The Queen Vic

On tuesday night we went down to help launch Lauren Mason’s new Open Mic night at the Queen Vic pub in Shalford.

It was a well attended evening, with some familiar faces, with mix of superb guitarists. We played acoustically as it’s too much hassle to worry about plugging in and mic’ing six people (Cathy couldn’t be there) – we got a really good response, we opened with our usual starter of ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ and there were lots of mobile phones being whipped out.

Photos of the event can be see on our facebook page, and the Queen Vic had published their video of us by the time we all got home.

Ukulele Shops – Guildford Music

Situated on Stoke Road, between The Tup and the top of North Street, this small shop is where Alberts Music used to be.  As the name implies, they sell more than ukuleles with a small stock of electric and acoustic guitars, song books and some amplification and effects devices as well (some new, some used).

But, they do have a reasonably large selection of ukes and at least one of the staff can play them as well.  Amongst their stock when I visited recently was a lovely 8 string (Monica has one, must get her to gig with it soon) and a more unusual 6 string (same 4 strings as a soprano, but two of them doubled).  They have a good selection of Eddy Fin ukes as well, they have a beautiful tone.  They also sell accessories: cases, tuners, chord books, plectrums).

A number of us have recommended Guilford Music and I haven’t heard that anyone’s been disappointed with the place.  It’s well worth a visit.

Byfleet Library – Gig Report

We were invited to play at Byfleet library, the library had been run by volunteers for a year, and this was their anniversary event.

The idea was that we’d play outside the library as people came and went. It was a useful event for us, our first field test of all our kit that we’ve assembled. This wasn’t our first electrified gig, but it was the first with all our own stuff.

We had all sorts of difficulties, as at one point we had no sound at all, but fortunately the problem was fixed, and we played. The volume was a little low (higher power PA on the wishlist) – but after a break we adjusted things so our PA was at its limits, and it survived.

Getting ready to play at Byfleet

At one point, we were approached by Oliver, a lad in his mid teens who ran home to get his ukulele, and asked to join in – we were more than happy to oblige!

There were plenty of children who seemed to be enjoying our set, including some dancers in pink coats who took a ukeaholics card to stick on their fridge – and the nice man from the Surrey Ad came to take pictures.

At the end we’d gathered a small crowd (it’s always good to finish with more people than you had at the start) and we were asked if we’d be available for other events – to which the answer is "sure – if our diaries are clear"

We hope the good people of byfleet liked having us there, for us, it was a very useful event for ironing out wrinkles in our songs on the march toward international superstardom (ahem!)

Our Big Weekend

Saturday 14th September 2013 was a busy day. Very busy. We did three gigs in a row. We started the day with a ‘dress rehearsal’, in the living room of one of the ukeaholics, and then made our way to the Light Box.

We played our full set to a small, but appreciative, crowd. We had no amplification, just us, our ukes and a bass guitar.

From there, we went into the Food and Drink fair, and after our meal we played a second gig at Gloucester Square (just over the road). There was lots of passing traffic there, but people seemed to enjoy our set as they went past.

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From there, it was like Phil Collins and Live aid. Except in our case we weren’t jetting to New York, but instead we were heading to Godalming where we were playing at St. Hilary’s school fête. We were greeted by the lovely organisers who treated us very well, showing us to a green room and ensuring we were fed and watered – we would not go hungry today!

They had a PA set up, but unfortunately we only had unbalanced feeds to give them, and they only had xlr connectors. As a result we played acoustically with microphone pickups. To avoid feedback, this meant that they had to reduce the volume, which was a shame – but we learned from this (it was only our second time with a proper stage setup), and we’re gradually working out what we need to do for the technical side. We had an enthusiastic junior audience dancing around in front of the stage.

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By the time we’d finished, it had been a long day – we won’t be playing as many gigs in one day very often, but it was a fun experience all told, three venues, all with their own charms.

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Ukulele Shops – Southern Ukulele Store

This is another article in our occasional look at ukulele stores. Note that if you buy from a specialist store, it may cost you a little more than from a bulk supplier (e.g. amazon) online, but you get access to advice and expertise, and you can try out the instrument, and paying a small premium to ensure that this facility survives can be worthwhile.

The Southern Ukulele Store is a fantastic little store in Southbourne, Bournemouth (there is parking just around the corner on Woodside Road). Their physical shop is called ‘Music is Life’.

Due to their location, they’re more likely to be an internet stockist for many people, and their website is really well put together.

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They have quite a sizeable ukulele collection, with many options – and a knowledgeable staff who seem more interested in matching you to the ukulele you require than just ‘making the sale’ – they want you to come back.

I have been very pleased with the customer service at this store, in late 2011 I bought a hard case from them by mail order, which began to fail in the summer of 2012 – and when I visited them with the case they replaced it on the spot. When visiting, I spent some time playing with the display ukuleles – at no time did I feel pressure to make a decision to buy, and as a result I did indeed buy from them (as soon as I feel pressure, I tend to leave a store).

When, I bought a electro-acoustic uke from them that had a problem with the pickup, and they dealt with the issue with speed and efficiency. Yes, I would have prefered not to have had the issue, but that wasn’t the fault of the store. In my (admittedly limited) experience, this is a great place to go for your ukulele needs.

The Southern Ukulele Store is a good supplier of accessories, such as spare strings, cases and the like, and they are a store that I’d certainly recommend.

Ukulele Shops – Andertons

This is another article in our occasional look at ukulele stores. Note that if you buy from a specialist store, it may cost you a little more than from a bulk supplier (e.g. amazon) online, but you get access to advice and expertise, and you can try out the instrument, and paying a small premium to ensure that this facility survives can be worthwhile.

Andertons is a store based in Guildford. Though it is a sizeable shop, they have only a modest ukulele collection. As I write, they don’t stock the very cheap Mahalo/Makala instruments, though they do have reasonably priced instruments from Stagg and Vintage, both of which can make a quality instrument for a beginner – a reasonable entry on the price/quality spectrum.

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It can be tricky to park near Andertons in busy periods, there are spaces outside the store (give consideration to driving away, I prefer to reverse into the space as otherwise to leave there is a reverse onto a main road) – or on the opposite side of the road (crossing is difficult). Failing that, there are car parks in the town centre. The ukuleles are on the left hand side just past the counter.

Andertons is very geared up for the guitar, and so it has seemed to me that the ukes are a bit of an afterthought. Their ukulele collection is growing as there is a strong uke scene in Guildford, but the choice is still rather limited – however, I bought my first uke from them (a concert stagg acoustic uke) and it has served very well despite being dropped on the floor of the pub several times.

Andertons is not a uke specialist, but it is a well established music store, and the ukes they do stock are very sound.