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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do You Hear What I Hear?

When we walked in and saw the beautiful cake, we knew we were in for a treat. The Yesterukes work hard all year at practices and at gigs. Oh, yes—there is lots of visiting each time, but much of it is whispered between songs. Or, it's shared conversation as we walk back to the parking lot.

Today was a time just for us. There was much laughter and chatter and good food. There was time to finish whole sentences without having to stop for a song. It was pure pleasure to just relax and enjoy the company of good friends. The photos tell the story.

But wherever Yesterukes gather, there's going to be music. We can't help it. Today, though, it was all piano accompaniment. The ukuleles will have a rest until the new year. Look for us back here on the blog in a couple of months.

Do You Hear What I Hear, Bing Crosby, 1963

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Time Is Here

Don't believe everything you see in a photo! The "humbug" pictured above is anything but grumpy. His hat is just for fun. He was one of several Yesteruke members who came to play and sing in the lobby of St. Francis Hospital to share a little Christmas joy. We played here last December and were so happy that they invited us back. It's a favorite place for us to play.

One lady was being pushing by us in a wheelchair. The nurse stopped a minute to let her listen. She was all smiles. We have no idea why she was in the hospital but we were glad we could bring a little cheer. Another woman was there, waiting while her mother had surgery. If you've ever had to wait like that, you know that those minutes just creep by. We're pretty sure that at least 45 minutes of her wait passed a little more quickly as she moved over to our side of the lobby to watch and even made a couple of videos of our music. 

Some hospital staff members also gathered in the lobby, probably to see what a "Yesteruke" was and to hear what we sounded like. They likely needed a couple of minutes of music as much as anyone. It was fun for all of us.

Christmas Time Is HereVince Guaraldi Trio, 1965

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You Ought To Be In Pictures


Yes, the Yesterukes OUGHT to be in pictures right here on this blog. But the photographer for the group (who is also the writer of the blog) has fallen down on the job. Just know that the Yesterukes have been busy entertaining people across the upstate. Our members are a hardy group--willing to carry on while part of the band has been dealing with assorted illnesses and surgeries. And as we play for groups of senior adults who also have health concerns, we are reminded that a hour of music, fun and smiles is a healthy thing. Music is good for the body as well as the soul.

Yesterday we played for the Joy Club of Riverside Baptist Church. No camera was in sight, but you can use your imagination and picture the beautifully decorated room and tables filled with members and guests. And picture the Yesterukes in their blue shirts, on stage singing and playing favorite songs such as Rawhide and Sentimental Journey along with all the standard Christmas selections. It was a great way to kick off the holiday season. We will try to remember to make photos next time.

*pictured above is Cliff Edwards, better known as "Ukulele Ike"

You Ought To Be In Pictures, Suesse & Heyman, 1934

Saturday, November 17, 2012

In A Sentimental Mood

Simpsonville First Baptist Church's Joy Club is a very active group with many, many members. We were happy to be with them for a second time last month. Take a look at a few photos from the day.

 Getting set up before the program.

The main purpose of these gatherings is to get together...

to meet new people...

to enjoy the fellowship...

...and to share a meal.

Like some of the other places where we play, 
there are senior adults from many churches 
who come together here.

And our job is to entertain everyone with a musical trip 
down memory lane.

In A Sentimental Mood, Duke Ellington, 1935

Friday, October 12, 2012

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

It is always nice to get home from a gig and have an email waiting for you that reads like this one

Today with the yesterukes was one of the most delightful times I have had in quite some time.  Thank you and your ukers.

We enjoyed our time with the folks from Augusta Rd. Baptist Church, too. It was the first time we had played for this group and there is something special about an audience that doesn't quite know what to expect when they turn chairs around after lunch and get ready to listen.

They were so excited when the music was over. Nearly every person there came up to tell us how much they enjoyed what we did. There were lots of smiles and hugs. There were also stories about the songs we sang---like the white-haired man who said he remembered being on a troop ship and hearing the Andrews Sisters sing Sentimental Journey as they pulled away from shore. He thanked us for bringing back so many memories.

And I missed getting this photo up a couple of weeks ago. The perfect blog title would have been We'll Sing In The Sunshine. The sanctuary at Eastminster Presbyterian Church overlooks a beautiful wooded area. We just happened to be there in the very bright setting sun. By the time the music started, the sun had set and the audience thankfully was not staring into that bright sun. We had fun with those folks, too. That evening we sang more songs from the 50s and 60s. It is fun to have such a mix of music in our set list that we can choose what to sing as we see what a particular audience is enjoying.

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Marvin Gaye, 1964

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sing For Your Supper

*September 2012 is the 5th anniversary of the Yesterukes.*

We really should think about changing the name of our blog to "EAT Along With The Yesterukes." We are not fed everywhere we go, but we do enjoy many good dinners as part of the programs where we entertain. (Our band truly is not all about food, but it is impossible to make photos and play at the same time, so our photos are almost all before and after pictures.)

We were treated to another fabulous covered dish lunch 
prepared by the members of John Knox Presbyterian Church.

If you are wearing a blue shirt, 
you get to go through the food line first.

And as many times as we say we are going to forgo dessert,
that never happens. It's just too good.

This was a fun show for everyone.
The Yesterukes received a standing ovation.
That doesn't happen very often, 
so we appreciate it when we get one.

One of the favorite parts of any gig 
is meeting people after the program.

Some folks want to try out a strum or two.
And some have a ukulele story to share.
This time we heard from someone who still has the 
Martin tenor ukulele that was a gift about 60 years ago. 

And almost always, someone wants to know 
how to book our group. 
Most of the bookings on our schedule 
come from someone who has heard us 
and tells a friend about the program.

A favorite phone call a few weeks ago was when a lady called to ask about scheduling us and said, "David (from another church) says we just HAVE to book your group! You are the favorite program at his church." So now her group is on our spring schedule. This method of booking new places has worked for us for years. When people stop asking, we'll know it's time to call it quits.

Sing For Your Supper, Rodgers & Hart, 1938--recorded by the Mamas & the Papas in 1967

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Around The World In 80 Days

Just a day after our last blog which talked about ukulele groups in other places on the globe, we received the the following email from a group completely on the other side of the earth from us.  How much fun to find ukulele friends in Singapore. 

Hi there,
I came across your blog and seen some of your clips....very impressive. We have a thing in common as our group started out a few years ago, all seniors and all volunteers....we play at old folks home and community functions , and we jam every Thursday.
you can go to youtube under Bishan Ukelele Interest Group.....
By the way we are from Singapore......I would like to extend our invitation to you when you are in this part of the woods check us out.
Happy Jamming ....and have fun...


Sebastian told us in a second email that there are other ukulele groups in Singapore...
"... except we are the only ones that wear uniformed Tee Shirts like yours . We've got different tees for different events....The one in green was taken on our Chinese New Year Chingay Parade similar to your Madigras and  the red ones was our performance during one of our national day events."

In this big ukulele world, we all learn from each other. Listen to them here:

Thanks, Sebastian, for taking time to share all of this with us. Please tell your members that the Yesterukes said, "Hello!"

Around The World In 80 Days, from the movie of the same title, 1956

Saturday, September 8, 2012

You've Got A Friend

If you've been reading our blog all along, you know that one reason our band has continued is because of the good friendships that have grown within the group. What you might not know is that these friendships extend beyond our own band.

The ukulele community is strong world-wide. There are uke players of every age and uke players dedicated to every type of music--everything from punk to Hawaiian to jazz to country to classical. There are solo players and club players and there are bands very much like the Yesterukes. Thanks to the power of the internet, we have made friends with several of these other groups.

But one group in particular has become a "sister group" to the Yesterukes. Email friendships have grown between several of our members and members of SMUG on Prince Edward Island, Canada. It started when their director emailed questions about how our group functioned. Since then, we have swapped ideas, swapped songs and swapped encouraging words. And we discovered how much we have in common.

Last summer the director of the Yesterukes made a trip of over 1500 miles to meet SMUG (Saturday Morning Ukulele Group) in person. Of course there were many photos made and we shared those last year. But a few videos were made during our jam session that day. The camera was lost soon after that so we never got to watch what we recorded. But yesterday that camera came out from hiding, so more than a year later we got to see what fun happened that day.

We just had to share...

You've Got A Friend, James Taylor, 1971

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nice Work If You Can Get It

It was good to back together again after a long summer break. 
A couple of practices had us ready for the first gig of the season

They seemed as glad to have us there as we were to be there.

If you're a long-time reader of our blog, 
you know about the many dinners we've  enjoyed 
over the years.

 This dinner ranks right at the top of all we've had.
This church has some amazing cooks.

Don't let anyone tell you differently---
we love singing for our supper!

So many people came up after the program 
to tell us how much fun they had.
But the best comment was from a lady 
who slowed down as she passed by on her way out.
She waved and shouted, "You all were better than dessert!"

At this church, that's saying a lot.

Nice Work If You Can Get It, by George & Ira Gershwin, 1937

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Love Being Here With You

The performing year has ended for the Yesterukes,
 but the desire to get together has not. 
It's hard to imagine not being together once a week.

So for one last time before our summer break, 
the Yesterukes, spouses and guests 
found time to meet for lunch.

No performance this time. It was just us.
Just a time to enjoy good food and fellowship.

But as you can imagine, it's impossible 
for this group to be in one room without music.
So there were a few group songs, and some members 
shared a fun song, a poem or just a little nonsense.

It was fun to hear about summer plans--one couple is on a cruise to Scandinavia already, there is a cruise to Alaska for another couple in a couple of weeks. Trips to the beach and the mountains and time with family are already booked, too. But as the summer ends, you can be sure the ukuleles will gather again. Everyone will be rested and refreshed. Good thing, because our fall calendar is already full. We are now booking for 2013! We still find this hard to believe. 


I Love Being Here With You, Peggy Lee, 1961

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Getting Some Fun Out Of Life

It is only fitting that we ended our season in the very room where this crazy venture started. The Yesterukes began, not as a band, but as an 8-week "Learn To Play The Ukulele For Fun" class at Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center. Five people completed that class but continued to play together and then to perform together. And that little band of beginners grew, picked a band name, grew, bought blue shirts, and grew some more, until we have 21 members in today's band.

We still practice weekly at Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center even though now only one band member is a Martha Franks resident. Our band members come from across the upstate of South Carolina. And we continue to grow. This was the first performance for our newest member.

The residents and staff of Martha Franks gathered on a weekday afternoon to participate in The Big Sing! And everyone enjoyed joining voices to sing old favorites. Our program ran a little longer than we intended but we don't think anyone noticed. It was all good fun.

One resident left after the program and then wheeled her walker back in and said she just had to come back to tell us that a couple of our songs were special to her. She had worked in Atlanta as a young woman, across the street from the Ansley Hotel and often heard the band there practicing Sentimental Journey. That would have been when that song was a new hit!

Some of these residents had only heard us at the very beginning and were surprised at the sound we have now, after five years of playing.  We have worked hard to make our music snappy and to make our program entertaining. 

And after all this hard work, we are taking a summer break. There might be an occasional blog post during the summer, but look for us back here full time in the fall.

Getting Some Fun Out of Life, Billie Holiday, 1937

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Wonderful Time Up There

The road started to rise and twist as we drove to find Washington Baptist Church, located in the foothills. It was our first time there. When they start setting up more tables and chairs for an extra large attendance, we knew they were expecting good things from us. We didn't disappoint.

And neither did they. The lunch was delicious. 
We always enjoy good food. And these Baptists fed us well.

As much as we enjoy making music, 
we enjoy the fellowship that each gig affords us.

There is even time for visiting as we get set up.

We had a couple of panicked moments waiting for the last folks to arrive. But they got there just in time.

After the program the hostess congratulated the program chairman for the good job he had done all year. And then she told him that he had outdone himself when he booked us. No one at Washington Baptist Church had heard us before so they weren't quite sure what to expect.

But after the program, many there came to tell us how much they had enjoyed the music and how much fun they had.

They wanted to know about our assortment of ukuleles. 
And they wanted to know if we'd come back.

Some of the other comments that were heard were:

"I've never seen anything like this." (We think that was a compliment.)

"Who knows how many girlfriends I'd have had way back 
then if I had known the words to all those songs you sang today!"

"I played ukulele as a child. It belonged to my mother. 
But my sister inherited it. Darn."

"This was just the best program ever."

"How hard is it to learn to play one of these things?"

We had a great time, too. And it's there's a good possibility we'll be back there next year.

A Wonderful Time Up There, Pat Boone, 1958