More than a hundred ukulele players are set to get Liverpool smiling with a mass singalong of the classic lullaby ‘You Are My Sunshine’, to celebrate World Ukulele Day.
Musicians from ten Merseyside ukulele bands will join together for the biggest open air uke jam the city centre has ever seen, on Saturday February 2.
It comes 80 years after You Are My Sunshine was first recorded in 1939, and will be the highlight to a day of free ukulele gigs in aid of Clatterbridge Cancer Charity’s Go Green appeal.
Performances will take place at six busking locations in and around the Liverpool One shopping and leisure complex, from 1pm until 5pm, at South John Street, the John Lewis steps, the Bierkeller, Key Court, the Galleria, and Paradise Street.
Among the bands that have joined together to organise the day are Splintered Ukes, D’Ukes of Hazzard, the Secret Ukulele Band, Ukulele Club Liverpool, and Wirral band Broken Strings.
Also signed up to take part on the day are Ormskirk Ukulele Band, Wirral Ukulele Fanatics, the YinYanBand, Uke n Dream and the Travelling Wannabes.
All ten bands will join together for the singalong, on the John Lewis steps leading down from Chavasse Park, at 3pm.
It‘s set to be one of the biggest open-air gatherings of ukulele players Liverpool city centre has seen, in a bid to spread the joy ukuleles brings to so many people.
The idea to get the city smiling with a singalong 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!”
As well as raising money for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity’s Go Green Appeal, the bands involved in Liverpool’s World Ukulele event hope to encourage more people to pick up the instrument, enjoy music and maybe 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.
Pete Norman, drummer with 8-piece Liverpool band Splintered Ukes was among those who helped organise the event. Pete, from Old Roan said: “We wanted to bring together as many Merseyside ukulele bands as we could to celebrate World Ukulele Day.
“We chose You Are My Sunshine as it is a popular with lots and lots of ukulele players and always raises a smile. It’s very timely as it’s the 80th anniversary year of the song first being recorded.”
“It’s going to be a fantastic fun day of music, to help raise money for a wonderful cause, and hopefully encourage more people to pick up a ukulele and play.”
Pat Ross-Davies, from Newton, West Kirby, singer with Wirral band Broken Strings who will be performing on the day, co-founded the Summer Strum ukulele festival five years ago.
Pat said: “You can’t help but smile when you pick up a ukulele, as George Harrison said. It’s wonderful for improving wellbeing, and giving people a sense of purpose, it creates new friendships and spreads waves of positivity throughout the community.
“We hope lots of people will come along to listen and it will put a smile on their faces.”
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.
Among other popular tunes audiences can expect to hear on the day are upbeat ukulele versions of classics such as Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival, and Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Were Made for Walking, as well as ukulele twists on modern pop songs by the likes of Daft Punk and The Killers.
Many of the bands involved also performed at the second Cavern Club ukulele festival held to mark George Harrison’s 75th birthday last year, organised by the D’Ukes of Hazzard who are known for their popular weekly uke jams in Ma Egerton’s pub behind Liverpool’s Empire theatre every Thursday night.
D’Ukes band leader Dave Cornett from Bebington, Wirral, said: “It’s lovely seeing people’s reactions when we perform, the smiles spread and it’s just really good fun.
“There will be World Ukulele Day events going on around the world and we’re delighted to be involved in this one for Liverpool.”
The Liverpool World Ukulele Day event will run from 1pm and finish at 5pm. There will be further evening performances by some of the bands inside the Bierkeller from 7pm until 10pm.
More information about the day can be found 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