I moved to Luton 3 years ago from London but I am originally from Canada. People always asked why I’d leave a place like my home country to end up in England, and a big part for me was music. One thing I have always loved about the UK are the legendary bands. I grew up with my mom listening to the Beatles, then as a budding teen embodied Baby Spice. More UK bands came to be beloved by me: Queen, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Blur, Radiohead. I loved these bands so much I even tried to learn their songs on the guitar, but I couldn’t get my fingers used to the strings so like many before me, I gave up. A few years later a friend started playing open mics at a local club with her ukulele. A ukulele?! Yes, this tiny, often overlooked instrument can play anything you can think of. Referred to by some as “a tiny hipster guitar”, it does have a similar body to a guitar, but shrunken, and only four strings (considerably easier to play than a six string guitar).
“I’M A BASS PLAYER AND HAD BOUGHT A U-BASS (A UKULELE-SIZED BASS) FOR TRAVELLING. I HAD HEARD ABOUT A UKULELE ORCHESTRA IN LUTON SO LOOKED THEM UP TO SEE IF THEY WANTED A BASSIST. THEY DID, SO I JOINED THEM.” Kevin Moores
I soon found that the UK was a haven for uke players — uke festivals and local jam groups were clustered all over. I ended up moving to London and joined a few uke groups. A few years later I moved to Luton and I was keen to find my niche in a new town. It was a bit of an adjustment but the one thing I was really missing was a ukulele jam club. After some searching I met the Ukimaniacs founder, Dave Mingay, so we arranged our first meeting in my sitting room and the Luton Ukimaniacs were born.
“AS A POET I WANTED TO ADD SOME MUSIC TO MY SPOKEN WORDS, AND NOW I HAVE LEARNT TO PLAY MANY SONGS BY JOINING THE LUTON UKIMANIACS.” Mary Emeji, Luton Poet Laureate and local author
I won’t spin a great tale here about my extreme musical abilities (though I did write a mean cover of the 12 days of Christmas called the 12 days of Uke-mas) but being part of the Ukimaniacs makes me feel like even a goof like me can be a musician. We’ve been fortunate enough to have others join who are true artists and its been amazing to jam with them. We play a lot of covers (many by those aforementioned bands that got me
hooked on music and so many more), but we’ve been busy writing songs too (check out the unofficial anthem of the #saveourtown movement). But no matter if you’re a novice ukulele player or a pro, you’ll be warmly welcomed by us. We’ve been fortunate enough to play at the last three Hightown festivals, local school fêtes, in the Luton Mall, the Cineworld, and open mics at the Hightown club.
“(THEY’RE) A UNIQUE GROUP OF TALENTED INDIVIDUALS COMING TOGETHER TO PUT THEIR TWIST ON A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT SONGS, PROVIDING A FUN & ENTERTAINING SET!” Karen Esquilant
We meet to practice at the Hightown Club on Oxen Road in Hightown, Luton every Tuesday from 7–9pm and new members are always welcome. If you’re not sure if ukeing is for you we have a couple spare beginner ukes we can bring along for you to try (just message us via our facebook page or our email prior to the jam session so we can remember to bring it for you). If you’re interested in hiring us to play your event, drop us a message! We’ve started scheduling gigs for 2020. We hope to see you soon!
Co-Founder and Treasurer of the Luton Ukimaniacs
Join the 4 string revolution!