Following in my series of interviews with some ukulele clubs, I was recently lucky to talk about uke clubs with the organisers of UkeyLove (also the people behind the London Uke Festival). UkeyLove run an open mic ukulele night in London, UK.
The UkeyLove team run their sessions on a monthly basis in London - the idea is simple, and is aimed at those a little more progressed with their ukulele playing as a means to get them into live performing. Attendees are asked to prepare two songs and an encore, and turn up and perform them at the gathering. The best bit is that the songs are recorded and video'd and then made available on the UkeyLove website - this not only promotes artists but serves to help them improve by watching themselves back!
I spoke to the team recently
Q: How did you start playing the ukulele?
I have a friend who was in the habit of bringing lots of different instruments over to my house, and one day it was a ukulele. I thought it was cute and cool and that was it really. I went and bought myself one the next day. Never looked back since then!
Q:When did you decide to start a uke club, and what made you start it up?
I go to Uke Wednesday (a mad Ukulele jam in the Royal George in London, which was my first Uke club) and the owner of a pub who had seen it approached me with a view to doing something similar - UkeyLove was born!
Q:Were there any problems in the early days?
LOL not in my mind... it was fun! But seriously we did have trouble with speakers, one was faulty... There are so many variables in live events... But it great when it works.
Q: Do you have any tips for finding a venue?
Depends on the night you are thinking of putting it on. Pubs are business so they usually want extra trade at the bar because you're there. So be brave, friendly and have a little eye out for what they might want... If it costs you to put the club on then try and get a little something from it for yourself. And try and give them something in return but that's a personal choice! Don't forget even if the first answer is a 'no' it's not the only venue in town! There is always a spare room in a pub somewhere mid week. Weekends are possibly harder of course. There's a website somewhere which shows pubs offering rooms not sure what it's called but Google should find it.
Q: What age range is your membership, and what do they like to play?
We have all types, and there are no limits on what they play (it's an open mic night after all!)
Q: What is the most common question beginner players ask you at your meetings?
Ha! It is usually, "Can I go a little later in the billing?" - nerves of a first time performance I guess...
Q: With the ukulele growing in popularity, where do you see your club going in the next few years?
Not sure... The club has grown to a festival (UkeyLove arranged the London Ukulele Festival, including the mass ukulele playing and world record!) and a label already, so the Sky's the limit. But I like the simplicity of an open mic night. It's so basic and I learn something new each time. For me the best thing is when someone amazes you... a pin drop performance. It happens each time.
Q:What is your best piece of advice for a new ukulele player?
Get a tuner!!! And dont beat yourself up while you learn. Your not an expert at anything when you start...
The UkeyLove event takes place at the Snooty Fox, 75 Grosvenor Avenue, London N5 2NN on a Thursday 31 March. You can read more at the UKEYLOVE WEBSITE, and you can check out sample videos of previous recordings on their UKEYLOVE YOUTUBE CHANNEL. Thanks ever so much for the team speaking to Got A Ukulele!
More interviews coming soon, and my next Ukulele Club interview is with the Balham Ukulele Society!