A Ukulele Club exists in Castle Carrock. It meets fortnightlly on thursdays at 8pm in the Watson Institute. Above are some of its members playing on BBC Music Day in September 2018.
The D’Ukes is aimed at people who can string an F chord, an A chord and a C chord together (and not much more!) and is led by master technician and teacher Ian Brown who comes across from Haltwhistle and who leads with wonderful enthusiasm and joy. You might remember him, or have met him, at Music on the Marr. The cost, to cover Ian’s time and also for the hire of the hall, is just £5 each.
A bit of background about ukuleles
The Ukulele is commonly associated with music from Hawaii where the name roughly translates as “jumping flea,” perhaps because of the movement of the player’s fingers. Legend attributes it to the nickname of the Englishman Edward William Purvis, one of King Kalakaua’s officers, because of his small size, fidgety manner, and playing expertise. According to Queen Lili’uokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, the name means “the gift that came here,” from the Hawaiian words uku (gift or reward) and lele (to come).
Developed in the 1880s, the ukulele is based on several small guitar-like instruments of Portuguese origin. Three immigrants in particular, Madeiran cabinet makers Manuel Nunes, José do Espírito Santo, and Augusto Dias, are generally credited as the first ukulele makers. Two weeks after they disembarked from the SS Ravenscrag in late August 1879, the Hawaiian Gazette reported that “Madeira Islanders recently arrived here, have been delighting the people with nightly street concerts.” One of the most important factors in establishing the ukulele in Hawaiian music and culture was the ardent support and promotion of the instrument by King Kalakaua. A patron of the arts, he incorporated it into performances at royal gatherings.
The singer and comedian George Formby was perhaps the UK’s most famous ukulele player, though he often played a banjolele, a hybrid instrument consisting of an extended ukulele neck with a banjo resonator body. Demand surged in the new century because of its relative simplicity and portability. Today the ukulele’s popularity in continues to grow with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain touring globally, and the establishment of dedicated ukulele groups.