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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.

Jeanette

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

 

 

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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.

Jeanette

 

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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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UkeTubes

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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UkeTubes

Today would have been the 71st birthday of George Harrison. This number is allegedly the current top iTunes Beatles’ download. Ukulenny plays a fingerpicking instrumental of Here Comes The Sun:

 

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It’s Christmas…

Seasons greetings to everyone!

Here’s Rocky & Balls’ The Christmas Song Song (& head to the full Ukulele Hunt Xmas playlist if you want more uke festive fun or, if you fancy a jolly sitar take on an old fave, grab this free Magnatune download from Anup):

PS Just a few more days to vote in our 2013 PLUC Member’s Choice Poll. Choose your favourite site & song, as nominated by our club members.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2013 in Interesting Uke Sites

 

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PLUC Member’s Choice 2013 – Eric

Fittingly, I’ve saved this one until last. Look out next time for the actual poll – you’ll have around a week to pick your top sites & songs of the year from those chosen by our members. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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