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Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2015 - Got A Ukulele Diary

Another year another ukulele festival...... Hang on, that sounds dismissive, that's not what I meant. For anyone who has ever been to a GNUF event before, this is not just another ukulele festival, it's a return to what I think is the best ukulele festival there is.  So, eight months later, in a new earlier calendar slot, my third Grand Northern Ukulele Festival Diary.

GNUF banner

Still in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, this year GNUF once again looked to develop itself further. 2014 was a huge event on the worlds ukulele calendar, headlined as it was by the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain, but if there is one thing I have learned in the last few years about these organisers it's this. They DON'T rest on their laurels. They wanted to build further on 2014 to create another world class event, and I think they did just that. Heck, I won't even go with the usual pattern of building things up for the reader in order to give you the final, cheesy knockout punch that tells you what I thought. I'll say it right away. This was the best yet. By far.

This will be a long blog post, go grab yourself a coffee and read at your leisure!


Zahra Lowzley - Ukulele Cycle Tour Of Britain

It's nice when you see someone going an extra mile for a charitable cause. And in this case, Zahra Lowzley is going more than a mile. 1000 of them in fact!

Sam Wise who is helping her organise her tour writes:

"Anyone who is paying attention in the world of the ukulele has come across Zahra Lowzley; with her blend of electrifying technique and an unusual worldview, you don’t forget her quickly! 

Zahra is organising a tour in support of Ukulele Kids Club, which she plans to complete by bicycle, but bookings for this extraordinary endeavour are proving tricky. If you know of a venue who would like their customers’ heads taken off by Zahra’s ukulele prowess, then take a look at her schedule  below. She would be delighted to find bookings for most of the towns she is calling at."

I first saw Zahra perform at a festival I organised and she completely blew the audience away - take a look at the video below to see what I mean.

The cycle tour takes in all sorts of places - have a look at the dates - and she is getting to all of these with uke, amplifier and all gear by bike!!


Fitting A Strap Button to A Ukulele

Been meaning to do this video for some time, so here goes. A step by step video guide to fitting a strap button to a ukulele.

Why do this? Because it's easy! I really don't want to get into the pros and cons of straps - it's a pointless debate. I like them. People seem to be scared about doing this - it's really not hard!



Changing Tastes and The Time Sensitivity Problem With A Ukulele Blog.

OK, bit of an odd one this, but something I felt the need to respond to. My post yesterday about fishing lines had a rather incredible amount of traffic. Not saying everyone would be in agreement, but an incredible amount of traffic all the same. The whole string debate still seems to be every ukulele players favourite subject! But someone pulled me up on it with a valid observation - that in the past I had claimed that certain strings were my favourites and that I COULD tell strong differences between them. Yet here I am now saying the opposite. What gives?


Something Fishy? Fishing Line as Ukulele Strings

OK, couldn't hold out much more on this subject, and I am seeing it cropping up more and more online these days. Something fishy has been happening at Got A Ukulele Towers... All (yes all) of my ukuleles are now strung with fishing line. You know, the stuff for... erm... fishing...

That is not actually as absurd as it sounds... read on.

You see, the thing is, most modern fishing line is made of stuff called Fluorocarbon. Heard that word before? Yes, exactly the same stuff as many ukulele strings. So I started to do a bit of research and realised that, despite what people may believe, there are not many ukulele string factories around the world making this stuff. They are, in the main,  buying their product from the makers of fishing lines. Why? Well, when fishing line makers are churning out this stuff in vast lengths, so they can justify whole factories to make it. Whilst the ukulele is popular, there just isn't enough string on every uke on the planet to match the amount that is dunked in the ocean by sea fishermen. In short - it makes sense to buy from the established factories who are already making the stuff and have the production facilities in place.

So before I get into the details of my experience, some caveats which are really important.


The Mother Ukers - Love Cats for Margaret Green Animal Rescue

It's nice when a much loved ukulele outfit go that extra mile for a very worthy cause, and that's what we have here with The Mother Ukers and their association with the Margaret Green Animal Rescue charity.

UK ukulele fans can't have failed to have missed the Mother Ukers rise on the circuit, with many of us seeing their cracking set at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in 2014 (and looking forward to another of the same this year - in a couple of weeks in fact!).

Anyway, for some time now, The Mother Ukers have been doing work in association with Margaret Green Animal Rescue, donating a percentage of their merch revenue, doing busking events for them and the like.  Every year Margaret Green Animal Rescue cares for over 1,200 animals, many of which have been abandoned, unwanted and ill-treated, and rehome them to loving owners. With centres in Devon and Dorset they always have a large variety of animals that are looking for new, loving homes.

So not just a cracking band, but a caring one too! And what an ace video eh?

Take a look below at their promotion for the charity and be sure to visit the links below the video too. Nice work guys!

(The Mother Ukers are.... Barnaby Wild, Jonty Jonson and Luap Rekcut and bill themselves as 'Pioneers of Ukular Fusion'!)

The Mother Ukers - Pioneers of Ukular Fusion


Ukulele Turin Orchestra - Muse - Uprising

I don't really share a lot of ukulele videos like I used to for one main reason - it's hard to find good ones amongst the millions of ukulele videos filmed in bedrooms the world over. So when I find one that I think stands out, it tends to get a mention on Got A Ukulele. Like this one from the Ukulele Turin Orchestra.

Now that's busking!



Clearwater / Aroma Folding Ukulele Stand - REVIEW

Back on to the ukulele accessory reviews, and something extremely simple, cheap and as such, something I think that is a no brainer for anyones gig bag. The Clearwater / Aroma Folding Ukulele Stand.

Folding Ukulele Stand with Concert ukulele

Stands are something that many ukulele players will look into at some point. At the end of the day they are a far better bet than leaving an instrument leaning against a table or chair leg and massively reduce the risk of being knocked over. In the simplest sense, one can use a regular guitar stand, but there are an increasing variety of ukulele specific stands out there. They come in a range of construction types from the sturdy metal variety, through to the hand crafted wooden type through to the more flimsy. Whilst this one is very much at the more flimsy end, that kind of misses the point of it.


Should I Worry About Ukulele Humidity?

OK, something that kind of gets my goat this one, and in danger of descending into a famous Got A Ukulele rant... Do you need to worry about ukulele humidity?

Why only a  potential rant Baz? Well, I realise that we live on a BIG planet and for many people, humidity is indeed a BIG problem with solid wood instruments. I suppose what started to get the hackles up with me was when I see people in the UK ( a temperate climate) worrying about humidity and, worse, still, spending money on gadgets to solve a problem that some bright spark convinced them was real. Not only can in many cases such gadgets be unnecessary, but they can cause as much damage the other way.

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