Ukulele Festival Of Great Britain 2013, Diary - Day1

22 Jun 2013

Ukulele Festival Of Great Britain 2013, Diary - Day1

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.

ukulele festival great britain crowds

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 Sarah Maisel and Steve Welsh at Uke Fest GB
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 Clarice Wokes and Andy Eastwood
Paul Mac and Clarice Wokes of Bradford Ukes with banjolele maestro Andy Eastwood

James Hill and Ken Middleton
James Hill and friend of The N'Ukes, Ken Middleton

So we had sunshine and we had beer, and on this the longest day, the darkness fell, the alcohol levels increased and the jamming continued into the early hours.

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

Paul Redfern and N'Ukes Amanda
pUKEs Paul Redfern and N'Ukes Amanda
Ian Emmerson
Ian Emmerson with an 8 string

Phil Doleman and Sarah Maisel
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 Mary Agnes Krell and Baz
Tim Smithies (Anything Goes Uke Orchestra / Dead Mans Uke), Mary Agnes Krell and a  drunken fool.
And there was no stopping the playing as the night wore on (although in our case the playing certainly got rougher and rougher round the edges!)

Uke Fest GB late night jamming
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 at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain
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....



  1. Nice one Baz. Really gutted to be missing out and all the fun!

  2. Thanks John. Was a good first day. Day 2 report coming very soon!


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