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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Trails

We have entertained groups at many, many churches in the past two years. But it was our first time at a cowboy church--the Happy Trails Cowboy Church, to be exact. We weren't sure what to expect...horses tied to a hitching post? Everyone in cowboy hats? The church does meet at a rodeo arena, but, no, there were no horses there last night. It was a warm, welcoming congregation.

We did sing about cowboys and the open range. "I'm An Old Cowhand" and "Don't Fence Me In" were a couple of songs we added just for this group. Such great music! We loved having the perfect place to play it. The Yesterukes had a great time with this group, shared good food before the program and enjoyed talking to many members after we finished.

There is another old song, "The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is the people." And we experienced this first hand last night. God bless them all!

Happy Trails, by Dale Evans Rogers, theme song of the radio and TV "Roy Rogers Show", 1940s & 1950s

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


We had a call this morning from someone wanting to book the Yesterukes for a program in October. Today is September 23. When she heard our calendar was full for October, she quickly asked about November. But we are now booking programs for spring 2010.

Total silence followed that statement. You could hear the questions in the silence. "How could a group of gray-haired old folks** playing ukuleles be booked that far ahead? Surely they are not that much in demand!?!"

We wonder the very same thing. Why are so many people anxious to hear us play? Now, our music is pretty good. And, hey...we ARE kind of cute. But it must be more than that. What we hear over and over, everywhere we go is, "We watch you play and it's obvious you are having so much fun. It's just contagious! I don't know when I've had such a good time."

That must be the secret. What we do IS fun. We are having a blast and the audience has fun right along with us. If making music and having fun makes you live longer, we should make it to 100! (And we will get to that request in the spring.)

**WE don't think we're old, although the occasional glance in the mirror says otherwise. Can we call it "mature?"

Why, recorded by Frankie Avalon, 1959

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday To (Us)!

Why does one start a band? The Yesterukes (un-named at that point) started because we knew a dozen songs and we all owned a music stand. Surely groups have started for lesser reasons than that. Maybe.

Exactly two years ago today, the teacher of a beginning ukulele class and the five adults who completed the 8-week course, played a few songs for a group of residents at Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center (which hosted the class.) That was so much fun and so well received that we thought we would do it just one more time.

Then players began to invite friends to join us. "She would really enjoy this." "It would be so good for him to do this." "Oh, he sings so well, it would help the group." And on and on it went. Then strangers began to find us. "Can I just visit one practice to see what you do?" (He stayed with us.) "I used to play with a group in Ohio and I'd like to visit your group." (She stayed with us.) "I heard about this group and it took a while, but I found you!" (He's still with us.) There are other stories just like these.

And so it went until our tiny group of six became a band of 17--with a name, a logo, matching shirts, a CD, and more fun than we could have ever imagined. We have played for thousands. It's been the perfect musical venture, providing as much enjoyment and delight for those playing as for those listening.

So Happy Birthday, Yesterukes! Get out those ukuleles and sing Happy Birthday to yourselves.

Happy Birthday To You, by Preston Ware & Mrs. R. R. Forman, 1935

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's The Talk Of The Town

We love to hear from our fans--who occasionally are not related or married to any of us. This week has been one when we've had more comments than usual.

A gentleman who heard us play Sunday night at Green Pond UMC encountered the Yesterukes leader last night at a dinner meeting. He made a bee line for her to say how much he enjoyed the program. Then he added, "When I heard it was a ukulele band coming to our church, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it. But you were not at all what I pictured in my mind! You all are GOOD!"

A phone call came yesterday from a lady who had attended a short program at Westminster Presbyterian Church with a friend a couple of weeks ago. She said they went back to their community, several counties away from our "home area" and told all their friends about the Yesterukes. "They just don't understand why we are so excited! Can you come do a program for us? We want all of them to hear you. That's the only way they'll know what we're talking about."

A small child headed straight for one of our singers on Sunday night and told him, "Mister, you sure do sing good." We tend to think that our programs are meant for senior adults, but children enjoy our music, too. Maybe part of our mission is to plant "seeds" for the next generation of recreational musicians.

But the best remark was in an email sent to a Yesteruke member this week. It said, "...maybe getting together is more good for you guys than you realize. It's like Clark Kent stepping into a phone booth....When you guys get together you change from "old folks at home to "Super Old Folks" and have fun together. May we all be so fortunate."

So, let us head to that phone booth, and rip off the suit to reveal the blue shirt with our Yesteruke logo. We certainly aren't faster than a speeding bullet and we aren't planning to leap any tall buildings, but we might be coming soon to a church or retirement home near you. And that's good enough for us!

It's The Talk Of The Town, by Jerry Livingston, 1933