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Ukulele Festival of Scotland 2019 – Day 2

Saturday morning saw me up early to grab the bus to the Festival site in time for the first workshops of the day. Arriving with tons of time to spare, I wandered round the Marketplace in the Gilchrist Room of Easterbrook Hall, packed with stallholders selling ukes, straps, books, T-shirts, raffle tickets & more.

I spotted Colin Tribe, who is a very prolific poster of chord melody tunes on YouTube & writes the syllabuses for ukulele grade examinations. I’d previously bought a set of his arrangements & his Uniquelele book, so we had a nice chat & he showed me some better fingerings for some of his music, kindly giving me an updated copy of Spanish Flea to try out & a uke-shaped keyring.

I also said hello to Matt Warnes, who runs World of Ukes & would be performing later in The League of Ukulele Gentlemen. He gave me a spare copy of UKE Magazine to pass round PLUC members who’ve not read it before (& is arranging for uke club discounts on his merchandise – let me know if you’d like details). I’ve been to a couple of the events he organises before – including seeing Taimane Gardner in Birmingham & a Big Boat On The Mersey weekend, which culminated in us playing our ukes at the Cavern Club!

Then off to the first of three workshops I was attending today: An Introduction To Chord Melody Solos, with Stuart Butterworth. I was interested to see how this would be run, as Stuart had led a mass session on the final afternoon of last year’s UFoS & teaches many different groups in Dumfries & Galloway. He gave us extracts of his new book & took us through the chords, tabs & sheet music. There were useful summary sheets of the various chord voicings used as a way of helping people familiarise themselves with the fingerings before playing.

The second workshop was Richard Durrant‘s Ukulele Circuit Training One. He’s a classically trained guitarist who was introduced to the ukulele by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s George Hinchliffe when they both were at the Royal College of Music – George gave him a uke tuned in fifths (ie like a violin) & he was soon enjoying playing that & the more usual reentrant-tuned one.

His workshop was very different & useful: at the outset explaining how vital it is to cultivate a good neutral posture with relaxed & efficient hand positions; giving us a two-finger strumming pattern (‘strumming with one finger is like being a drummer with only one stick’); and getting us to play rhythms & sequences that suddenly turned into other well-known tunes.  These techniques were designed to improve your playing & help advance you as a musician by guiding you towards effective ways of focused personal practicing.

There was then just under an hour for lunch before the afternoon concert. Folk eyed me eating my packed meal enviously as the queues for the eateries were massive with so many people rushing to use them simultaneously. One of the advantages of being in a self-catering flat, as I had grabbed plenty of interesting vegan goodies from M&S & Morrisons when I arrived on Thurs afternoon, so I could make decent meals & take snacks with me instead of risking nothing being suitable for me at the venue.

 

A Few of My Photos From Saturday’s Shows

The afternoon concert was nearly four hours long & packed with an interesting selection of acts. The compere, Paulus, did an excellent job throughout, as he had last year:

  • Local uke band, A Touch of Purple – led by the kilt-wearing Stuart Butterworth (who had been warned several times last year that he was revealing a little too much with his wide-kneed posture – & slightly disconcerting for me, sat in the front row!). I don’t know if their choice of playing Come Together was a hint! These were the best of his students.
  • Ukulele Simon, who had won one of last year’s competitions. He played several numbers, including Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
  • The Ukulele Evangelists – completely crackers, as this YouTube of Kung Fu Fighting shows.
  • League of Ukulele Gentlemen – a familiar trio to these events, here playing Blue Eyes.
  • Stables – the one on the left on my photo is a local Lewisham lad from Forest Hill & they sang a song about the Horniman Gardens, Dandelions & Daisies.
  • Peter Moss, a regular at every uke festival, celebrating fifty years of performing.  As ever, he gave us a selection from his wide repertoire, including Roy Smeck’s Rockin’ The Uke, Georgia On My Mind & the last movement from the William Tell Overture (the tune he used to win a competition at the age of twelve).
  • The Naked Waiters – back by popular demand after their UK debut here last year. I Wanna Be Your Butterfree is one of their originals.

No rest after the gig as it was straight into another workshop! Sandwiches were included (& somehow I ended up with two – possibly because someone else had eaten mine last year!). This was Circuit Training Two, with Richard Durrant again.  A little recap of some of the introductory principles, then off into another selection of interesting & deceptively tricky strengthening & dexterity exercises that aim to improve your accuracy, articulation & other areas of playing. More of that is covered in his online Ukulele Launch Pad course.

After the workshop, I was surprised to see folk were already queuing to gain entry to the main concert hall, over an hour before the doors were due to open for the Gala Concert from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. So I joined the throng & swapped uking tales with people until we were let in. Being on my own I still managed to get fairly near the front, with a good view.

Eight UOGB members were performing & it was a full gig, with interval. as expected, it was all very slick, tightly choreographed & enjoyable, with a mix of familiar numbers & others I didn’t know they covered. It was nice to see Dave Suich in full performance mode! They got a standing ovation at the end.  What a way to finish the day! I grabbed a taxi back to town whilst others jammed long into the night…

Here they are doing Highway to Hell:

 

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Twelve Days Of Ukemas – Day Eight

We know Phil Doleman – he’s a nice chap! He’s a good teacher & performer – always doing workshops at every ukulele festival he’s at. He explains things very clearly, so his sessions are well-worth attending.  In fact, it never seems like a proper uke fest if he’s not there!

Phil has interesting online lessons (see his blog & YouTube Channel – or even via Skype) & a really good uke music theory book, How Music Works on the Ukulele (all based round the uke fretboard, so perfect for beginners or those who don’t read music).

From his selection of over twenty Two Minute Tips, here’s a demo on how to use your left hand more efficiently, without strain (and a little more on barre chords here – learning to play the Bb chord with ease).

 

By the way, if you’ve never attended a ukulele festival, it’s a great way to expand your knowledge. See many uke performers of differing styles; attend a few workshops to learn new skills, jam along with others and maybe even pluck up courage to play in an open mic session! The Got A Ukulele Calendar is international & updated regularly throughout the year as folk send in information. I’ve been a few – some small & local and others large-scale & national. My favourite to date is the Ukulele Festival of Scotland, which is held in lovely surroundings at Dumfries. It’s fantastically well-organised & packs in a lot from mid Fri afternoon to early Sun evening.

 

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Croydon Ukulele Festival 2016 – Sat

Saturday 5th March saw day one of Croydon’s inaugural ukulele festival.

Maria was the first of our number to arrive, attending the Mass Busk practice at midday, which she found very useful. I met up with her & the other players around 1.30pm outside the Whitgift Shopping Centre for the al fresco busk. Luckily they’d thought to erect a marquee, as it was rainy, & we nabbed the last two (front row!) seats. We worked our way through the songbook of well-known numbers for about an hour to a small but appreciative audience of soggy shoppers. Our fingers were pretty numb from the cold by the end but it was a fun gig!

We grabbed a hasty lunch then dashed back to the daytime venue – the Green Dragon pub along the central High Street – to catch the last part of the set from the Berkhamsted Ukulele Random Players (BURP). Here they are with their version of Jesse J’s Price Tag (filmed at a previous gig by John O’Sullivan): Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Croydon Ukulele Festival – 5 & 6 Mar 2016

Croydon hosts its first ever ukulele festival on Sat 5 & Sun 6 Mar, with workshops, mass busks and performances from different groups, dotted around various pubs throughout the weekend. There are two main evening concerts: the one on the Sat features Phil Doleman & Sunday’s show is by two comedy ukers, Elliot Mason & Jo Stephenson.

See the Croydon Ukulele Festival main page for more details.

 

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Grand Southern Ukulele Festival 2015 – Videos

Here are a few videos that have been published about the GSUF, to give you a flavour of the event. Others are still being put online so do have a look round if you’re interested in seeing more. Thanks to the people credited for the use of their YouTubes.

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Grand Southern Ukulele Festival 2015

A reminder for those of you who might be interested but haven’t yet decided to attend  – the first Grand Southern Ukulele Festival is happening in Portsmouth from Fri 9 – Sun 11 Oct 2015. The main events are on the Saturday but there are workshops, performances, stalls  & jamming sessions over all three days. Artists include Phil Doleman, Aldrine Gurrero, Mike Hind, Krabbers, The Mersey Belles, Ben Rouse, Tricity Vogue & many others. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Festival Season

Once again, we see the beginning of the festival season. Last week PLUC played its regular spot at the Pratts Bottom Village Fete. On Sat 23 May we perform again at the Hither Green Festival. Get in quickly if you want tickets for this year’s show! Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in PLUC News & Info

 

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