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Friday, December 18, 2009

Silent Night


Yes, our ukuleles will be silent for a while and we'll take a rest from our blog for a few weeks while we rest and re-energize. All of the YesterUkes wish our readers the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of holidays.

But let us leave you with a story from yesterday's program, the final performance of 2009...

As some of our players arrived at the church, they discovered the fellowship hall was located down the hill from the main building. Some in our band have an assortment of bad knees and ailing hips (kind of goes with the age group). They unloaded their instruments and hobbled down the hill. As they were making their way to the wonderfully decorated hall, a couple of church members watched their approach with some concern. But a quick-witted Yesteruke, noting the raised eyebrows, told them, "Don't worry. We play better than we walk!"

Merry Christmas, ya'll! See you in 2010.


Silent Night, Gruber & Mohr, 1818


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Joy To The World




We were lucky...the bad weather is supposed to come in tomorrow. So our final program of 2009 was held on a beautiful cold, sunny day. The folks at Northside United Methodist Church, many dressed in red, were ready to party. Before we sang, we enjoyed another excellent covered dish dinner. The food table stretched out forever. Too many yummy things to even taste many of them. And as long as this table was, the desserts filled another table at the opposite end of the room.

After this wonderful meal, the Yesterukes had fun singing and entertaining the great audience. This was our fifth Christmas program in 17 days--and our best. Yes, practice is a good thing. We've been doing a mix of our regular songs and our Christmas songs. A favorite at the beginning of our program has been the 1952 hit, How Much Is That Doggie In The Window. Our version comes complete with "barking dogs" in the background. Today's audience included a seeing eye dog (our first canine listener) who rose to his alert position when he heard the other "dogs" in the room. Not sure he enjoyed that part as much as the rest of the audience.

One lady told us afterward that this would be her biggest Christmas celebration. Another person who has faced some hard times recently said today WAS Christmas for her this year. And a gentleman, with a huge smile on his face, asked, "Can I come play with your group after Christmas?" His wife standing right behind him exclaimed, "And I plan to see that he gets there!"

It's been a great year for the Yesterukes. It will take a little time to gather the stats, but we're pretty sure we've entertained at more places and for bigger audiences than ever before. Our group has grown again. Our first concert was given by six of us in 2007. There are 20 Yesterukes as of today. But if the wife of the smiling man is right, we'll grow a little more in 2010!



Joy To The World, as of the late 20th century, it's the most-published Christmas hymn in North America



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home On The Range





The men with the big black cowboy hats arrived at the last minute. Other members of the Laurens County Cattlemen's Association and their families had already filled most of the seats, waiting for the meeting to begin. The Yesterukes were set up and ready. The meal was blessed and everyone headed for the buffet line, chatting and visiting as they went. There was no doubt we would be eating beef at a cattlemen's meeting but the delicious brisket was a wonderful surprise. Homemade brisket and homemade desserts!

This group meets monthly to learn more about things like pasture management and hay production, but tonight the program was brought by the Yesterukes. We'll admit there were a few puzzled looks as we filled the seats at the front of the room. Lots of ukuleles and lots of folks with "antique blonde" hair. (One of our players likes to say, "My hair's not white. It's antique blonde!") But faces broke into smiles as the music began. We played some favorites from our regular set list before we got into the Christmas music. And you know we were not leaving without doing Rawhide for this group.

Anywhere we go, it's fun to watch faces as we sing. You can tell when we've done a song that is a favorite for someone. Tonight, a couple of little sleepy heads perked up when we sang Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. A weathered face broke into a grin when we sang Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. The entire evening was was fun. We love being part of so many Christmas celebrations.


Home On The Range, the state song of Kansas, written in the 1870s and adopted as the state song in 1947


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We Need A Little Christmas





When all sensible people were heading toward higher ground last night, the fearless ukulele players of the Yesterukes braved the storm to get to Taylors First Baptist Church to entertain members of a Sunday School class. Everyone waded through puddles to get inside where food and friendly faces waited.

Someone commented last week about the committed players in this group. (hmmm--or did she say, "...should BE committed"?) Only true dedication to this group would have gotten these men and women to leave their warm, dry homes and come out on a miserable evening to play ukuleles and sing for their supper. We had a great time as the rain poured outside. The food was wonderful and the audience was delightful. It's easy to play for a group that looks like they are having fun.

The Yesterukes were rewarded with a standing ovation when the music came to an end. That doesn't happen often, so we loved it. People often come up as we are packing the sound equipment and tell how much they enjoyed us. But one comment last night stood out among the others. A kind lady came up to say, "You gave us a great gift tonight. Our congregation has dealt with some difficult things right here at the holiday season. It hasn't been easy. But tonight, for forty minutes, everyone here smiled and laughed and forgot about everything else. The Yesterukes were just what we needed. Thank you."

That made slogging through the cold rain on a dark night worth all our efforts.


We Need A Little Christmas, from "Mame", 1966

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear




This is the time of year when you hear Christmas songs everywhere. And like every other music group, we've polished up our holiday repertoire to play and sing. But can you guess what song has been most requested when people booked us for their December parties? We would have been wrong if we had tried. It's Rawhide! The person who booked the Christmas dinner for Hospice Thrift Shops volunteers (in the photos above) told us, "I don't care what songs you play for our party... as long as you play Rawhide!" And the volunteers loved it!

A lady called way back in April to schedule us to play Christmas music for her church party later this month. She called again this week to tell us she had just found the Yesterukes on YouTube. She asked, "Would you add a song to your list for us? I just watched you on YouTube and you just HAVE to do Rawhide for us!" And you can be sure we will play it for the Cattlemen's dinner next week.

So, this year mixed in with Jingle Bells and Silver Bells and White Christmas and Blue Christmas will be the whip cracking sounds and shouts of the ukulele "cowhands" singing that new holiday favorite--Rawhide.



Do You Hear What I Hear, Regney & Baker, October 1962, written as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas is A Comin'




Time to start singing all the Christmas songs we love! The very first day of December found us onstage and leading a giant sing along for senior adults at Mauldin First Baptist Church. We were glad to finally be at this church. Our appearance was rescheduled several times during the year. The original date was last March. That was cancelled due to an ice storm. A couple of other dates and conflicts passed across our calendar, but they really wanted us. A few more attempts and shuffling things around and we finally made it.

What did we play? We searched for some of the lesser heard songs to add to our list of holiday classics to keep things interesting. And we have learned what songs not to do. Last year we thought we'd try a version of the Hallelujah Chorus...probably not best played by a ukulele band. Or at least not our ukulele band. But after "song sampling", we put together 40 minutes of the songs we like best. Four more Christmas programs to go.

Okay, reindeer...bring it on. We're ready!


Christmas is A-Comin', by Frank Luther, 1953