It's the group • Noise • Patronage • One of these chords
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Tuesday Nights in Waikato
As most of you probably knew, or were made aware of by various social media postings/announcements/reminders from friends, February 2 was International Ukulele Day and the second meeting of the newly formed Morrinson Ukulele Group (pictured above) in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island. They celebrated the day with uke players from Arizona (Trudy Bryson and Larry Vroom) and a social afterwards. For a town of only 7000, getting more than 50 people along for the first get together is fairly spectacular. To quote the founder, John Howlett, though, "This isn't about playing the ukulele, you can go and learn the ukulele anywhere. This is about the group." Read more here.
Theories developed whilst being deafened
Last weekend I was at a friend's birthday party. He is a musician and almost everyone who came to the party turned up with one or more instruments, as they'd all been invited to get up and play using the PA, guitar amps and drum kit that are permanently set up in the loungeroom. By the time it was my turn to play and sing a few numbers on my uke, the noise level and general rowdiness had made it equivalent to presenting nursery rhymes to a pub full of drunken Hell's Angels. When finally his band started to play, at ear-piercing volume, I realised that not only has recorded music, television and now the ubiquitous availability of digital music and videos helped Westerners build a substantial moat between musical performers and audience, but so has maximum amplification. If music is loud are you connected more deeply to it? Does it focus your attention on the music? Or does it actually reduce your connection to the people around you and ultimately to the music? The success of pub rock and the current popularity of big music festivals may be examples that disprove my idea, but I'd be interested to know if there are a substantial number of people feeling as isolated by the noise as there are people enjoying it because they are with their friends, hearing their favourite songs and/or experiencing altered consciousness levels due to ingestion of foreign substances. Anyway, worth considering!

Chordie back in business
After undergoing legal threats and having to take a lot of songs off their site, user contributed chord and lyric behemoth has undergone a wonderful overhaul and now includes a popular uke section on their home page. You can still choose to have uke chords instead of guitar chords on any of the songsheets and transpose at will!

Music - being paid to play, but it's not a 'business'
Published today, is this interview with musician and songwriter (and ukulele player) Amanda Palmer, where she talks about the income model underpinning Patreon, the phenomenal patronage-type crowdfunding service she uses to make a living from music and other artforms, versus the capitalist mass market model which seems to have passed its zenith. The catalyst for the interview is her latest and very-promptly-put-together project comprising six David Bowie songs with instrumentation by a string quartet. The interviewer, Brain Pickings site author Maria Popova, is a friend of Amanda Palmer, and this is perhaps why the latter seems uncharacteristically gentle in her forthrightness, as she discusses how Bowie was ahead of his time not only musically, but commercially. Soundcloud links to the tracks are placed at the start and throughout the article so you can listen to what it's all about. Not a uke within earshot, but the tracks are beautiful and sound as if they had been originally written for a string quartet. Here's an excerpt from the interview:
AP: Getting away from art-as-product reminds me of the Bread and Puppet manifesto: “Art is not business! It does not belong to banks & fancy investors. Art is food. You can’t eat it but it feeds you.”

MP: Or, as Susan Sontag put it in 1964: “Art is a form of nourishment (of consciousness, the spirit).”

AP: Yes. It’s the idea that we look at our art-providers as having a logical and valuable job — like the shoemaker and the doctor and the teacher — the idea that being a musician is just an ordinary job, as opposed to being an extraordinary job with terrible odds of success, that whole paradigm of how difficult it is to get a job in the arts. Instead, we’re going to the old way of looking at art and talent, which is that if you want to take that on as a job, you will train and you’ll get good at it and you’ll be appreciated, and maybe you won’t be fabulously wealthy, but nobody should be fabulously wealthy — not if we’re all living in a community where things are basically fair.

For a great description of how the model works for her, visit Amanda Palmer's Patreon page
Here's a scene...or make up your own
I recently had to introduce the Eagle's song One of These Nights, to a group, so thought I'd try (just for myself initially) to visualise a string of actions that would easily bring to mind what the chords were, what order they went in and how many bars they went for. Here's how it goes:
The Verses
I'm at an old, empty, American style multi-storey farmhouse. I enter the building and go up a set of stairs (Em) and arrive on the second floor (D6 barre chord), I walk to the front of the house and look out the window (Cmaj7, 2 bars) walk to the back and look out that window (Am, 2 bars), head back to the stairs (Em), stand on the landing (Bm7, half a bar) and notice a small trapdoor under the first stair (B7 barre chord, half a bar).
The Chorus
At that front window on the second floor again, enjoying the beautiful view across the paddocks (Cmaj7, 2 bars), turn around and notice a lovely long narrow rug that extends almost across to the back window (Gmaj7, 2 bars),  looking out that front window again (Cmaj7, 2 bars), hear a noise and run to the back window (Am), realise it's coming from the trapdoor under the top stair (B7 barre, urgent 3 strums).
Different images and actions will have different meanings for you and you will imagine chords differently than I do, so while you're welcome to use my story (which admittedly, is pretty lame), try making up your own and see how effective it can be. Don't be afraid, it's fun and there are no limits!
Warren Buffett & Jon Bon Jovi: A Ukulele Duet For Charity
If ukulele is good enough for Warren Buffett (investor and philanthropist, current net worth US $66 billion) at a Forbes 500 charity event, we're in good company...or at least, he is with us.
Perhaps the Forbes event organiser didn't trust that he could hold the audience's attention on his own, so they hustled up Jon Bon Jovi for a duet, but I think Wazza carries it off with aplomb and that his style is far better suited to the material!
Oh, he's more than halfway there,
Warren, living on a ($66b) prayer
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