Tag Archives: Richard G’s Songbook

The Only Uke Is Essex…

D'Ukes Festival - 26 July 2014, Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, Essex

D’Ukes Festival – 26 July 2014, Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, Essex

The Mighty Ukulele monthly email of uke events in & around London alerted me to a free afternoon ukulele festival at the Queen’s Theatre, near the easternmost end of the District Line, out in Essex.  Facilitated by a seven-piece Chelmsford-based electro-uke band called the D’Ukes, it was a pleasant & relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

There were around half a dozen stalls from local music shops selling ukes, mandolins & banjos; accessories & music books plus an info stall with lists of local ukulele clubs. One stall had a free hourly draw to win an electronic tuner & I was lucky enough to win the first one (probably because I was the only person paying attention when the initial announcement was made!).

There were very few seats available, so I quickly sat down in front of the corner stage area before they were all taken, armed with my lunch & drink from the next-door supermarket, as I knew that once I stood up again I’d probably not get another chair!

Between 12.30 – 5pm there were seven acts due on for half hour slots, plus open mic & jamming sessions. I only knew one act & she was on last, so it was an interesting afternoon of listening to different types of new uke performers, all with various styles & repertoires. I was pleased to note that most followed the unofficial rule that any uke band name must contain a play on words or pun.

First on were Kiss Me Quick, from Southampton. A three piece outfit with one uke-player, a guitarist (who unluckily broke one of his strings half way through & didn’t have a spare instrument, so had to do some rapid improvising) & flautist (who played a melodica & percussion also), they mainly sang recent pop uke hits. Following them was a young solo performer from Canvey Island, Chantelle Pasquale, whom I think is nineteen years old. She sang a mix of newish numbers plus a couple of self-penned ones (some of which she wrote for her GCSEs).

The Fog, playing a cracking version of El Cumbanchero:


The Ukes of Hazard were a club of around twelve members from Hertfordshire. They shared the singing round the group & played a wider range of material, from the sixties onwards. U-Kew-lele were on next, hailing from West London & seven in number. They played energetically, with some rocking numbers from the fifties to the present day & the female vocalists were especially good.

Next came ArteMiss – a three piece female covers band from Kent who played some nicely-done arrangements with humour & quirkiness. The first with a bass ukulele & again, excellent harmonies. Then came The Fog – a slick trio from Bishop’s Stortford & definitely very accomplished musicians (they’ve been playing in various bands since the sixties / early seventies). Their selection ranged from the 1920s & thirties, jazzy & bluesy, plus several original compositions in similar styles. Definitely more like the stuff Chris & Rufus do. The percussionist, Frog, on Cajon drum, looked like his hands might fall off at one stage!

The open mic slot showed a hybrid band of James, Diane & Frog (the first two were the lead players from The Ukes of Hazard, with the aforementioned percussionist from The Fog); an interesting character called Fang from Archway who played an arrangement of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – he was one of the few on stage with an acoustic instrument &, nursing a few injuries, urged us all to remember we could still continue playing our ukes despite those  – & David Alexander, from the Kent uke group there supporting ArteMiss, who sang Crazy Words, Crazy Tune with his sopranino uke, dedicated to the neighbours of all the ukulele players present.

Top billing was the always excellent Tricity Vogue, whom many of you know as she’s a regular on the London circuit. On her way up to this year’s Edinburgh Festival, she was breaking her journey to perform this gig. Despite the intense heat, she kept her bowler hat on, singing in the guise of a man for her show this year, Songs for Swinging Ukuleles.

There had been two beginners’ workshops run earlier in the afternoon, so the festival closed with a mass strumalong of the two songs taught in that: Crash (by The Primatives – which myself & most of the people around me didn’t recognise – though a mate sang it to me on the phone later & I found I did actually know it after all) & Jolene.

I was surprised the D’Ukes didn’t perform any numbers at all, as it would have been interesting to see how they matched up to the other acts. But I guess there were too busy keeping everything running smoothly all day. And they were playing a paid gig later on that night in the same theatre, so maybe wanted to save their energy.

Do have a look at the YouTube links I’ve put on the acts to give you a flavour of the performances. I haven’t been able to link to websites for everyone, as many only have Facebook pages, so if you like what you see you can always google them for more info.


Tricity Vogue singing her Edinburgh road-trip song, Bowler Hat:



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Southbank Chorus Festival 31 Mar – 6 Apr 2014 – Part 2

Victoria Embankment Gardens Buskers 140405

Victoria Embankment Gardens  – Uke-Wielding Buskers

Off again without my uke for a day of vocal workouts at the Southbank Chorus Festival, as I bought some lunch for later on, I was delighted to spot a group of lively buskers by Victoria Embankment Gardens, with the lead singer wielding a ukulele & dancing around.

As with last year, there were events all over the Southbank complex – on the Riverside Terrace, Front Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, up in the St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, down in the Spirit level basement (very echoey – great acoustics) & dotted around various bar areas.

I’d decided to try out four of the free workshops & listen to whatever choirs I could catch in the gaps. Read the rest of this entry »


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PLUC Member’s Choice – Beatrice

My favourite for 2013 is After Hours by Velvet Underground, because it is so good to rediscover music from the past. It also holds a bit of mystery for me: it is familiar and yet I can’t pinpoint when I heard it.


This is Cheryl Tofsrud performing the song:


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PLUC Member’s Choice 2013 – Bob

For my favourite ukulele tunes, some that I like are:

Love Her Madly – The Doors – Great rhythm to this song but with a tricky section
Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minogue – good chord changes
Dream A Little Dream – Mamas & Papas
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
The Locomotion – Little Eva
Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – The Animals
Venus – Shocking Blue
The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie
She’s Not There – The Zombies Read the rest of this entry »


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PLUC Member’s Choice 2013 – Colin

I’d like to nominate the Eugene Ukulele website.

Great site, old songs that are not the normal run of the mill, a nice singing voice and an awesome collection of ukuleles. Plus he will tab a song if you ask him.



Here’s Butterfly Bandito playing the 1930’s number, My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes:


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PLUC Member’s Choice 2013 – Anthony

My vote is for...It Must Be Love.

Born in ’74, the version of this song I remember is by Madness.  When you first approach the song, the A chord variants are a little confusing but when you play it, it really bounces along.  You can go for the relaxed reggae feel or put more energy in for the ska/Madness feel.

I’m still a little confused about how to get the most outta the ‘nothing more, nothing less, love is the best’ section. But I’ll make sure I check what other people are doing when it’s played next time at PLUC.

Really great song, people love singing along with you too.

Anthony Read the rest of this entry »


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PLUC Member’s Choice 2013 – Wee Kheng & Steph

Next up, two votes for a well-known Dolly Parton number,

Wee Kheng explained:

I like to nominate Jolene because it is a catchy tune. Not keen on the lyrics though (one woman begging another not to take away her man – arrgh!)…Though I am not keen on the meaning of the lyrics, the overall effect is lost if it is an instrumental version, so I’d like to submit it as it is.

Steph tells us:

My favourite is still Jolene! I’ve always loved the song and was delighted that the arrangement only has a few basic chords so, as a relative beginner, I could sing and play one of my favourite popular songs straight away.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Happy Halloween – Trick Or Uke Treat

Enjoy this fun version of Blue Öyster Cult’s (Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Gus & Fin (GUGUG). More cowbell!

1 Comment

Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Uke History & Trivia


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PLUC Tales – The First Rule Of Uke Club…

Anthony Checking Out Tip 3a

Anthony Checking Out Tip 3a

I’m a recent convert to the world of ukulele. I’ve been playing around about 10 weeks and am really enjoying it. I’ve managed to learn the basics and am managing to play many more full songs than I thought I’d be able to play at this stage when I first picked the thing up.

Anyway… I was asked to put together a few words on what I’m enjoying and not enjoying about ukulele.  I’ve tried to do this below, its a little rambling (like myself), its personal to me and hopefully you’ll take these comments in the way that they were meant.

What I like… Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Members' Items


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Top Of The Ukes

UK number one on this date in 1965 was the Sonny & Cher hit I Got You Babe. Exactly twenty years later, the UB40 & Chrissie Hynde cover version also topped the charts. Here’s Sergio Algozzino’s (& his sister’s) uke version. It’s like there’s a mirror between them!


Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Uke History & Trivia


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