Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meetings 2006 Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ralph’s Blog Archives – 2006

Ralph 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

Vancouver Ukulele Circle Meetings 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Meeting at Our Town. Slightly smaller crowd than usual, but still over 20 people. Aletha came with me, and Wendy brought a car full. Performers were: Gary and Guido (on guitar) doing a song about Kauai and Feliz Navidad; Ronin – White Christmas; Cynthia – Jingle Bell Rock and Santa Baby, Marion – An Old Christmas Card (Jim Reeves), Fred – song about Angel Dust; I sang Thanks for Getting Your Legs Waxed in the Church Father David.

After the break, we did the Christmas / Ukulele Quiz. Brad won with 12 points and got a chord chart plus Jumpin’ Jim’s ’60s Uke-In; Guy came in 2nd and won a chord chart and pitch pipe; Steve came 3rd and won a chord chart and ukulele pin. Joe also came 3rd but was late announcing it, so he just got a chord chart. Everybody got a ukulele Christmas decoration made by Stanley Matthews, who is going to Hawaii this week and hopes to find a nice Kamaka.

November 21, 2006

Today is “No Music Day”. This was started by Bill Drummond, a professional musician who believes we should examine the role of music in our lives. Music is all around us all the time but do we still get excited by it? Why does so much “new” music sound so similar to what has gone on before? How much has the idea of recorded music changed the way we understand what music is? What is missing for us musically? Drummond really wants to start a discussion about music. He has chosen this day because tomorrow, November 22, is St. Cecilia’s day, honouring the patron saint of music.

The evening began as per above with a silent rendition of Singing in the Rain, which received mixed reactions. Some gamely mimed along. Others just sat and then talked! It was a bit of relief to get back to the music. I had my full percussion gear. It was a bit much – maybe I’ll bring a reduced version in the future. Bongos and suitcase bass perhaps.

Good turnout. Wendy took in $30 and sold 5 of our songbooks (Wicky Wacky Woo00). Ronin brought two songs for us to try – When You Wish Upon a Star, and Return to Sender.

Performance time: Boswell did Over the Rainbow (after a lengthy talk of his tuning!) and Mother What’ll I Do Now; Joe Jordan sang a song about working on the Fraser looking for gold and thinking of home; Joe did two songs; Pam sang Till There Was You; 12 year old Steve was there again. After practicing hard all month, he did King of the Road with great energy and was given huge applause. He’s the youngest solo player so far. It turns out that he’s the grandson of my next-door neighbour.

Ronin did a medieval song and one with the piano (Dream On, I think) at the end of which I said “Never do that again”. I suggested he start his own “piano circle” <grin>. Tom sang about the 2nd Narrows Bridge disaster by Stomping Tom and he sang Bless ’em All – a favourite of his dad’s. Suzy Haynes was there with a 5-stringed tenor banjo-uke. She said she’d sing next time. Peter Murphy did a very good 12th Street Rag, and Tracy Bissonnette started a lovely rendition of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring but had to quit as her fingers refused to do her bidding. Guido sang Don’t Get Around Much Anymore with blues harmonica and a nice fingerstyle, and he sang Snowbird as done by Anne Murray. Or as Guido said, “I’ve never done Anne Murray before”. Serving us was Lisa.

October 17, 2006

Our Town, over 24 people. Good mix of songs taught. Loads of energy. Quite a few people from the street came and listened. One guy played a toy tambourine in the corner, completely not in time and then was asking Marion where he might buy a violin. Several new people: Ellie (used to work with Wendy), Karen (found the vanukes website), Joe (Jordan), 12-year-old Steven who was there with Mariegold, his mom, and has a Mahalo uke (they are about to go cycling to part of the Tour de France).
Performances by me (Brazil), Liam (new guy who was at Billy Bishop – he tried Till there Was You but had to quit, but he came back later to do Walking After Midnight; Joe did a hilarious hillbilly style Fat Bottomed Girls, and then I Am Woman; Karly did a very short song (it took us longer to get her Larrivee in tune!); Boswell did It’s Magic, and Grand and Healthy Life; Ron played bass; Ronin brought Let It Be, and played piano. He also did Silhouettes. Among the assembled crowd were Karly’s roommate, who just moved from Israel, and a woman Wendy knew on the Aquabus, who came with her friends.
October 3, 2006

Extra evening at Billy Bishop Legion to meet Brian and Sue Turner from Hereford and also to try out new songs for the next book – Wicky Wacky Two. A fun and boisterous evening. The Morris Men were there at the end to rehearse.

September 19, 2006 – 6th Anniversary!!

At Our Town, about 22 people. Virginia bought 2 blue birthday cakes that said “Vancouver Ukulele Circle”. Rachel Saunders from DNTO (Definitely Not The Opera, a CBC radio show) was there to interview people and record the proceedings. She is doing a piece about the resurgence of the ukulele.

There were performances by: me – Viva Las Vegas; Virginia – Night for Spoonin’; Gary and Barbara – two Hawaiian songs (Lovely Hula Hands , and another; Gary sang and Barbara danced); Joe – BeeGees song and another one; Karly – a song she’d written about coming out from behind a curtain (she has a great voice and stage presence); Tom – Are the Stars Out Tonight, and When You’re Strange; Ronin did Sign Your Name (Terence Trent D’Arby), and his Black Magic Woman/Thrill is Gone/Light My Fire medley.
New people: Erin (found us on Google) and Lowell Morris (he contacted me a year ago with a Halloween album he mad). Our servers were Dana and Shawn (he requested the Hukilau Song). Guy requested Worried Man, which was the last song on my list but I had decided to forego it and ask for a request instead. Coincidence there.

Wendy drove Marion, Virginia and me home. Marion complained she didn’t know so many songs tonight, and Wendy and Virginia were complaining that I didn’t spend enough time teaching the difficult chords. Good grief! I told them to make a list of everything that would make the ukulele circle perfect and I would try to fulfill it <grin>.
(Comment from Wendy: I thought he said to make the list and then burn it – no, just kidding).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 – in Common Room at Ralph’s

Paul Moore from Israel did a one-man-band concert using some instruments that Paul and I had found in the alleyways that afternoon. We had a unusual boot stick, several shakers, a washtub bass made of a window blind and a cat food tin. Kids came up at the end to play in the “band”. There was a good crowd of regulars, some folks we haven’t seen in quite a while, and several neighbours. More than 25 people.

August 15, 2006

At Our Town, more than 20 people. Performances by Gary – Willie and the Hand Jive; Pam – All Dressed Up to Go Dreaming; Greg – What a Day for a Daydream; Wendy, with Mary on fiddle, sang a Mexican and a Catalan song! Marion and Mary played Ashokan Farewell on two violins; Joe did I Can See Clearly Now, and It Isn’t Even Spring; Jim did Up a Lazy River, and My Little Ukulele; Karly (first timer) did a really nice song; I sang When the Blue of the Moon; Guido – song about loss of innocence, and In a Sentimental Mood.

New people: Janet, Anne, Karly. Servers at Our Town – Emily (we sang Ukulele Lady for her) and Dana.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Beach party at Sunset Beach. Dennis brought a refracting telescope and we saw Jupiter and the moons.

July 18, 2006

Nineteen people, at Our Town. Cam Wilson (of Joe Trio) happened to walk by and came in. He said we sounded good!

Performances: Jim did Andy the Handyman; Pam – Blue Moon; Joe did Leon Redbone’s They’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone (comment from Wendy: Sam Bush? or different song), and Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire. Tom did a hilarious take on Formby’s Leaning on a Lamppost, by making it sound like a Leonard Cohen song. Guido did two songs, one of them an instrumental of a John Lennon song; Wendy gave a talk on stuff she had learned at uke festivals recently and gave a nice demonstration of claw hammer style playing. Ann Foster sang a song about Vancouver that came out for Expo 1986.

Among the usual crowd were Gary who has a nice voice but couldn’t sing because of bruised ribs, Philip who played tin whistle, and Marion on fiddle.

June 20, 2006

Ralph away in Portland – Meeting led by Wendy and Pam.

May 16, 2006

Our Town, 26 people. Visit by Alan and Hilda Southworth. Alan has been a member of the George Formby Society for 28 years. I met them at Granville Island yesterday and had tea. Good turnout. Wendy had ordered lots of ukulele pins from Nan Chadwick in the UK, and Wendy said we had a big turnout because people wanted to collect their pins.

New people: Richard, who bought a Flea from me this week, Barbara brought a couple of friends – they danced hulas and played spoons!

We sang a few songs and then I asked Alan to talk about the GFS. He borrowed my Gibson banjo-uke and sang a medley of Windows, Chinese Laundry, and Lamppost. He also sang Blackpool Rock, Out in the Middle East, and finally he borrowed Pam’s Hilo to do a song about the old movie stars. He talked about the society and what it has meant to him (“everything”, he said). The GFS has completely consumed his life. He has spent countless hours writing out hundreds of songs. Hilda, it seems, has enjoyed it just as much as he has by getting to know all the people involved and so on. After the break, Alan presented me with a George Formby tie. It has banjo ukes all over it and George’s signature at the bottom.

Performances: James J did La Mer in English and then in French but he forgot the French words – it was very entertaining to see him flounder in a sea of meaningless French vocabulary and eventually having to abandon ship. It just goes to show that when you are singing in a language you don’t understand it is impossible to improvise new lyrics!! Joe Sloan sang Get It On; Ann Foster did instrumentals of Downtown, and Georgy Girl; Pam and Jim did Sadie Green; I did Sex-Bomb (this one was a big hit – everybody clapped along).

Today was a hot day (29 C degrees) and people had lots of energy. There were also some nice moments where the group singing was especially nice, eg, Under the Boardwalk, Pearly Shells – Barbara danced a hula and Philip did a nice pennywhistle solo.
Alan says they’ll probably never come this way again, but he said I can stay with them next time I’m in England and he’ll take me to Blackpool!

April 18, 2006

Eighteen people. New people – Michael Straker, Barbara.

Performances by Joe Sloan (great songs, but I didn’t know the names), Ron – You Can’t Talk Straight If You Live a Crooked Life; Guido – In a Sentimental Mood, and Mood Indigo; Tom – Michelle, and Lovesick Blues; Jim J – Lydia the Tattooed Lady, and They Can’t Fool Me. I sang She Taught Me to Yodel.

March 21, 2006

Our Town, 23 people. New people: Marion Boyce (fiddle player from PEI), Joe Sloan (from San Francisco), Tony Coates (an IT consultant from London, originally Australian, visiting Vancouver on business; a chap called Stan and wife (Debby?).

Performances: Ronan – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’; Peter sang about a stupid woman! Pam – Waterboys; Marion – Ashokan Waltz, and Edelweiss. Tom did Stardust, and a song of ALL the countries in the world! Joe did a Doors song, the one about a crystal ship; Tony did Waltzing Matilda (a lovely slow version on his RISA tenor stick); I did Wakey Wakey Get Your Hands off Mr Snaky. Marion is a wonderful fiddle player, and she played beautifully along with nearly all the songs.

February 21, 2006

This entry was written by Pam Burns, who filled Ralph’s shoes as leader for the evening.

After the getting used to the initial shock of the absence of his Royal Ukeness and exquisite leader of the Ukulele Circle – Ralph Shaw, all uke folk who attended the meeting proceeded to have a lovely time.

We started with a little chatting and eating and general familiarizing, during which I noticed that the rather rotund gentleman who generally wears outlandish shirts (can’t remember his name, lovely man!) (That would be Dennis – ralph) had purchased a very super ukulele embedded with mother of pearl, he was obviously very proud of it indeed! (his first ukulele I believe). A tall, blue-eyed man called Joe arrived very enthusiastically and told us that he had found the group on the Internet and was keen to join. He sat by me and we got on like old friends… .so good, so far!

Tom and his best friend of 16 years laughed and chatted beside me. Virginia arrived in a stunning floral top with a voice and smile to match. Our bassist was full of beans and enthusiasm…. I could go on from person to person, but that would take too long… without further ado, here’s how the evening panned out:

We started playing songs from the Wicky Wacky Woooooo book. A little rocky and out of sync at first as I had not properly considered what sort of ending each song-should herald, although I had confidently commanded the words: “Repeat once!” and “Instrumental please!” to which all responded particularly well. After a couple of these bitty or rather sad song endings, I consulted with Virginia and the Bass player, and between us we gave instruction as to how each song might end, which was well received I am glad to say. In fact, I would venture to comment that we were all rather tight and marvelous in our syncopations by the end of the session, what joy, what joy!!!

After a short break, food, drink and chat, we resumed rather enthusiastically with… PERFORMANCE TIME!!!!

William (James actually – ralph) bravely took the stage with a very sweet rendition of “Dream a little Dream”, and although the kazoo seems a curious instrument to add to this endearing little song, somehow it did work! Next up was Tom (who as usual played like a pro), he sang a great song , although I can’t remember the title. Everyone sang along. Joe, our new member, being neither coy nor shy, got up on stage and did an accelerated version of “Venus in Furs”, a rather naughty S and M song (yes, I said S and M!), originally recorded by the controversial, Andy Warhol inspired group – The Velvet Underground. He also played another quirky song unfamiliar to me but excellent. Heather our beautiful Ukulele Vamp played next; she sang a song called (something like) “Miserable Farm”, a satirical and somewhat melancholic number, adding nicely to the esoteric bent of the evening

In between a couple of the performances, our dear old Brad started ‘playing about’ on his ukulele. I knew that this was my opportunity to showcase his amazing talents and so I announced very quickly and directly: “Brad you’re on!” to which Brad responded with a splendid rendition of “Saint James Infirmary”. BRAD EVEN SANG!!!!! And coincidentally, an ambulance (with sirens ablaze) passed by Our Town Cafe right in the middle of the song!! (Actually, I am not sure if it was an ambulance, I didn’t look, but there was a siren outside, so I just mixed it with my imagination a bit… .what a great sound effect!). Again, I can’t remember his name, a good-looking chappy (a regular member) who has been in a couple of TV-adverts {Peter Murphy -ralph) played next. He did a delightful rendition of Bewitched Buggered and Bewildered…..sorry….Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, with a nice deep voice and plenty of expression.

I got up and sang that gloriously sentimental if not a little hackneyed song: Tonight You Belong To Me. After losing my singing voice for the last few months, I found to my surprise that I had a full and working vibrato, hit the high notes without much problem and I also had quite a bit of volume. I was relatively pleased with my performance for a change and I really enjoyed singing!

Finally, William (James again – ralph) played an excellent version of “Lazy Bones “, complete with original introductory verse and accompaniment from all in the Ukulele circle. Which made for a grand ending to the performances. (Hope that I haven’t missed anyone out!).

We then proceeded collectively in heightened spirits, to sing songs from the Wicky Wacky Wooooo book, ending with (as is traditional and fitting) Goodnight Sweetheart!
On that note, I shall say, a good night was had by all, and although you may think that we survived the evening without you Ralph, your spirit rang out loud and clear from all of our hearts, as rightly it should! You truly are the essence of the Ukulele Circle, which in turn is a source of great laughter, jolliment and enjoyment for many people! Bless you for it!

January 17, 2006

Our Town. About 15 people. Among the regulars was Paul Hoosen, appearing for the first time in about three years.

For some reason, the performers were a little nervous tonight. Cynthia went first and had to abandon her song half way through (a western number involving doggies and a corral); Pam had a frog in her throat but still managed a nice Lullaby of the Leaves; Jim did Stardust, and Noughts and Crosses; Paul and Sand did You Are My Bedpan. I did my George Formby Song (that I wrote): I’ve Got the Crown Jewels in My Basement.

Our server is called Estella – lovely girl.