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Friday, February 18, 2011


He comes sometimes just to sit and listen to the Yesterukes practice and usually stays until the end. He told his daughter about our band and how much he enjoyed listening.  "They sure would be good to have for a party. If anyone was planning a party," he said just a few weeks before his birthday. We were glad someone was listening.

And so the Yesterukes were invited to entertain. It was the best kind of party. Lots of friends and family and cake. Lots of cake. We were honored to be part of this 85th birthday celebration. Happy birthday, Joel!

Celebrate, Three Dog Night, 1969

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

When the doors opened promptly at six o'clock, over a hundred people flowed into the beautifully decorated room. Red jackets and red sweaters were the fashion choice for many of these silvered haired folks. They were gathering for the annual Sweetheart Banquet at Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church. The Yesterukes in their blue shirts were easily identifiable as visitors here. Visitors and entertainers. After a delicious meal, we played old love songs, older love songs and a couple that might be classified as ancient. And there were a few songs that had nothing to do with love but we just enjoy playing them.  

But the best part of the program was after we finished. People came to the front to say how much they enjoyed it. And we hearing that. We heard, "We've just spent an evening walking down memory lane. Thank you!" (The Yesterukes have a permanent address on Memory Lane!) "Well, I didn't believe there was such a thing as a ukulele band. I was wrong."  And, "This was the most fun I've had in a long time." There were many other similar comments. But sometimes people come  up to tell you stories. And that's even better. The people with the stories will wait a little longer until the first wave has moved on.  

There was a man who was excited to tell about a business trip to Hawaii many years ago. Ukuleles were hanging on the wall at a restaurant where he had a business dinner and customers and staff would take one off the wall and sing and play when the mood struck them. He left smiling. Made us smile, too. And there was a lady who came to tell us she used to play ukulele but had not touched one in 40 years. Then she borrowed one of ours and proceeded to play Twenty Six Miles for us! And a man who was one of the older guests there waited a long time to ask, "Can you show me how to play that thing?"

As we were packing the last instruments in the car, one of the ladies who had helped serve the meal came out of the church doors whistling one of the songs we had played. We knew it had been a good night.

Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Friedman & Whitson, 1910

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)

If a little music is a good thing, then more must be better!  As a personal project, one of the Yesterukes decided to record a CD on his own.  He found back-up singers among the group.  They had several sessions in the studio, laying down tracks.

The rest of us have enjoyed hearing about their adventure.  And now we're waiting anxiously to hear the final product.  Maybe we'll see them one day on America's Got Talent.  

It's nice to think that the Yesterukes have generated more musical fun.  It's like that pebble tossed into the water that just continues to create ripples.  Wonder what's coming next?

I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band), The Moody Blues, 1973

Friday, February 4, 2011

In The Land Of Beginning Again

A longer than usual Christmas break, crazy winter weather rarely seen in the South, the loss of a member's spouse---this feels like a never-ending winter.  But the Yesterukes are ready to play. After a few practices to brush away the cobwebs, we are ready to take the show on the road next week.  

There was chatter at yesterday's practice about the definition of "senior adult."  You can join AARP at age 50. An online dictionary defined senior citizen as "elderly persons, usually more than sixty or sixty-five years of age." (Elderly at 60?  We don't think so!!!)  

This topic came up because most of our programs are for senior adult groups.  We try to choose music that our audiences will recognize and enjoy.  But our audiences can range from mid-50s to 100!  (The oldest audience member we can remember was 102.)  There is a nearly 30-year age range among the Yesterukes.

So what does all this mean?  All in our group have to learn songs we don't always know or like.  It's always fun to add a new song to our list and then wait for the moans and groans.  Those who finished high school in the 1940s might not love a song from the late 60s or early 70s.  There was a huge musical shift during those years.  And some of our younger members might think a song from the 1930s borders on dull.

But we all will give the song a try, argue its merits, study it on YouTube, and play it different ways.  After lots of joking around and lots of laughter, the song just might be someone's new favorite.  Or at least they will tolerate it! 

What's the one type of comment we hear after every program?  "I love your selection of music."  "You choose the best songs."  "How do you choose such a good list of songs?"  We work at it.

In The Land Of Beginning Again, Bing Crosby, 1945