Ohhhh my head.... Well, that is day one over at the ukulele festival of Great Britain, and it was late and merry night!
We arrived in Cheltenham mid afternoon to avoid a rush - very nice central hotel, then out for some afternoon drinks with some of The N'Ukes before heading off to the Exmouth Arms for the official festival opener / jam / get together.
The organisers did a grand job, with a large marquee area for fear of rain (thankfully, that rain did not come) which by 7pm was soon filling up and later was absolutely heaving. Such a number of uke fans, clubs, solo players and several well known names too. It was jam central - with groups playing their thing, but also joining in with others when a song started. I particularly liked the blues jam we started in the sunshine which saw loads of players stand up and join in as we worked through a medley of Eric Bibb, Jerry Lee-Lewis, Carl Perkins and Fleetwood Mac.
Had a very nice chat with festival performer Sarah Maisel who had only just arrived in the UK from the USA, tired, jet lagged, but utterly charming and ready to get into the spirit of the festival. She had with her one stunning ukukele made for her by Mike Da Silva.
|Simon Grove (Bridgnorth and Halesowen), Sarah Maisel and N'Ukes Steve|
And always good to meet other new faces who I've only thus far spoken to online together with the great James Hill with whom we had a very nice chat. Always good to see friend of Got A Ukulele and The N'Ukes Ken Middleton too.
|Paul Mac and Clarice Wokes of Bradford Ukes with banjolele maestro Andy Eastwood|
|James Hill and friend of The N'Ukes, Ken Middleton|
I got to finally meet uke performers who I have written about on this blog many times such as Paul Redfern of The pUKEs and Phil Doleman and Ian Emmerson
|pUKEs Paul Redfern and N'Ukes Amanda|
|Ian Emmerson with an 8 string|
|Phil Doleman (with his delightful Beltona Reso) and Sarah Maisel|
Also had a great chat with the lovely Mary Agnes Krell about the upcoming Grand Northern Ukulele Festival, together with chewing the fat with Tim Smithies (Anything Goes Uke Orchestra and Dead Man's Uke) and his delightfully dapper son Jake (Bass and vocals in the same bands).
|Tim Smithies (Anything Goes Uke Orchestra / Dead Mans Uke), Mary Agnes Krell and a drunken fool.|
|Strumming into the night|
But most of all it was an evening of big smiles - everywhere you looked were people laughing, grinning and just genuinely having a good time of it.
|Sarah Maisel and James Hill|
My sore head tells me everything I need to know, but just relaxing now for the morning before the festival proper kicks of at lunchtime. Couldn't photograph everyone, and I have probably forgotten to mention some. Thanks so much to Richard Gent and Jamie Wright for the kind words about the blog! Great also to meet the likes of Lesley Fowkes, John Caudrey etc for the first time and to catch up with Simon Grove, Paul Mac and Clarice Wokes again.
Off to the town hall soon to see the acts perform, and I'll be back on again tomorrow with an update on Day 2 of the fest.
Pass me the aspirin....
(CHECK OUT THE OTHER DIARY POSTINGS FOR THIS FESTIVAL HERE! )