My Experience of the Great Northern Ukulele Festival Part 1
Mother’s 85th birthday celebration lunch had finished and good old Tom Tom was given instructions to go to Huddersfield town hall and I think Heidi Bang Tidy the compere of #GNUF had influenced the sat nav’s mind. My first instruction was to head to Pussy-On-Wye! I cleaned my glasses and sure enough it was for real.An almost 5 hour journey thanks to Britain’s roadworks led me to my guest house and it was time to go check out ‘The Head of Steam’ where plenty of the world’s eccentrics aka ukulele players were gathering. Barry Maz , Amanda and child compared notes on the ordeal of car journeys and the state of the uke in 21st Century Britain. The dulcet tones of many a uke songbook classic emitted from a packed pub , fortunately Folsom Prison (the most played club song) was not in the repertoire that evening. After meeting plenty of familiar friends and listening to Lionel Hubert it was a pleasure to play “Tonight You Belong To Me” accompanied by Pearl and Nancy ‘The Mersey Belles’ as they floated down the pub entrance steps singing in harmony in what was almost a scene from a forties movie to meet
“The Mother Ukers”, Peter Moss and Phil Doleman. You don’t see artists mingle with their audience so readily in any other musical field.
Onward it was to the Cambridge hotel where the first of 3 incredible evenings commenced. Andy Eastwood’s right hand requires slow motion photography to learn from, but after a couple of drinks it slows down, thanks for the triplet strum examples Andy! Peter Moss and Michael Adcock kept the banjolele strums going into the night. They say George Formby played banjolele to be heard in music halls, I hope the guests of the Cambridge hotel, not at the festival appreciated it too. It was then time to begin the hike to the guest house, Huddersfield has an excellent road marking system for cars but does not believe in assistance to pedestrians trying to walk just 1/2 a mile. I hit the pillow and before I knew it day 1 of #GNUF had begun.
After a brief meeting with Colin Tribe (no relation) who was playing his musical arrangements at the reception I managed to find the room for Adam Franklin’s Hot Jazz Rhythm Picking workshop. I have got to hand it to him to take his audience through Count Basie’s ‘Jumpin at the Woodside’ in just one hour was a feat, he demonstrated how tablature is just a reference and once you know the positions its all in the feel. You can book lessons with Adam at http://www.adamfranklinblues.com if you like the jazzy blues style of playing on any stringed instrument. By now the town hall was filling up and sadly there was only time to get coffee and catch a mere sample of Peter Moss and Dead Man’s Uke playing at The Vinyl Tap. Boy it was hot there, it reminded me of the old 606 club in the Kings Road London back in the 70’s. It was soon time for Del Rey’s Jug Band Blues party.
Del Rey’s workshop meant a lot. She was a finger picking guitarist before playing the ukulele and has previously recorded a course called Blue Uke for Happy Traum’s Homespun video lessons in one hour she managed to get the class playing jug band music with different chord positions and melody. Hopefully all those who attended will be changing the ho hum basic arrangements of ‘I’ll Fly Away’ next time their uke club meets. Leaving this fantastic workshop was interesting, since I nearly ended up attending a wedding in the building, in a scene almost out of ‘Spinal Tap’ where the band can’t find the stage. A quick catch up with ukulele ladies of Wakefield who can be counted on to keep you a seat before ‘Some Like It Ossett’ kicked off the main stage events with a quality performance followed by ‘The Mersey Belles’ who convinced me to get a place on their performance and harmony workshop the next day. Mike Krabbers followed with his original songs including the wonderful “Preowned”
There was no time to catch so much as a sandwich as the ‘Mother Ukers’ were following and Luap Rekcut had tipped me that they might play Jonty Jonson’s original modern blues song called ‘Lucifer’.
This song caught my attention when I first heard their album last year and I have finally managed to get it filmed. Naturally it had to be filmed in Ukular Vision with lighting by Barnaby Wild’s hat. ‘Lucifer’ is a great song with beautiful lyrics. Story To Be Continued in Part 2