Ukes4Fun is a ukulele session – not a ukulele club.
The Cumberland Arms, where we meet on the 1st, 2nd & 3rd Thursday every month, hosts a wide range of sessions in the “Music Room” Public Bar. Ukes4Fun is the Thursday Ukulele Session.
Sunday Sessions at the Millstone in South Gosforth are held in the Function Room, are open but are more focussed on Misspent Uke (see below) and are not suitable for beginners.
We play a very wide range of music in Sessions – many more songs than are in the Songsheets on this site.
YouTube Playlist – Ukes4Fun Sessions. Not a representative sample – just videos that we are aware of.
Music sessions in pubs follow a traditional, semi-formal arrangement – but no two are the same. If you are not familiar with how “sessions” work, here is some info about what happens at Ukes4Fun sessions.
There is also list of recent FAQ’s here: Ukes4Fun Sessions FAQ
Dot leads the sessions and also organises Misspent Uke gigs.
Performances and Gigs
Ukes4Fun is a ukulele session – not a ukulele band (see above).
Misspent Uke is a multi-instrumental ukulele band that provides the “musical backbone” for Ukes4Fun sessions.
- All core members of Misspent Uke play ukulele and the “lead instrument” for almost all songs is the ukulele (Lead Ukulele: Keith Perry).
- There is always a bass player (bass ukulele or bass guitar) – who plays bass varies depending on who is available. The bass player is not expected to also play ukulele, although some of them do.
- Other instruments are played by members who were already accomplished, recorded musicians before they took up the ukulele, eg. Andy Seagroatt on fiddle and mandolin, Lucy Falkenau on guitar, banjo, whistle, accordion.
When stage space allows, Misspent Uke gig as “Misspent Uke and Friends“.
- they may then invite assorted Ukes4Fun members to join them,
- plus maybe one or more members of The Attic Band (who often attend our sessions)
- and anyone else they want to invite.
Attending Ukes4Fun sessions does not mean that you will automatically be invited to play with “Misspent Uke and Friends”. However, if you are a good player and/or singer or multi-instrumentalist then you are certainly in with a fighting chance!
Misspent Uke gigs are usually at private events or fundraising activities organised by charities, churches, etc. where Misspent Uke has been invited to provide entertainment.
Misspent Uke use performance fees to subsidise our Weekends Away and our Xmas Party.
If you are interested in booking Misspent Uke for an event, have a word with Dot during the half-time break at a session – or you can use the form on the Misspent Uke website contact page.)
Other performance opportunities
There have been a handful of performances over the years where everyone attending Ukes4Fun sessions has been invited to participate, for example at events organised by The Cumberland Arms.
Once in a blue moon there are invitations or calls for volunteers to participate in gigs organised by other Ukes4Fun members, either as part of established ukulele bands or as “scratch bands” put together for “one off” events.
Several Ukes4Fun members also gig with other uke clubs and classes in the area or as part of local ukulele bands or mixed-instrument bands.
If you are interested in finding out about other ukulele-action in the area, there is:
- a spreadsheet for clubs, classes and groups in the North East and Cumbria
- the Ukers North East Facebook Group (includes members from Cumbria)
We have a weekend away in the countryside every Autumn/Winter, usually in November. Regular members are invited, along with their partners. We stay in a Youth Hostel or Hotel and everyone pays for their own accommodation.
Misspent Uke subsidises the weekends in one way or another. They might invite other musicians who play with them to join us for the whole weekend or during the day and evening. If there is a local ukulele club, group or session in the area, we make contact with them and invite them to join us too.
We usually arrange to perform a concert or have a session in a local hotel or pub, there is a guided walk for those who are so inclined, games and a music session with “solo spots” each evening, sometimes workshops run by members during the day, always a “choir” session run by The Attic Band.
It is very informal. Activities are arranged and made available rather than being compulsory and there is plenty of time for socialising and relaxing in good company.
Workshops and Concerts
In 2014 the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival (GNUF) offered Ukulele Clubs the opportunity to book international tutors/performers as part of sponsored UK Tours. This was conditional on purchase of a set number of “group bookings” by Ukulele Clubs for their members to attend GNUF. (There was a similar offer the following year).
This offer was not taken up by any Ukulele Clubs in the North East. In order for the North East to take advantage of this offer, GNUF kindly made special provision for Ukes4Fun to “host” sponsored artists. GNUF recognised ticket purchases by Ukulele Clubs and individuals across Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Co. Durham and Teesside as counting towards the qualifying threshold.
The coordination and collation of information on GNUF ticket purchases, arranging a venue, booking places for attendees, arranging accommodation for visiting artists, etc. etc. was undertaken by Liz Panton, who got drawn in when she contacted GNUF just to find out if there were any North East stops on the tours.
Since then, Liz, who has past experience organising events, workshops and conferences, has organised similar Workshops and Concerts at The Cumberland Arms once or twice a year, with the invaluable help of volunteers drawn from Ukes4Fun and other ukulele clubs and sessions in the area. Any profit from events has been put into a “reserve” to cover costs when an event does not break even.
You do not need to attend Ukes4Fun sessions to come along to these events – in fact the majority of people coming to these events do not attend Ukes4Fun sessions. To reflect this, events have been advertised since 2016 as “Great North Strum” events.
More info and sign up to get notice of workshops and events here: http://eepurl.com/1k0wr
A bit of history – George Welch
We started meeting on November 5th 2009 at The Cumberland Arms, at first as a midweek session for members of George Welch‘s Ukulele Allstars – and anyone else who turned up.
Meanwhile, the Allstars Sunday afternoon sessions at The Biscuit Factory Art Gallery in Byker continued, initially led by George and then by Dot Kirton, who kindly offered to lead the Ukes4Fun sessions as well. (The Sunday Sessions moved to The Millstone Pub in South Gosforth in 2013).
When George disbanded the Allstars in 2010, we took a policy decision to continue meeting as a Session – and only as a Session.
George also led a smaller ukulele band, “Misspent Uke”, and gave notice that he would be handing over the reins to Dot Kirton and Keith Perry.
The Ukulele Allstars last gig was in 2010 and the “musical back bone” for our Thursday and Sunday sessions has been provided since then by “Misspent Uke” – which rose phoenix-like in late 2010, minus George Welch and Christine Jeans, who now wow far and wide as a duo.
George, who is also an artist, created “The Ukulele First Step” booklet as a parting gift, to help new players.
Wondering who writes this stuff?
Happy uking, have fun and Plink No evil, Plonk No Evil, Strum No Evil!
Last updated: 2 Sept 2018