Saturday August 13th, 2016
For Uke-a-Bay 2016 we got a spiffing new venue: a marquee in the grounds of St Paul’s Church. This offered a big improvement in sound quality, thanks in large part to Lukasz of Tape (a local sound studio), who provided the PA system and technical expertise.
The al fresco Saturday afternoon was marred only by the unremitting dullness of the sky overhead. In previous years, Uke-a-Bay has been blessed with better weather but, while the coolness, wind and grey skies kept the crowd small, nothing dampened the enthusiasm of the groups performing there.
Colwyn Bay has a thriving Ukulele scene (Is that really a thing?), with somewhere close to a hundred local players, most of whom seem to be in a band. While the skill levels and ages of players vary widely, the one constant is the enthusiasm they all bring to the stage.
If you want to see happy musicians, just follow the sound of plinking strings.
I know one of them doesn’t look happy. That’s because she was playing bass, not a uke. Obvious really.
The Colwyn Bay Ukulele Group is where it all began. From humble beginnings, the group has grown, split, grown some more and now looks a bit like this:
Colwyn Bay Ukulele Group turned out in force!
Ukes At The Wharf turned up again from Burscough and were as good as ever.
Ukes On The Wharf
Next up were Woteva, featuring Clarice the Pirate Queen and two genuine young people (Not just the young at heart).
Woteva (Erik’s house band)
Rounding off the afternoon session were local duo Uke Waves (Ray and Teresa).
Teresa was sporting a fine head of skin in aid of Macmillan Nurses. Find out more about that very worthy cause here.
Ray is not just an excellent vocalist: He has great stagecraft. I would be delighted to see them with a bigger audience, like the one in Colwyn Bay Theatre for the evening show. (Hint, hint, Erik.)
Which brings me in a timely fashion to the evening.
This year, the concert in Theatr Colwyn was a Mayoral event, which was why the local bigwigs turned out in numbers in all their civic bling. It was also a free event and I’m sure there aren’t many places where you can see three top acts in a proper venue for nuthin’.
First on was A D Cooke, a northern girl, from Wigan.
A D Cooke
Her performance jogged a memory of K T Tunstall’s debut on Jools Holland’s show. Andrea is adept at the same trick with a sampler, allowing her to accompany herself.
Here’s a video of one of Andrea’s songs.
To the ridiculous.
Gaudy Orde describe themselves as a mediocre folk combo from Pontypridd. Don’t believe the hype. They are not mediocre! The creative chaos that is Gaudy Orde only works because six skilled musicians work well together. They are (left to right) Jeff Japers, James Parr, Tall Joy, Helen Spoons, Romany Bob and Barry Sidings. If any of those are real names, I’ll be amazed.
A set full of wonderfully witty songs celebrating cows, Brian Blessed and a chimpanzee in a plastic mac, but my personal favourite was The Size Of Wales.
The last act of the night was Chonkinfeckle (Tim Cooke and Les Hilton).
More raw, throbbing talent from Wigan. While less zany than Gaudy Orde, Chonkinfeckle are known for comedic, reminiscent songs. Here’s an example.
For the last song of the night, A D Cooke joined Tim and Les on stage and sent everyone home with their feet tapping.
And finally …
Uke-a-Bay 2016 was brought to you by Erik the ringtail lemur, ably assisted by Alice Farrar, Lukasz Kusmirek from Tape, Lucy Farrar, Keiran Eastwood-Mulvaney, Paul Richards and Becky Farrar. Sorry for this… So Farrar, so good!