An elec­tri­fy­ing band

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

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.

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL/FAIR­FAX NZ

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.

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