A Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2014

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…


[wolf_toggle open=”false” title=”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/

By |2014-09-23T14:29:12+00:00September 23rd, 2014|Diary, Live performances|8 Comments

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  1. Ukulele Kris 23/09/2014 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Glad you enjoyed the sandwiches and had a great time. See you at GNUF 2015, if not sooner!

    • Zoë 23/09/2014 at 10:48 pm

      Gah! Can’t wait 😀

  2. Tony Casey 23/09/2014 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    You were fabulous.
    We knew you would be!

    • Zoë 23/09/2014 at 10:49 pm

      Aww! Thank you very much Mr Tony, can’t wait for next year 🙂

  3. steve phillips 23/09/2014 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    That’s weird – I saw you in the traders room at some point, trying out the Moselele ukes, and wondered if you would buy one…

    Loved your set, and indeed, the whole weekend. Looking forward to doing it all again in May.

    • Zoë 23/09/2014 at 10:33 pm

      Oh I tried every single ukulele I saw, haha! The Moselele ukes were lovely and I’m glad I won one, is weird though isn’t it

      Thank you very much! Me too 😀

  4. guzzisue 23/09/2014 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    You were excellent on stage and we are looking forward to seeing you next year. You may remember me as the lady making the ukulele straps 🙂

    • Zoë 23/09/2014 at 10:51 pm

      Wow! Thanks very much ukulele strap making lady. I do remember you, with the awesome clothing that everyone was commenting on too.
      Again sorry for staring, I was absolutely fascinated by how you made the straps, they were rather cool

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