As a ukulele festival goer, I am excited. As a ukulele music journalist I am very excited. As a ukulele artist I am over excited for it’s just over a week before the wonderful 5th instalment of the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival and this year, I get to perform!
I’ve been a musician much longer than I’d care to comment and I have a lot of gigs under my belt yet I cannot remember a time when I was more delighted to be booked to play somewhere. GNUF, despite being a sprightly 5 years young, has established itself as a leading light in the ukulele calendar, offering a “break” to many a new artist and certainly providing the most interesting line-up of stages you’re likely to find anywhere. I am a humble fan of this West Yorkshire enchantment and doff my beanie to team GNUF, inspiration that they are in both music and life.
When I was told I was playing on the Vinyl Tap stage my initial reaction was one of utter agreement. It’s the perfect stage for me. I play mostly upbeat tunes, Indie pop of my own penmanship with a smattering of cover versions, my reputation advocating many a tune by The Housemartins, The Beautiful South or indeed anything Paul Heaton has been involved with. To be given the opportunity therefore to perform surrounded by discs of exceptional music in a good old fashioned record shop is nought but a genuine delight. Having been a patron of the festival in the past, I have also witnessed some amazing acts on this stage, the up and comers if you will, which is often where you’ll drop upon a performer who will simply blow your mind. I think of this stage as the “John Peel Stage” of GNUF and I am exceedingly proud to see my name on its line-up.
That’s not to say the other stages won’t be fabulous, of course they will! The hardest part of the weekend is always stretching oneself between all the stages from Mim’s to Main. I already have a bunch of “cannot miss” artists including We Tigers, Elof & Wamberg and Alan Thornton. Alan is a man I’ve known for 5 years and never met and isn’t that indicative of the power and underlying beauty of GNUF and indeed the ukulele itself?
I shall however be leaving my synthesizer at home, the instrument I use to lay down some live loops and indeed play a few piano songs on occasion. The Vinyl Tap stage moves so quickly I thought it best to keep the gear down to a minimum (can we consider 4 foot pedals a minimum?). My set is prepared and any loops I need will be whispered into the looper before I head for the M62. I can still loop my voice and soprano uke live on stage to my heart’s content of course and I do enjoy being able to present different versions of my songs from a fully orchestrated version to a stripped down busked acoustic solo as the situation dictates. Indeed I feel a good song should be able to carry itself through any level of musical complexity.
Now I can hear you hollering, “have you made some The Boy With The Greyhound Tattoo badges”? Of course, you know me and badges! Simply stop me and grab one, utterly free. They look just like the badge image at the top of the screen and are specifically designed for GNUF 2017. And so with that design in mind and with just over a week to go, I salute GNUF and thank them profusely for the opportunity to perform, to listen and to learn. Happy fifth birthday GNUF and indeed to paraphrase Messrs. Heaton and Cullimore, London 0 Huddersfield 5.