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D'Ukes celebrate Peter's 90th birthday at Brook Meadows Care Home 

Reviewed by daughter, Ann Dawson June 2024


Having enjoyed D'Ukes' performances for several years at Priory Park and at the Cliffs Pavillion, I thought it would be fun to book them for my Dad's 90th birthday. Booking was easy with good communication and we had a great time at the party. 


Dave made the effort to play a tune with my Dad, Peter, who plays harmonica. There was a good atmosphere and as it's a care home it was heart warming to see the residents and Dad singing and dancing along. 


They played the old classics and songs I had requested. They really made the occasion special and happily posed for snaps with the birthday boy. A group of residents went to see D'Ukes again at Priory Park recently and the band especially went out of their way to come over to say hello and play a tune where we were sitting.


I really enjoyed hearing them play other songs I hadn't heard them play before such as Tainted Love, one of my faves, and I enjoyed a bit of Deep Purple too.


Look forward to seeing them again, great musicians and nice people and they always get the crowd going. Thanks again, D'Ukes!

16 June 2024.  The Angel, Lavenham

And so we continued our first summer residency, at the Angel Pub in the medieval village of Lavenham, where we recently celebrated the King's Coronation, the Platinum Jubilee, and many wonderful Christmases.   Wary of the weather, we played indoors, although it actually kept fine all evening!  The audience were very welcoming, as were the staff, who coped wonderfully around all the paraphernalia that constitutes a ukulele band!   A big thanks to bassist Mark, who depped for John.  We will be back on Saturday 13 July. 

9 June 2024.  The Archer Pub, South Ockendon

This is the tenth year we have played here for the annual party thrown for the pub regulars and it’s quite an institution now.  We also get fed – a big spread of food, including for veggies – and strawberries and cream, usually eaten as we play because it’s too delicious to wait for!  A big thanks to Ann who runs the Archer, and everyone who came to see us.


8 June 2024.  Priory Park Bandstand, Southend.

Did the sun come out?  Of course it did!  Unlike some years, when we had the audience racing for the trees (for shelter), we had blue skies for the whole of the gig.  It was great because it meant we could chat to members of the audience afterwards and share memories. One lady had photos of the two of us on stage at her party celebration.  It was a lovely surprise to see the members of Brooks Meadow Care Home turn out to see us, complete with Peter The Party Boy, whose 90th we celebrated earlier in the year.  Hope to see you all next year!

25 May, 2024.  The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe.

Continuing the delightful mix of pub gardens, punters and puppies, we arrived at the Black Buoy for a beer festival in the early evening sunshine. This was our second visit to this beautiful, historic venue and luckily, the rain held off, although we were under cover, unlike the hardy Wivenhoe folks, who were an enthusiastic, friendly crowd.  We will be back on 17 August.


26 May, 2024.  The Royal Oak, East End near East Bergholt 

Another fine evening, another historic venue and another great audience, this time at the Royal Oak, affectionately known as the 'Dickie'.  We had our usual fun finale of 'Duelling Ukes' and 'New York, New York', and we even had some uke players present which we always like.  At this point I must mention Hattie, the beautiful Golden Retriever, who stayed the course and appreciated 'Hound Dog'.  Hope to see you all again some time.

18 May 2024 The Angel, Lavenham

This evening we exited Essex and sailed into Lavenham and our summer season in the beautiful garden of the Angel Pub, close to where we played at the Christmas Market and celebrated the Queen's Jubilee and the King's Coronation.  Lots of people (and dogs), basked in the evening sun and joined in the singing and dancing.  Lavenham dates back to Saxon times, but is best known for its weaving industry.  That may be long gone, but it certainly weaves its magic for the modern inhabitants and visitors.  We will be back on 15th June and hope t

o see you there.

4th May 2024.  The White Swan, Wickford

It felt really good to be back gigging after a short break, and at a new venue: The White Swan - videos available on their Facebook) page.  A large part of the audience hadn't seen us before but everyone soon joined in the spirit of the evening with much singing, dancing and happy vibes.  Angie was on great form depping for Jo, (We are so grateful to our deps which mean we can accept more gigs).  The bar staff also get a big thank-you from us for making us feel so welcome.  Will we be back?  You bet!

Saturday 30 March 2024:  Hadleigh Conservative Club.

Not to be confused with Hadleigh, Suffolk!  A first for us at this club, and considering this was Easter Saturday with so many competing activities, we had a very respectable audience.  They were not shy at showing their dance moves and we were soon in full swing, from Deep Purple and Pink Floyd, to Buddy Holly and the Beatles.  Another highlight for me was being hugged by a very beautiful English Sheepdog, who had been shown at Crufts, no less!

Sunday 24 March 2024,  The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch.

It was great to be back at The Queens, a theatre we have played every year for some time now.  From the pink neon signs to the beautiful bar - which means you can get your drinks without leaving the room - The Other Stage is perfect for us as we can get up close and personal to our audience.  It means we can see the faces of everyone who comes to see us, and even sing 'Happy Birthday' to Hannah.  We had a new song in the set list - David Bowie's 'Starman' - I think we have always had a Bowie song in there somewhere.  We had a wonderful time chatting to loads of people after the show.  Thanks Queen's for hosting us.


Wednesday 20 December.2023 LACE event, Channels Golf Club.

The last gig of 2023 for us and a very worthy event to end the year.  The Charity LACE (Life After Cancer, Essex) raises funds to support those affected by this illness and Steve, who master-minded the whole affair, is an old friend of the band. In fact, he even travelled with us to Prague Ukulele Festival in our early days. Tonight, I’m proud to say we had people up and dancing the whole evening and singing along to favourites such as Delilah and Sweet Caroline. Happy Christmas and we will be back in the new year. 


Saturday 16 December. Christmas Market, Meadowcroft Garden Cntr, Wickford. 

We are now well into Christmas celebrations and today we returned to the traditional German Christmas Market at Meadowcroft Garden Centre.  Always a magical atmosphere with tons of Christmas lights, great gift ideas and a massive array of awesome-looking food and drink, the market attracts a large crowd of all ages and today was no exception.  Before long, we had dancers and jigging babies, new ukulele converts and old friends watching.  They had the perfect excuse to show off their dance moves during ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' and took full advantage of the festive atmosphere. We sprinkled our sets with a few well-loved Christmas songs (my favourite being ‘Must Be Santa’), before ‘New York, New York’ and a dash of ‘White Christmas’. Back home, Brian and I enjoyed a bottle of the market’s excellent German beer. Thanks Meadowcroft! 

Friday 8 December. The Magic Mushroom. Barleylands Annual Christmas Party.

 I could be lazy and say ‘see last year’ for this post as this is the third time we have provided the music for the Christmas event for Barleylands staff, and we are never disappointed. They throw themselves into the celebrations, which are a big thank you to them for all their hard work over the year. We began with our more gentle music, but then, after the meal (which we were treated to as well), we let rip with our party pieces so the guests could have a really good dance. They did not disappoint!  


Saturday 18 November, The Norton, Cold Norton.

We always enjoy a return to the Norton; who wouldn’t with such a smashing audience packing the place out? We only stopped to eat the fantastic food hosts Boris and George had waiting for us during our break. Angie was depping for Jo which she did magnificently, keeping the rest of us on our toes with some songs we hadn’t done lately and some in different keys - all very good practice! Look out for us back again on 20 January 2024.

Saturday 11 November. Millhouse Social Club, Dagenham. 

 A welcome return to Millhouse! Although only our second gig there, I feel we are amongst firm friends who know how to enjoy themselves. A wide range of ages, with some great hairstyles - as Dave observed - made for a fun, friendly evening of audience participation and the most diverse rendering of ‘New York, New York’ yet! Thanks for booking us. 

Saturday 21 October. Loughton Tennis and Bowls Club. 

 What a great reception we got for our first gig at this club. Dancing seemed obligatory for the members, which suited us very well too. They also took to our ukuleles and even had a quiz about them in the interval! They enthusiastically embraced all the music, from Queen to Roy Orbison, Fleetwood Mac to Johnny Cash. Hope we see you again! 

Thursday 12 October. The Gateway Club.

They sure know how to party at Gateway! We have been doing this gig for quite a few years now and we are all firm friends - the enthusiasm on both sides just keeps going, song after song, gig after gig. We even spotted Sarah, who shot the video involving Gateway members and us singing the James’ song, ‘Sit Down’. As ever, she had her camera with her (I’ve never seen her without it!), and it was great to catch up with her). Same time next year!

Sunday 9 October. Frances and Chris’s wedding, Apton Hall, Rochford. 

A new experience for the band, as most of the songs for the evening were hand-picked by the groom himself. (He had seen us several times before, so had a bit of an advantage!). But the highlight of the evening came when Chris fronted the band to sing ‘The Key To My Life’, a song to Frances he had written himself. Also giving the guests a really good excuse to dance was a great disco from DJ Pete Ferrant. Thanks also to the Apton Hall staff who looked after us so well. 


Saturday 8 October. Royal British Legion Club, Broomfield. 

Another new venue to add to our list - and a short journey for some of us who live nearby! It was also the first airing for a new song in our ever-expanding repertoire - ‘Everlong’ by the Foo Fighters, which we were learning for a wedding, but I suspect will stay in our set list for some time to come. Angie was depping for Jo. Thanks to the club for booking us. We will see you again. 

Saturday 9 September. Birthday Party, Hockley

Still in party mood, we arrived in Hockley to celebrate Paul’s 70th birthday. It was still hot, but three cheers for the air-conditioning at the local British Legion Hall! We soon got the hint that Paul was into boats, witness the fabulous cake shaped like an ocean liner and the surprise cruise his family had planned for him. There was a great family vibe which made it a special evening for everyone.

Friday 8 September. Chelmsford Social Club.

 This was one of our rare gigs in Chelmsford, so many thanks to Black Frog Promotions who booked and provided us with the full works, including great lighting - and smoke!  An appreciative audience also made it a very happy night for us. Promoter Nick, among his many other tasks, filmed the proceedings and provided us with much-appreciated refreshments in the green room. Looking at the acts who have appeared at this venue, we felt privileged as a local band, to have been added to the list.

Sunday 13 August, Meadowcroft Garden Centre, Rettendon.

It’s festival time again, with one of our regular gigs at Meadowcroft. It’s a rare opportunity to play and watch other performers with a festival vibe of hay bales but under cover and no mud in sight! Angie was depping for Jo. Martin had some newly-arrived D’Ukes’ business cards to hand out, and CDs were bought. We will be back in the not-too-distant future. And by the way, thanks to the Meadowcroft staff for all the cake!

Saturday 12 August, Jane and Rick’s Party, Wickham Bishops.

A year ago today we were partying at Jane and Rick’s house and we enjoyed it so much, we did it again this year! Jane had come with us to the Czech Republic in the early days of the band and remains a good friend to us. The weather decided to behave and brought on the urge to eat, drink and dance.  We ended up with our famous ‘Hoedown’ which the party-goers took to like a duck to water. We're always on the lookout for a party to play at so if you have one coming up then get in touch!

6th August 2023 - Parliament Hill Bandstand, Hampstead Heath. 

Whoever controls the weather took pity on us on Sunday and decided to turn off the rain. This was our first gig in this particular bandstand and it has the added bonus of a breath-taking view of the City from the top of Parliament Hill – we can vouch for this as we took the trip during our break and it’s well worth it. As we began to play, people began to gravitate towards us until we had a very respectable crowd for the duration. The sun came out, dogs scampered around, people danced and some of the younger members of our audience enjoyed stints at the microphone. Thanks to everyone who made the gig so enjoyable for us. 

5th August 2023 - Landguard Fort, Felixstowe

We have played some interesting venues in our time, and this has definitely been one of them.  Landguard Fort is over 400 years old, a Grade 1 listed building, which played a big part in defending the East Coast from invaders. We were invited to play by the Suffolk Amnesty and the idea was to perform in the grand arena, but the weather wasn’t kind, to put it mildly, and we ended up inside the fort, in one of the beautiful, cave-like rooms, which someone remarked was like the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool! The event was sold out and the audience was marvellous from the off. Local uke players came too, which we always like, and it was great to chat to some of them. Thank you, Amnesty, and we hope to see you again! 

30th July, Priory Park Bandstand, Southend. 

It started off well with the audience gathered round in picnic mode, the trees gently swaying in the wind, the clink of teacups outside the cafe and the meeting of friends and family. But as we got started, the sky got a bit more sullen and the wind not so gentle. Finally I realised most of our audience had taken shelter under a huge tree, while others whipped out their brollies, donned plastic capes, or just sat it out, defying the weather. But the important thing was, they stayed put in the park and gave us a reason to carry on. (Ironic that one of our new songs was ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’!). Thanks so much to the hardy folks of Southend who don’t let a bit of weather get in the way of their entertainment. 

29th July, Bellegrove Social Club, Welling.

What a great crowd! It was our first visit to the club and we were given a very warm welcome – they took to the dance floor early on and sang along happily to our ‘join-in’ songs such as ‘What’s Up’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’. Needless to say, they were also keen to join the walk on ‘Boots’ and the circle for ‘New York, New York’. I felt we had known them for a long time. Thanks to all the friendly bar staff for helping to make the night so enjoyable! 

16 July 2023, Little Burstead Village Party

Dire warnings about 50 mile per hour winds on Saturday night – particularly bad for anyone under canvas – fortunately failed to materialize as we gathered on Ellis Field for the ninth year to entertain the villagers.  Sound man Mike prepared his interval tape with a ‘wind themed’ medley of songs (Blowin' In The Wind, The Wind Beneath My Wings etc) and people gathered around the barbecue for food and warmth, although they also got warm by dancing.  We were a five-piece tonight (no Jo) but we soon got into the spirit of the evening with lots of songs, ranging from rock classics to dance and sing-along.  Although it was blustery at times, no-one lost their tent and they all stayed until the end and darkness began descending.  Thanks one and all for being such a friendly bunch!

Sunday 9 July 2023. The Archer

What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Plenty of gorgeous food, drink and a large garden in which to relax and have a good time with friends. Yes, we were back at the Archer pub, providing the music for the annual get-together, courtesy of hosts Ann and David. We have been playing here annually since 2013 and it has always been a warm, welcoming gig, not to mention the food. And 14 year old Reg the Dog has attended every single one. This time it was a full house and some enthusiastic dancing. After the main course, we were served strawberries and cream – but enough about the food! Angie was on depping duties for Jo and we partied on from 3 till 6, with a break in the middle of course. We were treated to an amazing display from a female stag beetle during the second set, that hovered in the air like a miniature helicopter and came to rest between my feet. It was of course rescued and carefully placed in the hedge. We are very environmentally friendly!

Saturday 1 July 2023. Bernard’s Birthday, Chelmsford Social Club.

Well, that must be the gig with the shortest travelling time – at least for some of us! No sooner had we packed the gear in Dave’s car, we arrived at Chelmsford Social Club a few minutes down the road by my local Tesco’s. The event was a birthday bash for Bernard, who with his wife Margaret, lives in the next road from Brian and I. Angie was on depping duties for Jo and we aired another new song - ‘From Me To You’, as the Beatles were mentioned as a favourite band. Fortified by the excellent buffet during the break, we forged ahead in the second half. It’s a shame we had to cut some songs or we’d probably still be there this morning! We will be returning for a concert on the main stage in September. 

Saturday 10 June 2023,  Millhouse Social Club, Dagenham.

New venue, new songs!  Tonight, we aired for the first time, ‘The Wonder of You’, with Martin on vocals, capturing the velvet tones of the master excellently.  Our policy of ‘No music stands, no lyric sheets, no tablets, means we had to learn all the chords and all the lyrics in two days, and although its nerve-wracking at times, once performed it in public it gets bedded in quickly and it’s as if we have always played it. We got a good crowd for the circle and willing dancers to join in the finale, which included a rapidly learned, ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, a homage to a fine footballing legacy. We will be back later in the year.

Saturday 27 May 2023. Ye Olde Albion, Rowhedge.

We were back indoors this week, although at this lovely pub, there was also a relaxing area outside in the evening sunshine by the River Colne. Perfect for summer. This was our second visit to Ye Olde Albion and we were given a wonderfully warm reception, with a great party atmosphere and dancing from the off. Jo performed our newest song, ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head’, and we also played firm favourites such as ‘Smoke On The Water’ our ‘Hoedown’ and of course ‘New York, New York’. You were a great audience. See you again!  

Sunday 7 May. Stoke-By-Nayland Coronation Celebration. 

What a difference a day makes! Corny, but true. The sun shone down on us at the village green, we were playing high up on a trailer, overlooking festival-style bales of hay, families were enjoying themselves and stalls were selling everything from tea towels and ice creams to knitted dogs, all in a good cause. We were also treated by a maypole dancing display by children from local schools and a best Queen or Princess competition. Colin was on depping duties (for us, not the Queens and Princesses) and played a mean bass. A great weekend. 

Saturday 6 May 2023.  King’s Coronation celebration, The Angel, Lavenham 

O.K, so there are times when you just can’t get the right weather for your celebration, and this was one of those occasions.  We guessed we would get some rain during the day; we just didn’t realise quite how long the rain would last.  But never mind!  This was Lavenham and they are the kind of people not deterred by a downpour.  We know this because we have played there many times now, sometimes in the depths of winter and we have always had a great crowd.  Colin depped for John on the bass and we kept on playing and the people kept on dancing. The very thoughtful landlord of The Angel provided Pac-A-Macs for the audience and top-up drinks for us throughout the gig, for which we were very grateful. We hope to see you all again next year! 

Saturday 21 April 2023. Garden Party Upminster Essex

An afternoon in a beautiful garden - when even the sun comes out for us and the guests - is a great way to spend a Saturday. Amanda, whom we met at the Norton Pub gig, was celebrating her birthday and she booked us to play for the afternoon and early evening. We were met with tea and coffee and we even had our own spread of food in the interval. Angie depped for Martin. We had lots of good comments and the guests happily joined in for the grand finale. Angie did a great job, enthusiastically ‘rounding up the cattle during ‘Ghost Riders’ and berating ‘Delilah’ on her unfaithfulness. Thanks to everyone who made it so enjoyable for us.

Sunday 16 April 2023. The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe.

This weekend we were helping to celebrate the re-opening of the kitchen in this beautiful, historic pub nestled in the Essex countryside. Roast dinners and eager diners abounded as we got ready to play, with Angie depping for Martin. As well as local people, we had fans travelling from other parts of the county, which is always good to see, and Alan, talented artist, who sketched both band and audience members. The Black Buoy had an excellent configuration, just right for our ‘Boots’ conga, and the audience eagerly joined in the ‘New York, New York’ finale. We hope to return.  


Sunday 2 April 2023. Private party at The Norton.

You can’t beat a good party and when it takes place in a favourite venue, then you can’t go wrong! We were helping Gerry to celebrate his 70th birthday, along with all his family and friends, hosted by The Norton pub, and a joyous affair it was too. We had Mark depping for John on bass and we rolled out a good selection of dance tunes in order to work off all the wonderful food – and cake – that was on offer. ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ seemed to be a hit with a younger member of the audience and a little lady with a balloon was entranced by our mic stands. (A future band member in the making?). Thanks to Boris and George for hosting us and Gerry and Lynne for booking us.

Thursday 23 March 2023. Clissold Park Tavern, Stoke Newington.

Another new venue for us – a five-piece tonight as we had no Jo, which meant Martin and I had to be on our toes! A lovely venue with a warm and happy atmosphere, where people came to relax, drink, and eat beautiful-looking pizzas. And there were dogs! We got a good, supportive cheer from the punters, but perhaps they were not yet ready for the big circle during New York, New York. We’ll have to work on that one! 


Sunday 19 March.  Queens Theatre, Hornchurch

The last leg of our ‘tour’ and a blinding night all round!  Our audience was way up close and we also had support from enthusiastic uke players from the workshops Jo and Dave ran earlier in the evening.  We had some great compliments and demand for encores.  Thanks to all the staff at Queens, who looked after us so well.


Saturday 18 March 2023.  Wickford Railway Club

At last, we made the stage at the Railway Club, following Covid lockdowns etc. It has a good-sized hall, complete with stage and there were a few keen people not knowing what to expect! There were a lot more people in the other bar, but never mind). Luckily, those who stuck with us, liked us and a few more people came in and liked us too! They also promised to ‘drum up support’ if we came back. We ended the night with a big circle, our hoedown and ‘New York, ‘New York’.  Thanks, Wickford, for booking us.


Friday 17 March 2023.  Royal British Legion Club, Chingford

This was the first of our three-gig weekend! Our good friend Andy, booked us - it was thanks to him that we got to go to France to perform at the great little Cavron Theatre.  We visited this club a few years ago, and we were warmly welcomed by the British Legion members.  We had a nice stage area with a good dance floor, which helped with our finale.  As usual, we had a nice big circle and a great chorus.  Something new for us was the ‘Walking Circle’ for ‘King Of The Swingers’, with some neat moves from the younger guests present.

Saturday 18 February. 60th Birthday Party, Rivenhall Golf Club.

We D’Ukes all enjoy a good party and we had a cracking one with Lin and all her friends and family at Rivenhall Oaks Golf Club on Saturday. We ensured a good mix of songs, including many dance numbers, and gradually the floor filled with people who had feasted well – excellent cakes by the way! - and who were more than ready to dance. We played three sets and introduced a new song - ‘It’s All Over Now’ featuring for the first time, Dave on a pocket trumpet, while Jo and I took on, ‘I Feel Good’ and ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ respectively. I think the pig could do with a little more warming up for his ‘Jungle Book’ solo though! 

Saturday 21 January 2023 - The Norton, Cold Norton. 

The first gig of the new year and we spent it amongst old friends and new at the Norton Pub. We have been playing here for a number of years now and we are always made welcome - we were even served up a huge selection of fresh-cooked pizzas to eat during the break, which really set us up for the second half. Angie depped for Jo so we added some new songs, including ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’, ‘Mustang Sally’ and ‘I Feel Good’. We rounded up with the old favourites, ‘Duelling Banjos’ and ‘New York, New York’. A big thank-you to host George for looking after us so well. 

Saturday 26 November. -Amnesty International Ipswich Fundraiser

 One of our gigs outside Essex brought us to the lovely village of East Bergholt, Suffolk at the invitation of Ipswich Amnesty International. We were happy to support the charity which is as relevant now as ever and it was great fun to perform in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the magnificent Old Hall. The library next door where Jo ran a workshop was wonderful, with its comfy sofas and masses of books! Add to that a welcoming audience, fellow uke-players and cake, and it was all we could wish for! Thanks to everyone on the team for making us so welcome.


Friday 11 November 2022 - The Luna, Leytonstone 

We had a triumphant return to one of our favourite venues tonight – The Luna - which is a small but well-packed venue hosting music every night.  We always get a great reception and were pleased to see familiar faces as well as those watching us for the first time.  From the off they were an enthusiastic crowd, up and dancing with friends, and in some cases, complete strangers, while we belted out a medley of songs, ranging from ‘Comfortably Numb’ to ‘One Day Like This’ and ‘Hound Dog’.  There’s nothing like a bit of community singing to end on a high, and ‘New York, New York’ brought the evening to a vigorous but happy close. We are always happy to chat to people while we are packing away, so if you haven’t approached us yet, please feel free! 

Friday 7 October 2022 - The Rose and Crown, Walthamstow 

When we gig London pubs such as the Rose and Crown, we usually get a completely different audience each time and it’s fascinating to see how we react to one another. We had various ‘requests’ before the show, including Johnny Cash (We do Folsom Prison Blues) and I think one of our strengths is that we play very varied songs so hopefully, we please most people.  They were a great bunch who were soon up and dancing enthusiastically and chatting to us afterwards.  Martin gave his brand-new Flight solid electric uke its first outing and was more than happy with the results.  We will be back soon! 


Thursday 6 October 2022 - The Gateway Club, Braintree

At last!  After a three-year absence, we were able to play for our friends at the Braintree Gateway Club again.  We normally visit them once a year, but the pandemic happened and you know the rest!  As ever, we received a warm welcome and they were up and dancing from the off, to tunes as diverse as 'Sweet Caroline' and 'Smoke On The Water'.  We made sure we included the very special 'Sit Down', which features some of them in a video we recorded a few years back.  It's well worth a look and can be found on their website and YouTube.

Sunday 4 September 2022 - Colchester Arts Centre 

You always know you are on the right track when you get a great audience response to your opening number and we did just that on our annual visit to this wonderful converted church in the middle of Colchester.  The amazing sound and lighting systems helped!  Our new songs are bedding in well, helping us refresh the set list for our loyal fans, and keeping us on our toes learning the words and chords.  Some spectacular photos by Jan were waiting for us on our various devices thanks to the magic of social media.  A night to remember.  

Sunday 21 August 2022 - Golders Hill Park Bandstand, Hampstead Heath

Up early and back to the outskirts of London for our second gig of the weekend.  And what a venue!  Tons of trees and parkland, not to mention the traditional bandstand with a beautiful view over the heath.  Bright blue sky, fluffy clouds and our ‘One Day Like This’, anthem was a great start to the gig.  We think our record for the longest line or circle formed during ‘New York, New York’ has been well and truly broken by yesterday’s fun-loving audience.  


Saturday 20 August 2022 - Private Party, South Woodford 

I’m pretty sure this was the first time we actually played in someone’s house – we are usually in the garden - but this time we set up in a very cool looking room, while the audience, consisting of friends and neighbours, gathered in the garden, coming closer to us when it was dancing time.  We first met Terry and Sandra when we gigged at the Luna in Leytonstone and Terry subsequently booked us for his party.  I’m glad he did. A great, friendly bunch who know how to party.  Needless to say, the weather was great!


Sunday 14 August.  Meadowcroft Food Festival 

This was our third appearance at Meadowcroft and it has a great festival vibe, including giant marquee and lots of straw bales for the audience, not to mention a bar at the back for thirsty patrons!  I must mention here our fellow musicians, Josh Brough and Ze Trio whose sets we thoroughly enjoyed, as did the audience.  Thanks Meadowcroft, for the drinks at the end, which were extremely welcome.  A bit of a break now until next weekend! 


Saturday 13 August.  Michelle and Mike’s Wedding, Chelsworth. 

What a fabulous weekend – and the weather wasn’t bad either!  Our first celebrity wedding featuring actress Michelle Collins and her partner Mike. Michelle is probably better known for her role as Cindy Beale in EastEnders, but she has also featured in many other roles in TV and Film.  And the setting was the beautiful 14th Century Peacock Inn, Chelsworth, which we played at about three years ago.  As soon as we arrived the wonderful staff bought us iced water and lemon, which set us up nicely for the afternoon.  The audience consisted mostly of friends and family of the bride and groom and they were a very enthusiastic bunch, up and dancing in spite of the heat.  Michelle generously agreed to photos with us and Dave acquired another coveted ‘Dave with Bride’ shot.  We were also invited to drinks and food. We won’t forget that gig in a hurry! 


Sunday 7 August.  Jane and Rick’s Party.  Wickham Bishops. 

This was a party of old friends – Jane went with us to Prague for the famous Masopust celebrations back in 2012 – but this time we were in Jane and Rick’s beautiful garden.  They were thoughtful about putting us in the shade, for which we were grateful.  The party-goers soon took to the floor and we had a ukulele player in the audience who helped us play ‘King Of The Road’, as well as (?)  joining us for ‘Smoke On The Water’.  A lovely way to pass a weekend! 


Saturday 6 August.  Laura and (?)’s wedding.  Watt Tyler Country Park. 

We had singer Angie depping for Jo today, and an excellent job she made of it too.  As well as learning some of Jo’s songs, we learned some of Angie’s so it made it a different kind of set to our usual one. Included were classics such as ‘Mustang Sally’, ‘Three Little Birds’ and ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ which sat well with D’Ukes classics and were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.  The venue helped as well, a beautiful heritage barn adorned with fairy lights, and the evening of course, was sunny.  A big thank-you to Laura for booking us. 


Saturday 30th July.  Southend Bandstand. 

Two more new songs saw the light of day as we played our yearly gig at Priory Park today. Sometimes new songs seem right at home from the off and ‘Dreams’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac, learned for an upcoming wedding, could well remain in the set.  Priory Park is a great outdoor venue for relaxing families, friends and pets, including the inevitable gorgeous dog dancing to ‘New York, New York’, with a little help from his parents!  And we got to chat with the audience afterwards, which we thoroughly enjoy. 

Saturday 23 July.  The Halstead Conservative Club. 

There comes a time in every band’s life when deputies are called upon if a band member has to drop out at the last minute.  In our case it was deputy number three!  However Dave stepped into the breach and did a sterling job on bass for the evening, standing in for John.  We played to a packed house with dancers gradually venturing out onto the floor, so when the time came for our grand finale of ‘New York, New York’, we had a ready-made throng forming the ring.  This has been a regular gig for us for quite a few years now and we love the friendliness of an audience enjoying itself.  See you all


Friday 13 May 2022 - The Luna, Leytonstone

 A lot has happened in the four years since we last appeared at Luna, not least a change of ownership.  But some things don’t change and the enthusiasm of the audience was still there in spades.  From as far away as Chigwell and Ukraine, punters piled in, but they all had two things in common – a love of music and partying.  We even had a beautiful, immaculately behaved dog, who rested his chin on the table and studied us intently.  Yes, the space is a bit confined but the appreciation and friendship more than made up for it.  And a tip for would-be customers – the Grapefruit Fizz is delicious!

Friday 8th April 2022 -  Ye Olde Rose and Crown, Walthamstow

This was yet another ‘covid postponement’ and one of our regular venues.  A lovely theatre pub with plays upstairs and live music downstairs.  

The stage area is nice and roomy too. 

Apart from my ‘microphone stand malfunction’ – temporarily fixed thanks to Brian – the evening went wonderfully, I loved the way people from the other bar occasionally peered round the corner to see what was going on and joined in the singing and dancing. 

One audience member was seen peering through our set list with Dave in the interval.  One of the songs she wanted us to sing – ‘Half The World Away’ – was not current but we agreed to play it for her anyway. 

It’s amazing how quickly songs come back to you when you’re put on the spot!  And there was a nostalgic return to audience participation in ‘New York, New York’.  We hope to return soon! 

Sunday 3rd April 2022 - Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch 

Our first theatre gig at the Queen's for quite a long time, and how things have changed!  A new stage, new lighting and a lovely intimate atmosphere with the audience much closer to the stage, which is what we love. 


The ‘Long Walk’ from the dressing rooms still inspires trepidation in me, but it’s a healthy trickle of nerves rather than a paralysis of fear.  

Even that trickle disappears as soon as the first chord of ‘One Day Like This’ rings out and this evening was especially enjoyable  because of the enthusiastic, near-capacity audience, some of whom had been through our workshops barely two hours earlier! 

We launched a new song – ‘A Design For Life’ by the Manic Street Preachers, and introduced some new twists to ‘Jungle Book’ and ‘Duelling Ukes’. 

It’s encouraging to know the ukulele is still an extremely popular instrument and that there are so many people eager to learn it and form their own groups. 

As ever, a big thank-you to the helpful staff at Queen's, who ensured things ran smoothly and made our lives a lot easier!   

Saturday 22 January 2022 - The Norton Pub, Cold Norton 

Back at The Norton – at last!  It wasn’t for want of trying, but you-know-what ensured that we stayed away for much longer than we wanted.  It was still not quite normal – Jo was ill so it was last-minute shuffling of set lists to ensure we could provide a full evening’s entertainment.  

It was wonderful, with a full crowd of enthusiastic punters, some old friends in the ukulele world and the great hospitality of host Boris and his brother George who put on a delicious spread for us in the interval.  


We had learned ‘Dark Eyes’ as a tribute to Boris but the problem was, Jo was the only one who could sing it in in Russian!  George came to the rescue, adding some great vocals, so all was not lost. 

As well as dance favourites like ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ we added a touch of the hard stuff which went down very well such as ‘Dakota’, ‘Smoke on The Water’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’. My set list got shredded under the dancing feet but it was worth it.  If you’re kicking yourself for missing the party, we will be back in the summer! 

Friday 17 and Sunday 19 December 2021 – The Final gigs of the year! 

As Christmas looms ever closer, we played our final gigs of the year before retreating to various festivities of our own (all being well!). The first was a private event at the Magic Mushroom Restaurant for staff from Barleylands Farm Park and Village in Billericay. We then wrapped up 2021 by performing at the German Christmas Market at the Meadow Croft Garden Centre, Wickford. Christmas does seem to have well and truly arrived and we wish all our fans all the best for the New Year.  See you then! 

Saturday 27 November 2021 – Halstead Conservative Club 

We've still not quite returned to normal but we finally got back to the Conservative Club and only a year overdue! We had to axe a few songs, including Delilah, so Martin’s murder weapon stayed put in the corner. However, we premiered ‘Dark Eyes’, which many people may not realise they know, until they hear it.  And they heard it in Russian, French and English! Even the weather got in on the act with a deluge of sleety rain and cold winds as we loaded up to head for home. The nearest we’ll get to the Russian Steppes! 

Saturday 30 October 2021 – The Cramphorn Studio – Chelmsford 

Following three years of absence and one pandemic, we finally made it back to the Cramphorn Studio in Chelmsford, albeit with an intimate audience as we are still not back to ‘normal’.  Still it was great to see many of our friends again out and enjoying themselves.  We made a few tweaks to some of the songs such as a slow beginning to ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and Martin and Jo got the audience to count them into an a cappella start to ‘Tender’.  Martin was pleased it was nearly Halloween as it meant he could buy a prop axe to ‘finish off’ Delilah!  We had to be out of the theatre by 11.00pm, which meant we couldn’t mingle with the audience in the foyer.  Ever resourceful, Dave devised the ‘Pack and Chat’ scheme whereby the audience could come up to us on stage and talk while we packed away.  It could catch on!   

Sunday 12 September 2021 – The Archer Pub, South Ockendon

You know that Covid is loosening its grip when you can play again in your regular haunts, and after a few false starts we finally gigged at The Archer once more. It was a meeting with old friends. The large garden, the regulars, including the pub dog, and the good weather were all in place, not to mention the food and the beer.  Our friend Colin was depping on bass for John and Jo is still singing from a chair but her ankle is definitely on the mend. We dusted down an old favourite for the occasion – ‘Smoke On The Water’.  Love that riff! 

Saturday 28 August 2021 – Little Burstead, Billericay 

This week's event is a wild and whacky take on the village summer get-together delayed because of you-know-what!  Take one field, a gathering of tents and barbecues, people out for a good time, and us providing the music, and you have an idea of the annual get-together in this close-knit village.  Back after two years we had a great time!  Roger, the organiser, had the brilliant idea of combining summer, Guy Fawkes and Christmas all in one with fireworks, a novel rendering of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ and a good old hoe-down with ukes.  We even had a couple of coloured drones sparking fireworks (although I think that was coming from another event).  We ended the evening with a massive ring of people all extolling the virtues of ‘New York, New York’.  I love the quirkiness of it – where else would someone win a cucumber in a raffle? 

Saturday 21 August 2021 - Southend Priory Park Bandstand 

It was two years since we were here last. Doesn’t time fly? Despite another apocalyptic weather forecast, we had largely dry weather with just the odd spot of rain here and there. Martin took some photos of the crowd just to prove we had one! As usual with this annual gig, we had a great time despite the fact that Jo had to appear perched on a high chair as she has broken her ankle. But like a true pro she sang her heart out and we had a great reception from the audience who sat in their own covid-secure chairs surrounded by children, dogs and a line-dancing team.


Sunday 8 August 2021 - Meadow Croft Garden Centre Food and Drink Festival, Wickford 

All our attention was firmly fixed on the weather today, with an horrendous forecast of heavy rain predicted. Then we performed our usual trick. Although in a very spacious marquee with a bar and plenty of hay bales for the punters, we feared for those hovering outside, so we played ‘One Day Like This’.  It never fails (or hardly ever!). The rain stopped, the sun came out and the afternoon was beautiful, enabling everyone to roam the food stalls, the impressive plant nursery and of course listen to us.  Also on the bill were the very talented guitarist Josh Brough and the delightful Daisy Bowlers who are based in Southend. 

Thursday 29 July 2021 - Colchester Arts Centre 

We’re back! Raring to go after lockdown, we finally made it back to the stage and fittingly it was the newly-refurbished Colchester Arts Centre with its full make-over including luxury toilets and a new sound and lighting system. It was really great to be back. It gave some of us the opportunity to showcase our new ukes blue and electric in Brian’s case, matching eight-strings for Jo and I. We made a few changes to the songs too, with a new up-tempo version of ‘Wish You Were Here’ which segued intriguingly into ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’. We also changed the ending of ‘Comfortably Numb’ to include a crazy solo from Dave and mad strumming from the rest of us. A good start to a new season. 

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