Tony Penultimate

A is for the Audience

The UOGB with some our German fans....and friends!

To have any kind of long term career in showbusiness, a band needs to have a loyal audience and the Ukes have been very lucky with ours: - where on earth would we be without our fans?

In todays world, it would appear that 'becoming a star' via the X Factor or America/Uk's Got Talent route is a surefire way to get into showbusiness, but while most of these acts might go over well on TV, they often have no long term fanbase and unless they can find a big hit, they won't have an audience that will buy tickets to their shows.

Since we are indelibly associated with the ukulele (no shit Sherlock) we have always made time, where possible, to chat to other ukulele groups and players, when they come to see us. One of our best gigs in the last couple of years was playing the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in Huddersfield in 2014, as when we started, there was no 'ukulele scene' to speak of, and the gig was a terrific homecoming and it was great to see so many people taking up, learning, playing and enjoying the instrument.

But as we've gigged and gigged over the past thirty two years, we've managed to build an audience who just want to see a good show, and so I guess you could say that we've 'broken out' of our ukulele niche and crossed over into the mainstream.

Nowadays, it's very easy to keep in touch with the artists that you like, via social media: but if you were a teenager in the, say 1950's, who enjoyed the music of Mario Lanza or Bill Haley, your chances of meeting or having a chat with them would be virtually nil.

And so many of the people who come regularly to our concerts have become our friends and their generosity to us is extremely heartwarming. Take Ricky for example, who will think nothing of driving for a couple of days to come and see us play when we are in the US - he always brings us a gift that he's made

Or when we go to France and meet Julie, or Eva in Austria, or Guenter or Andreas in Germany, we have many such friends and it is always good to see them and go for a chat after the show.

People sometimes say to us, mostly in jest, "do you get groupies?' and the answer is no, purely because we are not playing to that type of 'rock'n'roll' audience, our audiences are more family orientated with a wide age range. While the UOGB girls are all attractive and desirable, the men are a more motley, ragbag collection of ukulele geriatrics, and if I'm honest, with me and Dave bumping along at the back of the queue.

Jonty is probably the closest we come to a 'hottie' (and he is totally devoted to his wife) - I remember one journalist commenting that he had an 'air of debauch' and he has often allowed himself to be shot in band photos with bow tie undone and dark glasses etc etc.

Where was I? Oh yes fans! So there are those we know well and those who we know by sight, but not necesarily their names.......

Manys the time when we are playing in the UK that the whisper will go round "the feds are in! the feds are in" and there is much rubber necking in the band to catch a glimpse of them. The Feds (not their real name, and I'm speculating wildly here) hopefully not readers of this blog are a pleasant middle aged couple who come to see us in England and are amiable and friendly. Jonty is their particular favourite, and its not unusual for any one of us to be told this by a punter or punters after a show.

I feel ridiculous reporting this, but apparently after one show years ago, Mr Federer was chatting with Jonty and he'd obviously had a few drinks and he confessed that when candlelight was calling and he wanted to ramp up the romance with Mrs Federer - he will either pretend to be.

Superfit Tennis Ace Roger Federer

or Super Unfit Bass Ace Jonty Bankes!

and so the anonymous couple have forever after been known by the band as Mr and Mrs Federer; George, who was the last to hear about this, even thought it was their real name and once called Mrs Federer - "Mrs Federer"!

Looking at these photos, I'd say there was no contest....................



Well spotted John - I'd like to say it was a deliberate mistake, but you are way to sharp for me! I'll try and put up some more old Ukes anectdotes.
Wonderful stuff and a lovely insight into stardom (or sorts). Also an intriguing post from the future (31st August 2017). The space/time continuum has been broken ! Are robots playing ukes in the future, wearing hover boots and firing lasers at The Death Star ? Hopefully all will be revealed in the next time-travelling episode. Thanks Peter - brilliant blogging.

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