CROWDS joined in singing and dancing as Liverpool’s biggest ever open-air ukulele jam saw more than a hundred musicians burst into a rousing rendition of You Are My Sunshine, at the heart of the city’s busy shopping district.
More than a hundred ukulele players were greeted with cheers and applause at the megabusk sing-along organised to celebrate World Ukulele Day, and raise hundreds of pounds for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity’s Go Green appeal.
It was the highlight of day of free gigs by from ten Merseyside bands who performed at six busking stages throughout Liverpool ONE on Saturday, and all joined together at 3pm for the megabusk at the John Lewis steps.
Starting with You Are My Sunshine, they were joined by members of the public who had brought ukuleles along as they continued the with Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, followed by Bring Me Sunshine, by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee.
The bands that took part were the Splintered Ukes, Broken Strings, D’Ukes of Hazzard, the Secret Ukulele Band, Ukulele Club Liverpool, Ormskirk Ukulele Band, Wirral Ukulele Fanatics, the YinYanBand, Uke n Dream and the Travelling Wannabes. They were also joined by solo artists Jensen Parker and Miss Stan.
Visitors and shoppers filled the steps leading down from Chavasse Park at Liverpool ONE, as they stopped to watch and join in with many singing and clapping along – and there was even some dancing in the street.
Pete Norman drummer with 8-piece Liverpool band the Splintered Ukes who helped organise the event said the event had been a huge success.
Pete, from Old Roan, said: “It was a fantastic day.
“We wanted to get as many bands as we could together to celebrate World Ukulele Day and help raise money for a wonderful cause.
“There were so many special moments throughout the day, it was lovely to see people’s reactions as they kept coming across different bands.
“The highlight was the megabusk. It was brilliant to see so many people lining the steps and joining in.
“There were events going on all over the world and we’re very proud that Liverpool’s was so much fun, and a massive success for everyone involved.
The idea was inspired by George Harrisons’ love of the ukulele. The Beatle wrote: “Everybody should have and play a ‘uke’ it’s so simple to carry with you and it is one instrument you can’t play and not laugh!”
You Are My Sunshine was chosen as it is popular with many ukulele players and is easy for beginners to play. This year also marks the 80th anniversary of the sing which was first record 80 years ago in 1939.
Also among the bands involved were the D’Ukes of Hazzard, known for their popular weekly uke jams in Ma Egerton’s pub every Thursday.
D’Ukes band leader Dave Cornett from Bebington, Wirral, said: “Ukulele brings joy to so many people, we just wanted to spread a bit of that happiness.
“Liverpool did us proud with a really fun celebration. It was a joy to be a part of.”
Dave added: “We would love it if anyone who enjoyed the day would like to learn ukulele there are lots of clubs and groups around where you can join in and have a go.”
The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity’s Go Green Appeal, aims to raise £15m to help fund a new cancer hospital in Liverpool and make improvements to the hospital in Wirral.
As well as raising funds for the charity, the Liverpool World Ukulele Day organisers hoped to encourage more people to pick up the instrument, and perhaps join one of Merseyside’s growing number of ukulele clubs and bands.
They also hope to raise awareness of other ukulele events happening in the region including the annual Summer Strum, which will celebrate its 5th anniversary, at Hoylake rugby club in July.
Pat Ross-Davies, from Newton, West Kirby, singer with Wirral band Broken Strings who also helped organise the event, co-founded the Summer Strum ukulele festival with fellow musician Emma Owen five years ago.
Pat said: “It was wonderful to put a smile on so many people’s faces, and for such a good cause which is so close to so many people’s hearts.
“A massive thank you to all of the ukulele players who took part and everybody who donated money for their generosity.
“Ukulele is wonderful for improving wellbeing, and giving people a sense of purpose, it creates new friendships and spreads waves of positivity throughout the community, and we hope to see that continue through the year.
You Are My Sunshine was first recorded in 1939 by country band the Pine Ridge Boys from Atlanta, USA on the Bluebird Records label. Subsequent versions were recorded in the same year by the Rice Brothers Gang, and then by Jimmie Davies and Charles Mitchell of Louisiana, who are credited with the song’s authorship.
The song has been raising smiles with audiences for eight decades since. It has been covered by numerous major artists including Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys, Bryan Ferry Carly Simon and Yusuf Islam.
More information about the bands who performed visit here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2165151760468360/
For more information about the Clatterbridge Cancer Charity Appeal visit: www.clatterbridgecc.nhs.uk/charity/fundraise/lets-go-green-clatterbridge