising posters were made and posts were sent on the Ukulele Cosmos. On the 22nd July 2008, the club was formed.
The night arrived. I made up some song books, mainly using music from the TUSC songbooks and music given to me from James. On that first night, six people turned up. I remember vividly Rufus came with a friend carrying a laundry bag, who seemed familiar, though we had never met. It turned out that Rufus was a friend of David Suich of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. David was kind enough to sit next to a beginner and teach him a few chords. And the rest folks, is PLUC history.
Many people have come over the past four years and visited PLUC from around the world and South East London. Rufus, Chris (Catgut), James and Julia became regular members, attending almost from the beginning, and have helped shape the group into what it is today, including the name change to PLUC. In this time we have played at ukulele festivals and a few village fêtes and, two years ago, ran a ukulele evening in our local, The Jolly Farmer.
Recently, we were joined by Jeanette who loved us and stayed. She kindly took on, and is successfully running, our club website. From this we have been joined by many new regular members, who have also become friends.
From humble uke beginnings, and with the joy of playing in PLUC, I have continued to improve as a player, learned some music theory, bought two more ukuleles and met fantastic people. I have also taken a small side step, learning the bass guitar, which has morphed into a U-BASS.
To you all out there, if you don’t have a ukulele buy one. If you have one, play yours as often as you can, sing your heart out, join your local club, make new friends and enjoy your ukulele journey.
Other PLUC Tales: Ron’s Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome; Uncle Ron’s Legacy… – Wee Kheng; Dan’s Story; My Ukulele Origins… – Rufus; Why Ed Started Playing The Ukulele; Ron’s Song; It’s Been A Year… – Jeanette