Ukeristic Congress


My ukulele band Ukeristic Congress has had two public outings: Friday the 12th in Annesley House, North Strand Road, and again last night in McSorley’s of Ranelagh, as part of the benefit gig for Haiti.

I invited Terry Connaughton, chariman of the Ranelagh Arts Festival, to come along to hear us at the January meeting in Shebeen Chic, George’s Street, and he agreed to put a uke concert into this September’s festival. He also asked us to join the lineup for Haiti. He put us on third last, followed by Bree Harris with a terrific rock band, and Donal Lunny (back in Ireland) with the fiddlers Ciaran Tourish and Dermot McLoughlin.

I caught up with Eamon Carr, who read a poem for Haiti with recorded music and live drummer (Daniel Figgis). I hadn’t spoken with him since Tara Telephone days, forty years back. He said that Lorelei Templeton, the woman who put together the Tara Telephone page, is a uke fanatic in San Francisco. Influenced by her, Eamon had bought a uke, but couldn’t hack it as he lost the tip of his little finger in an accident.

Ukeristic Congress (Mick Kenny came up with the name) is entirely managed by group emails. It’s a great bunch of people, currently nine of us. We rehearse on Saturday afternoons in McCloskey’s pub. If there is a rugby match on TV it becomes too noisy for us, so we are trying out the Charleville Tennis Club in Phibsborough next Saturday.

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10 Responses to “Ukeristic Congress”

  1. Aoife Says:

    Jenny said the Ranelagh Haiti gig was great!

  2. recumbentman Says:

    How about that!

  3. Aoife Says:

    I know!

  4. malo Says:

    The Uke Gang is cool. The mood is relaxed but upbeat, the harmonies loose and free. The effect of all those (fairly-)synchronised strumming hands is quite uplifting, like watching people do their Tai Chi. It’s joyous in a quiet way; I think it has a Spongebob quality to it (and I am a big fan of SB) and I would could quite imagine taking a weekly dose of it, perhaps on a Sunday, for my spiritual well-being.

  5. john coakley Says:

    i checked out a video on the ukuhooley – you guys fucking rock! just started a uke jam here in the Tetons in the USA and our numbers are small, but folks are enthusiastic. if its not too much trouble, might i score the chords for your “ophelia/has anyone seen my girl?” medley?
    incredible energy. so obvious you guys were having fun. i am inspired. i go play now.
    you guys keep it up. if i make it back to the old country i am looking you up to jam. great job again! cheers!

  6. recumbentman Says:

    Photo added January 2011. There are now six in the lineup, and we are preparing for a three-night run in the tiny New Theatre in Essex Street, just beyond the Project Arts Centre, behind Connolly Books: 10th-12th March.

  7. recumbentman Says:

    We now have 6 tracks online: you can listen free or download them cheap at the Ukeristic Congress official site. Yes, you can also buy the t-shirt there. Getting serious.

  8. recumbentman Says:

    Last month we came to the end of a year-and-a half residency in Whelan’s Front Bar in Wexford Street. Every second Saturday from seven till nine we did our stuff. Excellent growth environment; we gradually built up our equipment, learned how to slay the demon feedback and how to present ourselves and get comfortable on stage. This year we plan to do more weddings and parties; a good lot of enquiries coming in, of which a good proportion lead to gigs.

    Idle curiosity: where does this sense of the word gig come from? The Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t know. They list thirteen meanings (including some duplicates, where the noun reappears as a verb): a whipping top, a light carriage, a squeak, a fish spear, a hole in the ground where fire is made to dry flax, an engagement for a musician or musicians playing jazz, dance-music, etc.

    Then come the verbs: (of a top) to spit out a smaller top, to move to and fro (quotation from Dryden: The Rank Matrons, Dancing to the Pipe, Gig with their Bums), to raise the nap of (cloth) with a gig (this sense of gig not listed among the nouns, curiously), to befool or hoax, to spear fish, to ride in such a carriage, and finally to gig around, like us.

    My guess is that the musical usage comes from the German ‘geigen’, to play (from Geige, a fiddle).

    It’s great being on the staff of the DIT; I get free access to the OED online. Endless amusement.

    I wonder does anyone still make nested tops, so that when you whip the big one up to speed it throws out the smaller one? The supporting quotes are all from the seventeenth century.

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