Friday, January 1, 2016
If you have been an observant reader of this blog for a long time, you might have noticed that for years now, each blog post title has been a song title. A note was always at the bottom of the post listing the song title, artist or composer and the year. It was just a fun way to acknowledge our musical purpose.
Finding a title for this post was a little harder. The time has come for the writer of this blog (me,) the founder of the Yesterukes (me,) the musical director of the band (me,) and the band manager (also me) to step down.
I considered other song titles that I could have used for this final blog post. For years I thought The Song Is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On), Irving Berlin, 1927, would be my final post. There'll Be Some Changes Made by Overstreet & Blackstone, 1921 would certainly have worked. I even thought about using Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone, The Mills Brothers, 1951. But a song about seasons of life felt right.
From our accidental beginning nine years ago to our performance for a huge audience a couple of weeks ago, it has all been fun. I taught "How To Play Ukulele For Fun" in February 2007. The five adult students who finished that 8-week class played a few songs to entertain the residents at the retirement home where the class was taught. Then we played for a slightly bigger audience and the band began to grow.
For that first "big" gig, the band was called The Sutton Strummers. But soon after that I pulled a new name out of thin air—"The Yesterukes." A better name. A name that could last beyond me. That name stuck. The Yesterukes are now well known across the upstate of South Carolina.
The Yesterukes have entertained thousands of people of all ages. We played for large audiences and we played in tiny venues. We learned something from every gig. Even the ones that didn't go so well. Especially the ones that didn't go so well. Thankfully there weren't many of those.
I'm sure I learned more than anyone. I've always been a music maker, but leading a band was a new experience for me. There was so much to learn—about conducting skills, about sound equipment, about managing bookings, about branding and creating good PR for the band. I learned that working with a large band is as much about having people skills as music skills. Thank goodness, I had much help along the way.
This wonderful band of senior adults has been a huge part of my life for a long time. It has been part of who I am. Part of my identity. It wasn't easy to decide it was time to step down, but like the song says, "To everything there is a season." There are other interests that I'd like to pursue and there are three grandchildren—I didn't have any when the band started—that need more attention from their Mimi now.
The band will continue with exciting new leadership and direction. This blog will have a new voice. I'll watch with great interest as they explore new opportunities and grow even stronger.
A special thanks goes to my husband, who from the very beginning, supported me and this band in every way you can imagine. Without him, there would have been no Yesterukes at all..
Please continue to watch this blog to see what changes are coming. The band schedule will continue to be listed on the sidebar. You'll find new contact information there, too.
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season), The Byrds, 1965
Monday, December 14, 2015
When we arrived, the serving staff were getting their orders for the day. The event manager was zipping around answering a million questions. The audio/visual crew was making adjustments and fining tuning settings. Everyone worked to the last minute getting everything ready before the doors were opened to the eager crowd.
The Christmas dinner for the Lifewise Program was held in a large convention center, with about 400 people attending. This is an annual event that members look forward to all year.
We were happy to be part of this large program. And we were delighted that we played at the top of our game. It is rare that we have a professional sound crew handling our needs. We were treated like professional musicians. And we sounded professional, too.
As we started our set, the folks seated at the table in the very front locked arms and swayed back and forth as they sang along with us. What confidence that gave us! It made us happy to see so many people singing along throughout our performance.
And when we were done, we received a standing ovation from this huge audience, the applause lasting long enough to require three bows. What a perfect way to end our season!
The band will now be on break until after the holidays, taking time to rest and refresh and think up new ways to dazzle our audiences in the coming year.
We all wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy new year!
Wonderful Christmastime, Paul McCartney, 1979
Friday, December 4, 2015
Bad news continues to dominate the headlines. And bad things are often happening in people's lives, things we don't know about. Yes, we do need a little Christmas cheer. The Yesterukes always bring smiles and songs, helping to ease the worry, to soothe the soul and lift the spirits.
Food and fellowship. It's a combination as old as the ages. Gathering around the table is another way to share that Christmas cheer that we all need.
For this one afternoon, there was a reason to leave behind the lists and the chores that come with this season. There was time to visit with friends and to keep those connections strong. Time to catch up on family news and to give a hug and to get a hug.
After the program was over, and we had packed up and headed home, we began to receive emails from folks telling us how much they needed to hear us. Sometimes we heard stories of why our Christmas cheer was so needed. We are glad to be the ones bringing glad tidings and cheer. It is a happy thing that we do.
We Need A Little Christmas, Angela Lansbury, 1966
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
"Oh, darlin', we needed you today." That was the first sentence I heard after we had finished the program and started to pack our equipment. I stopped to listen to the lady who said that after so much bad news—horrific news—that has dominated the airways, they needed to hear pleasant things. Happy things. She thanked us for making them smile, for bringing them joy.
We do what we do because it's fun. It's fun for us. It's fun for the listeners. But we tend to forget that it is often more than just fun. It can be a few minutes of escape for those who need to think about something other than what is happening in their world at the moment.
This music can zip people right back to days when they were younger, when knees and hips and backs didn't hurt so much. We watch the audience singing along with us, knowing every word of every song. These are their songs. Songs from their high school years, songs from their courtship years, songs they sang to their babies, and songs their parents may have sung to them.
All of those memories wrapped up in some bouncy tunes strummed on ukuleles. Memories of people loved, of places visited, of songs heard on car radios—when cars only had radios and not bluetooth connections.
We love what we do. We love that it makes people happy. That makes us very happy.
Spread A Little Happiness, Sting, 1982
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
It was the most miserable day outside. It was a most wonderful day inside. The crowd at Hampton Heights Baptist Church was larger than they expected on such a cold rainy day. Maybe everyone was happy to get out of the house. This rain has gone on for days.
But whatever the reason, the audience was really into our music. They sang along, smiled and laughed and when it was over, they asked for more songs! And when we had played a few more, they gave us a standing ovation.
We could not have asked for more.
Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again, The Fortunes, 1971
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Well, our writer was named Kenny instead of Jimmy, but he did a great job capturing the spirit fo the Yesterukes. And in the fashion of small town papers—this one is published monthly.—the interviews were conducted at the end of July and the article was printed in the September issue.
We so appreciate a little nice publicity. What we do takes a lot of time and effort and it's nice to be recognized. We always think what we do is a good thing and that we bring joy to so many people. Now The Simpsonville Sentinel says the same thing!
Jimmie Brown The Newsboy, Flatts & Scruggs, 1951
Sunday, September 20, 2015
From a blog post in 2010...
And we had some fans who wanted to see us perform so badly that they decided to just come. Our first party crashers! Our public concerts are rare, so they just decided to come and hope it was okay. It was fine and added to the excitement. And it delighted us that anyone wanted to see us that much.
This week, the Yesterukes lost one of our biggest fans--Russ. He was so many things to so many people, one of which was a builder of fine ukuleles, so his stamp of approval on what we do meant a lot to us.
After that first "party crashing" when they came to see us perform, they were able to attend more events where we played. We even provided the entertainment at his 50th birthday party. It was a surprise party. Maybe seeing us there was his biggest surprise.
We were happy to say yes when his widow asked us to be a part of his memorial service. We were even mentioned in the obituary as "his favorite band." So we will play songs with smiles on our faces, knowing he is smiling, too.
So Long, Farewell, from The Sound Of Music, 1959