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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wirral Ukulele Orchestra

Wirral Ukulele Orchestra

From Wirral Globe 01.05.12

"We always find it puts a smile on people's faces" said Tom Baker, explaining the astonishing worldwide resurgence in popularity of the humble ukulele.

Tom, a senior member of the Wirral Ukulele Orchestra which is making its presence felt more and more on the local entertainment scene, disclosed: "It is massively popular in this country, the United States, Ireland and Australia.

"It doesn't show any signs of slowing down. The music seems to enthuse people.

"I put its popularity down to the fact that a ukulele is cheap to buy (from £25 upwards) and easy to play. "It is also very portable – you can take it as hand luggage on your travels."

The 35-strong Wirral orchestra has an age range from 18 to almost 80.

Even the younger members acknowledge the contribution to the genre of happy-go-lucky Lancashire comedian George Formby, whose flying fingers took ukulele and banjolele playing to new heights.

Said Tom (59): "It's a generation thing. I think he was absolutely brilliant. I grew up listening to his music.

"George Harrison was an enthusiast and Paul McCartney likes to include a ukulele piece at his concerts.

"Younger people are not really Formby fans but they recognise what he did. And we always include one or two Formby classics at all gigs.

"At the same time, as we can play anything on our ukuleles, we include a lot of more modern music."

Later this month the orchestra are planning a Liverpool "pub crawl" to raise fund for the Claire House charity.

Tom said: "We will be rattling the bucket at 10 pubs across the city centre, starting at the Cavern pub and finishing at the Cavern Club.

"We will only have time to sing four songs at each pub before we will have to move on."

The Wirral Ukulele Orchestra was formed by local lawyer John Bloor who gathered together a group of like-minded people and formed a group.

John has now moved to live in the south of England but the band became firmly established.

They have performed at Melrose Hall, Hoylake to raise funds for MIND, the mental health charity, and at the Wirral Food and Drink Festival.

Recently they entertained dozens of people at Wallasey’s central library.

Said Tom: "Our problem is that we can't take any new members because we are restricted by the size of venues.

"It's already a struggle at some of the places we perform."

The orchestra rehearses every week at Gallagher’s pub in Birkenhead and on the last Monday of every month they have an open night at the Vanilla Lounge in Hoylake when members of the public are encouraged to go along to learn to play the ukulele.

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Read 2653 times Last modified on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 15:33

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