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Report from the October 2018 Convention

by: (Norman) Pa Jones

(Norman) Pa Jones
What a grand title and what a great organisation. The variety of music and performers attending the October 2018 convention at Digswell Village Hall was as grand as on previous occasions and was a thoroughly enjoyable and successful event.

A good handful of new members helped to swell the crowd and it was a pleasure to see Christine Formby-Booth in the audience. Christine is a long-standing member of the society and widow of Jeff Formby-Booth, the son of George Formby’s brother Frank. Jeff and Christine were regular attendees at Digswell meetings back in the 1990s. The doors opened at approximately 10.30 a.m. and as members began to assemble in the hall the ukulele chatter and sales pitch bubbled away until the hatch was opened, and the serving of light refreshments commenced, ably provided by the ladies of the Marsh family.

Ray & Linda Neal
Following the break, the first of the day’s two concerts commenced with ‘Rumpole’ Bailey (Keyboard) and David Grigg (Double Bass) ready to back any performer who required their services. Digswell meetings are an ideal occasion for novices and the nervous to get used to performing before an audience, so it was great to see first timers taking part in addition to the regular, and the star, performers. With varied types and sizes of ukuleles, from wooden sopranos to flashy banjoleles, and various styles of playing them, plus music and song as varied as South American, George Formby, Comedy, Bluegrass, Self-Penned, Country, Pop, Folk, Nostalgia, Big Screen instrumentals and War Time melodies the show was always going to be ‘All Right on the Night’ or, in this case, ‘Okay on the Day’.

Gabriela La Foley
The full programme details are shown elsewhere in the magazine and videos of each act can be found on the society web page, but some particularly notable performances are worth mentioning. First to tread the boards were the concert M.C. Ray Neal and his wife Linda who gave us a couple of the famous Carmen Miranda songs, dressed in South American style to add authenticity to their performance. There were several lady artistes among the duos and trios, but the only solo female performer was the great Gabriela La Foley whose style, wit and musicality lit up the second-half concert with two comic renditions. Long standing USGB member and regular Digswell visitor, John Croft, a man with over 45 years of experience and expertise with ukuleles and banjo ukes usually has a story to relate as part of his time on stage and on this occasion it concerned a song, written by the late, great Adge Cutler of Wurzels fame, called, ‘When the Common Market Comes to Stanton Drew’. John has recently had published a book called, ’All About the Banjo Uke’ details of which can be found on his website at ‘’.

Zip Pain
There were four amazing instrumental-only numbers from the three-person Eynsham Ukulele Quartet led by James Spencer. Items included ‘Apache’ and ‘The James Bond Theme’ and their performances were well received by an appreciative audience. Zip Pain is worthy of mention because when he is not doing his zany act on stage, he’s sitting behind the camera recording everyone else. Society vice president Malcolm Marsh, who lives in Digswell village and organised the day, fitted in a couple of numbers with his trusty banjo uke in addition to controlling the sound desk and keeping a general eye on proceedings.

If you are member of the Ukulele Society of Great Britain but have not yet made the trip to Digswell, Welwyn Garden City, on either of the twice-yearly gatherings, I’m delighted to tell you we have a few spare chairs saved ready for you in April.

(Norman) Pa Jones.