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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Christmas Card For You

The Yesterukes wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! 

We will be taking a break to enjoy time with our family and friends but we'll be right back here after the holidays.   See you in a couple of weeks or so.

Friday, December 10, 2010

We Wish You A Merry Christmas! (2010)

We wish you could have joined us for our Christmas lunch at The Broken Teapot.  No blue shirts, no ukuleles, no audience.  Just a time to visit, share a meal and enjoy each other's company. 
But when this many musicians gather, music happens whether you plan it or not.

And several of the talented people in our group play more than ukulele.

So this time we sang carols just for fun.

And we laughed and celebrated being together with our "ukulele family."
 Then we were seated in this wonderful old house now turned restaurant.

And everyone leisurely enjoyed this delicious meal.  No concert to play today.

 One little Yesteruke-in-training was there for her first sing-along.

A cake made just for us by the daughter of one of our members was the perfect ending for our meal.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of the Yesterukes to each of you!  

We Wish You A Merry Christmas, a 16th-century English carol

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sing We Now Of Christmas

The Yesterukes ended their performing year with a pair of Christmas programs.  Hard to believe another year has come to an end.  This was our fourth season of Christmas shows.
We entertained over 70 Hospice volunteers at their annual dinner.  This particular group of volunteers man the three Thrift Stores that help fund the Hospice program in Laurens County.
And the following day we gathered again at midday at Rolling Green Village for the Ladies Club luncheon.
They had the largest attendance of the year for this program.  This was a group that sang along with us enthusiastically.  We left this last program truly in the Christmas spirit.
We provided the entertainment for their meeting and in turn, they fed us well.  The Yesterukes seem to eat well nearly everywhere we go.  One member said she was glad to be done with the programs.  We thought she meant she was tired of our schedule--but she said she was glad not to have another four or five delicious Christmas meals while she could still fit in her clothes!
And we had a special guest with us for this final program.  A young man doing his high school senior project on ukuleles has one of the Yesterukes as his mentor.  He has been learning to play ukulele since school started this year.  He sat in with us for this whole program.  When it was over, he said, "It is so much more fun to play with a group than to play at home by myself."  

He has discovered the secret of the Yesterukes.  

 Sing We Now Of Christmas, Traditional

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening

After we decided to play this holiday market, we kept an eye on the weather forecast for days.  It had been so nice and moderate for weeks.  But the weekend forecast kept looking colder and colder.  What were we thinking?  A bunch of old folks sitting outdoors in the cold for hours?   But we had agreed to play, so we bundled up, loaded our gear and set up by the fountain for a couple of hours of music.

The Hub City Thanksgiving Market turned out to be great fun.  The mood was festive.  The shoppers loved the music.  One man who stopped to listen who knew more about the songs we played than we did. He was an encyclopdia of trivia about our old songs.  And there was the college-age young woman who sat down to listen and then bought our CD so she could "listen to happy music at home." So many others gathered, all smiles, around the fountain to hear our ukuleles.

We did our best to keep warm.  We learned that you can cut the finger tips off a $1 pair of gloves and play right on.  We also discovered that the colder we got, the faster we played.  As the temperature dropped, we kept getting faster and faster--until we reached our limit.  We couldn't play any faster or stand the cold any longer!!!  It was time to call it a night and head home.  It was fun but we're glad our next gig is indoors!

In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening, Hoagy Carmichael & Johnny Mercer, 1951

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's My Party

We didn't know until we arrived that the event at Standing Springs Baptist Church was a birthday party for the men in the senior adult group.  And the Yesterukes were the special entertainment.  After a great supper, complete with cake and ice cream, we sang and played our songs from years gone, taking the audience on trip back in time.

After the program, a younger man who was attending with his father, came up to say, "You guys were good.  I mean, really good."  Seeing the slightly incredulous look on his face as he said that, the Yesterukes director responded, "Let me guess--we weren't exactly what you were expecting, were we?" (We get this a lot.)  He was funny as he continued.  "I actually kind of thought it was a joke announcement when they told us we were having a ukulele band."  But we are no joke!

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.

We met so many new friends as we visited after the program.  Everyone was warm and friendly.  We felt like we had known them for a long time.  Pretty sure we'll be back here again.

It's My Party, Lesley Gore, 1963

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Here, There And Everywhere

"Did you see that lady with the gray hair?", one of the Yesterukes asked as we were packing up after the program.   We all laughed because at the places we play, nearly everyone has gray hair!  But she was commenting on one beautiful lady who looked much younger than the many years of her actual age.  We meet so many lovely people everywhere we go and Overbrook Baptist Church was no exception.

After our program we were invited to join these good folks for a wonderful lunch.  They asked that we not all sit together, but spread out among the tables so that they could get to know us better.  Southern hospitality at it's best!

They were most interested in how we started, how we operated and were eager to share their own stories about the songs we played.  "I'll be honest," one man commented.  "Some of those songs just brought tears to my eyes."  Another gentleman remarked, "That boy could really sing, couldn't he?" as a table of men talked about listening to Sixteen Tons.  We like it anytime someone calls us "boy" or "girl."  

Here, There And Everywhere, The Beatles, 1966

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Try To Remember

Most people pick up a ukulele and go "plunka plunka plunka" while they are singing a song.  Lots of fun, but why stop there?  (What?  You mean you can do more with a ukulele?)   Lil Rev of Wisconsin spent an afternoon teaching the Yesterukes new things to do with our ukuleles.  New strums and tricks of the trade.  So many new things to try, so much to practice, so much to remember.  

Everyone worked hard to get the basics.  Rev lead us through the drills over and over, like the school teacher he once was.  "Repetition, repetition," he kept saying. "You can do it but it just takes time."   It's going to take lots more work at home to be able to do this.

But IF we can master even a couple of the things he taught us, our future shows are going to be so much fun!  We will try not to sling a ukulele across the room as we attempt swinging them and flipping them.  Who knew you could do that with a ukulele?  No, we are not juggling ukuleles--yet.

There was plenty of instructional material to help us work at home.  And we thought at our age, we were done with homework.  At least this is fun homework.  
Then everything moved to the Laurens County Library for an evening concert.  Lil Rev played ukuleles, guitar and surprised us by being one of the best harmonica players anywhere around.  We learned little music history, heard great stories and got to sing along with Lil Rev.  And those of us who attended the workshop got to see his 'strums and tricks' in real songs in a performance setting.

Laurens folks were well entertained for the night with traditional music and original songs.  If they were not ukulele fans when they arrived, they surely were when they left.  Or, there is no hope for them.  The question that was asked over and over as people left was, "When is he coming back?"  We hope he'll be back again next fall, but you don't have to wait that long to hear him.  You can listen right here, on his YouTube channel.

Lil Rev ended the evening by inviting Hunter Holmes, local musician and a fellow lover of old music to join him for the final song.   It's amazing to see two fine musicians play together for the first time...and never miss a note.  

Then the traveling ukulele player left to continue his East Coast tour, leaving new fans and new friends behind.  Lil Rev is a master ukulele player and a master teacher, traveling across this country and to other parts of the globe to share his knowledge and encourage others.  Glad he stopped here!

Try To Remember, from the musical, The Fantasticks, 1965

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Heart Stood Still

The Yesterukes played a program for Broad St. United Methodist Church a couple of years ago.  That evening we launched into our toe-tapping opening song.  Surveying the audience during that first song there was a heart-stopping moment when we spied a well known classical musician sitting in the crowd. A member of this church, he was head of a college music department and director of two well respected chorales.  And here we were on stage, singing and plunk, plunk, plunking away. There was nothing to do but keep singing and smiling. Not sure why, but it made us nervous wondering what he was thinking.

Turns out he is quite a fan of the Yesterukes.  He called us a few months ago.  Having retired, he is now in charge of the programs for the church senior adult group and he wanted to book us.  We were glad to be back at Broad St. UMC again.  As we played for the VIM group (Very Important Methodists) yesterday, we told the group that comparing our music to his music is a little like comparing hot dogs to caviar!  And it's okay to enjoy both.

There is also quite a connection between the Yesterukes and this church.  Several of our members are former members of this church and another was a long time resident of this community.  So there were lots of hugs and hand shakes all around.  As we play across the upstate, it's great fun to find old friends.  We all enjoyed a few hours together, sharing a meal and sharing our songs.

My Heart Stood Still, Rodgers & Hart, 1927

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nice Work If You Can Get It

The very first program we played had 8 songs in it--that was every song we knew.  Our audience that afternoon was a just handful of people.  But the response was warm and encouraging.  From that humble beginning we have grown.  In the last three years our notebook has grown to include hundreds of songs.  And the Yesterukes have grown from 5 players to 22.  

We were honored when AgSouth called us last year to ask us to play for their annual dinner.  But we didn't know then what a large event this would be.  This week we played for 90 minutes for about 400 people from across the upstate.  They loved it.  One man walked up to tell us that he was a fan of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and he was surprised and delighted to learn that upstate South Carolina had its own ukulele band.  We love that we were even included in the same sentence as UOGB!

The Yesterukes have grown in all respects--more songs, more players...better songs, better players.  We can't wait to see what the future holds!

Nice Work If You Can Get It, Fred Astaire, 1937

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

The More We Get Together

The morning chill didn't stop ukulele players from across the Southeast from gathering at Lake Greenwood in South Carolina.  Uketoberfest 2010 was the second gathering here.  They came from North Carolina, Georgia and all parts of South Carolina.

They came to admire ukulele collections brought by dedicated players who wanted to let others try them out.  There are not many available to play in music stores---yet.  So we loved the chance to play all types of ukes.

A roaring fire looked inviting and warmed us up.  The weather was perfect, warming up nicely as the day went on.

Early in the day a van arrived---a ukulele store on wheels!

Mim's Uke's from Charlotte, NC had learned about this gathering and she brought a huge assortment of ukes for everyone to drool over.  Pretty sure she took less home than she brought.

Songs and licks were swapped.  Every genre of music (except maybe classical) was played by someone here.

And every manner of ukulele clothing was on display--shirts, jackets, hats and these most distinctive shoes!

More ukulele shopping.  One can never have enough ukuleles.

But it's the music that brings us together.  There was plenty of time to jam.  Everyone got a chance to start a song or two.  We all learned something new.  And likely have a list of songs to learn at home.

And in the afternoon there was an open mic.  Many folks took the opportunity to play for the group.  Some were seasoned performers.  For others, it was the first time to play for an audience.  We heard rock songs, Hawaiian songs, blues songs, TV theme songs and more.  Some were individual performers, some groups.  The Yesterukes did a few from their set list.   It was fun to hear everyone and those of us who didn't play this year might be braver next time.  

The final song of the open mic was a beautiful jazz version of Autumn Leaves performed by a husband and wife duo from Georgia--the perfect song to end the day.  

Thanks to the Charleston Hotshots for making this happen.  We look forward to the next one.

The More We Get Together, Childrens' Song, traditional

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