Brand new page folks about my UK trip.
I'll do my best to keep it up to date.
Tuesday 4 September: Arrived at glorious Heathrow in the Old Dart, picked up a car and made straight for home base at Lancaster with my brother Hugh and his family. Decided that the site needs Abba-fying, so we put on Mamma Mia. Sis-in-law Mary, who is a real musician....but also plays uke....and suggested the site in the first place.....argues with me about chords (as usual!) as we play along. Somehow, Super Trouper emerges from the process in a reasonable state. Good way to stay awake and evade jet lag.
Wednesday 5 September: In the car and off to Edinburgh. Found the hotel (almost depite the GPS) and then walked into the city and up the Royal Mile to Canongate and the White Horse Inn to meet the Uke Hoot folks. A great night with Neil, Alistair and the other Hooters. Cheers to Callum, who came all the way up from Glasgow to be at the meeting.
Thursday 6 September: Leisurely drive back to Lancaster after viewing some of the Edinburgh sights.
Friday 7 September: More Mamma Mia in the evening. I'd been told about a song in the movie that I didn't know (and couldn't recollect from seeing the film before), Slipping Through My Fingers. So we got it down....in Abba's original key of F....it is dropped to D for Meryl Streep in the movie. Looking forward to seeing Adelaide uke mates Meg and Phil over the next few days, who are visiting Meg's home town of Fleetwood, only 30 minutes from Lancaster. We will be playing with Joan, who is establishing F.U.N. - Fleetwood Ukulele Network.
Saturday 8 September: Met up with Meg and Phil and walked down to the Fleetwood Mount Pavilion, open over Heritage Weekend. Met Joan, and we played from her songbook and ours for nearly two hours. The crowd came and went as the punters explored the pavilion and were treated to an unexpected uke performance. After that, we retired to the Meg's family beach hut for some more uke playing. We hope that Joan can find other interested ukers in the Fleetwood area.
Sunday 9 September: We drove to Chester for lunch, in convoy with Meg and Phil, and thence on to Nantwich. Met up with Barry and the N'Ukes at the Black Lion and had a great strum and pick. A highlight of the evening was hearing Alice and her pal play Soul Man (ukes and kazoo) and Take Five, on ukes and.....stylophone. I thought I was the only stylophone payer in the world! Pints of Cat and Dog flowed freely and the music became even more energetic until we called it quits and retired to eat.
Monday 10 September: Worcester welcomed me to the Keystones Bar, which filled up with ukers very quickly. The Worceter group led off proceedings with the first set, followed by sets from Bridgnorth, Kidderminster and Swindon. Emily and Grace put on a great double act and were called back by acclaim. I did a few songs and tried to keep the standard up. After that, it was play and singalong until late with something like 100 ukes punching out the tunes....along with enthusiastic voices, of course. A night full of energy, enthusiasm, warmth and fun....thank you Colin and everyone else who made it a special night.
Tuesday 11 September: Into Wilford near Nottingham in time for the first meeting of a new afternoon group. Greeted by Neil, who has a bunch of electronic wizardry at his disposal. A nice range of ukes on display! Then on to Neil and Jay's for a chat and dinner....and then another uke group (also led by Neil) in the evening. The room was packed to the rafters.....and an interesting range of songs was played....hmm, hadn't heard I'm My Own Grandpa before, let alone played it! Thanks Neil and Jay for your hospitality.
Wednesday 12 September: A quick visit to Wigan Pier before heading out to the Crooke Hall Inn to meet Stephen and the rest of the Wigan Ukulele Club. A number of club members were just back from playing a gig at Angers, France - wohoo, international stardom! With percussion, bass and a bunch of ukes firing on all four (strings, not cylinders), the Cellar Bar was filled with joyful sound. After the whole group practiced songs for an upcoming gig, several players took their turn at solos. The club farewelled Natalie and Sarah as they head off to University....keep playing those ukes, girls! Rusty's monkeying around in I Wanna Be Like You was a highlight of the evening!
Thursday 13 September: Lizzie and Dot greeted me in Newcastle, and we headed down to the Cumberland Arms. The room was ominously full of ukers at 5.15 pm....for a 6pm start....everyone is keen to get a seat! With Carl on bass, the room started swinging as nominated members either picked a song for everyone to play or did a solo in true Geordie tradition. I did a song by the dead Elvis (Beach Boy Blues) and the live Elvis (Watching the Detectives), and I was treated to everything from Formby to Beatles to blues by the club and its enthusiastic members. Singing is a real strength of this group. Thanks Lizzie for the invitation.
Friday 14 September: After an email from Graham, I managed to make an unscheduled visit to the South Lakes Ukulele Orchestra in Ulverston. Mary and I met with a small but very enthusiastic team, led by Ian. The repertoire was wide ranging, from the Tetris theme (nice picking, Jim) to Noah and the Whale. This group only started in March and is now looking to meet weekly instead of fortnightly.....a sure sign of success!
Saturday 15 September: Change of emphasis with a concert at Lancaster Priory. Mary played her other small instrument, the violin. Now thinking of arranging Rutter's Gloria for ukulele.....
Sunday 16 September: A rainy trip to and from Carlisle up the M6, but worth every mile. Mary and I were greeted warmly by Dave and the Carlisle group, augmented on the day by members of the Cockermouth group as well. We played songs from the club repertoire, with Craig leading the singing. A real feature of the day was the presence of Kevin, who has been ill in hospital for the last 7 months and was allowed out for the afternoon (in the care of his fellow band members) to come to the meeting. Inspiring stuff!
Monday 17 September: Off to Scotland again to visit the Burntisland group, in the kingdom of Fife. A branch of my family were weavers at nearby Dunfermline, which helped me feel at home....and Rob and Ann completed the process with wonderful hospitality. Rob has the shortest commute to uke club of anyone in the world, I'm sure - we walked across the road to the Burntisland Sands Hotel and met the rest of the group. Burntisland kicked off earlier this year after a series of classes run by Ivy, and has special links with local teachers and schools. Chris led us through the repertoire. It was a special treat to sing and play It Must Be Love with Ali. Thanks again to Rob and Ann for the invitation to Burntisland and for looking after us so well.
Tuesday 18 September: A longish drive to York for our next club visit. After a visit to the Minster and walk around the old town, we repaired to the Habit on Goodramgate and met Naomi, Andy, Steve(n), Bonnie in red and all the Grand Old Uke of York team. The York club has a significant student component, guaranteeing a lively time. It was great to hear Amy channelling Amy....and singing several other songs so well, too. The group presented me with a G.O.U.Y uke pin - thank you. I hope I didn't stir up too much trouble by questioning the chords used by the York gang for Build Me Up Buttercup....they say make a cover your own, but....I grew up with that song, and....well, it goes like this.....
Wednesday 19 September: Over the country to Liverpool and found Phil and Angie in Huyton. We had a jam and a bite to eat and then made our way to the club in which the Liverpool Ukulele Orchestra meets. There was a big crowd in for the night, with lots of people to say hello to. After some all in songs various members did solos and smaller group songs. I especially enjoyed the Splinters' version of Little Lion Man. And yes, there were a number of Beatles songs on the playlist. Thanks Phil and Angie for your hospitality.
Thursday 20 September: Spent most of the day in Liverpool making an acquaintance with the city - I'd only seen the sirport before. Made the obligatory visit to the (reconstructed) Cavern. After that, we headed for nearby Ormskirk to meet Anne and Ron. Ormskirk is a young club and relatively small, but growing apace. They are preparing for a gig and ran through the songs under the guidance of Ron and vocal coach Phil. Sally, Lucy, Claire and friends provided a bunch of vitality to proceedings. It was good to see Rob on bass again - we had met previously at Wigan. We finished up trying out Gilbert and Sullivan on uke at the bar until late. Thanks to Anne and Ron for looking after us.
Monday 24 September: After a weekend break at Lancaster base it was off south to Southampton....in the rain. Oh, the joys of crawling motorway traffic! Reached Rosemary's place and then went off to the Talking Heads pub to attend the Southampton Ukulele Jam. What a lively bunch, very ably led by Colin. The SUJ ukers must all have been heavily influenced by The Ramones - no dirges in this club! Set lists that take most clubs 40 minutes would be knocked out in 25 by this mob. I heard some songs for the first time....and some old favourites. There was much energy on stage as the ukers started the open mic session that follows the jam. Great to meet Jools and Mac who have been in touch through the site. Thanks to the Bock family for your hospitality.
Tuesday 25 September: After a day at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard it was off to Swindon to meet Mark and Lynn and go along to the Swindon Uke Club. I was not the only Australian uker there - Andy from Wangaratta, almost a Swindon local (he has even written a song about the town) was there. With an innovative middle-of-the-circle amplifier/speaker cube in operation, Richard (B) put the group through its paces, and a number of solos and small group performances followed. A highlight for me was hearing the Twizzle Sisters do End of the World. The club generously presented me with a shirt. Thank you for your warm welcome.
Wednesday 26 September: And so to the last uke club visit of the tour. We met Martyn, Kate, Ollie, Eddie and Poppy at their boat residence and set off to the Eldon Arms in Reading. There we met the members of RUG, led by Colm and Cathy. We worked through a number of songs in their repertoire, and Colm took us through a transposing exercise with several of them. I introduced the group to Bad Moon Rising, a song that I am sure the Mars Ukulele Group plays, along with every other uke group in the universe...now including RUG. We returned to the boat for a nightcap, a little more uking and a pleasant night, rocked to sleep by the wavelets in the Thames and Kennet Marina. Than you Martyn and Kate for looking after us.
Thursday 27 September: After breakfast with Martyn, Kate and Sarah at he Alto Lounge and a day spent tootling around Henley and Windsor, we flew out for Adelaide. Thank you very much to the 15 uke clubs who welcomed us during our visit, and the wonderful folk who hosted us. It was all a marvellous experience!