Ukulele group still having fun

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 07:59 26/02/2013

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When asking Dave Suich whether he's been to New Plymouth, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain member replies: "Is that the place with the wind wands?"

Indeed, it is.

He thinks back to when he was last in the province.

"Ukuleles are like wind wands, you know.

"In the sense that when people thought of a ukulele orchestra they thought, 'oh, that won't catch on', just like they did a wind wand.

"And, of course, now there's wind wands everywhere."

In what is the group's third tour of New Zealand, it will stop off at the TSB Showplace tomorrow night.

Formed in 1985 for "a bit of fun", Suich says no-one had a ukulele - it was a new type of expression.

"When we started a ukulele orchestra there were no others, and now there are millions," he said.

"Back in 1985 there was a level playing field that you could do whatever you want because no-one had done it before, it was great."

Suich said playing the wrong song on the wrong instrument had been a new idea, so when they played Born to be Wild on the uke, people looked twice.

"Then they thought, 'oh, what a good idea'."

The UK ukulele orchestra is basically responsible for starting a worldwide phenomenon.

"We don't bang on about it, but it's partly due to bands like us where people have realised the potential of it," he said.

The ukulele was also a cheap, portable instrument that people could play while singing at the same time, Suich said.

"When we started you could either buy a toy ukulele that you couldn't play, or spend $2000 on a Gibson or a Martin.

"These days people can buy a plastic ukulele for about $50 that is half decent."

Suich said the audience would see eight people on stage in their dinner suits, singing and playing a range of songs.

"We'll play a show involving hits of popular global music from Charlie Parker to Beethoven, Nirvana, and Louis Armstrong among others," he said.

And what is Suich most looking forward to about touching down in the province? "Seeing those wind wands. And, of course, perhaps I must say, we're most looking forward to seeing the good people of New Plymouth enjoying themselves."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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