I went along to the Balmain Ukulele Club tonight, at the Gladstone Bowling Club in central Balmain. It's my second visit to the club, my inaugural steps to ukuleledom were taken in April, some seven months ago. Club meetings are held on the first "teen" Monday of every month except January.
The photo above is my uke, the Cole Clark Ukulele handmade from solid Australian Blackwood. Blackwood is very similar to Hawaian Koa of which traditional Hawaian ukes are made.
The Gladstone Bowling Club is an anachronism in time and that of course accounts for its many charms.Vintage, unassailable fun! Ok, up to about 7pm we strum along with the band who are calling out the chord changes from the microphone. From 7pm-8pm we play along to songs with the chord charts having had been emailed to us the week beforehand. Tonight we had a reggae theme. We strummed along to 'I shot the Sheriff' and various others. Tony Larwood conducts the session and gives out pointers through the microphone on various strumming techniques and chord fingerings.
A room full of people with their ukuleles!!!!! The ukes in the room range from the $20 Mahalos to very expensive Hawaian-made Kamakas, plus some locally-made custom beauties and relics from the 1920s.
From 8pm onward we have solo time. About a dozen of us get up and sing a song. Some people get together in groups and dress up (see the photo a few above!) I sang 'Sloop John B' and tried to calypso it up but I couldn't get the "white" Pet Sounds aka Brian Wilson version out of my head!
I took my glasses off and kept my eyes transfixed on the mike. Next time I'll loosen up and talk a little more when I perform. The next time - hopefully next month when there shall be a Christmas party - will be my third visit and I'll be suitably relaxed by then.
I was telling someone about how people are so friendly here. They replied by saying something of the sort that "you can't put up any attitude if you're playing a ukulele!" We had a good laugh over that!
As the proceedings drew to a close I spied someone I recognised. I went up to her and indeed it was Donna with her new husband, that was a very pleasant meeting! I have not seen Donna in about five years. I noticed she was playing a Kamaka uke that they bought in Hawaii on their way home from holiday.
Donna, who once played drums, remarked underhandedly how much easier it is to carry a uke than a drumkit. Oh yes, the uke is easier to carry than just about anything!!! Which of course is one of its beauties.
I can't wait to go back. Not only was this fun, it was kind of heavenly. The ukulele is a most sweet instrument and those old sweet jazz-blues jug tunes just don't sound better on any other instrument. Geez I feel happier now!
Long live the sweet ukulele!
And all these photos were taken from my cellphone and immediately "published" onto my other blog, the cellphone camera photo dumpsite. How nifty is that!