If cupcakes are the hot trend in culinary circles then surely the ukulele is its musical equivalent. A diminutive version of the standard item and somehow cuter and more gleeful. If you can listen to the upbeat tinkle of a jauntily strummed ukulele and not feel happier, or possibly even slightly warmer at the prospect of warm island summers then you may well be made of stone or something similarly cold and unfeeling.
Christchurch City Council’s Matariki programme which has been ongoing throughout June saw me attending a two day ukulele workshop at Ngā Hau e Wha Marae last week. Led by local legend Pos Mavaega of Pacific Underground we newbies (several of whom had bought their ukes the day before) miraculously found some chords and strums and managed to cobble them together into some songs.
We did so well that somehow Pos has managed to talk our small band of uke-wannabes into performing during Pacific Underground’s set at Matariki at the Marae on Thursday night. There will be other exciting things on offer at the marae as well including star-gazing with telescopes (I saw Saturn last night!), star-weaving, guest speakers and possibly the best pumpkin soup ever (do take them up on having a squirt of sour cream in it, it’s really good).
If you really can’t bear to leave the cosy warmth of your living room on Thursday to see our triumphant ukelele debut you can still get yourself uked-up. Perhaps you prefer to go to a performance where the musicians have been playing their instruments for more than a week? If so you might be interested to know that the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra will be performing as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival in August (but be quick, one of three performances is already sold out!). And of course the library has a ton of ukulele inspiration to get you strumming –
- Books on how to play the ukulele
- Israel Kamakawiwo’ole CDs (Hawaiian singer most famous for his ukulele cover of “Somewhere over the rainbow” as featured in a Dulux ad)
- Sound recordings of George Formby
- Information on local ukulele classes