Don’t panic, it’s not really goodbye, more of a ‘Please excuse the short hiatus whilst I’m busy with something else’
Actually I have been so totally hopeless at writing this blog that I am embarrassed to come here and write anything. But needs must.
If you’ve waded through the rest of my website to get to these pages you’ll know that I’m very busy with my new project ‘Ossett Observer Presents’. It’s going terrifically well and you can read all about our activity over at the website www.ossettobserver.co.uk. Aside from all of that, there has been some music making, Jacqui Wicks has been a busy bee with her singing and ukulele playing head on and these are some of the highlights of the past 9 months for tis that long since I updated you (I’m blushing).
So, I started to make more and more performances with just my ukulele and every time I played anywhere folks would ask ‘Can you teach me?’ … well yes of course I can. I’m not Jake Shimabukuro or James Hill but I’m happily somewhere above the Beginner’s Plateau, know how to arrange stuff myself and can accompany myself reasonably well so yes, getting other folks to where I am is something I can do. The demand became ridiculously overwhelming. I’m not surprised. The Ukulele is a terrifically social instrument and it’s also a social leveller. There is no snobbery about the Ukulele, it’s classless, it’s not the violin or oboe … it’s also not the chuffing recorder, thank GOD!!! It’s the ‘Everyman’ of instruments. So I decided to start a Ukulele Club, where we could all learn the basics together and then anyone who wanted to take it from there could come for lessons.
And lo! Ossett Ukulele Club was born. The response has been overwhelming. We meet monthly at Eller Coffee in Ossett, a charming social hub run by the endlessly effervescent Mark Ellerker who opens his door to us for free and we PACK his shop to the rafters for two hours of Ukulele Madness once a month. We’ve got three generations of one family who come, sisters, friends, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, lone Uku:Ladies who are not afraid to step into the night alone with their little Ukulele in their hands. We’ve got about 40 members and if they all turn up at once we’ll frankly be stuffed. Literally. It will be like a Guinness World Record Attempt. How Many Ukulele Players can you fit into a coffee shop? But it is terrific and I love seeing twitter alive with the buzz of each session for a couple of hours after each club night.
We’ve been invited to play at Holmfirth Festival of Folk and I am looking forward to an old fashioned charabanc of Ukulele Players heading west towards the Pennines, pop, crisps and ukuleles all round. I hope they’re ready for us.
As for me, on me tod. Well here’s a quick update. I’ve played some lovely sets at The Red Shed, spent a smashing evening in the company of Black Horse Poets and our MP Mary Creagh entertaining them at their 2011 awards night. Did some recording with the fantastically talented Housekeeping Society, I am the voice of the ethereal siren on their new album Postcards. http://www.thehousekeepingsociety.com/ . I’ve been running uke workshops for Open Art, Culture Club http://www.culture-club.org.uk/. I made a lovely return visit to Boston Spa for their lunchtime concerts series with the fabulously talented Kevin James, possibly my only outing with an accompanist this year, but you never know :-)
I also played a small set at the switch off of the incredible http://12monthsofneonlove.blog.com/ Artists Richard Wheater and Victoria Lucas organised a switch off party for their year long programme of public artworks and I was invited to sing some of the songs from the works. It was a lovely intimate evening and the atmosphere and vibe they create at Neon Workshops in Wakefield is rather special. Their current exhibition Visible Words from Invisible People is really beautiful and was made working with homeless people from Wakefield. Go seek them out, this is an order :-)
And finally, I found a tremendous teacher towards the back end of 2011, he is called Phil Doleman http://www.pdoleman.freeserve.co.uk/ is one half of the obscenely talented ‘Re-entrants’. He lives in Belper and I’ve had some interesting journeys to and from my lessons. He has demystified MUCH about the ukulele and music theory and is a most generous and talented fellow. I’ve also learnt that the A38 is the most confusing road on earth and that Belper is the heartland of the Industrial Revolution. So … bonus lessons into the bargain.
That’s it, it could be another 9 months. I’m sorry, but thanks for reading and hop on over to Ossett Observer and pay us a visit sometime.