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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Favorite Things

To keep things lively in our programs, we sometimes add some interesting rhythms to our songs. A song that has been a crowd pleaser is "Sixteen Tons", complete with hammer and spike. Until yesterday, it was not fully understood what a feat this is. Upon close inspection of the "rhythm instrument", you'll see that the actual spike used is about the same diameter as the head of the hammer. To get an authentic sound, our own "steel driving man" has to hit that small target with force and hit it precisely. It just rings out as accompaniment to the rich bass solo.

But yesterday, the steel driver missed one time. It's entirely possible--just maybe--that there is a chair with a dent in it, neatly stacked among the others from yesterday. We don't think we're going to look. We really don't want to know.

After our program at Buncombe St. UMC, we were treated to the definitive Southern lunch--fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, lima beans and homemade yeast rolls. Some in our group have roots that run deeply into this Southern soil. And others are newly Southern. But all of us know that any church dinner worth attending will have macaroni and cheese on the table. It's an absolute favorite.

For those of you from other parts of the globe, you need to know this version is unlike what you find other places. No cheese sauce here. (And heaven help you if you show up with mac and cheese from a blue box!) Old timers called our upstate SC version "macaroni pie". Besides church dinners, you'll always find macaroni pie at family dinners, holiday dinners, funeral dinners, and even the occasional picnic.

Anyway, we just want you to understand how much of a favorite this dish is. If you would like to make this macaroni and cheese, just email the Yesterukes at <> and ask for the recipe. This particular recipe has been passed down through several generations of cooks right here in upstate South Carolina and has made an appearance on hundreds of dinner tables. And it tastes just like what we enjoyed yesterday.

Next time we'll talk more about ukuleles and less about food. Promise.

My Favorite Things
, sung by Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music, 1965

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Everybody's Talking

When we can do something that is fun for us and help raise over $1800 for charity, it's a great night! The YesterUkes outdid themselves tonight musically at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church where the women of the church held their basket auction and hot dog supper. We were so glad to be part of this. The standing room only audience was a perfect mix for us--many of them (like us) were in the "old but not ancient" category. Exactly the group that knows the songs we sing. But we also had young families with small children who danced in the aisles as we sang. Fun for all ages. The program ended with a standing ovation and maybe the longest applause we've ever received. Gotta love it!

The best and the worst part of a performance comes at the very end. Packing up the sound equipment is just plain work, but sometimes it's the best part of the program because that's when people like to come up and talk. Tonight one lady said, "This was just wonderful. My husband used to play and sing these songs all the time. I lost him eleven years ago. Tonight...(deep breath)...brought back such good memories. I loved it."

Someone else came up to add, "I grew up in an orphanage and we spent lots of time there listening to these songs on the radio. Hearing you sing tonight brought back some of the best memories I have from back then." An attractive blonde exclaimed, "Gee, I wish I was old enough to play with the YesterUkes!" (We have no age requirement--you just have to be able to practice at 1:30 in the afternoon.) The favorite comment of the night was from the lady who paused as she was leaving to tell us, "Well, you know are old when you can sing every song you played tonight without looking at the song sheets! I am officially old."

Everybody's Talking, from Midnight Cowboy, 1967

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sentimental Journey

Easley Presbyterian Church might win the contest for "most fun name" for a senior group. The Yesterukes played today for the Amazing Grays! This group was most welcoming and enjoyed a musical journey back through time as we sang old standards. So many comments after the program were about good memories from high school and college days...back in the 40s!

We love playing and singing for anyone but it's the most fun when it's for a group that knows the music and sings along. The Amazing Grays all sang along with us and laughed as we shared stories about our ukulele adventures. We were also happy to welcome the leader of a Greenville ukulele group who came to hear us. Wouldn't it be fun to get all of us (that would be nearly 40 players) together for a HUGE ukulele event?

As our long-time readers know, the YesterUkes love to eat almost as much as they love to play ukuleles. Today was a real treat as we were served homemade chicken and rice soup. Nothing from a red-and-white labeled can here! After the good soup, there were desserts brought by church members. It may be about time for us to devise a "ukulele exercise plan" to help keep in shape. Any suggestions?

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Sentimental Journey, Les Brown Orchestra, 1945