We are now living in very uncertain times and it is difficult not to feel helpless and distressed by the terrible conflict that has erupted in Ukraine. For most of us playing the ukulele has always been an escape from our day to day troubles because it makes us feel better. However in difficult times we sometimes need to confront these harsh realities. The ukulele has always been an instrument for the people, not for politicians, and is at its most powerful when used to give comfort and hope.
A single human voice paired with a ukulele can be a simple and effective tool to convey the message of a Peace or Anti-War song, whether sung alone, with friends or in public. Many of these songs that were written in the mid twentieth century have stood the test of time and are simple to play on the ukulele.
The following examples are just a small selection that I was able to find on YouTube, each performed by a dedicated ukulele player. They are well known songs with easily available chord music that can be found online. Look for a version that suits your playing ability or challenge yourself to find a more difficult example.
Firstly is Pete Seeger’s classic Where Have All The Flowers Gone written in 1955 performed by Ms McBride.
Secondly Bob Dylan’sA Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall from 1962 performed by Boozelele.
Thirdly is One Tin Soldier by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter originally performed by Canadian Pop Group The Original Caste in 1969 and played by Kelly Deacon.
Finally we have Yusuf/Cat Steven’s 1971 Peace Train performed by Stephen Norwood and Justin.
Of course there are many more recent anti-war songs that you might prefer to play but these are a good start and all have a universal message that is still relevant and needed today. Let us all use our voices and instruments to try and make a difference no matter how small.
The Holiday Season in Melbourne is nearly upon us. It might be beach weather but there’s no shortage of snow related decorations and evergreen pine trees in people’s homes.
While it is summer here, Australians still love to sing and play winter songs on the ukulele. An old favourite is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, probably because it tells a fun story that we all loved to hear as children. It is also easy to play on the ukulele and for those who want a simple version, the following lesson by the talented Elise Ecklund is a good one.
However for those who prefer very silly lyrics you could also substitute the original with the lyrics of Robert the Red Nosed Reindeer by Aussie legends Bucko and Champs of Aussie Jingle Bells fame. It’s probably not suitable for little children so save it till later when the adults need a laugh.
If you want to go down a really controversial path and risk insulting some of your relatives at family celebrations, there’s always Bucko and Champs Completely Useless Gifts to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. But maybe don’t play this if you want to see them again next holiday season.
Whatever you play on your ukulele have a Wonderful Festive Season and a very Happy New Year.
Melbourne is still in Stage 4 Lockdown and because of the now accepted aerosol risk of contracting Covid-19 when singing, it looks like Bayside Ukes will not be able to meet at the Hampton Community Centre for some time.
It would also be difficult to sing when wearing a mask so we will continue with our Zoom sessions for regular members until it is safe to get together in the real world.
Keep on strumming,
To cheer us all up here is a fun video featuring the delightful Olivia Colman recording a song with accompanying ukuleles.
The Covid-19 lockdown in Melbourne is now easing and soon many activities will begin again. While this will be great for community groups, we at Bayside Ukes think that there is a need to proceed with caution before starting back at the Hampton Community Centre due to the increased hazard of contracting Covid-19 from the mechanics of group singing. There is a higher risk of contracting the virus in an enclosed space.
For those who are unaware of these health risks, the following video gives detailed health and scientific advice from experts with regard to group singing in an Australian context. This information is also applicable to anyone singing in a group during this pandemic. The video takes about an hour but it is worth viewing for health and safety reasons.
The main recommendation is that singing groups should not get together inside until there have been no new local cases of Covid-19 for at least one month. Bayside Ukes will be following the advice of these experts and we look forward to such a time when we will be able to play together in the real world.
We will update the calendar on this blog before we resume our sessions depending on the rate of transmission of the virus in Melbourne.
In the meantime, here is a fun video by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain of Kraftwerk’sThe Model (RIP Florian Schneider).
Tomorrow Australians and New Zealanders remember our service men and women on Anzac Day. This year it will be very strange without the usual marches and dawn ceremonies held in our countries and at war memorials overseas, but these are challenging times.
With everyone under Pandemic lockdown we are being encouraged to commemorate the dawn service in our driveways this year. Those who are able to play brass instruments are being asked to perform the Last Post for their neighbours. Here is a link to the ABC News website which gives ideas on how to participate in this historic event from your home.
While the ukulele is not suitable for the Last Post, you can still play some songs for the occasion in your home or backyard later in the day and have a sing-a-long with your family or house mates. This website has suggestions in previous posts about war songs made for past Anzac or Remembrance Day commemorations. Just look in the archives for posts in April or November.
One of the most powerful Australian songs about war is Redgum’sI Was Only 19, which is about an Australian soldier’s experiences in the Vietnam War. If you have never heard this song before, the following video features Redgum’s original version played over contemporary war footage of the Australian troops in Vietnam.
I have been unable to find a ukulele cover but here is a link to the ukulele chords, so you can play this song tomorrow.
In these days of covid-19 songs played on the ukulele can help us cope with the unfamiliar practice of social distancing. It is fun to find those with a related theme and here are a couple of my favourites.
A good up-tempo song is The Police’sDon’t Stand So Close to Me. Here is link to the music which is followed by a video of the Police’s version. You will need to allow for the instrumental interlude.
The song music links in this post are in different keys from the original versions, so you won’t be able to play along with the videos, which are included to demonstrate the arrangements of these songs (and because they are so good). You might have to practice for a while to get the right feel, but I’m sure that you are all up for the challenge.
Bayside Ukes regret to announce that, given the seriousness of the Covid-19 virus Emergency in Victoria, we will not be running sessions until further notice, out of respect for the health of our older members and those with chronic health conditions.
This has been a difficult decision, but we are not the only ukulele group in Melbourne to take this step and it will be hard on us all to temporarily give up our group sessions, which we really enjoy.
We must not let this get us down and everyone should carry on with ukulele practice at home to stay sane during this crisis. With that in mind here is a fun ukulele play-along challenge to help you stay strong and give that virus the boot!
If you find some of these chords difficult try to search for an easier version through google.
I will continue with this blog to share any ukulele songs and tips.
Wishing everyone in the ukulele community the very best and hope you all stay well.
From March 6 -9 the Moomba Festival is held in Melbourne. It is Australia’s largest free festival, with all kinds of events held around the Yarra River and the Moomba Parade on the final Monday (9 March). This occurs on the second Monday in March which is also the Labour Day public holiday in Victoria and commemorates the introduction of the eight hour day for workers.
This festival is all about getting together and having fun and what better way than to have fun with you ukulele and celebrate by playing songs about workers. Here are a few good examples.
The BeatlesA Hard Days Night is a classic of this genre. This ukulele version by Neil Starr does the song justice with some great vocals.
The following is Uke Boy’s version of Sheena Easton’sMorning Train. Such a beautiful melody that is just made for the ukulele.
If work is getting you down Fifth Harmony’sWork From Home is wonderfully escapist. Enjoy this lovely ukulele version by EMAYLA.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s seventies hit, Taking Care of Business has been given a fun twist on ukulele and unicycle by C J Hoyle. Would love to see this in the Moomba Parade.
There are other great working songs that I could not find a ukulele version on You Tube, such as Roy Orbison’sWorking for The Man or Australian band Cold Chisel’sWorking Class Man, but I’m sure that you would be able to find online music for many working songs that are suitable for the ukulele.
The ukulele as an instrument of the people is just made for such material. It is a great way to bring joy to your working day and makes every day a festival.
Bayside Ukes has finished its sessions for 2019 after a great year of festivals and fun. Everyone has worked really hard to make our group performances enjoyable for all.
Now the weather is starting to warm up, many of our members will be preparing for the holiday season in sunny Melbourne or are off to far away places, hopefully with their trusty ukuleles.
We’ll be back in 2020 for more ukulele fun.
Where every you may be, whether it is beside a fire or on a beach, everyone at Bayside Ukes wishes you a very happy festive season, full of ukulele joy.
I found this recent video by guitarist and ukulele player, Johannes Linstead performing his song Tropical Christmas. It was filmed in the beautiful Dominican Republic which reminds me of the islands of Northern Australia. Nothing like spending your holidays on a tropical island to inspire you to play the ukulele.