Contact the Yesterukes by email or phone for available dates.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What'll I Do

The first time the phone rang, the voice on the other end inquired about the YesterUkes--she might want to book us, but was not sure. She asked many questions about our group, the music we played, what types of programs we had done, etc. Everything a thoughtful program chairman should ask. Each question was answered but there was still some hesitancy in her voice. Instead of booking a date immediately, she opted to receive one of our press kits first and think about it. The kit contains a bio sheet, a few brochures, an 8x10 color photo of the group and a demo CD containing 4 songs from our CD. We send it out in advance of our programs so that a group can publicize our appearance.

About two weeks later, the phone rings again. And this time a very excited voice instantly says, "I have nearly worn out the CD you sent me! I've played it and played it. I'm just so excited. In fact, I have a friend who has been very ill and I called her up and held the phone up to the CD player to let her listen. And in between songs, I would stop and ask, 'Did you hear that?' I just knew it would make her feel better. It's great. Quick! Put us down for a program. We just can't wait to have you here!" Now, that's the kind of phone call we like to get!

If she happens to read this blog, she can also see us in action right here:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Only a truly dedicated group of otherwise sensible adults would drive through torrential rain to play ukuleles at a retirement community. It never occurred to us that we might be unloading sound equipment in pouring rain. Since the YesterUkes began in 2007, the Upstate has been in a severe drought. We badly needed this rain but it surely was inconvenient. The most welcome sight upon arriving at Rolling Green Village was the covered drive-thru at the entrance!

While the heavy rains continued to fall outside, the music was rocking inside. Some audiences are just more fun to play for than others. This crowd was one of the best. They sang right along with us as we played old favorites from the 20s through the 50s and 60s. In fact, we were having such a good time, that the activity director had to remind us it was time to wind it up so that the residents didn't miss their dinner.

A comment we heard repeatedly after the program was "You all looked like you were having so much fun. And we had fun, too!" Beaming, as she pushed her walker to the front of the room, another lady told us, "I haven't heard those songs in hundreds and hundreds of years! Thank you so much for playing them." Well, maybe she exaggerated just a little about how long it had been since she heard them.

You can share more of our good times at

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Play A Simple Melody

Seems like every other news article urges us to live simply--encouraging us to step back and re-evaluate our priorities. For many of us, the humble little ukulele has moved us toward simplicity. Think about it...a small wooden instrument with four strings. No power source, no tangle of cords, no batteries, no software to update, no memory cards. Today's ukulele plays just like the ukulele you found under the Christmas tree 50 years ago.

The sound is simple...although in the hands of the masters, it can astonish you. But for most of us, there is great pleasure in strumming a song to entertain ourselves or strumming a song to share with a friend or a grandchild.

The sound is soothing....although young musicians can beat out some funky rhythms. But the songs we like to sing come from years gone by. As far back as Elvis, singing "Blue Hawaii" or even further back to the 20s, when Ukulele Ike (Cliff Edwards) hit #1 in the charts with "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Singing In The Rain."

The YesterUkes gather each week to play and sing together, to learn another song to add to our ever-growing list, to laugh as we swap stories (some of them true!) and to encourage each other as stiff fingers struggle with a new chord. A simple song to sing. A smile when it's played well. Uncomplicated joy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Somebody Else Is Taking My Place

Guess there aren't that many ukulele players around...because when this sign went up, people began telling us they planned to be there on April 14 to hear the YesterUkes.  Well, we may be the best known ukulele band around these parts---but this concert isn't us!

Real-deal ukulele players, Ralph Shaw and Joel Eckhaus are on a Southeastern tour.  And Laurens County conveniently fell between their Charleston concert and the Asheville concert.  Both men have taught many workshops across the country.  They will be here to teach a workshop for the YesterUkes and friends.  Later that day they will give a public concert.  It will be fun to be audience for a change.  Come hear how the pros do it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

Real ukulele players came face to face with real cowboys this week.  The YesterUkes played pre-dinner music for the Spotlight on Agriculture dinner, which recognizes and honors the agriculture industry in Laurens County.  We had such a good time, playing for over an hour as about 300 people from across the county gathered for this annual event.

We decided that for this program, we needed a special song.  We did a spectacular version of "Rawhide", complete with whip cracking and shouts loud enough to move those cows!  You could almost hear the thunderous roar of hooves pounding the ground.  It was great fun.  The man who was later named Cattleman of the Year came over to see how we made the whip sound.  We think he was concerned that we might be using a real whip.  

When the YesterUkes started, the plan was to do a few programs in nursing homes.  And while we certainly do play at these places, we didn't put limits on our potential.  It has been exciting to perform at a variety of venues.  A pub, coffee houses, restaurants, a hospital and a festival have been mixed into our schedule of churches and retirement homes.  Each one, challenging us to grow and learn.  And, we ever sound better than when we started!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Are You Havin' Any Fun?

The "comments" link at the bottom of each post is now working.  Just click on the word "comment"  to leave us a message.  We'd love to hear from you.

A question was posed to members of the YesterUkes this week.  "Why do you put so much time and effort into this ukulele band?"  Two quick replies came from a couple of gentlemen in the group.  Chandler said that will all the bad news on TV, he loved to get together with these folks and forget the 'gloom and doom' that is dominating the media at the moment.  There couldn't be a better way to improve your mood than to strum a happy tune on the ukulele.

As a youngster, Bob, dreamed of a career as a singer but practicality won out and he set that dream aside.  But now that he is retired, he has found his audience.  He is one of our soloists and says, "Sometimes I feel guilty, because I get more out of a performance than the audience." Not so!  People across the upstate have loved hearing his rich voice.  Loud applause and whistles after a song often attest to that.  He also said, "I get to do what I love with people I love!!!"

Much of the YesterUke experience is about being part of the group.  No doubt about it--we love to perform, but that is just a 'part' of what we do.  Friendships have sprung up and grown strong among people who met at practice.  We've managed to squeeze in a couple of get-togethers with good food and visiting. And time on the road, as we travel to various places across upstate South Carolina, gives us a chance to chat and get to know each other better.  A couple of carpools are among the best social groups around.  Maybe playing ukulele is just a side benefit!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Here in our part of the South today, most eyes are glued to the window, waiting to see snow. It's something so rare, that just the mention of snow here sends folks into a frenzy.  It will be a great time to find a cozy spot and settle down with something you enjoy.  For the YesterUkes, it's likely to be a ukulele and a new tune or two.  We all complain of not having enough time to practice, so some "inside time" (it's doubtful this group will be out sledding) will be welcome.  The YesterUkes are working on some new songs in anticipation of several upcoming gigs.

While we never create a program specifically for one event, we might add songs to our set list that are particularly well-suited to a given place.  People always tell us they love our songs and ask how we find them.  We choose ones that we enjoy.  Band members often bring a list of ones they remember and like.  Then we'll pick one or two from each list.  Sometimes old music is pulled from drawers or chests.  Those yellowed, crumbling  pages might yield a musical gem.  

In our group, the age range spans quite a few years, and we grew up in various parts of the country.  So it isn't unusual for someone to shout out "Here's a song everyone knows" to be followed by, "Nope, I've never heard of that one."  We do our best to learn from each other. Many in our group do not read music, so we learn from lyric sheets, chord symbols, and YouTube. (Our kids and grandkids have nothing on us!)  It can be comical to listen to our first attempts, though.  But every now and then, we nail one the very first time.  Our practices are as much fun as our programs.  There is as much laughter as music while we work our way through new pieces.  This week's practice was one of the best, as we had a couple of those "got it right the first time" moments.

At this week's practice,  Ralph came back for a second visit.  Last week, he came --ukulele in hand -- from his home about 45 minutes away.  He had not seen us play, nor did he know anyone in the group, but he had heard about the YesterUkes and tracked us down.  He is quite a player.  And he is such a pleasant fellow that we hope he decides to join us full time.  The more, the merrier!

Update:  It's Monday morning and we have 5 inches on snow on the ground!