Normal service will be resumed on Got A Ukulele soon, but it has been one hectic week of uke playing for a very good reason.
The Chester Ukulele Players have just completed what has been a hugely entertaining weekend of uke-ness in the City - all for a great cause.
I've been so absorbed in it, that Got A Ukulele has needed to take a temporary back seat as we have played for the last two days solid. Thought I would give you a bit of a gig report for day two!
The N'Ukes arrived in Chester early today with a plan of running through our hastily put together set list in order to give us a bit of extra confidence and iron out any last minute issues. So we set up in the centre of town and ran through our full set in about 40 minutes. Loads of support and crowds and some much welcomed donations for the charity bucket!
Then a yomp down to the river for a much earned pint - and great to see Ken Middleton having his brunch on the way, riverside.
A pint (or two) later (accompanied by some more strumming in the beer garden) we moved on to the Groves Bandstand in the wonderful location on the banks of the Dee in Chester.
The Chester Ukulele Players treated the crowds first with a full hour set and a full compliment of players - wow, what a massive turnout from their club - there must have been 30 or 40 players on stage running through their songs, complete with penny whistles and bass on certain songs. They really got the crowd going and it proved a great start to proceedings.
During their set it was nice to sit in the shade of the trees (YES! We had sunshine!!!) with Ken and introduce him to the rest of the N'Ukes and have a ukulele chat with him.
Nerves started showing amongst the group (including those who said "I don't get nervous on stage" - you know who you are..) as our time slot approached. A wonderful intro from Dave at Chester and we ran into our 40 minute set. I can honestly say that the N'Ukes gave it their all and despite the odd mistake, we thoroughly enjoyed our gig!
Leaving the stage to very kind words from Dave, we then relaxed and sat in wonderment watching Ken Middleton take to the stage alone to perform some wonderful blues and rags, picked on his uke. Afterwards Ken was typically humble about his performance, but as far as this viewer was concerned, it was clear that he blew the crowd away with his skills.
The day ended with another set from a selection from the Chester Ukulele Players - and a feeling that a significant amount of money had been raised for the Miles Of Smiles charity - and rightly so!
Just as a footnote - the Nantwich N'Ukes took the bus back home to town and had a surreal experience - a full bus, packed with teenagers plus a few N'Ukes. We boarded the bus and a bunch of kids moved by us to grab the back seat. We warned them.... we warned them that we were in the mood to play ukulele. Much to our surprise they said "cool! we like ukes!" What followed was a bizarre one hour bus ride filled with ukulele playing and clapping from the other passengers. The kids behind us were superb, singing along to the likes of Minnie The Moocher and I'm A Believer. But the star of the show was the bus driver himself. Whilst still in Chester City, one of the kids suggested (jokingly) we play the nursery rhyme "The Wheels On The Bus"...... we duly obliged... As did the driver!!!
When we reached the verse, 'The horn on the bus goes beep beep beep', our bus driver duly played his part, and regardless of the fact we were in the centre of the City at peak hour, honked his horn in time with every beep beep beep! When we left the bus, every N'Uke shook him by the hand and he exclaimed that 'this was one of his best ever shifts'!
Great weekend, making music with friends, and making new friends too. Thanks again to Chester for welcoming us and we hope to see you soon.