Saturday, 24 November 2012

So what turned me on to the ukulele? It was this....

So what turned me on to the ukulele? I know I've told you before, but I've just watched the video again, and I have to show you was this....

Joe Brown playing a soprano uke, "I'll See You in My Dreams" at the memorial concert at the Albert Hall for George Harrison - such a moving and bitter-sweet rendition of this lovely old song - and the performance that quickened my heart and made me say - "That's gorgeous - I want one of those - I think I can get to grips with that - "

Well, my lovely husband bought me one, and yes, I am getting to grips with the ukulele, I think - stuck at "advanced beginner" maybe, but getting there, a strum at a time...

It's the November Convention of the GFS - and here come the Judge!

Last weekend we braved the busy motorway all the way to Blackpool once more- for the November Convention of the George Formby Society. "What is the attraction?" you may ask! Well - watch this video, (thanks to Caroline) and you'll get an idea! Judge Henry and friends - yes, I do believe he really IS a judge - they were well into their piece on the last evening, after the band had gone home and the wonderful stand-ins had picked up the traces. Actually, you'll notice that this little combo were using their backing track to this medley. If you'd like to see the whole twelve minutes of madness, see Peter Pollard's video of Judge Henry and his gang, Alan Kershaw, Mac McGee and Tom Fletcher here!

Judge Henry mentions struggling with his split-stroke... the fast, syncopated, rhythmic strumming that characterizes a Formby-style solo in the instrumental break in the middle of a song. I know how he feels. It's one thing being able to do the strum - however slowly - but playing it in time with a song, to be able to "solo" with it is something else again. BUT - after reaching the height of frustration with it at the weekend, I can at last report a little progress! The GFS members are so kind and helpful... and I have Jonathan Richards to thank for the help he gave me on Sunday to start to get it together - so kind, what a lovely family... I'm concentrating now on the "window cleaner" solo - it's actually one of the easier songs to play - I think the way ahead is to practise getting the split-stroke into the right places in the solo, as fast as is manageable, then work at putting "frills" on it.

I'll let you know how I get on!

Meanwhile - my uke-mate Caroline goes down a storm when she goes on stage in Blackpool. This time she gave us a bit of Tom Jones, (with Kala pocket-uke) and Kirsty MacColl... (with Ohana tenor-necked soprano) a cracking number that and really well done! See here....

And - see here for more pics and news on the November GFS Convention.

(Psst - that woman with Caroline - is Yours Truly... what did I do to get my mug-shot in there?)

And if you're tempted to get a taste of the warmth and fun of a GFS Convention, all the information you need for the 2013 meetings is here.

Coming up - after a few days enforced blog-silence - a couple of the youngest GFS members, Lewis Clifton and Tommy Bland, two of the nicest (and very talented) young lads you could wish to meet - if you can't wait, look them up on Youtube!

Thanks for looking in!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Bye Bye Blues chord melody - getting it sorted

Matthew J Richards is a superb banjolele player, the Musical Director of the George Formby Society.... and a lovely young feller.

On 21st an 22nd August this year I posted his two superb Youtube video tutorials on playing the 1930 jazz standard Bye Bye Blues chord melody style - that is, playing the chords whilst picking out the melody in between. It's a great style of playing, especially if you're not blessed with a great singing voice - you do the song as an instrumental instead.

I determined to learn it.

Well - the first two lines are pretty easy. The end is very easy, being related to the beginning - BUT - the middle two lines are a bit more challenging. It helps, to have the chords used in the song there in front to you, because in the middle every note is different.

So - I wrote the chords down and yesterday I made it my target to get those middle two lines learnt. Here are the chords - I've starred the tricky lines.

I've recommended this piece to a couple of people, who both love it and are working on it. As for me - I worked hard on it (those two lines) yesterday. Those two lines are still slowing me down, but I'm getting there.

Thanks Matthew for a first-class tutorial piece on ukulele chord melody!

F F Db7

F F D7

G7 G7 Am7 (all open strings)

(*) F F Am Dm

(*) C7 C7 C7 C

F F Db7

F F D7

G7 G7 Am7

F Db7 F

News - backing tracks to George Formby songs by Matthew J Richards are now available here from the George Formby Society shop.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Mermaid Song , "Siren" by Ganga Karmokar

Here it is - the song, the Three Mermaids instrumental, now with words, written by Ganga Karmoka, and inspired by a Moore Bettah uke, crafted by the luthier Chuck Moore in Hawaii - a uke with mermaids swimming down the fingerboard... for pics and more info, see the post I did on Ganga's instrumental, a few days ago.

In Greek mythology, the sirens were three sea nymphs who lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks. To me, Ganga's singing in this song is so evocative of that...

How I wish I had a half-decent voice...

Oh - and in this video Ganga is playing her new (new to her) Moore Bettah tenor.

We have some first-class luthiers of the ukulele in the UK also... watch this space!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


You just don't expect to hear, on the radio, unannounced and out of the blue, a song accompanied by nothing but a single ukelele - but the other morning that's exactly what I heard... the radio was on as usual, to cheer me through my housework, and it stopped me dead in my tracks with an armful of washing. The sound is unmistakeable and quite arresting.

The song was "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea". I investigated further and found that this 1930's song was sung and played on the uke by George Harrison in the late 1980's. I came across a Youtube clip of George singing it on Jools Holland's late night show, accompanied by Jools on piano and Joe Brown on guitar, among others... watch it here! Fantastic....

Song 1932,music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ted Koehler.

Here's ukulelemike, Mike Lynch, with his tutorial on it.

My favourite song of the moment... thanks to ukulelemike for a great arrangement. You can also find an arrangement on Al Wood's Uke Hunt.....

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Happy Halloween! Here comes Johnny! - JOHNNY FOODSTAMP - "She's Got Two of Everything"

Johnny Foodstamp is one of a rare kind - a George Formby fan and banjolele player from America - Nashville, to be precise. And his favourite song is "She's Got Two of Everything". He's certainly done a great job with the Halloween make-up - a great job of the instrumental solo was never in question.

And I drool over that 20's Gibson UB2...

The 2012 November convention in Blackpool is not far away - 17th-18th November.

Unfortunately, Johnny will not be there...

BUT - just wait til June.....oh, yes.....

Find the lyrics to "She's Got Two of Everything" here.

From the 1945 Film "I Didn't Do It"