George Formby was famous for his. And George Harrison sneaked one in to the Beatles’ music occasionally.
And now the people of Gainsborough are being given the chance to learn how to play one.
This is the humble ukelele, which is enjoying huge popularity, according to Gainsborough Folk Club.
And it’s about much more than ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ - one of Formby’s signature tunes - says club member and folk singer Sue Dewsbury.
She said: “There’s a lot of interest in ukeleles, it’s huge.”
“The one person who did the most for them was George Harrison, a lot of the Beatles’ songs have ukeleles hidden in them.”
“At his memorial concert in the Royal Albert Hall, the final song was Joe Brown playing I’ll See You In My Dreams accompanied by the ukelele. It was so beautiful it hooked a lot of people.”
Sue said the ukelele appealed to a lot of people because, having only four strings, it was easy to play. Although the more proficient you became the more complicated you could make it.
The folk club has just received a £300 grant from the Thonock Trust to buy five ukeleles, which are being used to teach beginners on six-week courses.
They meet at the Melrose Club in Gainsborough on alternate Friday evenings.
Sue said: “The cheaper ukeleles can be difficult to tune and people can get disheartened, so we have gone for reasonable quality instruments which people can borrow.”
“The course is aimed at complete beginners, to get them started, and then there are a lof of tutorials on the internet to help people carry on further.”
“It’s a good confidence builder as well for people who go on to learn the guitar.”
Sue and her husband Mike, who also belongs to the folk club, teach the ukelele classes.
They also take them out to community groups, such as the WI, when they perform and then let people have a go at playing the ukelele.
She said: “There is a huge range of ukelele music, Joe Brown does a huge range of material and there is the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain.”
Sue and Mike, who plays several stringed instruments, are in their early 60s and have been performing together for over 40 years at festivals and folk clubs.
They helped to organise Gainsborough Folk Festival, which ran from 2000 to 2011, and are still regulars at other festivals around the country.
On 2nd February they will be supporting French singer Flossie Malavialle at Faldingworth village hall.
Sue said she became involved with the folk club about 20 years ago when she was a teacher at the former Castle Hills Community Arts College and a caretaker, who was one of the founder members, told her about it.
“Some people come because they like to listen to music, and some are performers. It’s a friendly, warm environment,” she said.
The club has guest nights and will be welcoming Garry Stacey on 25th January and Sleaford duo Winter Wilson on 22nd February.
If you’re interested in joining the folk club or finding out more about learning the ukelele call Sue on 01427 838726.