King’s Lynn Ukulele Club was set up in March 2014 by Andy English and Keith Sharples. Here they tell the story of their musical journey to the ukulele, and the start of KLUC:
On holiday in Blackpool, aged 6, Keith and his mum won a “Mums and Sons Waltz” competition. When collecting the prize, he passed a baritone saxophone player and thought to himself “one day I’m going to play on this stage”. However, it took a few attempts to start his musical career – when he wanted to play the recorder, his teachers told him that it wasn’t for boys.
At secondary school playing the trumpet was halted as there were no instruments available. Aged 13 Keith wanted to play the tenor saxophone, but with the cheapest costing £500, (when the average weekly wage was £45, and a new mini cost £700) he was again thwarted. However, a few months later a friend told him that the local brass band had a tuba “free”. Keith seized the chance. He was given 6 months to prove that he had potential to learn. When Keith asked about lessons at school, he was told “we don’t think you have the aptitude for it”. Keith set to work teaching himself, and was playing concerts with the senior band within 2 months!
About 7 years later, Keith started playing music with Ian McArdle, now a lifelong friend, exploring diverse musical styles, from Bulgarian Folk Music, to Avant Garde Jazz, with most styles between. Keith followed in Ian’s footsteps doing the Diploma in Light Music at Sandown College of Performing Arts in Liverpool, part time, as no funding was available. During his first year Keith joined the local band “The Brasshoppers” – the association continues to this day!
Keith has played on the same bill as with a variety of musicians, including The La’s, OMD, Jules Holland, Bo Diddley, Arturo Sandoval, Rico Rodriguez, Clark Terry, Bob Stewart, Howard Johnson …..
Moving to this area Keith joined the Fakenham Brass Band, but missed sing-along nights and musical accompaniment that he and his friends had enjoyed. Now playing the ukulele, Keith looked for a local club or group. A waiting list and a clash with Brass Band practice night saw Keith look to start a club in the King’s Lynn area. Andy English on the same quest got in touch, and KLUC was started.
And yes, he has played on that stage in Blackpool………………..
Andy’s interest in music started at school, with him playing the euphonium, first in the school band, progressing to the county wind band, and then Fakenham Town Band. He went on to complete his “grades” at college, where he studied A level music. This was followed with a period of 7 years playing in a Military Band, again as a euphonium player. During this time he spent a year at the Royal Military School of Music in Twickenham. Leaving the military, music took a back seat, while Andy concentrated on a new career in IT.
It was almost 30 years before Andy decided that it was time to get “hands on” again with music. He thought about the guitar, but browsing the internet he found ‘Ukulele Weeps’ by Jake Shimabukuro. Amazed and inspired, Andy started to research the ukulele and decided that it would be the perfect instrument to get him back into music again.
In December 2013 Andy bought himself an early Christmas present – a Lanakai tenor ukulele, and a couple of music books, and spent every spare moment practising the ukulele, and started the search for a local club. He found a post from a couple of years before, asking if anyone was interested in setting up a club in West Norfolk. The author of the post was Keith – they met on 20 February 2014, and decided to try and get a club up and running.
The next step was to find like-minded people and a venue………
The local paper, the Citizen, ran an article asking for ukulele enthusiasts to get in touch, and for offers of a venue. The Anvil at Congham offered the use of a room, free of charge, on Tuesday evenings. A few people got together at The Anvil on 11 March to discuss ideas, and the first meeting of the King’s Lynn Ukulele Club took place on 25 March 2014.