A Sunderland maritime melody - and a chance to learn the ukulele!

Why not add another string to your bow and join up with a Wearside ukulele group with a Tall Ships link?

Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 10:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 11:05 am
Bojangles Ukes members at one of their weekly meetings.

The Sunderland-based bojangles Ukes is a group of people aged 16 to 70 - all with a common bond in music.

They meet every Monday in Bojangles Cafe in Sea Road between 7pm and 9pm. Thanks to cafe owners Rachel Thomas and Rob Ferguson who host the group free of charge.

Bojangles Ukes members at one of their weekly meetings.

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It means that like-minded people can meet and learn to play the ukulele.

Paul McCandless came up with the idea for people who may not have played music before.

He met with Charlie Lally, who leads two other ukulele groups in the North East, and Bojangles Ukes started last November. It has 18 members and welcomes new ones.

As to that Tall Ships connection, the group is preparing songs which have a maritime link.

Bojangles Ukes members at one of their weekly meetings.

Paul said: “Bojangles Ukes hopes to perform in Keel Square in Sunderland early in July in a concert to welcome the Tall Ships.”

As well as Echo of the Sails, the group is working on a song called The City of Adelaide - a tribute to the world’s oldest clipper ship, built in Sunderland in 1864.

If you are interested in joining bojangles Ukes and you are aged over 16, email [email protected]

Paul said: “I am a terrible singer and my ukulele playing is barely adequate, but Bojangles Ukes is about having fun and learning.

Bojangles Ukes members at one of their weekly meetings.

“I believe that music is not only for good singers and skilful players, it can be enjoyed by everyone.

“Recently a new member, Fiona Walker, has started to teach simple singing techniques such as breath control, and even my singing has started to improve!

“We have used businesses local to Sunderland who have been very kind and helpful.

“Our songbooks were produced by Squirrel Print who did a marvellous job.

Bojangles Ukes members at one of their weekly meetings.

“Alenia’s MusicArt, an independent music shop in Sunderland, were very helpful in advising on buying ukuleles and re-stringing ukuleles for players who are left-handed.

“Gentoo kindly gave a grant for the group’s first songbook, and Cultural Spring gave a grant for the second songbook.”

Echo of the Sails was written and performed by Dennis O’Brien and Paul, who said: “The song came about from words suggested by several members, and Dennis and I formed it into a song and added some music.”

Group members have played in care homes in Sunderland and for the Alzheimers’ Society.

Paul is very interested in the relationship between music and memory is now working with Chris Mitchell, another member of Bojangles Ukes group to make a short film on this theme.

Paul said: “After one performance at a care home, a relative thanked me and said that her mum hadn’t spoken for months, but was singing along to our songs.”