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Newcastle Ukulele Fest update

After many months trying to get the local council to respond to me tried again this week. Guess what? Success.

Had a brilliant thought when sending my latest email – I copied in 2 local councillors to see if this changed my luck. And surprisingly(?) it did. Within hours had received an email from Cllr Elizabeth Shenton (Leader of the Council / Portfolio Holder – Policy, People and Partnerships),  and Matt Taylor (Newcastle-under-Lyme BID Manager).

Will be emailing them next week to see what we can do.

Minimus Ukulele

I was looking at various Facebook pages the other day when I came across Rod Arthur’s page for the Minimus Ukulele. As I’m always looking for different ukuleles this one really appeals to me. I asked Rod for his story and this is below:

My name is Rod Arthur and have been playing ukulele for 40 years (before the revolution) I’ve also worked as an actor for 40 years (feel free to google me if it’s of interest) Woodwork has always been a hobby and in 1997/8 I went back to college to take my advanced city and guilds in furniture making. There followed 9 years making furniture as a parallel  career to my acting. Then stopped for a variety of reasons. In 2010 I broke the neck on my baritone uke and decided to build a replacement, soon to discover that it wouldn’t work, so set about building my first uke. Despite the fact I steam bent 5mm thick beech it worked and I still have it, trust me you could go to war with that uke and win. At the start so 2016 I dedicated my workshop to making ‘The Minimus Ukulele and after a huge learning process I’m now satisfied with the product and sell them. They cost £120-125 depending on choice of friction tuner. The cases are £15 pound (I don’t make them). Postage in UK is £5. They are a bolt on neck construction. The scale length is 26cm. The overall length is 39-40cm depending on choice of headstock design. The width at the nut is 36-38 mm (same as a concert).”
Have placed my order.

Strumstick ukulele


Strumstick uke



When in Canada a few weeks ago I saw a ‘Strumstck’ in a music shop in Corner Brook (see below). This is a 3-stringed instrument (tuned D-A-D) and supposedly great for the musically inept (meaning me, probably!) so thought I’d give it a try. Still trying to find time to do so.

However, when I looked at their website I discovered that they produced a ukulele version of this instrument – shown here on the right.

This instrument attempts to take the uke back to its origins of being steel strung gCEA tuning. It produces a wonderful sound.

Hopefully over the next few weeks will upload a video of me playing it. But for the time being will be taking it to the next local acoustic night to have a play.

These instruments are available on Amazon.


The Big Christmas Ukulele Party – Blackpool, 10 December

Reproduced from: http://worldofukes.co.uk/events-shop/the-big-christmas-ukulele-party-blackpool-10-december

A fantastic way to get in the festive mood, our Big Christmas Ukulele Party promises fun, learning, music and bright lights! Based at the four star Hilton Hotel, on Saturday 10 December, the event begins with a workshop for all with the fabulous Mersey Belles at 2pm.

After a restorative (and complimentary) drink of mulled wine and a mince pie, we’ll all play together in a Christmas themed Big Sing & Strumalong. Next, something a bit special as outside the hotel, we’ll find HMS Blackpool and the Western Train, two beautiful, illuminated trams that we’ve specially chartered to take our party up and down the prom for a ukulele experience to remember.

When we’ve played and promenaded in our private trams, it is back to the hotel, where there’s time to spruce ourselves up before an evening glass of bubbly (on us), followed by an excellent four course gala dinner, provided to us by the Hilton chefs.

Every ticket holder will get a Christmas present from us, we’ll have completed a present wrapping marathon in the preceding weeks, and while we’ll not say exactly what the present is, you may be able to guess what gift you’d received at a ukulele event (a tip, it isn’t socks!).

Once our lovely Christmas meal is polished off, we’ll have an evening of music, with sets from Feckless, Fuddle and the Fossil, the ever-entertaining Dead Mans Uke and the wonderful Mersey Belles. Maybe in Santa outfits (not with beards!)

This will be a lovely festive break with our usual crowd of super-friendly folk, mingling, making new friends, having laughs and playing some tunes together. Add in that exciting feeling of being in Blackpool you used to get as a kid – while all the time remaining comfortable in four star surroundings and private chartered trams. Lovely!

We have day tickets on sale at £75, including tutorial, mulled wine, mince pie, Big Strum & Singalong, private tram tour, welcome bubbly, wine on tables, ‘themed present worth £30, four course meal and an evening’s entertainment. Or, for £250 based on two sharing on a bed and breakfast basis at the four star Hilton, including a ticket each too. A perfect festive mini-break packed with ukulele fun!

** Single Rooms… The Hilton doesn’t have any. If you book early and direct with them, you can get a reasonable rate on a double or twin which makes the price not too bad – when you buy a day ticket too. There are also many hotels nearby for less money (and less stars!). The day ticket doesn’t give you bed and breakfast at the Hilton, but does give you access to EVERYTHING else ***

Newcastle Under Lyme C3A Ukulele group

After some time have finally got around to forming a new ukulele group at the College of the Third Age in Newcastle Under Lyme.

Yesterday was our first meeting and 7 players joined me – most of them new to the uke and also new to playing any form of musical instrument.

Between now and Christmas we will be meeting every Tuesday between 12 and 2 so if there are any players wanting to join us (regardless of their ability) please come along and join in.