Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday December 21, 2010

Ralph’s Blog Archives – 2010

ralphshawRalph 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
Ralph’s Blog page.

Other years: see Blog Archives

And another note from Wendy: Hansol Kim has been documenting the events in photos. Many of the sidebar photos are his, but not all of his are shown here. You can find all the ones he’s posted in Hansol’s Vancouver Ukulele Circle collection on flickr.

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday December 21, 2010

All the forecasts of a bad winter have so far proven untrue. Its mild and there is no imminent prospect of a white Christmas. But if you wanted true Christmas spirit this evening you need go no further than Our Town Café. So many familiar and friendly faces and wonderful singing and playing.

I had my remaining 5 Ukuleles for Peace CDs and I sold them all which means a nice little seasonal donation for Paul Moore’s fine project. Thanks guys!!

We sang all kinds of seasonal songs and then the Christmas Quiz was won by the “Jingle Balls”. Their prizes included a ukulele tuner, Ukulele – a pictorial history book, Hawaiian shirt, a film + CD and uke strings that were shared out amongst the winners. The losing team won cool little ukulele nail files. It goes to show that there are no losers at the ukulele circle.

A heartwarming show was provided by our performers: Peter led us all in L. Cohen’s Hallelujah, Paul (the man in black) sang a wonderful version of Rudolf where ole red nose gets his come-uppance on the reindeer who wouldn’t let him join in their games. We had visitors from the Nanaimo Ukulele Club. It’s a very new club with just a handful of members right now. They are ably led by Anna Lyman and Steve Sutton. Their song, Chances Are, was so well received that they were invited to sing another and they gave us Hawaiian song, For You and I.

They say Christmas is for the children. I don’t know if that’s true but I do know that get the most applause. While Carrie strummed the chords on her uke young Jesse did an amazing job of playing Feliz Navidad on the harmonica. We all sang heartily along.

Cynthia, Ross and Tom were the instigators behind Christmas Baby Please Come Home. Ron played bass and I provided jingle bell accompaniment while wearing ukulele shades. Apparently they suit me. Hmmm.

There are always fresh and delightful surprises and we got another when David played Christmas Time is Here. From Charlie Brown. Ronin sang Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Guido, along with Daphne’s ukesters, sang Santa Baby.20101222_hansol_img_5d_0291It was perfectly done with sexy female lead vocal and sexy male ba-domp, ba-domp in the background. It was just sexy all round. Speaking of sexy. Those of you who missed Leonard Cohen when he came to town need not have despaired. Tom croaked out a version of Silver Bells Leonard Cohen style. In a manner that would have depressed even old Groaning Cohen himself. Wendy finished things off nicely with a clawhammer tune called Breaking Up Christmas. Nice work everyone.

Recent members may be interested to know that I write a regular column called The Ukulele Entertainer. You can subscribe (no cost) by going to my

Have a wonderful Christmas season and I wish you and yours a very happy new year!

Ralph   The Ukulele Entertainer!!   Learn ukulele and get a free ukulele chord chart when you subscribe to my newsletter! Newsletter archive at:

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday November 16, 2010

Allow me to introduce Peter Dunn. Many of you have seen him do his stuff at performance time. He was half the duo that did Runaway last month.

When I asked people to send in their ideas for songs for the new songbook Peter wrote me with such thoughtful ideas that I asked him if he’d like to compile the book. I’ve already done one by myself and didn’t want to rob someone of the education and satisfaction of putting together a songbook. To my delight Peter said yes! He has taken up the challenge of finding songs that are fun to play as well as being known by a good 60% of the population (or thereabouts).

He has already done some good work and tonight we uke-tested 12 songs. We had Raffi, Sinatra, Formby and Oasis and more. questionnaires were handed out for people to write down what they thought of the songs. So it was a different sort of night. Nice to try some new songs. We shall continue until the new book is ready to roll off the presses or at least slide off the copying machines. If you have song suggestions for the new book please send them to: .

Fewer performers than usual tonight. Dunno why. Good stuff though. Jen sang Bye Bye Blackbird, Gary did Sam Cooke’s What a Wonderful World this would be, Josh, the father of a 4 month old, happened to mention that several words in the Hawaiian language sound a lot like the sounds that his young son is already making. I think he has a point. Hawaiian is baby talk!! His song: Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian by John Prine. The Ukesters did a splendid rendition of Wipeout complete with drum solos. Brother and siter team Paul and Melissa sang Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. Hansol (the guy who takes all those great pictures of our meetings) got up on stage for the first time to sing Roly Poly – a sort of Western Swing number. I finished off with La Mer/Somewhere Beyond the Sea.

[Inserted by later email from Ralph:] I missed writing about Daphne’s lovely rendition of Ewan McColl’s song Dirty Old Town last night. Sorry Daphne!

Sad news is that Rock still has not turned up after going missing a few weeks ago. He is always a favourite performer and a fun guy to have around. Please remember him in your thoughts and prayers.

Next meeting is on December 21. Christmas songs were made for ukuleles. See you then!


Update on November 18:

Subject: Message from the Auyoung family

With great sadness I am relaying a message from my son, Ezon.  Please understand if we do not respond to your calls as the family needs private time to ourselves. Betty

Dear friends, Thank you for all the tremendous support in this difficult time for our family. It is with a heavy heart that I have to sadly inform you that Shek/Rock, my father, is no longer with us.  Words can not express how deep this loss will affect his family, as well as his many many friends, fans and followers. There has been an outpour of concern and prayers which has been greatly appreciated. I will send out another email when arrangements are made for how to pay your last respects to Rock.

Ezon, on behalf of the Auyoung family

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday October 19, 2010

Howdy folks,

We had several friends from out of town with us this month. Carol from Seattle, Gerry Long (his niece is married to the Henry Lee the owner of Our Town Café) dropped in all the way from California. Molly and Rob came from Victoria. Molly just started the Victoria Ukulele Club which meets twice a month at the Blethering Place Tea Room. The club started just last month; around the same time we had our 10th anniversary. Molly is a fine singer with a charming personality and I look forward to more happy associations with the Victoria gang in the future.

New news. I am looking for songs to go in the next book so start thinking. They can be songs from any era but they do need to be songs that are known by a large enough percentage of the general population. If you have a song for the book. Please make it fit on one page. Use Arial font (no smaller than size 12pt if possible, you can use 11pt at a pinch). Send it to me as a Word document with the correct lyrics and the chords in all the right places.

Performers tonight included the aforementioned Molly. She sang the trad. Margaret’s Waltz with lyrics by Connie Kaldor, Ronin kicked things off with Lennon’s In My Life. Tom told us a sad story of how a big box of his vinyl 45s, replete with teenage angst and heartbreak, were taken to the dump. His song was Lonesome Town. Jen sang Fats Waller’s Louisiana Fairytale. Gerry Long sang/played a fine medley of 3 songs of which I can only remember the last song: I’m Just a Gigolo.

Peter and Chris sang Runaway with a surprise Melodica solo by Chris that was AWESOME!!! A melodica is a cross between a keyboard and a harmonica. You blow in a tube and then play the keys. It looks a bit weird but it sounds AWESOME!!

Under the tutelage of Guido Heistek,


Daphne and the Ruby Ukesters played a Greenday song When September Ends arranged for 3 ukulele parts. Very cool. [Thanks to Jesse Read for the photo] Rob, also from Victoria, sang If I could take your love with me. Tim sang Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy. Personally I find the song’s unspoken message of violence and impending doom a little hard to take. Hee hee, that was a joke. Oh never mind.

Don Harder had his new Koaloha uke he recently picked up at the Napa Ukulele Festival. He played a beautiful instrumental that he had written for his new instrument. Sorry I didn’t get the title. So I’ll call it, St Helena Lullaby. Hope you don’t mind me renaming your song Don. Sarah sang a fantasy song about getting rich enough to learn to dance and buy houses for the parents. Ha Ha – as if!! It was called You and I by Ingrid Michaelson. TTO, Tiny Tim Overdrive finished it all off with Steve Earle’s Justice in Ontario.

Thanks guys. Oh and btw; At the end of this year we’ll be going back to using the red book until we get the new songbook completed.

See you in November. Did I mention the melodica solo was AWESOME!!

Ralph   The Ukulele Entertainer!!   Learn ukulele and get a free ukulele chord chart when you subscribe to my newsletter! Newsletter archive at: 

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday September 21, 2010

All Right!!

If you heard a creaking sound tonight it was the walls of Our Town being strained to their limits with a happy ukulele playing throng. We estimate around 90 people were there tonight. The most ever. Lots of new faces as well as old friends.

Ten years ago, when the Vancouver Ukulele Circle started in the common room of my apartment building, there were only 8 to 12 regulars. I got the idea after visiting The Yorkshire Ukulele Circle in 1996 which also meets 3rd Tuesday of the month. In the early days we sat quietly in a circle and strummed songs and nobody got up to perform. We would fill in the extra time by watching something ukulele-related on the TV – usually they would be clips from movies in which the uke was prominently featured.

How times have changed! I think the presence of YouTube in our lives might have contributed to the upwelling of live performance that we are now seeing. Whatever the reason; it’s wonderful indeed to see such musical variety. We certainly had that tonight. Everything from Magdalena with her yodelling comedy song (O la Ka Kia O la Ku ku ku ku) to stirring instrumentals by Tim (Crazy G) and Obadiah – from Halifax (a self written piece of uncertain title played in the Quatro style native to Trinidad). 4 year old Jade sang Yellow Submarine, Wendy, with Mary on fiddle, did a Swedish tune called I Am Not Fed Up With the Pacific Ocean Yet.

Ron and Cynthia – What a Difference a Day Makes; btw. that’s the name of their song and not a comment on their music practice. Tom and Russ, both left handers, did a most excellent duo uke rendition of Little Wing; as made famous by that other great left hander Jimi Hendrix. Daphne actually made an effort to sing a song with the number 10 in the title (Love Me TENder) and did a beautiful job of it too. Rock sang Blame it On the Bossa Nova, once again avoiding any self-responsibility. A few other new people got up to play for the first time: Andrew and Angela sang Oh Paris with Angela playing a jar of black-eyed peas. Hmmm it makes me want to eat soup. Dave got himself a uke last year after a visit to one of our meetings and tonight he very expertly sang The Cure’s Just Like Heaven. Ed sang You’re Sixteen. I finished things off with a Cat song called Movin’ Day in the style of Cab Calloway.

I can’t believe how the years have flown. Thanks to all of you who have graced the ukulele circle with your presence. Some of you are regulars, some rarely come anymore and some pop in whenever you can. Each and every one of you is dear to me for having shown up with your instruments and good hearts. You have made the Vancouver Ukulele Circle exactly what I hoped it would be and I thank you all.

I thanked lots of people tonight including Wendy, Ron, Our Town and others but I also want to mention Virginia Ise (now in Toronto) who made sure that I would have to start this whole thing by placing and paying for ads in the Georgia Straight about 10 years and 2 weeks ago today. Thanks Virginia – look what you made me do!!!

Well I’d better get off the computer – it also happens to be my 19th wedding anniversary. I don’t want to have to tell anyone that my ukulele obsession broke up my marriage!

Sounds from tonight’s gathering were recorded by the CBC and we’ll be sure to let you know when its going to be aired.

Here’s to the next 10 years!!!

Sithee with Aloha,

Ralph Shaw
The Ukulele Entertainer!!

Learn ukulele and get a free ukulele chord chart when you subscribe to my newsletter!
Newsletter archive at:

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday August 17, 2010

Great playing, singing and everything. I hope it was fun for all of you because I had a blast. I make a living playing ukulele and singing and sometimes I wonder why I do the Ukulele Circle in what should be my time off. And that question is answered loud and clear every time I come home from a Tuesday night strum. Thanks for sharing your great energy.

Next month on September 21 it will be the 10th anniversary of the Vancouver Ukulele Circle. We are one of the longest running ukulele clubs in North America (I haven’t heard of an older one). BTW. Sept 21 will also be my 19th wedding anniversary. Hmm – what to do??? Ukuleles of course!!!

The only problem is I don’t have anything planned to celebrate this milestone. We’re not having a cake. It would be a pain to serve and not be the nicest thing for Our Town who are doing their best to sell sweet treats. But any other ideas – let us know. I suggest that performance time could be songs that somehow incorporate the number 10 in the title or lyrics. Maybe Ron can think of something – it was he that made the ukulele olympics such an unforgettable night earlier this year.

Performances: 6 year old Callum sang spider man all by himself with great vigour and very accurate pitch while his dad Richard played ukulele. It was awesome!! Mind you he’s been coming to uke circle since he was 3 so he’s an old-hand at this game. I’ll be brief with the rest – it was all good stuff. Gary = Summertime, First timer Jen sang the Annette Hanshaw song from the 1920s, Daddy Won’t You Please Come Home.

Pam returned after a lengthy absence to sing, Look What They’ve Done To My Song. Oh I’ve missed her voice. Peter#1 = You Are the Only Exception, Tim played Romanza (its that instrumental Spanish Guitar piece you often hear). Tim made it sound great on uke! Ronin did Duke of Earl with Joe (and everybody else), Anne sang Dirty Old Town.

Rock and Ken got together at the last minute to sing/play The Things We Did Last Summer. Ken added some nice instrumental licks on his $25 Yellow Mahalo. Chris gave us Cowtown. I’m surprised he gave us anything – he used the smallest font I have ever seen on a lyric sheet. He must have eyes like an eagle. Peter #2 sang the Rutles: Lonelyphobia. Oh yeah and I sang a song called I’d Rather Have a Nice Cup of Tea. Its based on something that actually happened to me – I’ll tell you another time perhaps. And later Pam asked me to sing We Three. The actual song was quite short but I was able to sustain the last note for an amazing 9½ minutes (I wasn’t timing it but I think 9½ minutes is about right).

Send me your ideas for next month otherwise it’ll just be another typical uke circle – which I daresay wouldn’t be the end of the world.


The Ukulele Entertainer!!

Learn ukulele and get a free ukulele chord chart when you subscribe to my newsletter!
Newsletter archive at:

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday July 20, 2010

Well, here I am again, Wendy subbing on the blog for Ralph, who is who-knows-where. He wasn’t exactly MIA (missing in action) – it was a planned absence, for some gig that was more important to him than us. We had a jolly old time, though, thanks to Tom and Gary, who did a great job leading the singing, and Andy and Ron, on guitar and bass, who continue to add so much with their fine playing. And thanks to you all who came with your good spirits – it was a packed house again.

We had a full slate of 12 performers. I did up a fancy sign-up sheet, so I signed up first and did a clawhammer style version of Dance Boatman Dance, with Andy and Ron accompanying me, though they’d never heard the tune before. They accompanied lots of the other performers too, but I didn’t note it down. Sydney sang A Love Song to the Kids in the Hall, which I think she wrote. Ronin continued his theme of songs seemingly inappropriate for the ukulele, doing George Michael’s Careless Whisper. It worked. Daphne was up next with Love Hangover. This tune from 1976 was the fourth number one single for Motown singer Diana Ross.

Chris did a tune called Gone, otherwise known as The Pick is Gone (you had to be there). Ron handed out sing-along sheets for Jesus on the Main Line, which he heard at an event recently, and he let me play his bass uke. Trevor wrote his song, Time is Money. I thought he was delivering the first apology of the evening, but actually, that was the totally appropriate intro to the song. Ken’s tune was based on a 30-second advertisement he heard during the Olympics, which he expanded on. First time performer Ben, with choreographed accompaniment by two of the Cryptkicker 5 (Daphne and Lucy), sang Monster Mash, to a first-timer’s guaranteed standing ovation. Ben’s voice fit the part perfectly.

Rock says he only does old tunes; this one, Foolish Heart, was from 1949. Ken, Andy and Ron formed a combo for this. Tim, first timer at the uke circle, sang Tie a Yellow Ribbon, also to a standing ovation. Tom finished off the set with Loves Me Like a Rock, a Paul Simon tune from 1973, a take-off on US President Nixon’s statement, during the Watergate investigation, that his mother loved him. Tom performed this on his Mahalo, which he described as his “U-pod” that he leaves in his car so he can grab it for a few minutes of playing when an opportunity arises. I’m not sure if he meant whenever he’s stuck in traffic – I’ve done that. I’m not sure whether playing ukulele while driving was mentioned in the list of newly illegal activities included in the act that banned cellphone and iPod use while driving.

OK, really, Ralph will be back next month. And then the month after that – September – will be our 10th anniversary.

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday June 15, 2010

Wendy here – I get to be Ralph again this month, as far as blogging goes.

So didn’t Tom, Gary, Andy and Ron put on a good show tonight! The 65 or so of us did our bit too. There were a lot of new people, but I didn’t think to point out who you all were. We’re glad you came, though.

We did our usual sing-along, led first by Tom, and then Gary took us through some tunes from a mini-songbook he brought along. Andy on guitar and Ron on ukulele bass sounded like they’d been rehearsing those tunes all week.

We had a full slate of 12 performers tonight. Since I kept the list, I got to start, with an old-time tune called Sand Lake, played clawhammer style in All Cats Feel Good (acfg) tuning. Daphne was up next, backed up by Andy, with a sultry No Moon At All. Russ, backed up by Andy and Ron, did a rendition of I Won’t Grow Up, from Peter Pan, with grown-up chords. Peter Dunn didn’t want his tune announced, as he said people would be excited to recognize it. Good thing he wrote down what it was – I’ve never heard the Rescue Rangers Theme Song, but clearly a lot of people knew it. Ronin came back! and sang a hot off the press original blues tune called Early in the Evening. Half of Tiny Tim Overdrive (Joe and Laura) did a Puppini Sisters tune called Jilted, which got a standing ovation, as it was Laura’s first time performing.

Trevor sang another hot off the press number, so new it didn’t have a name, but I insisted, so he called it 1986. It was written to be played on synthesizer, but he wrote it on the uke. Tamara sang My Favorite Letter is U, which she found on U-tube sung by Uni and her Ukulele (who sounds a lot like Tamara). A twosome called Pling & Plink did I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper, a tune that appeared in Clockwork Orange and was featured in the television series The Maxx. Some people thought P&P were first time performers, so they got half a standing ovation. Ken announced that Blister in the Sun was from 1986. Or thereabouts. People seemed to know it. Rock crooned A Voice in the Wilderness, and Tom finished up the performance set with Just the Two of Us, which Dr. Evil sings to Mini Me in the Austin Powers 2 movie.

We still had time for another half-hour of singing, ending as usual with Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Keep that thought till next month, when Ralph will be back.

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday May 18, 2010

No two days are exactly the same. And so it is that every night at the ukulele circle is different from the last. Each has its own character and vibe.

Tonight all you shining stars proved once again that if the world is going to change then a whole lot of people need to become unafraid of what other people think. The ukulele is just one way to do this. It is a portal of freedom, a tiny ukulele sound-hole at which ego must first be abandoned before we can be allowed to pass through.

That’s pretty good eh! I should write a book called Finding Enlightenment Through Ukulele. Maybe next week.

Meanwhile Our Town Café was full of smiling ukulele players. Performance time began with Morgan, Sidney and Trevor who sang the finale songs of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. They will be doing this in a show sometime soon and presented it in their costumes (feather boas). It turns out that Els has also been working on an RHPS song (Science Fiction Double Feature). Rock sang the 1959 song: Pretty Blue Eyes, Daphne sang Crazy. Btw. her husband Andy who accompanied her on guitar also joined Ron & me on stage for the whole evening. Its amazing how just 1 guitar and 1 bass can make a whole roomful of ukuleles sound so much better. Thanks Andy and Ron! Guido sang a lovely fingerstyle original called Todd and Gary gave us his grandson’s fave song: Never Smile at a Crocodile. We were pleased to see the return of TTO (Tiny Tim Overdrive) who did Metallica’s: Enter Sandman in their trademark hillybilly style. Sidney sang her short but very beautiful song called The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter and then I finished things off with a ditty I just wrote called: Everything is Free and thanks to everyone for shouting out the word ‘Free’ in all the right places! Thanks to Gary and Cynthia for helping with leading some songs (anyone is invited to do this).

Vancouver Ukulele Circle continues to be on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. I also send out a free newsletter of helpful hints for ukulele players. You can sign up for it at my website: or just read it in blog form at:

Keep strumming and I’ll see you next time!!


Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday April 20, 2010

Spring is definitely in the air; cherry trees are in full blossom and daffodils are everywhere. The strumming of ukuleles make a perfect musical accompaniment to all this verdant splendour. Thanks are in order to all those of you who came out; braving the light breezes and balmy temperatures to get to Our Town Café. What a lot of fun we had. Performance time started with Russ who sang the Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon, Anna gave us Moon River. She has only been playing a few weeks and knows only one song. I definitely think she should learn 2 songs. Ronin did a song called Gangster’s Paradise or it may be “Gangsta’s” Paradise. This is what Hip hop would have sounded like if they’d thought of doing it on ukulele. We found out that Peter has also been working on the song and he supported Ronin on bass.

 Nicola is visiting from Montreal. He enjoyed our ukulele circle so much (he was here 2 years ago too) he is going to start one on Montreal so watch out for him! Let’s get a bunch of us together to go and visit him in La Belle Province once he gets it going. Nicola sang an Italian song: Music Musica and Fats Wallers’ You Meet the Nicest People. Miriam sang Greatest Heights, a song by Postal Service. The song arrived 2 weeks late. Next time she’ll do a song by UPS; we figure the extra expense will be worth it. Chris sang Paul Simon’s: Me and Julio. Rock sang Elvis’ The Girl of My Best Friend, Daphne sang Paper Moon very ably accompanied by hubby Andy on guitar. Yes we do allow guitars but don’t tell anyone OK.

Remember Terence Trent Darby from the mid-80s? Paul and Joe took his song: Sign Your Name and redid it hillbilly style as in: Sign Yer Name. Its the way this famous disco number should have been done in the first place!

Ken just finished writing an instrumental song today called Chicken in a Cab. He performed it, with Andy on guitar, and it was Plucking Cabtastic. Bert then gave us Leonard Cohen’s Who By Fire and then I grabbed Andy + guitar to join Ron and me in Save the Last Dance For Me. Another good night. Apologies to those of you who didn’t get to buy songbooks. We brought what we thought were lots but obviously not enough. We’ll do better next time!

Remember that I also write a free weekly Ukulele newsletter that you can sign up for. Just visit: Keep strumming and smiling until next time!



Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday March 16, 2010

Hello dear friends,

Nice to see a packed house full of cheerful and smiling ukuleleists once again. Hey!!! Did you see the article in the Vancouver Courier last week? In it I mention the ukulele circle. Here is a link to it in case you missed it.

You guys amaze me more every time. So many unusual and original songs are popping up at performance time. 4 performers who were new to the Our Town stage meant that there were 4 standing ovations. It felt like we were on our feet all night!!

Many thanks to Tom for a) helping out with leading some songs and b) reminding me that Ron (the bass) wasn’t around to set up the sound gear. It was a bit different without the bass but we pulled through OK.

Performances began with Sidney (only started playing on New Years Eve) who sang Safe & Sound by Hawksley Workman, Rock took us back to the days of drive-in movies and McCarthyism with Earth Angel, Robin did the lovely Pete Seeger singalong: Where Have all the Flowers Gone. Els did a song by Carmaig deForest called Coldwater Park. I heard Carmaig sing that song in New York a few years ago when he and I performed at The Global Ukulele Summit which is a very overblown name for a ukulele gig in a pub. It was a good night. Funnily enough at that same concert there were 2 guys who covered Hendrix’s; And the Wind Cries Mary which Tom did an amazing performance of tonight. And those 2 guys (called Sonic Uke btw.) host ukulele gatherings on the stoop of their NY apartment building which, interestingly, happens to be where The Almanac Singers would gather in 1941. They included Woody Guthrie and the aforementioned Pete Seeger.

Trevor had a wonderful song called The Drinking Man’s Diet – all about the beneficial health giving qualities of booze. A special ditty for St Patrick’s Day indeed.

Jill, what can I say. It was the last time she’ll be with us for a year. Oh no!! And I never got to say goodbye. However – she left us with an unforgettable song about Not Being the Ideal Woman. That is not unless your dream date farts, burps and is more than a little crazy with a small touch of paranoia built in. Actually Jill, all those things really turn me on so maybe it is good that you’re leaving town for a while ;-D

Chris #1 sang I’m My Own Grandpaw. Clever song – I wonder if anyone actually is their own grandpaw? There should be a group for them – The Shaughnessy I’m My Own Grandpaw Circle. Hmm.

Chris #2 sang New York City lately covered by They might be Giants who covered it from the Vancouver (all girl) band Cub. Interestingly I happen to be friends with the original drummer of that band and I enjoyed dinner with her and her husband just last night. Small world. Is this too much information? I hope you’re enjoying all this.

Paul did a beachified palm tree wafted ultra cool version of Summer Breeze. Ross, the last 1st timer sang I Always Have to Steal My Kisses from You which got everyone singing along. Then Ralph (ahem – that’s me) sang the George Formby hit (banned in the 1930s) With My Little Ukulele in My Hand.

All’s swell that ends swell. See you next time folks!!

The Ukulele Entertainer!!

Learn ukulele and get a free ukulele chord chart when you subscribe to my newsletter!
Newsletter archive at:

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday February 16, 2010

This was all Ron’s idea – and it was totally inspired. One of the best
nights ever. There were so many fun bits. I don’t know how much I’ll be
able to remember but here’s a run down of the evening:

Firstly the room was decorated with a flag and a giant paper pineapple
and some other hawaiian knick-knacks that Ron got from Bazaar and Novelty.

Opening Ceremonies: While we sang Singing in the Rain the “Torch” was
passed around. (Torch = glowing flashlight duct-taped to a coconut uke)
I thought this would be a quick and simple matter but nearly everyone
wanted their moment with the torch and stood up to pose with it and many
had their pictures taken. It took forever!!! Gary finally grabbed it and
lit the “Cauldron” (= green lava lamp). We then sang O Canada with the
word changes: We Strum Our Ukes for Thee.

Opening ceremonies continued with songs by KD Lang, Nelly Furtado and
Bryan Adams. Actually, no, it was Tom, Gary and myself – but close
enough eh!

The official Games began after the break starting with: Tamara and
Alisha competing in the category of best duet by 2 sisters living in a

Steve competing in the category of loudest song and longest sustained
note. It was a Pat Benetar song and should actually have been in the
category of longest friggin time to get song started.

Gary – competing for best song in Swahili

Josh – sang Super Skier in the category of best winter sports themed

Don – Best newly composed traditional appalachian song performed with a
broken fingernail

Wendy – Most Appalachian song (not to be confused with the above

Peter: Best Sesame Street Song

Jordan at only 13 years of age was the youngest competitor and performed
in the highly dangerous Luge-alele

Jill – Best Original Nerd song. A ditty about video game addiction that
also took the record for the longest song of the evening!

Tom – competing in the category of most sugary-sweet-sentimental-mushy-
lovey-dovey-song in the male over 200cm tall category. The Carpenters;
Why do Birds suddenly Appear and everyone went, “aaaah’ in all the right

Malcolm and Andrea (in movie-star shades) – in the category of strangest
song adapted for ukulele. Awesome song about something to do with
paparazzi – sorry I forgot to ask for more details.

Anne – Best ex-lesbian country anthem. We wanted her to take her shoes
off and sing it like KD Lang but if you saw the state of the Our Town
stage you’d know why she didn’t. It had the catchy chorus, ‘I spent my
last $10 on birth control and beer’

Martin competed in the unusual category of most antique smelling
ukulele. And those who put their noses to the sound-hole of that
particular instrument will know exactly what he means.

Chris – in the category of best security related song by someone from
Langley (Every Breath you Take by The Police)

Ralph – Competed in the fastest version of The Tide Is High category. He
(I) played it in a remarkable and record setting time of 33.91 seconds

Janet told the story of her Banjo-uke in ‘The best antique uke story’

Ken finished off with an instrumental take on how the Olympics (the real
olympics) broke many of the laws that protect our rights in the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He did this by taking the document and
then playing any letter that was between A and G. The serendipitous
result was quite beautiful and strangely haunting.

Polly was given the unenviable task of presenting the ‘Star’ emblazoned
wrist-sweatband, that MarieGold had knitted, to the overall winner of
the evening. She loved everybody’s performance but, being the political
creature she is, she felt moved to present it to Ken for bringing
attention to the removal of Canadian rights for a mere Sporting Event!
Makes you think – what will they do if something vaguely serious
happens? I shudder to think. Anyway the main thing is that Ron let loose
his party popper and made a big mess of confetti hearts all over the
aforementioned Our Town stage which we dutifully swept clean at the end.

Mariegold is knitting me my own woolly dolly and I can’t wait to get it.

Everyone was a winner (just like in Kindergarten) and all competitors
took home a blue 1st prize ribbon and a cookie shaped like the Inukshuk
statue at English Bay.

It was an amazing evening and only 4 years to wait till the next one!

Btw..Both Jill and myself (and the Langley Ukulele Ensemble) will be
performing on March 5th at 3238 Fleming St. in an all-ukulele
In-the-House concert starting at 7pm.
or call 604-874-9325 to reserve tickets. Seating is limited.

See you all in March – keep strumming!


Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meeting – Tuesday January 19, 2010

Yes that’s right I have more Zombie news from the Vancouver Uke Circle this month…but first!!!! Next month – Feb 16th we will be hosting the Vancouver Ukulele Olympic Games. We have: an organizing committee (VANUGOC), a Logo (featuring 5 ukuleles instead of 5 rings) and some kind of a plan to use a burning ukulele as an olympic torch to start the whole thing off. If nothing else we’ll set the smoke alarms off.

Here’s how it works: The games will be in lieu of the usual performance time. Before they begin you need to get in touch with Ron (our trusty and beloved bass player) and tell him your name and the event that you want to be entered for. If the event doesn’t exist yet then make one up! That way you have a better chance of winning. Email Ron More details to come.

January used to be a time of hunkering down and quietly getting through the winter. This year doesn’t feel like that at all. One can just feel the crazy energy in this city building as the big event looms ever closer. Roads are being closed one by one. And dignitaries and stars and media attention is coming in from all over the world. Who would have thought our Ukulele Games would cause such a stir!

Performances tonight began with: Els who sang Elizabeth Cotton’s pawnshop song – Shake Sugaree (that’s also the lady who wrote Freight Train). Btw. It was Els’ dad Ron who played piano with us towards the end (he’s here from New York), Shira (of the egg shaker) sang with Peter the Beatles song All My Lovin’, Bert did the Tennessee Waltz and had a few verses that I ain’t done never heard before (I wrote that last bit in a Tennessee accent – good eh).

Super Jill and Mythical Man (he’s the one with the euphonium) sang a quaint follow up to their Zombie Love Song. Zombie Separation. A sad but true ballad of a Zombie lover who goes around eating other girl’s brains. Apparently they tried Zombie counselling but he ate the counsellor too. In the end their relationship fell apart…like the rest of him really.

Wendy did a lovely old-timey clawhammer number called I Wish I Had My Time Again. Paul and Louisa did a very Island sounding Brown Eyed Girl. Chris made his uke circle debut with the Arrogant Worms’ song Pear Juice is Murder. There were people singing along. Did I miss something?

Ken brought out his yellow Mahalo once again. This time a Disney song which he once played for his 3 year old niece who responded with, “I like LOUD music”. The song was from 1937 Some Day My Prince Will Come. A real nice jazzy version too. Hey Ken you tell that rock-fan, head-banging niece of yours she should go and grab some taste out of the cookie jar. We think you’re good even if you aren’t LOUD.

Cynthia played her smooth Bossa Nova stylings to A Certain Smile. Rock sang I Love You Less Today Than I will Tomorrow. Cumbersome title if that’s what it’s called. Maybe its called something else hmmm.

Steve and Band (Jill and Martin) Sang Spinal Tap’s Gimme Some Money. What a groove. It had me clicking my pen in time. Dan (first time) sang Crazy and I did the Elvis song: If I Can Dream. This was written shortly after Martin Luther King’s death and contains bits from his speeches. Yesterday was Martin Luther King day. It was Edmund Burke who said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” But, in my opinion, there is far too much ‘doing’ being done all round. Therefore let’s concentrate on getting the bad men to do nothing too and then we can all strum our ukuleles in peace. See you at the Games!!!

Ralph Luther King (of the ukulele)

The Ukulele Entertainer!!

Learn ukulele and get a free ukulele chord chart when you subscribe to my newsletter! Newsletter archive at:

 Ralph playing fastest ever version of a tune, thanks to Andrea Paterson   Holding the torch at the Ukulele Games, thanks to Andrea Paterson   Performing contestants at the Ukulele Games, thanks to Andrea Paterson   Faces at Our Town Cafe thanks to Andrea Paterson

Faces at Our Town Cafe thanks to Andrea Paterson   Faces at Our Town Cafe thanks to Andrea Paterson   Faces at Our Town Cafe thanks to Andrea Paterson

Thanks to Andrea Paterson for the previous group of photos on this page.