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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Little Did They Know

A husband and wife attended an awards dinner a couple of weeks ago where the Yesterukes provided the entertainment. He said when they arrived, they looked over the program that was laying at each seat. Seeing the word "ukulele" prompted him to turn to his wife and exclaim somewhat sarcastically, "Well, I bet THAT's going to be good. " And today he told us, "But you were--much to our surprise!" We love it when that happens.

After that same program, another gentleman pushed to the front to say, "I want to join your group--but I've got a problem. I've never played an instrument, I don't read music, I have short fingers..." And the director quickly answered how wonderful it would be to have him and told him what day practice was held. And then the man started to sputter a little, "Uh, uh... That was supposed to be a joke!" He had no clue that he had just described how many of our players start.

Yep, we really do take complete beginners and turn them into ukulele players and performers. We are also blessed to have some terrific players in our group. And they have been more than willing to help the others learn. What a wonderful mix of people we have!

Little Did They Know, by Palisade, 2005

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'll See You In My Dreams

The walkers were parked in a line against one wall. Residents of
Morningside Assisted Living were seated in the dining room to hear the Yesterukes provide the afternoon entertainment. As we played and sang songs from years past, a few heads drooped as some listeners nodded off. Some faces relaxed as they drifted back to another time and place. A couple of folks tapped out the rhythm on the arm of their wheel chairs. Small smiles here and there meant people were hearing us. The applause was quiet because arthritic hands can't always clap.

We sang old love songs and played some fast paced 50s rock 'n roll. It was fun to see different faces react to the particular songs they knew. Now, all musicians know it is easier to play well for an enthusiastic audience. With a couple of years experience behind us, though, we've learned that audiences like this one listen and enjoy differently. But they do listen and they do enjoy. How do we know they really enjoyed it? Because after the program they tell us.

A lady pushed her walker to the front to say, "I finished high school and got married in the 50s. Oh, these were my songs. You brought back so many memories today." A man with a strong handshake found the leader as she was packing equipment afterward and explained, "I tried to tell each band member individually that this was the best program we've had here. It was just great. And I don't use that word often. I really don't. Make sure they all know that. Please come back soon."

We hope we can.

I'll See You In My Dreams, by Gus Kahn & Isham Jones, 1924

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Button Up Your Overcoat

Nearly 100 people gathered last night to honor award winners at the Soil & Water Conservation Commission annual dinner. And the Yesterukes were there to provide the fun. We played a few of our very best songs for an audience of all ages. We can count on the seniors enjoying what we do, but the younger ones there had just as much fun. It was great afterwards to have several come up and tell us, "You know, I really liked that."

After the program, the great coat hunt began. It was cold and rainy all day, so people arrived bundled up. A gentleman in the audience put his coat and hat with ones that belonged to our group. Being ever so helpful, a Yesteruke took this coat home, thinking one of our group had left it. Well, one of our group had left his jacket--but not that one. After several phone calls and many emails, we have located both coats. Now to round them up and return them to their rightful owners.

And you thought having a band just meant playing music!

Button Up Your Overcoat, 1928

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It Was A Very Good Year

Today is Groundhog Day and the groundhog says six more weeks of winter. We've already had more than our share of winter weather here in the deep South. The upside of another cold, gray, damp day is finding time to tally up the totals for performances in 2009.

Looks like the Yesterukes played for about 2700 people last year. That's a lot of people! That's 1000 more than the year before. Audience sizes ranged from 25-400. We played everywhere from an outdoor festival to an Airstream RV rally. Retirement homes and church groups are always on our list, but in 2009 we also played for 2 agriculture groups and 2 preschools.

The Yesterukes have grown in size, too. (No, no.... that is not a reference to all the covered dish dinners we enjoyed.) We've added several new players, growing from six players in fall of 2007 to 21 members now. Who would have ever thought this group would be this busy and grow like we have?

Peformances for 2010 start next week. We will be posting photos from these groups soon.

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It Was A Very Good Year, written by Ervin Drake, 1961, made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1966