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A Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2014

(C)2014 Edward A Sprake, all rights reserved

My first ever ukulele festival was amazing. One of the best ever experiences at a festival to date; so many happy, wonderful, nice humans and that’s before getting to the fun of the uke. Such a fabulous little instrument connecting all these fantastic people together.

We arrived on the Friday at the hotel (right next to the lazor quest and internet cafe, in case you were wondering). A hotel in which I later learned that pretty much everyone playing was booked into. All the artists had been emailing, prior to the festival, to organise a meet up and dinner that night to mingle and introduce each other. So I vaguely, via the interwebs and line up, knew of the characters I was about to meet, but not really.

After being entertained by small children getting drenched in the water fountains outside the train station, Father and I headed to the restaurant and sheepishly sat by the window (me) and ordered drinks (father) whilst we (me) proceeded to people watch, guessing whether these humans with trilbys and small instrument cases making their way towards us were ukulele players or had just time travelled from the 1930s. But that was just Jake.

edited DSC_1597-1(No but seriously there were Steampunkians in the form of the Mother Ukers, Trilby and Bowler wearers – including myself – and even a tailcoat, which lovely Tricity Vogue pulled off amazingly)

I’ve genuinely never felt so accepted into a new group of people so quickly than I did that night, although the usual not knowing awkwardness was definitely there, I felt triumphant that I’d chatted to and recognised faces from Ukulele Underground, ukulele YouTube videos and general ukuleleish Facebook connections. All in all everyone was lovely and I truly felt like I was part of something awesome.

After food we all made our way to the Head of Steam, to meet up with all the festival go-ers pre-festival and the other performers who didn’t make it to the meal to have a jam and watch Lionel K Hubert. Although missed Lionel (sorry!) we did catch snippets of Phil Doleman, and Andy Eastwood with a bit of Michael Adcock, which was all rather fabulous, plus lots of jamming that I harmonised on (although no one probably heard me, which was may be best as I couldn’t hear myself). The Head of Steam was THE place to be pre-fest and after the main concerts. There was a right good after party on Saturday night, in which I thoroughly enjoyed myself chatting to…nearly everyone. Didn’t even jam, which is something I regret and will look forward to joining in with next year.

Too early for my brain to function properly on Saturday morning, Father drove Clarice, the festivals ambassador of awesomeness, and myself to BBC Radio Leeds in which we chatted about how fantastical the festival was going to be, then I sang a bit and that seemed to go down well.

I want to chat about the rest of Saturday and Sunday but my brain is all a happy mess and for the life of me cannot remember which order anything came in so to summarise, I tried out some utterly gorgeous ukuleles, met even more amazing people, soundchecked at some point and got excited about the stunning natural reverb, attempted to jam songs backstage, walked up and down an inordinate amount of stairs, went to an awesome record store called Vinyl Tap to watch chilled Mr Remco or Ukulelezaza, had cake and tea, played a very, very small ukulele, watched Krabbers and The Mersey Belles, ate pizza, spotted a gold postbox so then tried to figure out who had won an Olympic gold medal from Huddersfield (still don’t know, and Google is cheating), experienced Tricity Vogue and the dancing penguin, made a mental note to tell Kris his sandwiches were fab, laughed a lot at Vonk and Vlam, watched the flipping Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian and at some point Saturday night I sang onstage to a incredibly lovely audience who laughed and joined in, ukes and all, and how I smiled, I smiled so much that whole weekend my cheeks burned.

Feel like I’ve missed so much out. It was such an enjoyable weekend.

One CRUCIAL thing I need to mention is that on Sunday, myself, the hilarious Chonkinfeckle, fabulous Tony the GNUF co-organiser, amazing Ben Rouse and a bit of brilliant Vonk and Vlam were filmed for BBC Look North. Got some pics in the gallery below but here is the finished piece:

Compiled some photies, some mine, some not (I tell you which) this is just so you can experience the weekend with me and get your tickets for next year…

SEE YOU THERE! ;)

Click me for my GNUF Gallery (Use arrow keys to navigate)

P.S I also won in the raffle!!! A Moselele Bambookulele (it smells really good) and an arg…arg..argapo (?) t-shirt10624595_771204722938475_2791554594513978523_n

Remember to check out Ed Sprake Photography for even more amazing photos of the festival http://edsprake.com/

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Adventures at the Imaginarium Festival in Peebles

Photo kindly taken by Ellie Morag – elliemorag.com

Just for the record, I pronounce Peebles (Peeb-ulls) like Peeb-lees just because it’s fun to say. There you go, just learned something weird about me…not really that exciting, though. Sorry.

Anyhoo, that’s were I was this past weekend. Playing up at Eastgate Theatre in Peebles for ‘The Big Gig’ as part of the 6 day Imaginarium Festival alongside crazy Jack Hinks (with his band, Charlie and Sean) and lovely Georgia Gordon with her cajón player, Isaac. Plus another Shaun/Sean who was rather steampunk and beat-boxed rather well with one of those mouth twangy things (obviously know the technical term).

Thoroughly enjoyed the evening gig and took a little trip around Peebles during the day. Everyone is so lovely at Peebles. As usual I ventured into the nearest sweet shop to hunt for spoggs, which they had *yay*. To add to my collection of spog names (i.e spogs, spoggs, jelly buttons) is Horse Cakes. Yup, in Peebles they’re apparently called horse cakes. Thankfully they tasted exactly the same as all the others (bar the squishy ones from Moffat). So in conclusing yay to Peebles sweet shop but nay (or should it be neigh) to the horse name…

Back to the gig, Dad and I took a few pictures (which I’ll upload shortly) but click here for a video of one of Georgia’s songs. This was the last in her set, an original called Black. Enjoy!

All in all, Peebles seems really nice and I think in future we’ll be making a slight detour there when we’re next on our way up to Edinburger for a cuppa!

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Stranraer RNLI Park Fest 2013

For a second year I was lucky enough to be invited back to the fantastic ‘Raer (Stranraer) to sing as part of the RNLI Park Fest, raising money for the RNLI.

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There were some brilliant other acts including Jennifer & Jocelyn, Steve Dowling and the Obliviates, Finding Albert and Dodgy. Fun stuff. Fantastic day. Definitely recommend for next year.

Go on, stick it in your calender!

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Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

Wow. Pretty awesome that I was up there. Busy, busy. Although I was playing there on the first weekend so not can’t-walk-down-the-street busy. Met a bloke with really awesome Steampunk type outfit that was handing out flyers for a comedy play which sounded brilliant but sadly we had a train to catch *sad face*

There was also this lady. Ya know those statue people. When you donated money she danced, it was rather hypnotic.

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Walking back, another arty-farty lady was drawing on the inside of a shop the sky line of Edinburgh. Which was cool in itself, but what was extra cute was the three children that sat down in front of her on the other side of the glass absolutely captivated.

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Would love to go back next year just for the fun of the festival. Although it would be amazing if I were playing at the again… *not a major hint at all*

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The Waffle TV lovelies (from Wickerman) found me and we did a quick interview, so the video of that is above. They also kindly filmed a live busking type version of San Francisco which featured this hilarious contraption, a microphone taped to a bass drum mic stand, taped to a stool The Mic-inator 1000.

 

 

 Also bumped into lovely Evie. The little gem who sent me this.

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All in all Edinburgh was fun, stayed with some friends, ate some nice food, walked a lot. Basically had my dose of cityness.

Thanks for having me Edin!

P.S I bought spogs/spoggs naturally

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Comlongon Rocks Festival Launch Party

Zoe Bestel with Emma's Imagination

Had a great time at the Press Launch Party for Comlongon Rocks the other day. I played a little set and watched some of the other acts that will be performing at the festival in May

Also got the chance to have a chat with the lovely Emma from Emma’s Imagination. If you haven’t already, you should go check her out now! I love her music and she’s a lovely person too.

http://emmasimagination.com/

Details of the Comlongon Rocks Festival can be found here – http://www.comlongonrocks.com/

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Danny Kyle Open Stage at Celtic Connections

(Here are a couple of songs she sang in her set, the first one, Reading Over Words is brand new.)

Zoë had a great time at The Danny Kyle Open Stage at Celtic Connections last weekend, as did we all. We made some great contacts and as a result she’s been given the opportunity to play at a number of festivals over the coming months. We’ll keep you informed as soon as we’re allowed to let the cat out the bag, so to speak.

This was filmed by our new friends, Joan and Bob. Thanks!

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