Continuing my series, Me And My Ukulele, where ukulele players worldwide share their stories with you. I hope they inspire you. This time, say hello to Rae Carter, from Portsmouth, UK.
Photo - Credit - Copyright Marcus Maschwitz Photography
In the tail end of November 2009 I was asked by my friend Jackie if I could tune a ukulele which she had bought for her son Joe for Christmas. I had never knowingly heard a ukulele before this and had no idea how to tune one but thought it can't be much different from a guitar. I had previously played guitar so I agreed. Initially, I had no idea how to tune the thing. so I hit the internet looking for an online tuner, which was actually quite easy to find. I picked up my laptop and went to her house to tune what could only be described as a toy instrument (Joe was only 4 at the time.) It wasn't until I had it in tune and tried the few chords provided on the same site that I that this could be quite a fun instrument to learn. I went home to my partner to discuss and we agreed I would get one.
Trawling the net I found Ukulele Underground and joined the site immediately. I quickly realised that people who played ukes were extremely friendly and helpful and gave me lots of advice on a first purchase. I decided on a Kala ASMC ukulele. I was a bit wary - over one hundred pounds for something I have never played was a lot of money, but coming from 15 years playing guitar I am well aware cheap instruments are cheap for a reason. I decided to buy from a man called Musicguymike (MGM) in the USA as everyone had raved at how helpful he was and that he set up all his ukes before despatch. I went for it and then sat waiting for two weeks for it to arrive from America. With hindsight I wish I had discovered the Southern Ukulele Store before I did this, as I was stung by customs charges!
I learnt the hard way, definitely. That said, the advantage of having one that would take two weeks to deliver was I was effectively able to play the instrument in my head before I'd even touched it due to me being able to play guitar which was a huge bonus.
I found the tutor Ukulele Mike online and learned hey to play Hey There Delilah. When the uke eventually arrived I fell in love with the beauty of it instantly. I tuned it up and played the tune I had learned. It found it was easy for me to play which was a huge bonus!
I then decided to record me playing it after only an hour or so of holding one and posted it on Youtube, as that seemed to be what a lot of players were doing on Ukulele Underground. After I posted I found I was getting a lot of really kind comments from people who were shocked I could play it so quickly. This spurred me on to carry on posting on Youtube under the name raecarter82.
18 months later I now have 75 videos posted and so many more views than I ever thought possible. I'm even playing in pubs now and have started professionally recording a song I wrote in studio of Quay West Records in Gosport, Hampshire. It seems only yesterday that I first picked up that toy uke, as I still feel that same excitement when I player the infectious little thing! It has definitely brought the love of music back to me. I hope this inspires some to discover or rediscover they love of music through the ukulele also. Thanks for reading.
Thanks Rae - you certainly have risen quickly in the uke world - good luck for the future! See below for a vid of Rae playing live supporting What Is Life For and for the opening of Quay West Studios in Gosport. To go from never playing a uke, to performing on a professional stage in under two years is staggering! And to keep an eye on Rae and his gigs - look at his FACEBOOK PAGE