Ralph's Blog Archives - 2008
Shaw, our Illustrious Leader, writes:
My purpose in starting this uke-log of the meetings and
activities of the Vancouver Ukulele Circle is to give those people who are
unable to be at the a meetings a chance to get a flavour of what they
missed. I can tell you now that not all the information will be entirely
accurate. As I sit down to update this uke-log in the days after any given
meeting I will be sure to have forgotten some key moments and one or two
worthy performances and I hope that feelings won't be hurt. I will do my
best but if you notice any omissions or major inaccuracies please feel free
to email them to Wendy Cutler so that
corrections can be made.
These are the write-ups from previous years. Current year entries are on
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday December
Tonight's special word is: Dinted.
What a great feeling of hope and fine fellowship
there was tonight. Obama himself could learn a thing or two from us. The
music stand was decorated with lights and the large screen TV played a
dvd of a crackling yule log while we strummed and sang and laughed.
After 45 minutes of crooning a selection of seasonal
favorites we then had the annual quiz which was 18 questions from the 3
subject areas of Ukulele Knowledge, Christmas Trivia and Local area
Expertise. Everybody did very well I have to say because 90% of the
group scored exactly 17 points which made the distribution of prizes
somewhat perplexing. But what prizes!! Thanks to Cynthia, Ruth, Stan,
Wendy and Mariegold for their wonderful donations of prizes. Last year
Mariegold knitted a santa hat as a prize and this year she knitted a
"Uke Tuque" (a woolly hat with ukuleles on it) which was
gratefully won by Guy whose shining pate will henceforth be protected
from the frosty winds and dinted snow.
An awesome set of Christmas songs were performed by;
Stan - The Marvellous Toy (his first ever performance and a fine job
too), Jill - Santa Baby (what a demanding girl she is that Jill!!), Don
(of 'gay apparel' fame) did a fabulous impersonation of the entire
Phoenix Chamber Choir singing The Road to Bethlehem, Rock was Rocking
around the Christmas Tree (what else?!), Ronin, always ready to blow us
away with an epic rendition, gave us Have Yourself a Merry Little
Christmas. Trevor (possibly not his real name) has been learning songs
while at work and did a fine version of Santa's Beard from They Might Be
I realise now that I have been very insulting
throughout the year to a certain member of our group and tonight I let
him know that all these insults have been entirely accidental and
unintentional and I made, in the spirit of the season, what I thought
was, a very heartfelt and humble apology and I told this person that
there will be no more insults whatsoever anymore in the future.
The next song was Good King Wenceslas dintedly
performed by Johnny Dust Jacket. Arf arf wacka wacka wacka! Gary then
led us all in Feliz Navidad, Cynthia yodelled her way through Christmas
for Cowboys - I don't know what it is about hearing a woman yodel but it
makes me feel sorta, I don't know, kinda hot I guess. I sang Marshmallow
World and then Peter finished things off with a medley of Birthday of a
King and the Beatles' Christmas is here again.
Tonight was very special and our thoughts are also
with those of you who couldn't make it. Have a safe and happy Christmas
tide and I look forward to seeing you all again next year.
- Here is a Christmas toast you can use: May you
work as though you don't need money, may you love as if you've never
been hurt and may you dance like nobody is watching.
Hey and wasn't our God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen just
kick-ass awesome?!! I thought so anyway.
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday November
This evening: What excitement! What fun! What
amazing thrills! But then I had to put away my new Spiderman magazine
because it was time to go to Ukulele Circle. Juuuust kidding.
It all got off to a great start because I had
planned to sing Waltzing Matilda and then with her usual panache and
sense of good taste and timing Cynthia walked in with no fewer than 3
Australians!!! How often does that happen I ask you??? [Comment from
Wendy: that was of course to make up for my missing the party because I
was in Australia.]
They were called Pria, Louise and Ashley and they
did a lovely job playing Wood River with Cynthia. Cynthia was also
helpful by booting me off the stage when I made a complete hash of the
Beach Boys fave 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' which it most certainly wasn't
when I sang it.
Other new people included Douglas who happened to
walk in on his way to Tango class and has decided to take up ukulele on
the strength of our dubious but inspiring abilities. We also had Graeme
from Burnaby (not as far as Australia) and Saje and Laurie from 4 blocks
away (definitely nowhere near the Southern hemisphere), Daphne and
Andrew (who I first met in Home Depot a year ago) and Christy (Don't
know where she's from - sorry). Welcome all of you!!!
Highlights tonight included singing the typos to
When Irish Eyes are Smiling and a surprisingly together sounding Don't
Dream Its Over - the Crowded House song.
Wonderful performances kicked off with Peter who
electrified his ukulele by sticking flashing lights all over it and he
made it very loud looking while he sang Honey Pie (originally written
and sung by a 1960s pop group), Steve played his real electric ukulele
and did a "plugged in" rendition of Eric Clapton's 'Tears in
Heaven'. Jill sang 'Survivor' by Destiny's child which had an extremely
fun audience participation bit where we all got to shout
"What?" after every other word. Gary then took us all to
Hawaii with a beautiful song called Wahine Ilikea (Hawaiian for "I
Lost my Socks in Wal-Mart") (no it doesn't - it means 'fair skinned
Don Harder has been coming to ukulele circle for
several years and tonight managed to get up on stage to give us his
first ever solo performance: Johnny Cash's 'I Still Miss Someone'.
We then had an overlong introduction to a song by
Mouldy Dust Jacket no that's not it. We then had a song by Jack Musty
Jammies no no no. Oh yes it was Jimmy Lost Jockstrap who gave us his
newly learned Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and it was bloody awful
and was resoundedly greeted with boos and jeering which he found
distracting enough that he had to quit the song halfway and instead he
sang, 'Ready for the River'.
After an overlong absence Luigi was backing us up
again on his nylon strung guitar and making us all sound fantastic. He
did a lovely instrumental for us and I forgot to ask what it was (sorry
Trevor, who, with his dark hair, tie and glasses
looks nothing like Sinead O Connor, if that indeed was his intention,
sang 'Nothing Compares to You' and finally David Aiken sang the Al
Simmons song about 'Living in a Lego House' which definitely would win
first prize in the 'Songs under 30 Seconds' category.
Lots of people there tonight and a lot of fun was
had by a minimum of most of us which I would say is a successful
outcome. I did a reading from Pierrot's ABC Garden which did indeed
mention the ukulele and we raised another $55 in CD sales to send along
to Paul Moore's Ukuleles For Peace Project. Nice one everybody. Thanks a
lot guys and we'll see you in December for the Christmas party!!!
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday October
Its October and boy does it feel like it. The
autumnal nip in the air makes you wish you'd brought a scarf along.
Maybe the onset of fall is all the more shocking for me since I was in
California a week ago and their roses are still blooming and the grapes
are hanging heavy on the vines. That's enough weather cha, on with the
Tonight's performances featured Callum age 4 years
who sang Leaning on a Lamppost. His dad Richard held him up to the
microphone and I strummed while Callum sang. And his voice is as clear
as a bell and perfectly in tune I might add. Peter followed that with
Mack the Knife (there aren't many songs about murderers when you think
about it and this is one of the best), Ron gave us a ditty for those us
of you who might be anxious about the state of the world - Don't worry
Be Happy, (try it it actually works!), Steve showed us his electric
ukulele he recently bought from Oregon and rocked out with Love Potion
#9. Tamara is a first timer at uke circle and she energized us all with
I Will Survive, Rock sang Mona Lisa. Jill, sweet Jill, sang Skull
Crusher Mountain. I don't know what to say about that. It was the sort
of stream of consciousness style of songwriting that makes you wonder
how she could remember the words - which she did by the way.
Paul, another first timer, sang a totally bilingual
song called Under a Stormy Sky (again remembering the words is doubly
difficult because you also have to remember which language you're
singing in at any given moment). I sang the Rolf Harris song from the
early 1900s called Two Little Boys. Just Jimmy sang Tom Waits' Shiver Me
Timbers and also played harmonica (which was refreshingly different from
his delightfully incessant kazoo artistry). Trevor finished things off
for us by borrowing a ukulele from Sherryl and he played a song called
Chocolate Jesus. He told me later that he recently moved to Vancouver
and his first night here he came to one of our meetings and said it gave
him a totally positive introduction to life in Vancouver. Way to go
guys!!! Also my mum is visiting and says she had a wonderful time and
she loved meeting you all. Thanks for saying such nice things about me
to her - I owe you one!!!
Also thanks to Gary for helping out by leading a
bunch of songs. Thanks also to those of you who bought Ukuleles For
Peace CDs - the money will be a great help in helping those Arab and
Jewish kids in Israel to make music and build wonderful and lasting
friendships together. Paul Moore is hoping to bring the kids to
Vancouver to play at the kids fest and maybe even the Olympics - we'll
let you know. And to Guy and Ronin - Get Well Soon Eh!!!
Keep Strumming and Smiling as you go!!!
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Note from Paul
Hey, Ralph and all you plonkers out there. It was
such a pleasure to come to the circle again. It's been a long time, and
I had a great time. Ralph's song about the Horseshoe Bay incident was
brilliant!! And I mean that in the best sense of the word.
Hopefully, I'll brave the rough waters of Howe Sound
to get to another Uke Circle before another decade slips away.
Shine on, Harvest moon.
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday September 16, 2008
Our Eighth Anniversary ...
. - was a blast!!! But before I talk about that I
want to tell you about 2 things I forgot to mention.
One is that Paul Moore (the performer from Israel)
will be doing his one-man show this Monday the 22nd - I'll give more
details later (just mark it in your calendar for now). The second thing
is that I will be at "Word On the Street' which is a great literacy
event at the downtown library on Sunday Sept 28th - I'll be on the main
stage from 2:30 to 3:10pm. Cynthia will be there too in her capacity as
author and illustrator.
Tonight was awesome!!! Thanks for coming - there was
a fantastic energy that overtook us all and even drove one customer to
stand up and pronounce that the music in Vancouver is all crap (I think
was the word). I thought he was referring to us but rather he was
meaning that our little group is an exception and he was completely
overcome with joy. Way to go guys!!
I had a great time this week learning songs from the
new book. I have found that most of them can be heard on Youtube and
more often than not they are in the same key that we play them in so
there is a little tip if you want to do some playalong practise.
Cynthia brought a yummy Bon Ton cake to celebrate.
And after the cake Performance Time kicked off with Karly singing The
Left and the Leaving a song by the Weaker Thans. This was followed by
Shelley who sang a song that she wrote called Generous Waters (she will
be playing songs from her new album this Thursday Sept 18th at the Jazz
Cellar on Broadway - so check that out). After those 2 first class
performances I put out a plea for someone to come up and lower the
standard of quality and Wendy kindly volunteered and led us all in a
singalong called Bye Bye Sweet Roseanna. Then Guido plugged in his
electric uke and did an awesome instrumental. Did anyone else not
recognise the tune apart from me? It was Yellow Bird!! Who'd've thought?
There were way too many notes in there Guido. He played it again for me
later though and it sounded fine. Rock sang Its Now or Never and
basically made the Elvis version sound, in comparison, like an
uninspired drone. Biggest cheer of the night for that one.
Sarah sang a song called Last Will and Testament on
the eternal theme of dying and then being buried naked with your
ukulele. I tell ya, how many versions of that overworked idea must we
hear? Wendy reappeared and backed up her fiddling friend Mary on a tune
called Ebb and Flow which would be a great name for their duo should
they decide to go pro.
We were proud to have Paul Hooson with us tonight.
He was the only other person, apart from me, to have attended the very
first meeting and he made a special trip from Bowen Island just so he
could be with us. He is the clown I told you about that got into trouble
with BC Ferries and was in the news - I sang him my song about the event
called, The Ballad of Dr. G. Willikers (that is his clown name). Thank
you all for singing along so heartily!!!
And last, but not least, although he came close (hee
hee) was Jimmy Just Jackman who did his reworked version of the Josh
White song One Meatball. He added several modulations and also included
a history of the song which presumably he got from the internet and then
worked it into the lyrics which made the song quite literally
unforgettable. Well I can't forget it anyway - if anyone is successful
in this please let me know how to do it.
Good. I think that's it. Seriously folks we do have
so much fun. Remember to carry that feeling around with you in your
every waking moment and even if we don't achieve world peace at least we
can find joy in our little piece of the world. And that reminds me..I'll
have another piece of that cake before I go to bed.
Note from Noriko
Hello! This is Noriko!
I appreciate all your kindness. I had a good time joining the ukulele
group in Vancouver. Unfortunately I have to go back to Japan in September. I
enjoyed playing ukulele and singing songs together. It was a great
experience for me in Vancouver! Thank you very much!
Wendy, thank you. You were very helpful. You always answered my email
quickly. I've never been worried about joining the circle.
Cynthia, I appreciate you. When I joined the first time, you welcomed me
with open arms. It was very comfortable.
I'll send you some pictures I took at Our Town last night.
I hope you keep running the group and everybody enjoys playing ukulele!
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday August 19,
Dearest Uke Bunnies,
It was a dark and stormy night when a small but devoted band of 13 [Wendy's
comment: 'small', yes, but it was more like 20, not even counting lucky cafe
patrons.] gathered at Our Town caf้ under the leadership of Tom
Saunders to croon My Little Runaway and other great old tunes. Call me
crazy, but I was sitting there looking up at him and thinking, "Did he
suddenly get taller and skinnier for the occasion? He looks like Ralph with
the wrong head on." Hallucinations aside, he made a splendid job of
leading again. Certainly, the highlight for me of this 2nd installment of
Tom's quirky stewardship was when he did a punk version of the Everly
Brothers' soothing lullaby All I Have to Do is Dream called All I have to do
is Scream. Pure Johnny Rotten. Then he moshed off the stage into our arms.
He also reprised Creep which, frankly, gets more moving each time we do it.
I felt sad when Noriko told me it was her last meeting before returning
to Tokyo after five months of English study in Vancouver. She got up for her
first performance and played a lovely instrumental called Kitano Kunikara
and received a well-deserved standing ovation. She will email us when she
finds a new ukulele circle in Tokyo. And speaking of goodbyes, we sadly said
farewell to Laura from Dublin at the beach party earlier this month as well
as to Anne Fleming who is returning to teaching in Kelowna. Lovely Virginia
sang Groucho's Hello I Must Be Going at the beach party, or might as well
have because she just stopped by to sing a few tunes before heading back to
But back to tonight's performances, Patrice can be congratulated for
played Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah by heart and Tom performed a request for
Sloop John B. Rock got up, told Ron to accompany him and told the rest of us
to play C Am F and G7 and sing Poor Little Fool so we did. Ronin finally
plugged his ukulele in
and got feedback! Sigh. Then he did one of his
famous medleys where he strung together Black Magic Woman, I Put A Spell On
You, Light my Fire, and The Thrill is Gone with lots of soulful shouts. What
a love life that lad must have real or fantasy? You be the judge. Me, I
would have played Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and left it at that.
It was Jill's 2nd month of playing uke and her 2nd performance on her
green arrow uke. She played Roy Smeck's instrumental "Boy Scout's
Hike" from memory, and very nicely played indeed. That girl will go
Just Jim Jackman is now living life as a blonde. He reinvents himself as
often as Madonna. He wanted to make sure that I noted for the record that
his intro to My Grandfather's Clock that sounded (but precisely!) like the
chimes of Westminster was entirely his original (his and Handel's) addition
to the song. And if you are grinding your teeth in frustration over not
being there to hear it, I invite you to visit this
link, close your eyes and picture Just Jimmy (as a blonde)
plunking same on his National resonator uke. Breathtaking!
In a fit of pure ego I flaunted the one-song rule and did Moonglow and
Manha de Carnaval, pronounced "la la la etc" since I cannot yet
speak Portuguese and can't abide the lousy English translation.
Wendy announced mark your calendars that she is organizing a
James Hill concert at the Scandinavian Centre on Oct 26 (my birthday! I
wonder if that gets me a free admission?) He will be giving a workshop the
following day. More info coming up about this in future Vanukes
So my Darlings, another delightful ukulele evening ended with Always Look
On The Bright Side of Life - and we will, won't we? As long as we have our
Adieu from you loving substitute blogger, Cynthia
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday July 15,
I only missed the June meeting but it seems like forever since I've seen
you guys. Thanks firstly to all of you who told me how incredibly successful
the June meeting was in my absence unintentionally giving me the message
that I don't need to show up at all. I'm just kidding of course but Tom and
Cynthia and others really made the evening swing and as much as I like to
feel needed it is also nice to know that the plonking never stops just
because one person isn't there. Its all about Plonk Power ladies and
gentlemen - a force greater than the military might of the entire universe.
That's what I think anyway but I'm biased.
I am still getting to grips with the new songs in the new book and I was
singing songs in the wrong keys, playing too fast, too slow and basically if
wasn't for my amazingly sexy dance routines the evening would have probably
fallen flat on its bottom.
Several new people were with us tonight and 2 of them got up and sang
receiving well deserved standing ovations. They were Laura from County Cork
in Ireland. She is a music student visiting here for the summer, she has a
very fine voice indeed and she sang the Dixie Chicks song 'Landslide'. Jill
has only been playing for a month and did Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World
in her own incredibly unique style!! Awesome stuff. Wendy and Gary did a
Hawaiian number (Pua Lililehua - Red Sage Brush Flower) featuring lovely
vocal harmonies with melody playing learned from John King at this years
Portland Uke Fest. Rock sang 'Make the World Go Away'; Tom did Paul Simon's
'Still Crazy After all these Years'; Ronin sang 'Superman'. BTW, Ronin we
hope your computer problems are fixed soon. Pam graced us with her lovely
presence as well as those of her mum and her Auntie Gwen as she sang 'Honey
Pie' and 'Sadie Green'. Cynthia sang 'Slow Poke', and Jimmy Just Jackman
Boswell showed us his autographed uke which he won in Portland and was
signed by all the performers. I broke the news to him that John King and I
had signed each others names and there was some debate as to whether this
has increased or decreased the value of said item. He did a piece learned
from Del Rey called 'Ready for the River' (though whether it was 'Ready for
Performance' is arguable - hee hee) which he played with fingerpicks on.
Maybe it would have worked better if he'd worn them on his fingers hmmm. I
sang When I'm Cleaning Windows (a request from Pam's mum bless her heart).
Ann gave us 'Tired of Being an Artist' which had a naughty phrase in it
which I cannot possibly repeat here which is why you need to come to the
meetings if you want to capture the full and rapturous flavours of what
takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of every month!!
Thanks all of you for being there. I'll see you in August and it looks
like Wendy is organizing a beach party too - so watch this space.
Have a wonderful summer everyone.
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday June 17,
Dear Uke Bunnies,
Cynthia here, stepping in to report on tonight's uke circle while Ralph
and the other stage hogs are away at the Portland Uke Fest. Pam and Tom were
supposed to co-host tonight, but Pam cried off at the last minute and asked
me to fill in. I agreed but once on stage couldn't even find my note on my
very first tune. I made everyone start "you do something to me"
four times before fleeing the stage and abandoning my co-host. Tom, who, at
the start of the evening, had confessed to being horribly nervous and
slightly pissed, rose to the occasion like Ruby Keeler as the
tremulous-but-talented understudy in "42nd Street" and wowed us
all with a terrific evening.
What range, what jokes, what excellent vocal sobs! Tom started us off
with "Runaway" and gave a whistling solo. "I wish I could
whistle like Ralph Shaw, " he said at the end, which Peter Murphy
pointed out would make a good song title. My only contribution for the rest
of the night was to take notes and to red-facedly buy Tom a beer at the
break. The musical highlight of the evening for me was when Tom led us
through a weirdly beautiful rendition of Radiohead's "Creep". I
think it should be our performance piece if we ever give a concert. It would
rival the Ukulele Orchestra's "Satisfaction".
As is ever the case, we had masses of new people in Ralph's absence
they pour in when they hear he's going to be away - including Laura from
Ireland on her summer break from a degree in music with the surprising
double major of classical piano and Motown. She's going to work up a piece
for next time. The other newbie brave enough to identify herself was Noriko,
who is studying English in Vancouver until December. She promises to even
bring her ukulele next time. Ron kicked off the 2nd half by handing around
songsheets so we could sing along to "Don't worry, be happy". Then
Anne sang "Downtown" and sounded exactly like Petula Clark would
if she were a baritone. Sarah and Patrice did a beautiful duet of the Green
Day song "Wake me up when September ends." Joe did a surprisingly
short (only 57 verses) of Wabash Cannonball.
Ronin stopped by just in time for performance time, breathless from
writing, directing, producing, and acting in his one-man play. When asked to
give us a tune, he blushingly replied as he leapt onto the stage that he had
nothing prepared, then launched into "You've lost that Loving
Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers with a James Brown vocal cadenza
thrown in. Peter Murphy was in particularly fine voice tonight with
"We", a uke tune on a recent Neil Diamond album. Steve, our
resident child prodigy, broke the one-song rule with "Always Look on
the Bright Side of Life" and "All My Lovin". He even started
off with some amusing patter about those crazy accidentals in chords like
C#m7 and demonstrated how a simple shift up the fretboard solves everything.
I'm sure we'll all been saying as we watch the 2020 Grammies, "I knew
him when he was a little boy." Throughout the evening, Tom recounted
little-known bits of musical lore. He introduced "Something" with
an account of how Paul McCartney performed it at the bedside of a dying
And so, Dear Hearts, another terrific ukulele time was had by all, thanks
to everyone who came and especially to Ron on the bass and Tom at the mike.
As ever, with more enthusiasm than talent, Cynthia xo
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday May 20, 2008
I usually take notes to remind me of who did what but tonight I forgot so
this blog may be a bit sketchy.
The big excitement was the new book. Several people told me how much they
liked the song selections and the variety of musical styles.
It was a workout for me to lead the songs because I got the book tonight
for the first time and several numbers were sung in slightly dodgy keys.
Nice variety of songs at performance time too. One of the big hits was
when Joe sang a duet with himself where he did the voices of both Johnny
Cash and June Carter and it sounded, well, indescribable. Jim did The Blue
Eyed Blonde Next Door (it's a Formby song in case you were wondering), Steve
did When I'm Cleaning Windows, Sarah did a beautiful song from the book but
I don't know which one - sorry! Tom sang the Mills brothers Paper Doll, Rock
did the Elvis song My Best friend's Girl, Dalai played a Brazilian
instrumental on his steel strung uke and Gary and I did Maui Superman and
that's all I can remember - if I forgot someone, er, sorry.
Thanks to Gary for helping out by leading some songs and to Peter and the
Ukulele Five (aka 'U5') for getting the book done!!
With great prowess we managed to steal Jim's kazoo but our devious
scheming was all for nought. It turns out he always carries a spare - who
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday April 15,
A good one it was. I arrived dressed for success wearing my best shirt,
finest tiger-eye cufflinks plus George Formby signature tie.
There were several new people and I want to welcome you all!! Crikey I
should start introducing new people while actually at the meeting - someone
remind me to do that next time please!
Performance time was a little different. We limited everyone to one song
each. I must say that I liked this format because hearing one good song from
each person is generally enough when there are many people who want to sing.
It also allowed for more playalong time at the end which was kind of nice.
I'd be happy to hear from you if anyone has any views on this subject.
Fine performances tonight - beginning with Rock singing Corinna, then
Cynthia gave us one called Watch What Happens - really nicely backed up by
Ron on bass and Luigi on guitar (that nylon strung guitar fits in with our
sound just perfectly!). Ron put down his bass and strummed his uke for Let's
Talk Dirty in Hawaiian - a very rude song by John Prine. Pam and Tom did a
60s song called Cinderella/Rockefella, fantastic it was. You know how some
voices just suit particular songs? Well Pam's throaty warble was destined
for this song. Then..
Normally guitar players are not exactly welcomed at our performance time
(there are open mics all over the city if you want to hear guitars being
played) however - how could we not have a solo piece from Luigi after all
the beautiful musical feeling he added to the rest of the evening. He played
Don Mclean's 'Vincent' as a fingerstyle piece. It was beautiful and, I can't
believe I'm saying this, it really did make a restful break from that
ukulele sound that we know and love so well. Jim Jackman sang Up a Lazy
River - or at least he was trying to sing when I wasn't making him crack up
(its one of those little complimentary things I like to do for him).
We had a guest from Brazil tonight (Rio to be exact) a young fellow named
Dalai and he performed a piece written by Waldir Azevedo (apparently the
first Brazilian composer to write music where the uke is the lead instrument
as opposed to rhythm) a tune called Delicado. Luigi also played and the two
of them got a standing ovation for their first time performing. I sang a
song I wrote about my ukulele case and then Tom did a Neil Young song called
Long May You Run - a hauntingly evocative song about a man who has diarrhea
Lots of smiles, lots of laughs and lots of great music. Great to see you
all so take care and we'll do it again in May!!
PS. The Carfreevancouver event is happening at 7 locations around the
city on Father's day. So find one near you and show up with your uke - I
hear they want roving entertainment and it's a great way to have fun and
practice at the same time.
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday March 18,
Good work is being done on the new book. Our 5 intrepid volunteers (Patrice,
Ruth, Gary, Ronin and Sarah) have taken the massive tome of songs that Peter
collected and are testing every song for playability and typos and so on. If
you have never done a job like this you have no idea how big it can be because of all the little decisions that need to be made along the way. I
went to their first meeting to offer ideas and suggestions and I was struck by the joyful energy that everyone was putting into the task.
Ronin gave us a taste of 2 of the songs that will be in the book: Dream Lover and Hey Now (yes the Tears for Fears hit - an unlikely choice but it
works), Joe, recently returned from Mazatlan was inspired to rewrite a couple of classics: I'm Sittin' in the Sun (to the tune of singin' in the
Rain) and Farewell to Mazatlan (formerly Liverpool).
Sarah sang a song from Ontario band: Lowest of the Low and received a
massive standing ovation for her first time on stage.
If you are familiar with the TV show Robson Arms you will know Tom and Jason
who sing a different, quirky and original 1 minute song at the beginning of each episode. They write the songs themselves and sang 2 of them tonight.
Too short they were! We have a 2 song limit at our performance times but it takes Jim (for example) so long to get through just one song that Tom and
Jason could have done 4 in the same time and be already half way back to White Rock but I digress.
Btw. First prize for greatest distance travelled to come to a meeting was to
Shawn and Michelle who came all the way from Mt. Curry just for this. That's
way past Whistler and Pemberton folks so say hi to them next time they come!
Pam came back tonight with her new hairdo and her usual beaming smile. She
just passed her driving test so we hope to see more of her from now on. She sang Stormy Weather and Look What They've Done to My Song. I did a blues
song - If You Love Me Like You Say, Rock managed to remember half the words for Blame It on the Bossa Nova and then had trouble with the chords of The
Young Ones. I suggested that if he combined the 2 songs into one then it would be perfect. It would be called Blame It on the Young Ones
Oh god I almost forgot Jim (aka. Boswell). Who took the beautiful song Skylark and made it into a... different sort of song. I'm not sure I can
quite describe what happened there but it was funny and if you didn't see it
well you missed it. He also did In the Summertime when the Weather is Fine which was funny too. Ironically he is far funnier as a musician than he ever
was as a clown! Just kidding Jim.
No I'm not.
Yes I am.
No I'm not.
I should go to bed.
I'll see you in my dreams
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday February 19,
Hi Everyone, I want to talk about the new music book before I dive into
tonight's meeting. Peter Murphy has put together a book of over 100 songs.
We now need a way to check that the words and chord changes have been done
correctly. This is way too big a job for one person to do and he needs help!
We are trying to figure out a way to do this as quickly as possible. Idea 1)
a group of ukers can get together for a social evening (or 3 evenings) of
going through and checking the songs. Idea 2) Peter could make his list of
songs available and anyone and everyone can download whatever songs they
wish to help with and then notify him of any changes that need to be made.
If you have other ideas please email Peter at: email@example.com.
If you are thinking of attending the wonderful Portland Ukulele Festival
this June do so quickly if you want to be sure of getting in. Read about it
Tonight's meeting got off to a disconcerting start because a bunch of
knitters had taken over the best seats and were sitting there chatting and
muttering "knit 1, pearl 2" while the ukesters wondered where to
sit. But shift the needle wielding coffee clatchers did and we had another
Several new people, plus one or two old familiar faces and a new
ukulele!!! Yes Folks you heard it here first...Ronin Wong has gone
electric!!! - not since Bob Dylan has there been this much excitement and
controversy around an electric instrument. Not only that but it stays in
tune and sounds really nice. And btw. next month he is going to plug it in!
Woww eh?! Tonight he did 2 Roy Orbison tunes: Crying and Pretty Woman. A
real treat tonight was the return of Luigi on his nylon-strung guitar. He
came and sat with me and Ron on the stage and did a gorgeous job filling out
the whole sound and doing really cool instrumentals. Now we've heard you
Luigi you can never quit!! Thanks for joining us.
Boswell did Summer Wind and Sway and he asked us to give him a standing
ovation which we did. Anything to keep him happy. Pat did a Cold Play song
called Kingdom Come. He wants to get a group of you to go and play at a
community centre event - and I'm sure he'll be sending out an email shortly.
Gary did 3 songs which is very naughty but he says he did it for Luigi's
sake so we forgive him. He sang the Beatles 'Falling' (I had never heard it
so I asked Guy who did it and he thought it was a Gordon Lightfoot song -
what a bunch of musicologists we all are). Then a Hawaiian song: Hokulea
(Star of Gladness) and I'll Remember You or is it Endless Summer? I don't
know but apparently it's a Hawaiian song written by a Chinaman (ask Rock for
more details). Rock himself gave us a sing-along whose lyrics consisted of:
Bon soir dom a dough dough - some sing-along eh? Then he followed it up with
Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love - during which I noticed that the older a
person is the more enthusiastically he or she seems to sing along with the
chorus. It was pretty loud in that room I can tell you!!
My buddy Michael Peligal who we don't see nearly enough of did an
instrumental medley of Spanish/Mexican styles which he developed to impress
some Mexican friends who didn't believe the uke could be used to play
Spanish music. He impressed us too!! Cynthia, darling what can I say? She
sang songs to get us feeling all amorous and hot. Besame Mucho (Kiss me
lots) was a bossa nova that we thrummed along to and then Squeeze Me Hard
(or something like that quite frankly by this point I was too overcome with
sexual overexcitement to pay full attention to the title). If you go to
Blackpool in England you can still buy hats that say 'Kiss Me Quick -
Squeeze me Slowly'. And finally I found out that Liz, our server, whose name
took me 5 months to memorize has changed her name to Katherine. That does it
if she changes it again I'm giving up!!! Have a great month and I'll see you
I Hate Long Goodbyes
Ah, but delayed goodbyes, that's another thing altogether! Seems like a
million years ago already...
Vanukers: In February of 2006 I moved to from San Francisco to Vancouver
as my lovely wife found work there. For complex domestic reasons off-topic
to this group, we returned (having to pack and move quickly, which prevented
me from making the uke slam, drat!)to California in May of 2007.
I'd read about your little monthly group on Howlin' Hobbit's Ukewiki
thing before arriving in beautiful BC and made it to my first meeting a
couple weeks after moving there. And what a gas it was! I'm sorry it's taken
me so long to write and thank you all for the great time I had playing with
you there but life off-line has kept we fully occupied here.
I'm sure you all realize what a terrfic group you have/are. The most fun
I've had in my life other than in a bed or on a bicycle has involved playing
music and the uke circle gave me the first opportunity I've had to stand and
play solo, as well as the first time I've hung in a room full of ukes
strumming. Thanks so much to all who were so kind and welcoming to me,
especially Pam from the first night and to James and Don for buying the
banjo ukes I offered up for sale. Wish I still had them both, especially the
little Slingerland, James.
My long-awaited Donmo resonator uke was waiting for me here when I got
back to California. Go to donmo.com and see what this guy makes. Mine's a
rustbucket; he treats the steel with peroxide and vinegar to stress the
steel so it looks like it's a couple hundred years old. I wish y'all could
have seen and heard it. Loud and warm and responsive. If the sound that
Don's make is rich orange, this one produces a more purply-red tone.
Unfortunately, donmo's prices have continued to climb due to the weakness of
the US dollar, whereas the rate of exchange made it easier for him a couple
years ago. He's a wonderful luthier and musician and this uke is the nicest
thing I've ever owned. Unlike my banjo ukes, intonated perfectly so I can
mess around further up the neck without sounding flimsy and clipped.
Learning some second and third position chords and writing songs for the
first time in years.
So sorry to have missed Ralph on his junket down to the Bay Area! Like I
said, I'm staying offline a lot so I didn't notice until it was too late.
Please let me know if you are down this way again and I'll be there! I have
yet to explore the uke scene across the bay but mean to soon. I'm just happy
as heck to get to play with my pals here again, on an instrument that stays
in tune and can be heard.
If any of you care to stay in touch or pay a visit if you find yourself
in San Francisco I'd love to hear from you. Aside from the three ravens I
baited with dry dogfood to hang out with me on my back porch while I inhaled
the fumes of burning cannabis, you nice folks were the kindest lot I came
across in the year-and-a-half I spent in your fair city. Thanks for
everything. Let me know when the new songbook comes out as I'd like to
purchase one, if that's alright.
see ya! Joe Sloan
PS here's links to some freshly loaded-up videos of my old band from the
Reagan/Bush era. There will be more. Don't click here if you have a problem
with fast short songs.
Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting - Tuesday January 15,
Another year another uke circle...
...and you continue to inspire me with your music and surprises.
Several first timers tonight at Performance Time (and every one got a
deserved standing ovation). Henry and Betty played the Roy Smeck signature
tune: 12th Street Rag first with 2 ukes and scat singing and then with Henry
on Uke and Betty playing a rocking recorder solo that totally rocked - no
other way to describe it. Rock brought his guitarist friend Luigi and
together the two of them played Yellow Bird and Jamaica Farewell 2 songs
that we have heard many times but Luigi's fine guitar playing really made
them beautiful in a new way. I hope he comes again. We ukulele players
sometimes make fun of people that play guitars but maybe we shouldn't
because as Luigi showed us guitars can actually sometimes sound quite nice.
There's your thought for the year.
I never heard Canadian TV musician Don Messer but I did recognise the
beautiful 1917 song Till We Meet Again which Tom sang for us. He also sang
When I Fall in Love and it didn't sound nearly as bad as he led us to
believe it would. Joe took us back to summer camp with the songs: On Top of
Spaghetti and Hey Lidy Lidy - a song that people can improvise verses to -
though not many of us did. It's a great concept though and I think it would
be fun to do more of that sort of thing.
A regular visitor to uke circle (he comes for a beverage after playing
snooker) is Paul. He leads the Paper Moon Orchestra and I have never seen
him with a ukulele in his hand until tonight when he sang a song about My
Dog Has Fleas and then he gets spiders to catch the fleas and vultures to
catch the spiders and so on. Lorne Elliott wrote the song - very funny.
Boswell forgot his kazoo tonight (hmmm no comment) but he did remember
however to make long rambling introductions to his songs that sometimes are
longer than the song itself. He did: I Can't give You Anything But Love Baby
and a song about seeing his analyst called Twisted. Sarah who has recently
moved to Vancouver from Hawaii (why would anyone do that?!!) sang one of the
most famous songs by The Band called The Weight.
I want to thank these people for helping out with leading some songs:
they were Tom, Boswell, Gary and Cynthia - special thanks to Cynthia for
leading Wood River which is a song that gets overlooked mostly because I
don't know it. Which brings me to the next item!!
Peter Murphy handed me a prototype of the new songbook!!! He has worked
very hard to put together over 100 songs in all styles. They are a great
bunch of songs and there are several that I don't know well or know at all.
Before we print copies of the book he will need some of you to proofread/proofplay
as many of the songs as possible to make sure words and chords are more or
less correct and in the right place. This is actually a fun job as well as
being important. I'll ask Peter how he wants to deal with this and I guess
you'll be hearing from him shortly. Lets do it soon guys it would be great
to have the book done by the Feb or March meetings.
I think that's it! Enjoy the cold snap and I'll see you in February.
Your musical mate,