Regular meeting Monday 19th June – 8pm Old English Gentleman

Evening all.

Last meeting I tried an experiment. Worried, each meeting, that I don’t bring enough music, I brought all 5 songbooks, complete with braille identifying holes, (finally a solution that won’t wear off or fall off!).

I wrote a out a list of 30 (yep – 30!) songs as a suggested list.

It turns out that we only got through a couple of books (maybe 5 or 6 from each) before we tried the 5 news songs I brought in and Saalo’s original composition.
I was impressed by Saalo’s song. The rhythm breaks away from the unusual Hawaiian strum that we fall into.

So my conclusion is that we really only need a couple of songbooks per night plus a few new songs to try.
(It was back breaking bringing in that many books anyway!).

The new songs that we tried were :
(each song has the music HERE and then the VIDEO HERE to play along with)
Fat Sam’s Grand Slam HERE  – which I though went better than expected – VIDEO HERE
Always look on the Bright Side of Life HERE – Which went well (obviously) VIDEO HERE
Tonight you Belong to me HERE    VIDEO HERE   Or HERE
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer ( a simple version ) – HERE VIDEO HERE
The Times, They are A Changin’ HERE    VIDEO HERE

The Times, They are A Changin’ – there are extra chords at the end of some of the lines. These have to be played. The line that don’t have a chords at the end go straight into the next line. Look at the music while the video is playing.
Anyone with a harmonica is welcome to play along.


Next meeting is 8pm on 19th June. It might be hot, so we’ll take a vote on playing outside.



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Here’s my report from the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2017.


I hope this serves as a guide for those who may have wanted to go in the past but were unsure.

I hadn’t planned to go to GNUF 2017. Like all those uke lovers who haven’t been, I didn’t know if it was worth the £46 for the whole weekend. Having been to Glastonbury and a few other camping festivals, I know there is lots to do and see and you are willing to pay quite a bit. Is GNUF worth £46? One of the volunteers at this year’s GNUF contacted me and offered a complimentary ticket. Did you read “volunteer”? Yes!. They don’t get paid to put on this amazing weekend. They work with the community, with disadvantaged communities and give up their time to support the ukulele and the local communities in and around Huddersfield).

Thanks Tess!

I have been to many open mic nights, bands  or ukulele based days where people go up on stage and “do a turn”. After you’ve heard “Wonderwall”,  “Bad Moon Rising” or “I Wanna Be Like You” the third time, you start to feel a little tired.

The GNUF had a stage for people to “get up and do a turn”. This is true. But they were polished and they produced a good sound. There were good singers and chose a great selection of songs to perform. I believe “Mim”, the organiser, had put effort into choosing the right groups.


At GNUF there were more than one stage. I counted 4 stages, but they host different events on each stage. One is an intimate performance area during the day, Cabaret at night.

There is a Main stage – which is a large theatre with stalls, side seat and two balconies. This is the type of place you’d see a pantomime or opera.

Downstairs there is The Cellar, where intimate performances are held. You can hear every breath and, (if you are lucky), you can sit 2 feet from the artist and converse with them.

Outside there is an open air stage with amplification and seating. This is where I ate my lunch and listened to group – after singer – after group sing their hearts out. The ideal place for a pint and a sandwich.

Did I mention a pint? The cellar has a bar and there is a bar upstairs. In each corner there are small gatherings strumming out their latest efforts. There were some really good singers in there and a whole band complete with tea chest bass.

As I couldn’t be there long (only Saturday of the three day event) I will take you through what I saw in order.

I arrived late – around 1pm, having found the venue quickly in the van, parking and then getting lost on foot. I parked about half a mile away and my sat nav told me that the venue was 7 miles away in a different Queen street.

On first arrival I walked into the open air performance square where “Mim’s Stage” was encouraging groups and singers to stand up give their all. I was very impressed with the standard.

Keen to explore, I wandered into the front of the Lawrence Bately Theatre. I was impressed. This is a wonderful venue. The organisers have picked a perfect venue. James Mason stared on from a plinth within.

In the foyer there were stalls selling ukuleles. Lots of Ukuleles.
At the Moselele stand, I tried a Moselele (Bamboo) uke at £60 and thought it very nice.
Duke of Uke were up from London with a massive stand of ukes ranging from £17 to £900. I was very VERY tempted into an oil can ukulele at £129, but thought of my wife burning my other 15 ukuleles to make space for the new one and decided to avoid.
I have UAS.
See here:

Other stalls sold hangers to put your beloved uke on a wall, straps to put your uke around your neck, t-shirts, badges, raffle tickets, stickers, gadgets and CDs of the artists playing. I bought a programme and started to read.

Into the Cellar. 13:55-14:45 Here there was the “Unplugthewood stage”

First act I saw (as I said I turned up late and had to leave early – so tried to get as much in as possible.

All the way from The Netherlands: We Tigers. She has the voice to die for and plays toy instruments as well as a glockenspiel.  He’s a master of the uke.
A taste:

This was brilliant!

They finished with

Next up was a chap who taught a workshop (GOD!! I MISSED ALL THE WORKSHOPS!!! Next year I will be more organised!!).
PERCY COPLEY. He teaches finger picking and his performance puts us all to shame.

He’s funny, warm man with a massive talent.

I’m going to watch all of his videos on the youtubes!

Main stage 15:00 – 19:00
This was amazing!!!

Hosted by the utterly wonderful Heidi Bang Tidy, the afternoon flew by. Moving drum kits off stage became a 10 minute audience participation session with Miss Bang Tidy. A brilliantly funny lady. I think I counted 3 or 4 costumer changes. A proper show woman!

First up was The Poor Boys of Worcester. Six lads playing and at any one point there would be up to 4 ukuleles on the go. On chap strumming, one chap noodling, one chap doing a “guitar hero” solo, one playing a chisel. They were great. Really good fun. I’d love to see them in a pub.

Quaintest Show on Earth. I loved these. Only one uke, but great musicians. Lads from Wigan with a great sense of humour and plenty of talent.

Samantha Muir. This classically trained guitar player just has too much talent. It was almost like having a revelation. She played the predecessor to the ukulele – the Machete and another tiny Ukulele that I cannot remember the name of. Then moved on to a “normal ” ukulele. Seriously, people were sat with their eyes closed in a religious trance. She got a standing ovation and it was well deserved. She finished with a piece she’d written herself about the rain in all it’s forms and you could hear the patter of drizzle on a tent, a tropical downpour and all the variations in between. She can do anything from folk to jazz to classical. I’d personally like to see her do a heavy metal solo to be honest.

Small Change Diaries. Ukes, great singers, mellow bass and drums. This is a professional group playing cool music. They write their own songs and were great.
Judge for yourself:

Spotlight: here players under 25 were given a chance to shine and it was blinding. I’m not sure if the artists here didn’t turn up as two players were listed here as Dani and Liam – but the lady who played accompanied Samantha Muir earlier of classical guitar. She was amazing as you might expect. She did a French A level on Friday and has her Spanish A level on Monday.

Next: All the way from Australia. Another chap who is in the same vein as Jake Shimabukuro. Ryo Montgomery. Long haired and laid back, he was superb. He didn’t sing much, but he played like he’d made deal with the devil. Another standing ovation. He specialised in playing his own rhythm and melody at the same time. Beautiful.


Finally – The act I had missed two years ago at Cornucopia: Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers. Brilliantly funny and talented. Approved by Prince Charles. . They had the audience laughing, singing and waving their arms with (what are classics in my household), “David Attenborough“, “I’ve go my Finger up my Nose” and “My Mysterious Uncle“. Superb lunacy. I only wished they’d had more time to play “Tweed Jacket” or “Soy Milk“.

After over 4 hours sat in the main theatre, I went to stretch my legs and buy chips.
With a “small one” in tow, (she’s taller than her mum), I decided she’d had enough and it was time to head off home. We’d had a great day and I was utterly impressed.

I had only been for a small part of one day. There was a Friday night in various pubs for weekenders that seemed to be legend now. There was an evening in the main theatre that I was going to miss. There was a late night cabaret in the Cellar (over 18s only). There was a whole Sunday of workshops, 4 stages and a get together in the bar. I missed more than 75% of the weekend.

It’s a massively inclusive festival that supports local people who in turn support the GNUF.

It’s brilliant.
It’s Grand!
It’s definitely worth £46

The title of Best Ukulele Festival in the UK is well deserved.

If you think of the best performer you have seen at a ukulele festival and then multiply that by 50 acts – you are close to the quality of GNUF.

These people should be very proud of themselves:

Mary Agnes Krell
Robert Collins
Kris Ball
Clarice the Ukulele Pirate Queen
Mark Ramsden
Sara Francis

(Can you tell I couldn’t find a definitive list of the people who make this work and don’t get paid?)

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Last minute call to GNUF

This weekend (May 5th – 7th) is the Grand Northern Ukulele festival in Huddersfield.

Uke Magazine said:

A Grand Northern Ukulele Festival (GNUF) is much more than just a ukulele gathering. It’s a properly unique festival that belongs to every one of its punters, players and makers. We couldn’t let a landmark like a 5th birthday pass us by so we’ve got some truly spectacular things in store! See you there, 5-7 May, 2017!

There are still ticket available and it’s just over an hour drive to Huddersfield.

  • + Over 50  world-class acts from around the world and across the country.Check out the ace ARTISTS we’ve already announced!
  • + 2 Full Days of concerts in the main auditorium.
  • + Multiple Other Stages across the weekend including:
    • Mim’s Sideshow Stage
    • The debut of an Original Ukulele Songs Stage
    • Return of the Late Night Cabaret and
    • The all new unplugthewood Stage
    • Local favourite, the Vinyl Tap Stage
    • Friday night gigs in town
    • The Sunday Evening After Party at the Head of Steam
  • + Access to new, innovative & outstanding festival workshops (check our our wide range of fun & engaging workshops)*
  • + The Grand Bazaar (with stalls from familiar faces & a few new ones)
  • + A chance to join in with all the jams & open-mics
  • + The pop-up events & proper surprises we’ve become known for

Finally – thanks to Tony for standing in for me last Monday, I wasn’t well. THANK YOU!


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Good Riddance / Flash mob stuff.

A while ago I asked for suggestions and one player mentioned Green Day.

A favourite Green Day tune of mine is “Good Riddance”. It’s a lovely catchy song that is often played at funerals. This makes it ideal for the Hull Ukulele Group. Nice mix of twiddly bits and strumming and death.

I found a nice tutorial here: – Once again it’s the brilliant Ukulele Underground people.

Here my version of the song: Good Riddance

I’ve uploaded a written version of the picking here: Good Riddance Picking





The flash mob we’ve been invited to is on Saturday 27th May at 2pm.

The two songs they have asked us to try and memorise (hence no printed music) are:

Click here for Sloop John B

Click here for You are my sunshine

Ideally we’ll make a song book of favourites and songs that others won’t play, find a pub and have a strum in public.

Next meeting is tomorrow night (24th April) – 8pm usual place – The Old English Gentleman.


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Music from last Monday night session.

As promised – here are the songs from the last session (and maybe more).

Bonnie Tyler – It’s a Heartache

Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side

Peter Sarstedt – Where do you go to my Lovely

Jame Taylor – Sweet Baby James

R.E.M. – Losing my Religion

Dusty  Springfield – I Only Want to be With You

The Ink Spots – Whispering Grass 

and finally

Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl. 

I want to concentrate on Brown Eyed Girl. It’s a lovely tune with a simple riff that is very effective (as all great riffs are).

Here’s Van Morrison :

And here’s a great way to learn it:

(notice when he riffs, he just uses two fingers. I start with index and middle finger,
then move to index and ring finger for the notes that are two fret apart and
back to index and middle for notes that are one fret apart).

For example:










It’s just a suggestion.

IN FACT: From this video you will find lots of Ukulele Underground – they are superb and great fun to play along with.

It’s a excellent way to practise your playing at home on your own.

Here’s their Youtube channel :

Their Homepage :


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Happy New Year!!!


Hello lovely people.

I hope you have had a remarkable Christmas 2016 and 2017 is off to a good start.

The meetings for 2017:
At the last meeting we discussed when to have the meetings throughout 2017.
Through the power of Microsoft Excel and =sum(a1+14), repeat,  I bring you:

skip today!! 03-07-17
16-01-17 17-07-17
30-01-17 31-07-17
13-02-17 14-08-17
27-02-17 28-08-17 !
13-03-17 11-09-17
27-03-17 25-09-17
10-04-17 09-10-17
24-04-17 23-10-17
08-05-17 06-11-17
22-05-17 20-11-17
05-06-17 04-12-17
19-06-17 18-12-17

This set of dates avoids all bank holidays – except August Bank Holiday on August 28th – so we’ll skip that one.

So first meeting of 2017 will be 16th January 

Can we talk about the years plans (performing, trips to festivals , musical choices for the year etc) ?

I was going to build a new uke from parts of an old uke over Christmas, but have been busy trying to eat as much as possible.
I might attempt this in the next two weeks.


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It Must Be Love

As promised – I said we’d concentrate of technique and (supposedly) difficult songs.

The first one I inflicted you with at the last meeting was It Must Be Love by Labi Siffri.

labi siffri

Mr Siffre


This is the original 

It’s a lovely song, but if you check out the music here: HERE the chords are enough to frighten most players.

Aminadd9 ? Em7? Cadd9?? Am+7 ??
Surely there is no way anyone can play this song!
Why isn’t it just C F and G?

Here’s the secret : It’s an exercise in moving a single finger at a time to make the majority of the song.

Intro and start of song:
Play an A minor and every bar add a single finger on the second fret of the A string, then remove it one bar later.
Next play a G and every bar, you move from second fret of E string over to the A string.
Other parts include moving down one fret on the same string from Am to Am+7 to Am7 or moving from Em7 to A9 by moving one finger one fret.

It is honestly that simple.

This is something that I neglect in practises and it’s something that we all need to work on.
In this song, the strumming is quite fluid and changes in the chorus. But to play as a group and sound like we are playing the same song . . .

To start with try Down Down Down-Up-Down-Up
Listen to this: as I strum the simplest way to play this song. HERE

First part Am to Aminadd9 HERE
ress single finger on second fret of lowest string and lift on off on off

Next part is G to Cadd9 HERE
Moving single finger from third fret on second lowest string to lowest string with each bar.

Put part one and two together and repeat and you get this: HERE

The next part : Move from Em7 to A9 – by simply moving down one fret on the second string from the top.  This is followed by Dm and E7
In this recording I do it twice – as it such s short change.  HERE

The last part before the chorus is same strumming pattern, but moving down one fret on the top string,  then down another and finally off, followed by a D7 – which can be a single strum. HERE

Now the timing changes and there’s s flourish on the end.

For timing in chorus think two strums for each chord change until the D at the end. This, again is moving one finger, removing it altogether and then playing two “normal” chords. G – Gmaj7 – Em7 – C to D HERE

The final part of the chorus (to me) is three strums of each chord and a longish pause – followed by the chords from the intro/ start of the song. HERE

For a recording of me putting it all together listen to this HERE (stumbled a bit there)

Obviously I make mistake and the recording is terrible. But practise this.

The strumming is the simplest I can come up with.
I’d prefer it to be Down-Down Up-Up Down-Up – which feels more natural to me and probably has a name.

Playing the slow strumming pattern doesn’t feel natural to me, but it means that we can all play the same number of notes in the same timing.
This is me playing at my own pace – which we just can’t do with 15 – 20 people.  HERE  
It’s just a nice song to sit an dabble with quietly in a corner.
Perfect this and at the office Christmas party the chick will be all over you 🙂

If you poke around the few files on my SoundCloud account you’ll also hear some great poetry.

Thank you Mr Siffri

See you soon



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Report from Skipsea Ukulele Festival 2nd April 2016

Hello you lovely people.

I didn’t want to post anything straight after the performance last Saturday – I didn’t want to get carried away at the time.

After democratically choosing what we wanted to play and then discussing the intros and timing, I set about removing all the music from our “Gig books” and replacing them with the agreed songs, in the order we chose.


This took about 2 hours on Saturday morning.

At the gig on stage at 2pm was Beverley Ukulele Group with ukulele superstar Greg Lamb adding his skills to Carole and Ian and the other 8 players (sorry I don’t know your names!). A few solid standards and a good sing-a-long.










On the open-mic stage Pet and Saalo managed to avoid me and I missed them performing.














While Maggie bravely did a solo, before being joined by Liz












Maggie and Liz

On the main stage group after group played a 20-25 minute set. Some played purely ukuleles, others brought guitars, violins and percussion instruments. All added to the depth of sound.

Eventually after most groups had covered our entire set list (Bye Bye Love, Bad Moon Rising, Urban Spacemen, Happy Together, I Wanna Be Like you), we went on stage at 5:30pm. We improvised our set list to omit some repeats and I think it worked really well.















The effort paid off. We haven’t played live in 16 months (empty car park in the rain)  and we hadn’t performed some of the songs I had re-written on Friday night. So the sounds that actually came out of us was brilliant.

Well done all of you.


So . . . .  as the sun set over Skipsea village hall, it’s goodbye from me.











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Last night and info

Thanks for all who came last night – I had a good time.


I was very impressed with our attempts (most for the first time) at Bowie songs. They have odd chords, strange timing and weird lyrics – that’s what make them special.
It was hard, but worth it.

I’m guessing you are all itching to practise these again and if you didn’t take home a copy, here are links and in the order we played them:

– Starman LINK
– The Man Who Stole the World  LINK – but if you look at SCORPEX version you don’ play the Dm – but he’s only got two thirds
– Ziggy Stardust LINK
– Space Oddity LINK – some great chords in there.


Also Grand Northern Ukulele Festival – I said I’d mention it.

Grand Northern Ukulele Festival

Looks remarkable. Loads of performers – some serious, some comedic.
Workshops and chances to perform/ busk

It’s in Huddersfield so 75 mile away.
27th – 29th May (ticket site says 28th – 29th, but I bet there is a load on Friday night – even if it’s just pubs full of players hammering out “Sloop John B”!
Full weekend ticket is £44 (there are concessions)
There are workshops with may cost extra per workshop.
This is a great way to learn the skills that you simply yearn to have (picking, Jazz, Blues, building a uke, Bass uke, etc. )
Last year the one workshop I would have killed to attend was “Learn to play any song by ear“!.

Here’s last year’s programme:
From this the workshops seem to be late morning until early afternoon and then performances early afternoon into the night.


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All of Me

Last meeting we had a suggestion of “All of Me” – nice song.

The print was a little out as the font had changed – so I’ve attempted to edit this together as correct and added the G7+5 chord and chord diagrams

Click here to download: All of Me


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