LEWKULELE was started by Bill Elms in 2013, following a chance encounter with a session in a Derbyshire pub. He was delighted to witness communal music-making on a small, inexpensive and simple to play instrument: the ukulele, or 'bonsai guitar', of Portuguese/Hawaiian origin, with just four nylon strings.
The idea was anyone, even those who considered themselves musically illiterate, could gather on Monday evenings for a strum, a sing and a glass or two. Drawing on 40 years of teaching experience, Bill cajoled the strummers into producing something musically coherent, while always prioritising fun over virtuosity.
Lewkulele grew in stature, tackling more challenging material and attracting local musicians. A performing repertoire emerged and the group began to play at care homes, fêtes and, occasionally, pubs - as well as busking - raising modest sums for charity. Performance, however has always been entirely optional.
The Con Club has proved an ideal venue, offering space adjacent to an excellent (Harveys!) bar, with a charming garden and in a wonderfully central location.
Alas, after seven happy years, disaster struck - Coronavirus Lockdown. Our sociable Monday evenings became just a memory.
But lo, within a matter of weeks, a miraculous resurrection, inspired by fellow strummer and mixing maestro, Jim Healey! Using charm and good humour, he persuaded Lewkulele members to record themselves, using mobile phones or whatever technology came to hand. Miraculously, Jim has managed to blend these remote contributions into a fair representation of our Monday sessions.
Here, with kind support from the Lewes Ripple, is the result: Lewkelele Lockdown! We hope you enjoy it as a reminder of happier times.
You can listen to the tracks below (and download them too), click here for the track list & credits, and click here for full track details, or simply click on the images above. They're yours to share.
To end on a personal note, my thanks to Bill, Jim and all you strummers for permitting my involvement, despite an almost total ignorance about the ukulele.
It’s been a privilege and a joy. I’m looking forward to the next seven years.
Andy Thomas May 2020