Thursday, 22 September 2016

And Then there were four ...

It had to come, "ukulele acquisition syndrome" (UAS) knows no bounds, I did conquer a similar problem with guitars some years back and now have another fight on my hands.

My first uke was a Stagg, one of the higher end models from this supplier. Because it offers inexpensive imported models for schools at low cost of course, Stagg ukes often get poor reviews. I found my concert UC70 a great mid-range instrument. Yes, much more expensive models are better but by how much? listening to some of the reviews and comparisons, I think the player has much more to do with the sound than the instrument.

My second was a Gretch C9120. I wanted a tenor (slightly larger scale length) since I was having some difficulty holding some chords. My fingers did not seem to have enough room on the fretboard. I walked into a music shop whilst on a weekend away, asked about tenors, and they showed me the only one in the shop. I took it down off the wall, tuned it and played a few notes/chords. I loved it and walked out of the shop with a new tenor ukulele.

Now the third was a little bit of an experiment; I had by now become used to the fretboard on the concert uke and wondered if I could play a smaller instrument effectively. I did borrow some ukes at the club I go to but did not seem to have enough time with them. This "shop display model" came up on Ebay and it was such a good offer ( and the on-line reviews made it out to be a great starter uke) si I snatched the sellers hand off and I hade my third. Oh yes, it is an "Octopus". and I found it quite suitable for myself.

Now this last (and it will have to be the last (space constraints at home!!!) is also a Stagg, it is a UC80, very similar to the concert above but has all solid wood body rather than just a solid top. Anyway, although there is no built-in tuner, I decided to go for it. Again a very, very good offer on Ebay. Half the price of other suppliers and a third of the rec'ed retail price. How do you not go for it?
Besides I already have tuners.

Need to record a few tunes from this uke to give you all a taste - look out for the posts - soon!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Ukulele Extravaganza - Solihull

September 18th .... it is all happening at the Land Rover Social Club.

Originally this was a sort of birthday celebration for  Ukulele-Central (UK). Put together by our founder Phil, and held in support of the Gt Ahead Charity based at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital. His efforts raised nearly £1100 for this worthy cause.

The aim of the day is to have fun, by playing the ukulele. A number of local (and some not so local) groups played a shortish set of around 30 minutes and then at the end of the evening everyone got back up and played a set together - over 120 ukes took part in this mass jam.

This year promises to be even bigger and better, with more bands/groups and open mic spots for individuals or smaller groups.

Leave a comment if you would like contact details

Monday, 29 August 2016

Next Gig - Land Rover Social Club Beer Festival

Strangely we seem to be doing a fair number of Beer Festivals, Can't understand why the offer of free beer has anything to do with it.

Or maybe it is the fact that the audience has been tanked up and joins in with anything and everything and doesn't mind the odd occasional blooper.

Maybe we might see you there on one night or the other if you are in the neighbourhood.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Severn Valley Railway Gig for UKULELE-CENTRAL-UK

Wow what a day!

We started early at Kidderminster station and before we had finished the group had split into two bands and played 10 sets at three of the stations on this famous volunteer run railway. Pardon my taking the opportunity but I thought that you might like to see the tall guy, me, in more detail. So here I am:-

BTW Phil, our leader, was trying to encourage a little audience participation when the photo was taken.

The group settled down at Kidderminster and played a set of half-a-dozen well-loved songs, mainly from the sixties although a couple had a lesser vintage. We then split into two bands and went our separate ways. More music at Bridgenorth at the other end of the line and at Highley, where there is a new purpose built visitor centre and museum.

At Bridgenorth, our official photographer (Kath?) seems to have been more interested in the audience in this shot:-

BTW, I am third from the camera in this photo, that's me wearing the dark glasses!

And in the museum, we set up a stage between two steam engines, perhaps a comment on our music. Who Knows?

There I am again in the middle of the action, You would think that being a tall guy, I should be on the back line, where I might be able to take it a little easier at times.

Anyway, everybody had a very enjoyable, if "wearying" time. thanks to all at The Severn Vally Railway.

Hope to be back with news of more gigs in the next few weeks.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Desperado - An acoustic cover of this great song on the ukulele

I came across this great number quite recently and thought to myself that it would be an ideal song to include in my list of numbers which are not often converted to a ukulele version. Probably the key should come down a little for my comfort but for this trial run I was more concerned with how I would play the backing on the uke. I am still learning but trying to stretch myself a little more with each new song I learn. BTW, sorry for the poor video - but as I said it was only a trial of the song.

The mike stand also intrudes but hey, what are you expecting, perfection? Again, I was concerned that I was only using the built in mike and wanted to try out another; to try and improve the ratio of volume between my voice and the uke. My set-up is very basic and anything to improve it should be trialed. Cash is not something I have a lot to spare for this hobby. Maybe if I ever get to a position where I am more than enjoying myself, I will invest a little cash, but in the meantime enjoy if you can forgive the quality.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

And Then There Were Three...

Well it had to happen, I saw this (Octopus soprano model uke - on the right, below) advertised on Ebay as a shop demo model. It had a very good review as a beginner instrument and so I decided to buy it. It cost me around £14 GBP with postage, I guess about half the RRP.

It was well set up, and gave me a chance to find out if my fingers could manage to form the chords without any problems or issues. I found it quite manageable; and so will be on the lookout for a decent instrument to be number four in my collection.

PS I am also looking for a half-decent electro-acoustic tenor to try and add more interest to my playing/recording. Watch this space ...

Monday, 11 July 2016

Why record yourself at home - part 2

Wow, twelve months since my last post. When you are my age time seems to fairly whiz along. Actually I have been concentrating on Facebook and badly neglecting my various blogs - so much to do in real life that blogs are taking a very poor second place.

But I posted a video on FB today which made me think about a similar post on here - my last post which I have now found was in July last year, 12 months ago. so I am now taking time to follow-up on the last post.

If you recall (did you read it?) I was answering a question about why I was posting videos and sound recordings of my self on line. I did not (and do not!) do this to show off, I have no pretensions to be either a good musician or singer. I record myself purely to be able to listen to where I need to improve my performance. The video I am going to upload today, I hope will make this obvious.

I attended a ukulele festival this past weekend and was still buzzing with excitement and found myself singing (and playing) some of the numbers performed by the artists there. One of them, a Bob Dylan number, had a little bit of harmonica in it; an intro and the same piece repeated for a short break. I had access to a harmonica belonging to my son and tried to emulate the performer I had seen at the festival. 

Now, the harmonica was in the key of "C" which meant I had to play and sing in a key which I was unused to, for this number. I had to transpose from "G" to "C" as I was playing. Fine, no problem normally; but of course playing the harmonica, I was concentrating on one too many tricks. The performance I had heard was also sang with a mistake in the lyrics of the chorus which I did not want to repeat; so that was something else I tried to watch out for.

All in all, I wanted to know how well I coped with these multiple issues. So what did I do? I recorded a short video to be able to listen to myself.

I also added a few comments at the beginning (mentioning my problems as above) since I decided to post it on a FB group which is private to the club I play at regularly.

But it is also about enjoying myself and even tho' I made a mess of it, I certainly enjoyed myself. Maybe you will too?


PS, Although I do not often pick up the harmonica (and you cen see why) I will be practising this and may even come back and post a new video if I can get that damn melody out in one piece.