Friday, November 20, 2009

Vanukes: Vancouver Ukelele Circle

I've had a few comments lately about our active lifestyle. No, not active in walking, jogging or going to the Gym and working out, but active in the sense that we seem to be always out and enjoying life. Between car clubs, riding get togethers, weekends away and exploring our great part of the country and going to other events then you could say that we are always on the go. Photography has been my hobby since high school when I was a school photographer. I was so stressed to find additional time a few years ago that I stopped going to my photography meetings and only recently rejoined. My schedule now has been reduced to a point where I could undertake a new project. For the past few months I have been attending the monthly meetings of the Vancouver Ukelele Circle at Our Town Cafe at Kingsway & Broadway, Vancouver, BC which is on the 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 7:30pm

(Our Town Cafe, Vancouver, BC)

Of course I also have a conflict with my photography group where we have a dinner meeting starting at 6pm. Meetings are actually every Tuesday. A formal meeting on the 1st Tuesdays of the month with attendance taken and some sort of presentation to do with antique and collectible cameras. Yes, I am a (former) camera collector and a member of the Western Canada Photographic Historical Association. (<-- click link)

I leave my office at around 5pm in Coquitlam and it takes over an hour to reach the restaurant on the West Side of Vancouver. We talk about cameras and other stuff, have dinner and I rush over to the Ukelele meeting usually arriving a few minutes late. Tonight I decided to skip the dinner and arrive early. I managed a parking spot a kilometer away and window shop along the way


I dislike having to pay for parking. The city is cash strapped so a few years ago they stuck meters everywhere and extended the meter hours to 8pm. Free is better but you have to park farther away


While walking you are more alert to your surroundings. I noticed this patriotic mannequin peering out the window


Eventually I make my way to the restaurant and order a soup & sandwich for C$6.99 + VAT. It is already busy here with most of the members occupying the tables. I love music but have never taken the opportunity to learn how to play any instrument. It is Mrs Scoot that is learning how to play the Ukelele. It is sort of like a small guitar but with only 4 strings, instead of 6.


Meetings are structured for the 1st half with sing alongs lead by Ralph Shaw, Vancouver's King of the Ukelele. You can find more information on the Vanukes: Vancouver Ukelele Circle Website (<--- click link) or read about the activities from Ralph's blog (<-- click link).

About half way through we stop for a beverage break and the second half of the meeting is "open Mike" . Anyone is welcome to put on their performance and if it is your first time then the rule is you will receive a "standing Ovation". Ralph is well known throughout the world for his unusual style. He enters competitions and gives workshops all over the country. Here is a sample

I give moral support and sing along to the music using their official songbook. I must say that there are many talented people here and makes me wonder if I have the ability to learn how to play an instrument, or just continue to sing along with my wonderful voice. I love music from the 40's, 50's and early 60's, anything with a melody and words that make sense.

Here is another magnificent performance from last Tuesday which mates a cello with a ukelele to the words of "Here comes the rain again" (Eurythmics). I wonder if you will recognize it

Last week I was also invited to a Jam Session. It was a sort of drop in affair never knowing who would turn up. I was in the middle of the action with my new toy. I purchased a professional PCM recorder, Olympus LS-10 capable of recording better than CD quality music. I now had a chance to do over an hour of recording and produced my first music CD. Nothing special, just some music of the 60's with guitar, drums and castonets from artists who just like to play music.

Did I mention that I love music ? I hope you liked those performances because I thought they were great.


  1. I too like music in almost all its forms, except maybe for real twangy country music. The ukelele is a fun instrument and creates many opportunities for folksy kinds of get togethers.
    I assume your home is just a place to sleep.

  2. You certainly don't have a boring life. Photography, riding a motorcycle/scooter and playing the ukelele plus the corresponding meetings and then throw in blogging; when do you eat and sleep?

    Very nice post Bob - thank you. The videos really add to it. Jam sessions are the most fun IMHO.

  3. If you like the Ukulele you might have heard of one of the greatest Hawaiian musicians: Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole. He did a most amazing version of "Somewhere over the rainbow". A big guy with a soft voice. Unfortunately he died way too soon.

  4. Dear Bobskoot:

    Following your example, I joined the "West Chester Imperial Riding French Horns And Bomb Squad." We are a quasi religious order dedicated to precision motorcycling riding -- while playing French Horns -- and making ourselves available to the community as explosive disposal experts.

    We are currently rehearsing the overture from the rock opera "Tommy." The difficult part is the reverse draft through the bell of the horn at speeds over 15 miles per hour.

    You cannot imagine how I am looking forward to your first perfromance with a ukelele in hand, a harmonica hanging by your mouth, and a drum on your head.

    Hopefully, this will be on Duval Street in Key West.

    Fondest regards.
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twsted Roads

  5. PS:

    Was the patriotic manaquin in a hair stylists?


  6. I will be out of town that week. They did have tin drum classes at the marina where I lived on a boat. The teacher ended up playing with Mile Marker 24 a Keys group with a growing national reputation.
    I mention this to let you know there is hope for you. Me? I used to play the Tuba but it slipped away from me years ago. I can't really imagine a Tuba circle at a nice Vancouver coffee shop.

  7. You and Mrs. Scoot are Renaissance people! I love the uke, so thanks for sharing the videos. If you haven't already done so, check out some of Jake Shimabukuro's ukelele music - he is a virtuoso.

  8. cpa3485/bimbo:

    I like music too, mostly 40's & 50's & doowop. It's Mrs Scoot who is taking lessons. I just record the event and give my videos away


    Winter is nice 'cause there are less gatherings. During the summer we are on the go all the time. Don't forget the group rides, picnics, dinner get to gethers and bike nights every other week, plus we have car activities to go to; show & shine, Friday hamburger nights, etc. Whew, I'm tired just thinking about it. To free up some time next year, I have just stepped down from the Executive of the Canadian Route 66 Association. (


    Yep, we know about Israel and have downloaded some Youtube videos, stripped the mp3 and put the file in our players. How do you know about IZ

    Jack "r":

    You forgot the monkey with the piano, the one where you turn the handle on the side and music comes out. It would be a way for you to supplement your $27. / week allowance while down in KW, and don't forget to put the "hat" out. You have eagle eyes and are very perceptive. I'll bet that there isn't much you don't notice. That mannequin was in a stylist shop

    Mr Conchscooter:

    Ohhhh, out of town which week ? You mean whatever week we decide to visit, that's the week you are out of town ? That's great . . . put the house key in the topsyturvy basket, wrapped in a baggie and let us know your alarm code


    We discovered Jake's YouTube video recently. He is great and looks so young.

  9. By the way, can you share the settings you used for the low light photos taken through the store windows?