Welcome to Ukulele Bedford
We are a community ukulele group based (oddly enough!) around the Bedford area. We meet weekly at The Kings Arms (24 St Mary’s Street, Bedford MK42 OAS) on Wednesdays at 7.30pm. On occasion, we 'play out' for charity events. We are always delighted to see new members - so come along one evening and give it a try!
Always wanted to play an instrument? Try the ukulele! We welcome anyone, with any level of experience or expertise.
Just learning? Come on in. Been playing for years? Welcome - we'd love to benefit from your talents.
All you need is enthusiasm - we can even lend you a ukulele for the evening!
The short answer to that is "Anything the members of the group want to!". From 1930's tin-pan alley to jazz standards. From 60's novelty pop to 90's rock to last year's hits. Admittedly, when we try them we find that some things work better than others on massed ukuleles - but just trying to play the seemingly unsuitable can be great fun. And sometimes surprisingly successful.
Members old and new are always encouraged to select songs they'd like to try playing.
From the last meeting:
"After a slightly slow and shy start to the open mic last night, we got into the swing of things pretty well, with a good selection of songs and singers in our first half hour, including David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Joe Cocker, Harry Chapin and Billy Bragg, or, if you prefer, David N, Rebecca, a Mark and Joy duet, Trevor and finally Jon, unless I have forgotten anyone. If so, think cock-up not conspiracy.
We then headed into the familiar but not exhausted far reaches of the Gig Book and worked backwards from the end, barring Happy Birthday – and that was despite the fact that four of our 17 singers owned up to having a birthday in the previous week. It was good. If you weren’t there, we missed you. The Gig Book nights always remind me of what a great repertoire we already have.
These are all songs we can bash out pretty well, but in a spirit of incremental improvement, we looked at ways of making the three lines of G in Sloop a bit more interesting by adding Cs and Ds (3rd and 5th frets of the A string) in some places. It will make sense when written down.
We also looked at singles strums for the second half of the chorus of I’m a Believer, which added a good change of pace, sorted the counting in YMCA rather better, decided probably to skip Please Don’t Let me be Misunderstood as a gig song and changed to a monologue for the first verse of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. As with last week’s pre-gig changes, if we don’t all do this at the Beer Festival then it won’t be a hanging offence, but you’ll perhaps have a chance to revise some of the changes next week.
Talking of gigs, in case you missed the Facebook post, our Sutton afternoon on Saturday went well so long as no one mentions Urban Spaceman (a blip that we were able to laugh over) and the relatively thin audience. We sounded good. I gather from Norman that the Pirate Day also went very well.
In two weeks, we will decamp en masse to the 41st Bedford Beer and Cider Festival for the Wednesday evening session in The Corn Exchange. You are all welcome to join us, whether you are regular giggers or not. Full details will be circulated next week.
Gigs and open mics are obviously only part of what we do. The bulk of it is playing the music you have chosen, largely through the Strum Wot You Brung process, and we want to kick off BrungStrum5. This time, we would like you to choose two or three songs using the following criteria that we agreed last night:
1. Any one song from any era that you think really ought to be in the Gig Book for 2019. That could be Anarchy in the UK; it could be the National Anthem; it could be Bohemian Rhapsody; it could be My Way . . . It’s up to you entirely, but aim for something you think our audiences would want to hear and perhaps to join in with. Whether we can play your choice and whether it makes it into the Gig Book is a different matter, but think popular rather than obscure.
2. Any one song from this list of songs HERE that have been used in advertising. That’s a broad spectrum of just under 700 ear-worms. Advertisers are canny. They know a catchy tune and how to link it to attractive lifestyle choices so there is plenty of variety within that list.
3. Any one song that you have already sung at one of our open mic sessions or that you promise to do in one of the next two open mic sessions. If you haven’t done open mic, then this final route isn’t open to you . . .unless you get your act together over the next couple of months. Think of it as both a reward for people doing it and an incentive for others to get a song in our next book with no questions asked. For those of us who have done open mic, we’ll have to think which of our songs are suitable for mass singing etc, but that’s a nice bonus.
As a couple of general thoughts, people last night felt it would be good to have more songs that included a bit of fingerpicking and more where we can split into parts and harmonies. Perhaps that will help you in your choices.
Please send any songs or links to song sheets to Jon and me by the end of October and we’ll do our best to get a songbook out in November.
The end of October? Halloween? You bet. We are aiming for another Halloween night of pumpkin shenanigans so if you have any Halloween songs that you’d like us to add to the existing selection in the Spookelele songbook (available through all good Ukulele Bedford websites), send them to us this month. I dare say we’ll still want to do some of the familiar songs from that book but a Spookytwokulele spectacular would be fun. These don’t have to be too tightly linked to All Hallows Eve: anything from Smashing Pumpkins, the Automatics’ Monster, Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, Evil Woman from ELO, Nelly Furtado’s Maneater, the Specials’ Ghost Town, Scary Monsters (and super creeps) from Mr Bowie, Zombie from the Cranberries . . . the list could be endless, but it isn’t. I’ll stop there.
Finally, next week won’t be entirely gig focused but there will be the odd run through of our improvements. Other that that, we await your playlist and, especially if you are thinking of getting back into the ukulele groove after the summer, your company. Cheers"
Regular meeting: Every Wednesday at: The Kings Arms (24 St Mary’s Street, Bedford MK42 OAS)
7.30pm - 10pm.
All very welcome.