They say you can never go back, but that’s not strictly true. You can go back, as I discovered recently when revisiting an old stomping ground. It just might help if you are accompanied by a ukulele.
Seven years since leaving the sleepy coastal community I called home it has been transformed – not as you might expect by developers, but by housewife troubadours.
To say the area has been ‘uked would be an understatement. In a community of 13,000 people there are now no fewer than eight ukulele troupes performing publicly.
When you revisit old turf you must expect things have changed, but when you ask someone what’s been happening; “Well, I’ve taken up playing the ukulele” is not the first response you expect to hear from any friend … much less all of them.
But it seems ukuleles are like that – kookily infectious.
My friend’s group is called Ukenasia and members promise a dose of their music will either kill you or cure you. After an impromptu solo lounge-room rendition of Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue I can see what they mean.
But, as one of the uke virtuosos of the day Daniel Ho observes, it is “impossible to listen to a ukulele and be sad”.
Thanks to the likes of Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and the speed-metal group Uke til U Puke, the “jumping flea” as the instrument’s name roughly translates from the Hawaiian has gotten under everybody’s skin.
A resulting serious ukulele shortage in Australia last year caused much consternation
Dare I call it a ukelear explosion?