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yesterukes@gmail.com
864-871-0603


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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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yes, We Have No Bananas

There are plenty of musical groups that struggle to keep going, to get bookings and to get the word out.  We have the opposite problem.  

Maybe it's because we play such happy music, or maybe it's because people "of a certain age" love to hear the songs we play, or maybe it's just because we're a good looking bunch, but we have no lack of people who want to book us.

The following excerpt from a recent email, though, takes the cake... 
Everywhere I go now I am hearing about the Yesteryukes; your reputation is spreading far and wide. So, I want to be sure we are on your calendar for the first Thursday in May for the next three years. Life being what it is, I know things may change but can we plan on having you barring the unforeseen? And I hope your fall is as spectacular as ours is.
When our band first started we only had five members and booked dates (and not very many) a month or two in advance.  We talked about accepting one of these dates and one Yesteruke exclaimed, "Well, I guess we can say "yes" but at our age, we don't even buy green bananas!"  

We're smiling now as we think about those green bananas and booking dates in 2013.  It is nice to be loved.



Yes, We Have No Bananas, sung by Eddie Cantor in "Make It Snappy", 1922




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Saturday, October 9, 2010

You've Got A Friend


We knew you'd be here if you could. We knew that you were where you needed to be, doing what you needed to do. But we really missed you all this time.  There was excitement when we heard you were coming back.  So everyone was happy to see you walk through the door, ukulele in hand, smile on your face. 

We're glad you're back...back with friends who care about you and care about your family.  The music is always sweeter when we are all together.




You've Got A Friend, written by Carole King, recorded by James Taylor, 1971




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