an Aussie Strummer Now!
AUSSIE UKE CORNER
Ukulele Land 3 - the biggest uke event in Oz - was held on September
23 in Newtown, a trendy inner-city suburb of Sydney.
For the first time, it was an all-day affair with dealers' stalls
and workshops held alongside one of Sydney's oldest cemeteries,
where the first governor of the city and many other prominent people
are buried. They must've enjoyed the music 'cos we didn't hear
The first workshop was conducted by Tamariki Purapura, a Sydney-based
group of Cook Islanders. It wasn't so much a workshop as a fantastic
two-hour performance. The style of playing reminded me a lot of
Hawaiian playing. I guess all Polynesian cultures are still similar
in many ways.
Next up was the loosely titled "strumming" workshop,
which was my responsibility. I started with what I call the "slap
strum", which consists of slapping all four strings with the
palm of the right hand (assuming you're right-handed) in a downward
motion, then bringing up the thumb on its own. I find it works
well for surfie stuff such as The Beach Boys. I also taught a simple
picking pattern and a roll stroke. There was a good turnout - around
30 people - and they all seemed to have fun, which is the most
The big concert that night featured 20 performers from around
the country. As we had to be out of the hall by a certain time,
we only had seven minutes each. I went for three songs - After
You've Gone, Big Rock Candy Mountain and silly George Formby number
Our Sergeant Major.
It was easily the most diverse group of talent ever seen at Ukulele
Land. Tyrone Shoelaces (great name!) from Brisbane made a strong
impression with his unique brand of performance art. He did four
or five songs on his uke whilst showing slides of dog shows and
Aussie suburbia from the 1960s! It was as strange as it sounds,
but in a funny way it worked. Onya, Tyrone!
As always, the success of the event was down do its creator, tireless
uke campaigner and artist Rose Turtle Ertler.
She did an amazing job attracting media interest and now more
and more news organisations seem to be jumping on the uke bandwagon.
In fact, a TV crew from a well-respected program called The 7:30
Report will be at the Balmain Ukulele Klub in Sydney tomorrow night
to shoot footage for a piece they're doing on the resurgence of
the ukulele in Australia.
It's an exciting time to be a down-under strummer!
St George and Sutherland Community of Ukulele Musicians (SSCUM)
Originally formed by keen students who attended the local community
college's ukulele course facilitated by Cameron Murray (himself
a semi-regular member), SSCUM got its name in a mock gauntlet-throwing-down
gesture to MUK, the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective. Between 15 and
20 regular SSCUMbags meet on the first Sunday of the month at the
Como School Of Arts, Navarra Crescent, Como, Sydney, from 2pm till
4pm. Casual membership is $5 per visit or $40 annually. This covers
hall hire and includes a learner's folder of uke material. SSCUM
endeavours to cater to all levels of playing ability. Contact Don
at Sink_ers@hotmail.com for more info.
Balmain Ukulele Klub (BUK)
A not-for-profit, just-for-the-fun-of-it community club that meets
monthly every "teen" Monday at the Gladstone Park Bowling
Club, opposite Balmain Hospital, Sydney, from 6pm till 8.30pm.
Melbourne Ukulele Kollective (MUK)
Formed in 2004 by the fantastic Dino Divo (offstage known as Dean
Denham), MUK meets every Wednesday at a pub called Father Flannagans,
Collingwood, cnr Smith St and Alexander Parade from 5pm till about
8:30pm. Got to http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/m-u-k/ for
Oz Uke Players
Cameron Murray: firstname.lastname@example.org