Ten years ago this month Stu Eadie (a.k.a Stukulele) held the first monthly UKE NIGHT at the Courthouse Hotel in Mullumbimby. He expected maybe 30 people to show up… there was in the vicinity of 200 folk brandishing ukuleles and wide smiles by the end of the evening.
Now, after all this time what has been the highlight of the past 10 years and what have you learned?
STU: The highlight each month is the feeling of getting to end of another UKE NIGHT knowing we have done our best to bring some joy into the world for others. Having discovering the ukulele and its magical powers to bring people together, I have learned the reasons I loved to play music, like looking cool, playing in time and in key are at best a vague guide in this world. This excursion (not fond of the word journey) has taught me some important qualities that it takes to be a decent human… patience, acceptance, tolerance and a good dose of humility. Ukulele is about people having a go, shrugging off inhibitions and putting yourself out there in the name of togetherness.
How has the format of the evening changed over the years? How do you pick your themes?
STU: When we first started the idea was to create one songbook and add songs each month… after the first 3 months I overheard a participant say “it was all too samey.” That’s when I started theming the nights and inviting guest vocalists and new band members each month. I now create a themed songbook of at least 20 songs each month and rope in an array of our excellent musicians and local sing-stars and sequence the night as though it was a mix tape of your favourite songs from an era. We have done all the genres and decades plus a few left field ideas… like ‘Love Gone Wrong Songs’ for Valentines Day and ‘Show Us Yer Willie’ – the songs of Willie Nelson. You can check ‘em out at ukemullum.com
Lately you seem to be theming the evenings with the letters of the alphabet.
STU: Yes… I feel as though I may have exhausted my creativity when it comes to choosing themes so I’ve opted for making songbooks of artists whose first name begins with the Letter… for out 10th birthday we are onto ‘E’. I found having this precept makes me look very closely at a particular segment of artists and songs I had forgotten all about. It’s a juggling act at times to find songs that fit in a good key to sing and to play on the uke… all ukers would prefer the songs to be in easy play uke keys like C or G and that is not always great for the singers… it keeps me busy right up to the night, tweaking and swapping out songs.
How do you afford the time?
STU: I began posting videos on YouTube to help people learn how to play the songs about 6 years ago… after leaving that for a few years I went back and noticed I had 10’s of thousands of hits on some of the videos. Then I met a sweet girl on holidays from New York who introduced me to Patreon. That online platform has enabled me to make more instructional videos and tie it in with my monthly songbooks and weekly Monday night Uke Club… so I raise just enough funds to keep me active. I would like for my teaching and UKE NIGHTs to become my full time pursuit. I’m close, though covid restrictions have been a bit of buzz kill. We have had to cancel a recent Ballina UKE NIGHT which is such a shame as there are plenty of keen ukers who will have to wait until we are cleared to try again.
What can we expect at the 10th Birthday?
STU: Well… for a start we are trying a more family friendly time slot, a Sunday arvo into the early evening. We’ll have some of the game Monday night Mullum Uke Club folk leading songs in the first set followed by our special guest stars – Sara Tindley, Ash Bell and Clelia Adams who have performed at nearly every birthday celebration in the past 10 years… we’ll be playing tunes by Elton John, The Eagles, The Easybeats, Eurythmics, Echo and The Bunnymen, Elvis and heaps more. We have an amazing band with steel guitar, woodwind and brass plus Miss Amber has promised cake!!!
Miss Amber and Stukulele’s UKE NIGHT – 10th Birthday Celebration SUN 25 JULY, 3:30pm – Mullum Ex-Services Club Adults $20 Kids under 16 $5 Family (2 Adults 2 Kids – $35) Tickets available at the Door, more at www.ukemullum.com