As mentioned last month, May kicks off with the 5th Grand Northern Ukulele Festival on the 5th -7th, but you’ll also find The New Forest Ukulele Festival in New Milton, Hampshire on the 20th and Uke Power at Drax Social Club, Selby, North Yorkshire on the 26th-28th.
Uke happenings around the world
The Paris Ukulele Festival takes place on the 11th -13th, and features Rita and Martin, Uff & Zaza and The Hot Potato Syncopators.
On the 27th-29th The Freiburg Ukulele Festival takes place down in South West Germany.
In the US
Spring Into Uke is on the 13th in Voorheesville, New York with Jim and Liz Beloff.
Dandenong Ranges Ukulele Festival takes place on the 20th and 21st.
Reporting back from Sore Fingers Bluegrass Week
In last month’s blog I mentioned that I would be teaching uke, alongside Percy Copley, at Sore Fingers Bluegrass camp. I’m happy to report that I had a wonderful time, teaching alongside some of the top names in bluegrass and old-time music, and the students were all amazing (especially the uke students!)
I’m happy to report that I’ve been asked to return as uke teacher for the October weekend (dates to be announced soon), and even if you think bluegrass isn’t your thing, I’m positive you’d have an amazing time. Come and join me!
Uke Class at Sore Fingers
Right now, Manitoba Hal and Victoria Vox are to be found wandering the UK, popping up at various venues (Hal has just visited SUS!), so keep an eye on their gig lists to see if they are anywhere near you.
Quite soon, they’ll be joined by Del Rey who’s making her way through Europe in May before hitting our shores in early June, where she’ll not only be playing in my home town, with me and Ian Emmerson supporting, grab your tickets here.
She’ll also be at Southern Ukulele Store on June 10th from 2-4pm, leading a workshop and performing with Adam Franklin.
Despite being an old-school kind of guy with a pretty simple stage setup (point a mic at it and go) I do like to keep an eye out for any cool gadgets, instrument innovation and new toys to try out.
This month, the D’Addario Cinch Fit strap attachment caught my eye. For years I performed on plugged in electric ukes with straps, and end pin jacks were always a bit of a nuisance. Straps had to be stretched over them or even cut to make the hole bigger, ruining them for use on regular strap buttons. This is a really neat solution!
D’Addario Cinch Fit
May’s playing tip
Step out of your comfort zone! It’s really easy, in the confines of your home or when surrounded by your fellow uke club members, to play music that you’ve played many times before.
The best way to move on as a player is to put yourself in situations where you feel a little out of your depth. Try hanging around with players that are better than you, players of other instruments, or players of a style of music that you don’t normally play.
Try attending a folk session or a blues jam. If you’ve never performed in public before, find a safe, friendly place and set yourself a deadline. It’s amazing how knowing you’re going to play in front of people in a week’s time can focus the mind!
Chord of the month
Another favourite of mine, this is a nice inversion of an F9 chord (or you could call it a Cm6). Try is on bluesy songs with a regular C chord, and last months G7 alternative. Notice how when you put those those three chords together, the G string remains open all the time.
This is really effective in blues and old-time music, as the drone is reminiscent of either the thumping bottom string of a blues guitar (especially if you have a low G), or the ringing high 5th string on a 5 string banjo.
All the best,