Tag Archives: Ukulele

Postcard From Annapurna

Darren - Thorong La Pass 2014

Darren – Thorong La Pass 2014

Just is case yer wondering where I am, I’m travelling around the Himalayas for three months.

5416m above sea level, 21 day trek, I’m at Thorong La Pass –  the highest place on earth you can go without the use of mountain climbing gear. Next Darjeeling, then Kashmir.

And here is the amazing Darren, I was asked up to do a tune with the Wigan boys, at last year’s Ukulele Festival of Great Britain, Cheltenham, Open Mic. I had to say Balham at the start as I was there with two of them, but ye know I love Lewisham. Not bad, until they made me laugh. Playing less then a year. Check out this YouTube of the great Professor Eek accompanied by The Wookies, playing I Useta Love Her. (I’m in black, third from the right.)

See ye in September.


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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Members' Items


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PLUC Tales – New Uker!

Sheila's Ashbury Uke

Sheila’s Ashbury Uke

Last year I decided to have a random year of doings which included all sorts of stuff from a boxing match to bingo to a cookery course. And included in my fairly long list was the ukulele. I’d seen clips on YouTube and marvelled at the skill of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and just fancied having a go.

I’m really a viola player by trade, so came with knowledge which is an advantage, but I pitched up at PLUC having bought one two days previously on New Year’s Eve, in fact right before going to see Dame Edna at the Palladium. I knew two chords…

I can’t tell you how nice it is to do something musical, in a great group of characters, use a skill I already have and not have to be good at it! Very liberating.

I now know about a dozen chords and six months on just about managing to sing along to the odd song. I love coming to PLUC, it feeds my soul just a little bit.


Other PLUC Tales: A Tale Of Two Ukuleles – Tina; The First Rule Of Uke Club… – AnthonyRon’s Progress; Probably The Most Fun Instrument In The World… – Jos; It’s Been A Year – Part 2 – Jeanette; From Classical To PLUC – Andrew; A History Of The Ukulele – And Its Part In My Downfall – JamesSanta Rides Again – Alan F; Steph’s StoryRon’s Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome; Uncle Ron’s Legacy… – Wee Kheng; Dan’s Story; Five Years & Loving It – Simon; My Ukulele Origins… – Rufus; Why Ed Started Playing The Ukulele; Ron’s Song; It’s Been A Year… – Jeanette


Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Members' Items


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Ukulele Playalongs

I found a new site of playalong tunes yesterday which allows you to search a huge number of YouTubes for artist or song title. It then automatically generates the chords for songs, which synchronise along the bottom of the screen so you can strum in the same key & accompany the original.

Called Riffstation, it’s only in a beta version at present & is based round their paid-for guitar software (which has a lot more features). You can switch it to ukulele (or guitar or piano). It puts the chords down the bottom of the screen & chord diagrams on the right hand side.

It recognises major, minor & seventh chords, so won’t do anything complicated or jazzy. They claim around 85% accuracy on pop tunes. If it’s in a key you find hard to play, there’s a capo feature to allow you to transpose.

I messed around with it & found it interesting to try - some basic songs were spot on; others needed tweaking (but it was a good starting point if you had something you wanted to try playing); & some just weren’t playable (sometimes due to the chords in the song, others I’m guessing due to it not being able to pick out the melody from the arrangement). It struggles with certain things, such as trying to convert spoken sections, but as it only takes a few seconds to convert each song, it’s easy just to move onto something else if your number doesn’t work out. As with anything like this, it’s a case of listening & using your common sense to see if it sounds right.

Nice & easy to use – you can register to logon & keep a songbook of the tunes you want to play. Put on your spandex & dig out all those cheesy disco numbers!


Other strumalong postings inlcude: Ukulele Playalongs – Sheep Entertainment; Ukulele Playalongs – Ukulele Undergorund


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Brockley Max 2014 – Opening Night

Festival time has definitely hit South East London. Fri 30 May saw the start of  Brockley Max, a music, arts & local history festival that runs until Sat 7 June. The opening event performance stage outside Brockley station saw over 15 acts play, including the humorous, kitsch ukulele band, The Martini Encounter, led by Binkie Martini (who is one of my neighbours & responsible for both me deciding to play the uke & for coming along to PLUC in the first place). Read the rest of this entry »


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Hither Green Festival 2014

This month has seen us perform two gigs. The second was in St Swithun’s Church Hall, Hither Green Lane, as part of this year’s Hither Green Festival. We played two sets to an appreciative crowd, either side of a tasty Malaysian meal.

Liz Creasey took this footage of Va Pensiero. If anyone else bootlegged our performance, please do get in touch as we’d love to show the videos on the website.


Many thanks to PLUCer, Katrin, who led her fellow members of the Hither Green Community Choir in their surprise appearance. It really sounded magical up on stage & people came up to us afterwards saying that they’d had tears in their eyes.



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Uke-o-vision Song Contest

Tonight see the Eurovision Song Contest, this year in Copenhagen. In addition to plenty of kitsch numbers, there’s an air of the circus, with a man in a hamster wheel, dancers with parachutes, trampoliners & a bearded lady belting out a fine Bond theme style number. Read the rest of this entry »


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May The Fourth Be With You

My only excuse is that my friends & I have been racing to say this phrase to each other first on this date since the mid-eighties (ie well before it became a well-known gag). It’s the repetition that makes it funny…

Here’s  the sebi next door with a ukulele arrangement of  the Star Wars Main Theme by John Williams:



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PLUC Weekend Workout

Colour-coded musical notes: uke fretboard, tab & musical stave

Rainbow Music Ukulele Map

People learn ukulele & music theory differently, so I was interested to find the Rainbow Music site, which offers free on-line music lessons, basing learning round colour-coded musical notes.

Although you need to register to access the members’ area, once you’ve done so there is plenty to see & practice without needing to buy their paid-for resources: Read the rest of this entry »


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Dust off your Easter bonnets & enjoy Andrew Morse’s cover of Professor Elemental‘s Hat Full Of Sunshine this Bank Holiday weekend.

For those of you interested in these things, this cover version uses samples from a 1928 tune entitled Sweet Sue, Just You, performed by the Mills Brothers amongst many others.


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Posted by on April 19, 2014 in PLUC News & Info


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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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