Ukulele Jam Around a Campfire

Category: Ukulele
Thu, 17 Sep 2009, 13:09

One person suggested we do "Will The Circle Be Unbroken". Another added that the last time they did that song in public, people thought they were a religious group. I then commented that my wife sometimes thinks we're a cult. But someone else pointed out that it isn't a cult until you get naked.

We sang that song anyways on the ferry ride, along with four or five others. Not a lot of people cross the Toronto harbor on a Wednesday evening in September. So at 6:15PM, just one ferry services all of the Toronto Islands' ferry docks, first Ward's Island, then Centre Island, and finally our stop, Hanlan's Point. That gave us plenty of time for ukulele playing.

We were the first to arrive at the fire pit, an hour before the official start of the evening's jam. Some of us used the opportunity to eat our dinner. For me, it was a roast beef sub. As the sky grew dark, we impatiently awaited the arrival of the bigger half of the Corktown Ukulele Jam. Rather than taking the ferry, they decided to cross the harbor on a pair of large voyageur canoes.

With all of us together, the fire was lit, and we began our evening of singing songs, telling stories, and playing ukulele. David told us stories of the feats of the voyageurs, and led us in some traditional Canadian camp songs. Various snacks, including a big bag of marshmallows, were passed around. Insects were biting, but no one complained. All too soon though, the evening had to end. The last ferry leaving Hanlan's Point at 10:15PM wasn't going to wait for us.

We all had a wonderful time. I left the gathering feeling refreshed and rejuvinated. Making music around a campfire is an almost mystical experience. Sharing music with others is uplifting to begin with. Add in the dark sky and the fire, and the experience becomes something almost religious in nature. And so perhaps we are just a few layers of fabric away from being a cult!

Anyways, many thanks to David and Steve for organizing last night's campfire jam. I can't wait to see what great ideas they come up with next!

Omnifariously yours, Hans

path: /Ukulele | permanent link to this entry

ukulele image
 

On Stage at the Corktown Jam

Category: Ukulele
Mon, 07 Sep 2009, 11:36

I'm not the kind of person who spends his time in bars. But most Wednesday evenings these days, you can find me at the Dominion on Queen, in the Corktown neighborhood of Toronto. I'm easy to find. Just look for the middle-aged guy wearing a green baseball cap with a Corner Gas logo. And carrying a ukulele.

uke player

The ukulele is the reason most people visit the Dominion every Wednesday. That's the day the Dominion hosts the weekly gathering of the Corktown Ukulele Jam. And at the jam a couple of weeks ago, I did something for the first time I never imagined I'd ever do - I performed a song on stage.

I started going to the jam earlier in the Summer. At first, my thought was that you'd never see me up on stage. And yet, once the evening was over, I started thinking about songs I could perform. The more I thought about songs to play in front of the gang, the more I felt I had to go through with it. That is, although I didn't have to do it, I found myself more afraid of chickening out than moving forward.

Let me try to explain: I'm not the most outgoing person, and I've had to deal with anxiety issues for years. I've learned a few things about dealing with my anxiety - when to face up to my fears, and when to walk away. I knew I was now facing some uncharted territory when thinking about getting up on stage. But I also knew that walking away from that territory was no longer an option. These were fears I now had to face head on.

Looking back, my performance was a blur. As a first timer, my main goal was basically to get through my song without soiling my pants, and I at least met that goal. I'm sure my nervousness showed through, especially at the start. And I messed up a line once, but it was in the chorus, so perhaps no one noticed. That's probably because I got distracted by the sound of my amplified voice. (There's so much to think about on stage!) On the plus side the audience laughed at the right points in my song. And I even remember hearing some people in the audience singing along with the chorus.

Will I do it again? I think so. The more you do something like that, the better you get. You can't expect perfection the first time out. I'll do a bit better next time. And a bit better still the time after that. I'm still practicing songs with the intention of doing them on stage.

I know there are lots of ukulele fans at the jam who don't ever want to solo on stage. I can certainly understand their reluctance. After all, there are some really good performers who regularly show off their abilities. But while I know I'm not in the same league as many of the great uke players at the jam, I know we all have to start somewhere. The only way to improve is to practice, and extend the limits of our abilities. Also, we can't forget that this is a very supportive bunch of people. When you do go on stage, everyone wants you to do well, but they also don't care if you make a mistake. Knowing that makes a big difference.

Omnifariously yours, Hans

path: /Ukulele | permanent link to this entry

ukulele image