In 2019, the Ukulele Society of Great Britain launched a search to find the best local ukulele group in the U.K. Local amateur ukulele bands were invited to submit a video of their best performance which were judged by a panel of judges who are prominent in the U.K. ukulele community.
The results of the contest are:-
The Kukes are therefore awarded the title of "USGB Ukulele Band of the Year, 2019".
Ullalele and The Doncaster Ukulele Group are both awarded the title of "USGB Runner-Up Ukulele Band of the Year, 2019".
The winner and the runners-up are also entitled to use the USGB's winners logos on their web sites and other media and will be prominently featured on the USGB web site.
There were three judges for the 2019 Contest, who are all eminent in the U.K. ukulele community. They were maestro of the ukulele Andy Eastwood, Grand Northern Ukulele Festival organiser Mary Agnes Krell , and owner of "World of Ukes" and "Uke" magazine Matt Warnes . Special thanks to Mary Agnes Krell who stepped in at short notice when Tricity Vogue had to drop out for personal reasons.The Judges' Verdicts:-
Andy Eastwood - "It has been a pleasure to judge the first ever USGB Band Of The Year Contest! The standard of the entries was really very impressive. Particularly rewarding to see, is the way some of the groups with varied technical abilities managed to go for pieces that were musically ambitious, yet still included everybody's skills to their best potential. Credit goes to the group organisers and EVERY participant - thank you for being part of our fun, friendly contest - I certainly hope you have enjoyed getting involved, and seeing the other entries. The judging was difficult and we put a lot of care into it; several groups were very close and in the end, it came down to details... and attention to detail really shines through when you watch the top-placed bands.
For me, music is about communication, and that was what clinched it for our worthy
winners The Kukes. Their performance was direct and crystal-clear. They looked down
that camera lens and sold the song straight to us - the audience - with a slick, polished,
well-rehearsed routine. Their arrangement was clever but not cluttered, and presented
so neatly, their catchy song would not fail to win applause in a live situation. Thoughtful
decisions along the way gave the finished product an air of apparent simplicity, despite the
technicalities involved. Hearty congratulations to them, and to our extremely enjoyable
runners-up too. To all our bands, thank you for your thoroughly entertaining videos,
keep spreading your ukulele fun! "
Andy Eastwood, Andy Eastwood
Matt Warnes - "It has been a pleasure to be involved in the USGB contest and listen to the
many high quality entries. While the competition element is fun and has encouraged people
to polish their performances and put them in front of the panel and the public - the key
aspect for me is participation. I watched the video entries while wondering if not for the ukulele,
how many of those in front of the camera would have been making music? Doing so is good for
creativity, a sense of achievement, social benefits and is even a positive factor in mental and
physical health. To see so many smiles and happy faces, if you'll forgive the clichéd expression,
makes everyone who took part a winner."
Matt Warnes, World of Ukes / UKE Magazine
Mary Agnes Krell - "Every one of these bands was genuinely good fun to watch. I genuinely wished
that the best of them had applied to perform at my festival.
The range of songs and approaches was properly refreshing. It was nice to see folks try their hand at playing different styles and instruments. I particularly loved the bands whose videos felt like a live performance. It made me want to go see them live.
I hope that every one of these bands is proud of their efforts because these were great examples of pure ukulele joy."
Mary Agnes Krell, Grand Northern Ukulele Festival
The full list of contestants can be found [here].
Entries are judged on musical choices, technical ability and presentation. Guidelines can be found here.
Our thanks also to Fulton McIntosh for providing the artwork for the logos and winner/runner-up badges.