An electrifying band
For the first time, the Alexandra Blossom Festival’s Saturday in the Park is presenting the LX Ukes – electric! Although Alexandra’s only ukulele band has been together for more than five years, it will be their first time electric, with special pick-up microphones that will wire their instruments for sound at Pioneer Park. Band member Barry Bemrose said the pressure has been on to get it just right. “It’s all a bit new to us and a good learning curve.” Whatever happens, the sight of at least eight ukuleles is guaranteed to make people smile and feel like they are at a festival, because like kittens and puppies, these miniatures have wide appeal. Mr Bemrose, who teaches ukulele, said they’ve become popular because the guitar is much tougher to play. However, he stressed that the ukulele deserved respect – “They are not a toy. They’re a musical instrument in their right.” Don’t get him started on what performer Tiny Tim did to the ukulele’s reputation years ago, with his rendition of Tip-toe through the Tulips. “Tiny Tim put ukulele back years, and along with the whole Hawaiian association, these are hard stereotypes to dispel.” Not that LX Ukes mind wearing suspiciously tropical-inspired attire. With their wide musical repertoire, they just don’t play Hawaiian-style music. “Those Wellington and British ukulele bands have broken right out of it, and there’s not a single Hawaiian shirt in sight.” Other musical acts to watch out for in the park include Beatlemania experts The Flab4. There will be no shortage of good bold brass at the festival this year, with the Be There Bicycle Band riding into town and joining the parade for the first time, and the ever popular New Zealand Army Rock and Roll band making a return visit. The Blossom Festival kicks off on Friday.
The LX Ukes: Strumming at the Alexandra Blossom Festival for the first time at Saturday in the Park. Back row, from left, Bruce Macdonald, Leo Hulme, Alf Calvert (bass) Barry Bemrose and Bill Sommerville. Front row, from left, Nikki Williams, Gaylene McCrostie and Sonia Dodd.