Sunday, November 25, 2012

I love being a Ukulele Lady

Oh dear, I hear you all say, another ukulele post. The woman has gone ukeing mad! And yes, I probably have.

Yesterday, myself and my fellow Strummers from the village headed down to Taunton for the South West Ukulele Union Jam in the Castle Green Inn.  The weather was foul and I have done my poor back in so earlier in the day I had even entertained the thought of  not going, but I'm so glad I did.

The South West Ukulele Union is a meeting place for any uke group in the South West and the idea behind the Jam was to give us an opportunity to meet up and play some choons and just have a really good, rip-roaring time. It was hosted by Taunton Ukulele Strumming Club, a fine bunch of people, if ever there was one.
Budleigh  Ukulele Strumming Club made me want to move to Devon
We arrived at the venue a little nervous, having downloaded the song book and had a bit of a practice. We were not quite sure what to expect. We were a good forty five minutes early so expected there to be a few people there, but not a huge area crammed full of uke players, with others already spilling over into another room next to it. It was strictly standing room only. Fortunately, a chair was found for me and someone kindly lent me a music stand as I couldn't see the projector screen with the songs and chords on it.  We chatted to the people around us, exchanging uke stories, showing off our instruments and getting the drinks in. Strictly non-alcoholic if we were going to last until 6.15pm.

The Stockton Strummers
The first thing that struck me was what a universal instrument the ukulele is.  The room was full of probably one of the most diverse mixes of people I've come across. There were youngsters (many Somerset schools have apparently given up the dreaded recorder for the ukulele - hallelujah!) to senior citizens, hippy types, serious ukers, people in hawaiian shirts, a very glamorous woman playing a white Flying V, a man The uke clearly crosses all social and age boundaries in a way that I think few other instruments do. There were ukuleles of all kinds, standard ones, pineapples, fleas, pink ones, yellow ones, blue ones, even furry ones. There were glitter ones, mirrored ones and stripy maple ones, sopranos, tenors and even a bass uke, which sounds a bit like a bass guitar. The one common thing was that everyone was united in their love of playing ukulele and everyone was smiling. Who cared that it was flooding outside? Not us!

Bet he doesn't play the ukulele!

From then on we covered everything from The Beatles, The Kinks, Elvis, Credence Clearwater Revival, Slade, David Essex, Johny Cash, Marc Bolan, The Zombies, The Box Tops and a few more traditional uke tunes.  Some of the Strumming Groups did a quick showcase, then The Machine That Goes Ting, a predominantly uke band showed how versatile it really is with a bit of Clash and Sex Pistols among other things and two fabulously furry ukuleles.
At 2.30, proceedings kicked off with a lively rendition of 'Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.' For people like us, who have only ever played in a small group, the sound of 80 ukuleles playing in harmony was the nearest thing I've had to a religious experience and the huge cheer that went up from the rest of the pub showed how much everyone else appreciated it. It was uplifting and joyful and shows why the ukulele really is the answer to world peace. Everyone was smiling, people came from the bar to listen, some joined in with the singing, some stayed all afternoon, a few even danced but I think they may possibly have come from the local alcohol-dependent population.

After than, we jammed again for another hour or so, finishing with Hey Jude, where we all na, na, na nahed for ages because I don't think anyone wanted it to finish. By now, my strumming finger was very sore and my cheeks were aching from smiling so much.

We were so touched by the warm welcome we received from everyone we met and look forward to taking up the open invitation to go down and play with our new buddies in Taunton and look forward to some of them coming up to play in our fledgling strumming group.

Oh no! It's all over
A good few people have joked about us and our ukes, but all I can say is, your loss! We had a fantastic time sharing the ukulele love. If more people played it the world really would be a happier place.


Perpetua said...

What fun that looks. :-) You're the second person I know who has taken up the ukelele recently - it must be catching. :-)

Tonight Jeffrey... said...

Spring Uke Jam! Saturday April 27th 2013
Exeter Ukulele Club and Budleigh Ukulele Strumming Club are joining forces to host the next Uke Jam at The White Ensign Club in the centre of Exeter. This is a fab venue that will hold 100+ Ukes. All Uke Clubs and their members are invited to attend. More details to follow, in the meantime put the date in your diaries! (Contacts: Jeff Bennett of BUSC and Julian Pegley of Exeter

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