Friday, March 26, 2010
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? An email arrived this week, telling about the ukulele "big band" arrangements from James Hill. Perfect timing. We've got a good handle on our regular set list now, so we are ready to try something new.
A video of James Hill's "Big Band" class at the Portland Uke Fest was posted on YouTube last year and we thought it was such fun, but beyond our abilities. Five parts? No way. But this year we are ready.
One free arrangement is available to try. So we tackled it yesterday at practice. And we were pleasantly surprised that we actually could do it! Some of the Yesterukes do not read music. And others who do read music play piano but don't know where the notes are located on the ukulele fret board. So by penciling in fret numbers and using a little color coding of strings, we made this work for our group. We'll need a little polish before we play it for an audience, but think it will be ready in a couple of weeks.
Keeping it new, keeping it fresh is how we continue to have fun and gradually expand our level of playing. The rest of the phrase from Anything You Can Do, is "...I can do better." We certainly don't think we did it better than James Hill's class---but we DID it. And that's enough for us.
Anything You Can Do, by Irving Berlin, from Annie Get Your Gun, 1946
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Monday, March 22, 2010
When the third person came up after the program to ask, "Have you recorded yet? You really should", we smiled. And when one man added, "You'd sell thousands!", we were pretty sure we had hit a home run with our program.
We played a full program last night at a church where one of our players is a member. The church family turned out in force to see what his ukulele band was all about. They had heard him talk about the Yesterukes but had not heard us play. We're pretty sure we were not what they were expecting! When we say "ukulele band" most people expect a few songs like "Five Foot Two"--cute little songs accompanied by a ukulele plunk-a plunk-a. (And we do play some of those.) But the Yesterukes are so much more than that. There's rock'n roll from the 50s and 60s, complete with dancing. "Rawhide" with it's whip cracks and shouts will make you look for the cattle coming. Throw in a gospel tune or two for good measure and everyone finds something they like. Someone said afterward, "Wow! That was really a good show." And another man added, "Smooth. Just so smooth."
And the folks at First Presbyterian Church in Laurens last night were the best. They fed us well. Then they cheered us on enthusiastically. It is always such a pleasure to play where you can just feel energy coming from the audience. So it was the perfect evening. Everyone--audience and band--had a great time being together for a couple of hours. Thanks, First Presbyterian, for hosting us.
'Swonderful, by George & Ira Gershwin, 1927
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Thursday, March 11, 2010
It doesn't matter if you live in the largest city, or in the smallest town or rural area. If you eat, if you have admired a beautiful flower, and if you've turned the page of a newspaper, you have benefited from agriculture. Tonight the Yesterukes were part of a dinner to honor and recognize local agricultural producers and the agriculture industry. 300 people gathered to participate as awards were given to top producers and community leaders.
We were happy to give our salute to these people who work hard for each one of us!
Down On The Farm, by Tim McGraw, 1994
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It started with the first email last night, "Sorry I won't be there tomorrow-doctor's appointment." And then a few minutes later, another email came, "My husband is in the hospital..." This morning the phone rang and two more were unable to come. And just before time to leave, yet one more cancellation.
We have often said the Yesterukes operate on faith, because starting this whole venture has been a leap into the great unknown for us. Today we were holding on to faith that enough of us would show up to play.
The Yesterukes were booked today to play for the Eastern Piedmont District Garden Club meeting. By the time we arrived, we were down to nine players. A lady with the garden club looked at our group and asked, "Is this all you have?" (There are 21 members of the Yesteukes.) With only a minor shift in our set list, though, we were ready.
For about twenty minutes, we charmed South Carolina gardeners. Cameras flashed all across the hall. Video cameras were pulled out. People stood and moved around to get a better view and many sang along with us. They loved it. After the program, the state president for South Carolina Garden Clubs told the local president, "They were so good. That is music from our era!"
We knew we would be fine with 9 players. But we'll admit we're more comfortable with more--there is safety in numbers! We send good wishes to our sick folks. Hurry back! It's more fun when we're all together.
Have A Little Faith, The Statler Brothers, 1975
Thursday, March 4, 2010
We fully understand that the rest of the universe is not as excited as the Yesterukes are.
We hope that friends and family will bear with us, though. We'll stop smiling in a bit.
It's just not something that happens everyday. We knew it was to be published. But seeing it in print is another matter entirely.
We are excited because the nicest article about the Yesterukes is in the Spring 2010 issue of Sandlapper magazine. Three pages (slick pages, even) that tell what makes the Yesterukes so special...what being in the band means to our players and why the band is so popular with audiences. It's all about ukulele joy.
For over 40 years, Sandlapper has told the story of South Carolina--stories about the people, about the places, about the history of our state. The Yesterukes are honored to be included in the magazine that is held in such high regards by South Carolinians. If you are in South Carolina (and maybe parts of North Carolina), you might find a copy at your local book store or in your library.
And after you've read about the Yesterukes, read the rest of the magazine. It's filled with beautiful photography and informative articles--about everything from history to nature to recipes. And much more. Then consider joining the Sandlapper Society (which includes a magazine subscription.)
Thanks, Sandlapper! You made our day.
You Ought To Be In Pictures, by Dana Suesse & Edward Heyman, 1934
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010
We did get snow after all. The Yesterukes were glad to be at home watching it fall. Big lovely flakes. But so sorry we missed meeting the folks at Overbrook Baptist Church. Maybe we can go another time.
Snow here goes quickly. So we will be back on schedule next week with two performances, spreading ukulele joy all around!
Snowflake, by Jim Reeves, 1966
Blue shirts are all clean, notebooks in order, ukuleles tuned. We are well rehearsed with a great set list. But the phone call yesterday morning said, "We are canceling our program for tomorrow because of possible bad weather." So this morning we are all in "play mode" with no place to go. Snow is predicted for today. John Cessarich on WYFF says, "Folks, it's coming." But there is none falling yet. The snow is a couple of counties away at this point.
We live in a part of the country where the mention of snow will send everyone rushing to the grocery store for milk and bread. Just in case. And even one inch of snow on the ground can bring things to a near stand still. We mostly watch snow on television and are thankful we live in the South where snow is rare enough to be a treat when it does come.
So all across the Upstate this morning, there are Yesterukes sitting at home, strumming a song, wishing we were together today. Staying warm. Waiting for the snow.
Snow, by Irving Berlin for the 1954 movie, White Christmas