Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lotsa news again ... Kala ukes, Kotara Bowling Club (new Alder), video tomorrow, session fest - read on!!!!


  1. Kala ukes for sale
  2. Alder Park Ukestra moving to Kotara - a great new venue!
  3. Next Beginners - 22 June
  4. Next Ukulele Entree Course
  5. Individual Ukulele Lessons with Danielle
  6. Strum workshop with Danielle - 29 June
  7. Children's Ukulele groups
  8. Video filming - tomorrow - Newcastle Baths
  9. Upcoming gigs (including Brisbane) and some other stuff (read it! You might find something you like at the end!)
  10. Folk Club News (including Session Fest on June long weekend).

1. Selling Ukes and Cases/Bags - Straight Up Lower Prices

We now have for sale a limited range of Kala ukuleles. Kala is the grown up high-quality version of the beginner Makalas that we sell.

We figure that some people might want to upgrade, some may want to spend more (though not too much) on their beginner uke, or some may just want to have a different special uke to meet their UAS addiction (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome).

We don't have a shop, and don't specialise in retail, but we do know ukes. This means we can sell cheaper than others, but we also double check the high quality ukes that we sell.

Jane is in love with her new ubass (and we have only one of those for sale at $550).

Mark is particularly enamoured (and has been for a long time) with Kala's Travel Ukes. Since we got the ukes in last week they have sold in droves.  Like the ubass, this is really amazing and innovative technology. Something so small and compact really does pack a punch. $200 for a soprano, $210 concert, $220 for tenor.

But we also did buy some cheapies, that are a bit different – for the same price as one of our Makalas you can get a Makala Pineapple ($40).

We usually bring a small selection of these ukes to ukestras, so check them out there or if you want a special uke we also have some lovely ones (ask us – more at home).

2. AldNewKestra relocating to Kotara Bowling Club as of this week!

Danielle penned this email today to a bunch of AldNewKestrans, so I'm just going to quote it to you verbatim. Tells it like it is.

"I am glad to announce that instead of folding, which has been on the cards, we have changed location and will now meet at the Kotara Bowling Club, Park Avenue, Kotara, as usual on a Wednesday from 10.30am - 12.30pm.
This will commence on June 5.

Mark came in to AldNewKestra to announce our demise on Wednesday, but instead, after a great deal of discussion, left with the conviction he could do no such thing!  A short while later he returned with the news that he had secured a new location, this having been one of his own strongly felt concerns.

Since the board at Alder Park has changed, we have not had the use of the bar as the club does not officially open until midday. Likewise, the bistro stopped operating on Wednesday lunchtimes shortly after we started, so we have not been able to reciprocate the club's support – via the bar or the bistro or by entertaining the patrons – in the way ukestras usually do.

As a positive though, since word was out that the Ukestra might fold due to dwindling numbers, there has been fantastic support from a number of ukestrans. This has boosted not only the attendance but the happy and welcoming spirit of the group, which has always been its trademark.

So THANK YOU to the persistent and wonderful AldNewKestrans: from those who have seen through more than a year of playing, learning and performing (including Elizabeth with all her hard work with the aged care gigs); to the more recent participants who have brought their enthusiasm, experience and support; and to Mark for taking rapid action in line with his Ukestra philosophy after facing the music, so to speak.

Now...let's start thinking up a new name!!


p.s. we had our regular end of month lunch at the Kotara Bowling Club bistro on Wednesday and the food is well priced and very good.

3. Next Beginners - 22 June

The next beginners class is on Saturday 22 June at 1:30-3:30pm at the Wickham Croatian Sports Club. Right after the inaugural UUU at 11:30.

4. Next Ukulele Entree Course

We are going to run another entree course for beginners and novitiates soon and it will run during the day on Wednesdays (about 12.45-2.30pm)  in the Hamilton or Kotara area.
Please let us know if you are keen to join this course. It runs for 6 weeks and goes through the basics of ukulele techniques including strumming, riff playing, reading a bit of musical notation, reading tab, and learning about 15 chords. The course costs about $16.50 per class prepaid ($99 total) or $18.50 per class casual.

Please let us know you would like to do this as we can only run it if we have enough people (min. 8, max. 15). 

5. Danielle teaching ukulele at Jack's Music.

Danielle is teaching ukulele for individual lessons at Jack's Music. She is also giving ubass lessons.

Check out Danielle's website for more information.

6. Strum workshop with Danielle

A couple of months ago Danielle ran a very popular strum shop at the New Lambton Community Centre. It sold out, so she is running another on 29 June. Contact Danielle directly at or on 


7. Children's Ukulele

We are continuing classes at Cardiff South (45 kids this term!) and have an ongoing Jukestra at Charlestown (who plan to perform at the New Zealand Ukulele Festival in late November!) Jane has also just started another Jukestra at Waratah. 

In Term 3 we plan to make Jukestras more accessible and popular. The kids who are building their skills need more friends to join them! And the only way to do that is to keep training up new children in the joys of music-making. Talk to Mark or Jane on 0430434291 if you are interested for your child / grandchild / friend's child / school.

8. Filming a Ukestra video tomorrow!

We are making a video clip of the ukestra tomorrow (Saturday 1 June) morning. The songs we are going to do is Catch My Disease and if we can manage a second song then it will be Price Tag. Please practise both of these songs!

We met some young French film-makers at Hanoi airport - they are doing the filming for us! (True story).

We recorded some audio last night, so Saturday morning will be just the visuals (lip synching). We are meeting at 8.30am at Newcastle Baths.

This will be visual and audio recording of the song/s so you need costumes (bright colours, hats, flowers, theatrical stuff,  no stripes or checks, no plain black, gray or beige).

We will be singing to camera and so we won't be using music stands for this part of the recording. Please understand it is all about looking good!!

Secondly we will be taking small videos of people to make a montage (eg Susan and Christine belly dancing). Bring a prop, costume or just something silly! Nothing rude or vulgar please.

Hopefully we will be finished by 10.30am at the latest. If you can only be there for a hour then please do so. We may need to move venue so be aware that we might move around. Mark will have his phone on him (0430434291) so you can chase us down if for some reason we move elsewhere (nearby).

9. Upcoming gigs

AJ Leonard - we are still organising a gig with AJ Leonard - hopefully 12 July. Keep your ears tuned.

The Hawaii group met on the weekend just past, meeting each other and making a first pass at the selected songs. Only 7 weeks ish to go!

Men's Health Week Performance - 12 June
We have been asked to provide a ukestra performance for men's health week in Waratah (Wednesday 12 June 11:15-11:45am). Mark is taking a small group of men to perform at this. If you wish to be a part of this, please email Mark .

We have a few people already committed to the Brisbane Ukulele Festival. Mostly these are people who are already planning a holiday up that way, or who have relatives that they would like to visit. Please send us an email now if you are going.

Our presence (including Mark & Jane) will be small but notable - 20-22 September.
Central Coast Uke Festival - 24/25 August. We are playing!

Cruise Ships
We have finished the cruise ship season. Thanks so much to all who sailed in the welcomings! We hope you had fun! We know that many people did, and a significant amount of money went into the Folk Club's Ukulele Community Fund. The last one was a real pearler with some relos of Kiri's joining in - they were on the boat! The many kiwis insisted that we play Porekarekare Ana many times!

Sydney Harbour Ukulele Cruise

Got this email from Wollongong - email Uncle Cyril in Wollongong to book (

Hey up folks, after the raging success of the last Swinagleles' harbour cruise we are running another one. It will take place on Sunday 7th July from 11.00am to 3.00pm.  Like the other one there will be a three piece band(piano, drums, bass) to support ukulele strummers strumming all day from a free ukulele songbook. A bountiful lunch is provided and there is a bar.

The price to non-members is $50 if you make your own way and join the group at the Darling Harbour wharf.

10. Folk Club News

Take your camper van for a lovely long weekend of Folk Music just on the Lake at Swansea.
Sessionfest JUNE long weekend - Fri June 7 to Mon June 10.

Sat  1st June  – 7.30pm -   2 Headliners  Trevor Knight plus SNEZ

Trevor Knight is a musician who has acquired some very nice “moss” while he has been rolling round the world, like his family of ukuleles....including his prized banjo ukulele made for George Formby of music hall fame. Trevor has acquired a reputation as a country singer (two Golden Guitars might have something to do with that) and has worked the TV circuit having a regular spot on the Midday Show with Ray Martin.  He has also toured extensively with John Denver and Tom Paxton amongst others, both here and overseas.

Snez singer/songwriter based in the Blue Mountains, Snez has spent the last two years touring Australia with her co-writer, producer and guitarist; Stewart Peters, squeezing their world into a van for months at a time, visiting remote and regional Australia, sharing stories and songs. She has performed at various concerts and festivals around Australia, sharing the stage with notable artists including Renee Geyer, Jenny Morris, Robyne Dunn, Mahalia Barnes, Gangajang

ENTRY: $15.oo Adults $12.oo Concession. $10.oo Club Members Kids 16 /under free

Contacts: Carole – (02)4929 3912, Ron – (02)4926 1313, Folk Club – Mob: 0421 412 358

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Announcing the establishment of the UUU - The Uber Ukastle Ukestra

Y a UUU?

It has been three and a half years since we started our first Ukestra in Newcastle. We now have 8ish ukestras, from Port Stephens to Cessnock, down at the Lake, up to Paterson and of course in Newcastle.
In that time we have always had a rather inclusive policy on how and when people can join in with performances. With such a wide variety of locations, and new people coming in all the time, we have now had to re-think how we get a performance group together.

Our aim with performing is to provide participants with:
  1. Opportunities to experience the rare joy that comes from performing
  2. An experience and motivation that helps expand and build on their skills.
We also want audiences to have a diverse entertainment experience that is more than hum n strum and which shows that the uke can be arranged, played and sung with joy, skill and finesse, yet still be inclusive.
As things stand now, it is becoming more difficult to properly include people from across all of the ukestras, and to successfully arrange songs whilst working with eight different groups. 
With these goals in mind we have decided to adopt a new approach to performance rehearsals. Our aim is to improve performance quality and an improved experience for participants (on all sides of the stage).

The UUU - a specific performance rehearsal group.

So we are announcing the arrival of the UUU - or Uber Ukastle Ukestra - a specific and regular once a month rehearsal for those who would like to be a part of 'key' public performances. Mostly these are festivals and the like (but not, for instance, cruise ship welcoming - which are generally fairly joyous boots-n-all hum n strum affairs). And not to mention of course the fabulous work that a number of groups around Newcastle do in retirement villages. 
But if you want to be part of a more highly arranged and professional ukestra performance, then the UUU - run by The Sum of the Parts (music) - may be for you.
Rehearsals for the UUU will be for an hour and a half at the Wickham Croatian Sports on a weekend afternoon.

The first one will be on Saturday 22 June from11:30-1:00pm at Wickham.

Of course this will evolve, as we see how it all works out. Just like everything in life really - under construction.

What you need to do

At this stage you are all welcome to join in once a month. However there are some participation conditions.
  1. You'll endeavour to learn the repertoire, and perform without a music stand. Memorise the songs (or have some other method that does not require a music stand).
  2. Be a current member of the Newcastle and Hunter Valley Folk Club (for public liability insurance purposes).
  3. You will have attended 1 performance rehearsal in the last 3 months and about 4 in the last 12 months. 
  4. You will have attended three ukestra sessions in the last 2 months (so we can keep abreast of your skills). We reserve the right to make exceptions to this based on our knowledge of your experience.
  5. We require you to commit to three UUU performances in a year (in the Newcastle region). We presume some people will still want to do the far away trips as well.


Performance Rehearsals will have the following cost (or not!).
  • For regular participants of ukestras - run by The Sum of the Parts (music) - there is no cost. Regular means attending a ukestra session at least 2 times in a month. 
  • If you attended a ukestra once in the previous month, the cost is $10.
  • If you attend no times in a month then the cost is $15. This option may suit some people who have a high skill level and do not wish to attend a regular ukestra session, but would like to perform.

Benefits for you

As with anything, your skills expand at a rate comparable with how much time you dedicate to practising your skill! You will have the chance to learn:
  • Parts;
  • About arranging;
  • How to be an effective leader in your ukestra or amongst your ukulele peers; and
  • How to choose your part and be an expert in it.
You will be more guaranteed of being with other people who (like yourself) are more dedicated to developing their ukulele, singing and performing skills. You will also be a part of the team from whom we select lead singers and players.

What we'll do for you

The rehearsal format will involve:
  • Practising the selected well known performance repertoire. 
  • Introducing new possibilities for ukestrated songs. 
  • Rehearsing and arranging new songs.
We will give you 2 weeks notice of the old songs that we plan to rehearse. We will chose about 3-4 songs that you need to have memorised. We will expect you to know your part although chords will probably be called out initially.

When we do new songs you can bring the music along and look at it. You do not have to memorise the new stuff for quite a while!

We'd like people from across all the groups to be involved, and we expect that we will get representation from each group.


The repertoire for the UUU primarily consists of 'ukestrated' songs - songs that lend themselves to being arranged for different ukulele parts and for choir-like voice arrangements. These are the songs that you will eventually need to know by heart (with a bit of prompting by Jane). Songs currently on our list include:
  1. Price Tag
  2. Catch My Disease
  3. The Middle
  4. Somebody That I Used to Know
  5. Sunshine of Your Love
  6. My Girl
  7. All I Want is You
  8. Bring me Sunshine
  9. My Island Home
  10. Trains n Boats n Planes
Stay tuned. Literally. And metaphorically.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lots on: Announcements - Karuah, Brisbane, Central Coast, Sydney. Performances, classes and a bit on Vietnam

  1. Ukestra Performance - Karuah - 19 May.
  2. Other local(ish) performances (more into the future - Central Coast, Pennant Hills, Wollongong, Brisbane)
  3. Upcoming Ukulele Entree Course
  4. Banjo Circle - 12 May
  5. Beginners Class -  25 May
  6. Advanced Ukulele Course
  7. Cruise Ship welcoming - 26 May
  8. Do Riders news (and at Karuah)
  9. SQ3 support
  10. Facebook 
  11. Thanks to Danielle, Susan and Leigh
  12. Our time in Vietnam and Singapore (including Ukestration workshops and some TV reports and youtube links)
  13. (An ad for someone else). Andrew Clermont's Supper Club in Woodville (same weekend as Karuah).


1. Ukestra Performance - Sunday 19 May - Karuah Bluegrass Music Festival

This is a pearler of a little local festival just up the highway at Karuah (20 minutes north of Raymond Terrace).  Camping is recommended, though we'll be doing some driving that weekend. The festival runs all weekend (from Friday night).

The Ukastle Ukestra will be performing for 30 minutes at the Festival at 11:45am on Sunday 19 May. Participants get free tickets for the day (with some really great acts on, in a beautiful location next to the Karuah River, this is a top day out)

Please email Jane ( about whether you intend on performing.

We are conducting a uke workshop from 10.30.

Set List will be picked from ....

  1. Catch My Disease
  2. My Girl
  3. All I Want is You
  4. Price Tag
  5. My Island Home
  6. Somebody that I used to know
  7. I walk the line

2. Other Uke Festivals you might like to attend

20-22 September

Brisbane and Wollongong both have a festival scheduled for the same weekend (20-22 September). Of course Wollongong is closer, but the Newkulele Festival sorta made a commitment to go turn and turn about with Brisbane.

So the BUMS (Brisbane Ukulele Musicians' Society) has announced SPRUKE! A few people from Newcastle have already committed to go and we are looking for a few more. We had a lovely small group up there two years ago.

Decisions decisions!  Brisbane or Wollongong. Bloody 'ell.

23-25 August

In August the Central Coast Ukulele Club have their Uke Festival at The Entrance.

June 15

June there is Ukes in Tune in June at Pennant Hills Bowling Club.

Hawaii - July 21st

We are all locked in for Hawaii - we will start rehearsals soon, with a meeting scheduled for Sunday 25 May at 4pm at the Wickham Croatian Sports Club. If you have a last minute thought to join us, please do!

3. Ukulele Entree

We have a new Ukulele Entree class scheduled to start in the next week or so. It will be either on a Monday or a Tuesday evening night at a city (Wickham or Hamilton) venue. This is a great course for those who need to refresh their (beginnerie) skills over a six week structured class. Contact Susan ( for more info or to book in.

4. Banjo Circle

Hi there. Jane here. Finally I have got my act together and scheduled a banjo session for Sunday 12th May at the Wickham Croatian Sports Club (Albert St, Wickham).  There will be two sessions between 1:00 - 3:45pm.

Beginners - 1-2pm the first session starts at 1pm and this is for absolute beginners; people that want to learn 5 string banjo (note: not tenor banjo), either claw hammer or Scruggs style. I have a couple of banjos to loan for this session (must book for these extra cost $8). The cost for this session is $22 and also means that you can stay for the next session for free.

In the beginners session we will go over a few different rolls (Scruggs style), the claw hammer technique, explain slides, hammering on, pulling off, pushing off and "clucking". You will also start to learn to read banjo tab, which is how most banjo music is written.

Banjo Jam session
- 2:15 - 3:45pm. The second session is a jam on banjos and I imagine it will go longer but we will see. If you don't have your own banjo then you can bring a banjolele and play on that. I will bring some music for us to play and you can feel free to bring some of your own music but please photocopy enough for others (say 12 copies). I will coordinate this session, give a few tips if required, but it is not a teaching session per se, more just a jam. There will be some easy stuff for beginners but it is mostly aimed at an intermediate level. Cost for the session is $11.

For the  jam session it would be good to know your notes in the home position, be able to read a bit of tab, to know about eight chords and also how to use a capo. We will use just the open G tuning (gDGBD). For banjolele players you can have the usual ukulele GCEA tuning.

Contact Jane to book in (

5. Beginners Ukulele Class - 25 May

The next Beginners Class (with Jane) will be running on Saturday 25 May - generally the time is 1/2ish. Goes for two hours, cost is $22. We have ukes to loan and / or sell. Will be at the Wickham Croatian Sports Club.

6. Advanced Course started

An advanced ukulele course, using the James Hill course (Ukulele in the Classroom), has commenced at Charlestown with 8 students. Adults - all of them. Wednesday arvos. Contact Mark if you are interested (either as a latecomer or to express interest for future courses).

7. Cruise Ship - 26 May

Jane will be heading up a welcoming committee for a Cruise Ship on Sunday 26 May (morning - time to be confirmed).

8. Do Riders

The Do Riders are performing at the Karuah Bluegrass Music Festival, Friday night at the pub (with a number of no doubt far more talented people than we!), then Sunday arvo on the main stage in Longworth Park (2:50pm).

We also are performing at the Tea Gardens Hotel on 29 June.

By then we really should have something happening with our CD that we recently recorded!!!!

9. SQ3 - Danielle, Mark & Jane

SQ3 are making a rare appearance on 18 May. We are supporting Kristina Olsen at a fundraiser for the Greens. Kristina is a folk icon/siren from the US.

Kristina Olsen, international singer, songwriter, and Woodford favourite.
18 May. Gallipoli Club, Beaumont St, Hamilton.
Doors open at 7pm for 7.30 start. $30 (or $20 concession). Tickets available through (subject: KOlsen gig tickets) or call John on 0411 154 004.
Greens fundraiser for the coming Federal election.

Tango Dance Workshop, conducted by Kristina Olsen
Wesley Hall, Beaumont St
Sunday 19 May 11am-1pm
$15 each or $25 per couple. Tickets available through (subject: Tango workshop tickets) or call John on 0411 154 004.

10. Facebook

Another way for you to get information, and to interact with fellow ukestrans is to 'like' one of the Ukestra Facebook pages. We have had a Ukastle Ukestra page for a while, but we've now set up Tomaree Ukestra (which is fairly well 'liked'), and ones for Paterson and LakeMac. If we get enough interested local 'likes', then we can add some extra admins to it.

Is that confusing?

11. Thanks to Danielle, Susan and Leigh

Our small business - which is all about helping people to play music together - is a fantastic group effort. But this particularly is driven home for us when we are actually able to take holidays, or head off on other projects. So whilst we were away in Singapore and Vietnam, we were very lucky to have Danielle and Susan keeping things running back here at home. Leigh I'Anson is also becoming familiar to more of you.

Thank-you so much for helping us have somewhat normal lives amidst the mayhem of what we have created!

12. Vietnam and Singapore

We had a great time in Vietnam for 10 days, and then Singapore for a couple of days. If you read through this blog (in other parts), you'll find snippets about trials, joys and tribulations.

We had a great uke time, in a number of different ways.  Travelling is where the small size of the uke comes into its own. I reckon it is vital to have a musical instrument when travelling - it is such a fabulous tool for relating to others and especially to other cultures. I particularly found it useful to fend off the rampant H'mong saleswomen in Sa Pa (North West Vietnam).

"Where you from?"
"You buy from meeee???"
"You buy from her! You buy from me now!"
"Me poor, you buy from meeee?"

A surefire way to stop the constant haranguing is to sing them a song. I don't know if they were gobsmacked, or just totally confused.  But they sure shut-up. Here are a couple of photos to give you an idea.

H'mong women are short. Jane is tall.

Subduing the sales pitch. Note the different ways of dealing with the heat!
If you travel in Asia, then I think it is important to learn 'Hello' by Lionel Ritchie, but Let it Be by the Beatles had to suffice for our tour guide - self-named Jackie Chan. Have a listen / watch.

And we worked, delivering a pretty much beginners workshop in Hanoi (North Vietnam) and two sold out Ukestration workshops in Singapore (at a great shop called Ukulele Movement).

This is a 5 minute news report from the Hanoi workshop.

And this is a youtube video of a Somebody That I Used to Know ukestration in Singapore.

A comprehensive bunch of photos and video links is here on Ukulele Movement's Facebook page.

13. An advertisement for someone else!  ANDREW CLERMONT’S SUPPER CLUB COMES TO WOODVILLE (nr Maitland)

Andrew Clermont is a legend on the Australian music scene. He is performing at Karuah Bluegrass Music Festival as well. Here is the blurb I was sent. Talk to them, not Mark or Jane!

Social entrepreneur, Lucie Bruvel, invites you to the initial presentation of her inspiring concept for contemporary village life in an agricultural landscape starting here in the Lower Hunter.
For your enjoyment the evening will feature a Folk/Bluegrass Concert, showcasing the talents of Andrew Clermont’s world-class musicians with song:

Montz Matsumoto (Japan) – banjo
Brian Dover – 40’s ukulele
Tim Rickards (Alice Springs)– guitar & Stories
And multi-talented Andrew Clermont – fiddle, mandolin, guitar, didgeridoo, and Appalachian Dulcimer

Bring your friends and come prepared to share a musically eclectic  experience in a vibrant and convivial atmosphere at historic Woodville.

Friday 17th May
Woodville Hall, Paterson Road Woodville 2321
6.30 pm for 7pm start
Contribution: $28 per person payable at the door will include a savoury supper at the interval

Tea, coffee and cakes will be available after the show.
Macquariedale organic wines also on sale by the glass

Bookings preferred to Lucie Bruvel/ Phone 4938 5880
Mobile (SMS) 0412 355 63 /   Email

Boy. That was a long one!

Keep on uking on,

Mark and Jane