Mount Bures Community Web Site

Mount Bures Ukulele Group

History of MBug (by Dick Gould)

In the depths of winter 2017, with the nights drawn in, evenings long and memories of the sun long since gone,
I was seeking something to lift my spirits. I had played the guitar a bit, and thought that I might try the ukulele. The baritone ukulele uses exactly the same tuning as a guitar, has only four strings and is therefore 66% of the effort of a guitar. I started to sing songs I knew whilst playing the uke.

Then attending the Thursday morning Connections coffee in the Village Hall, Mount Bures, I discovered that the Reverend Ray Sams is a virtuoso on the ukulele, that Jan Hughes loves to sing and play guitar, and can harmonise, and that Andrew Colchester is an enthusiastic banjo player. So, after Connections had ended we would sit around a table and sing songs together. It was fun, but was still four individuals bringing in songs they enjoy for us to join in with.

But still that did not satisfy me. We needed some company and more volume, so I placed an advertisement in the Bures St Mary Parish Magazine seeking like minded people who saw a beauty in the gentle plinky plonk of the ukulele. To my amazement and joy, 8 other people replied, and we started to meet in the tower room of the Church in Bures. We had to contend, on a monthly basis, with meetings of the Mothers Union, blocking up the windows so that they could not see us, or hear us. The were very gracious about it, and commented that although they could hear us during their prayers, it was not too intrusive. At first we played a selection of songs which I had collected, relatively easy ones with few chords , and built up from there. Anything from Gospel to Blues, Pop to Reggae, Traditional to Folk, Country to Indie, often taking us from our comfort zones into unknown areas of music alien to us. A few fell by the wayside due to work commitments, but happily were replaced by others.

Two stalwarts of the group were Howard and Brenda Walkden who live just within the parish of Whites Colne. They offered to let us rehearse at their house on a Monday evening. Almost all of the band were attendees at the Connections coffee morning in the Mount Bures Village Hall, so we would see each other regularly, as well as practice on Mondays. The centre of gravity for the group shifted, therefore, from Bures to Mount Bures.

Ray had joined the band and was invaluable, as a former teacher and skilled musician, in encouraging, instructing and arranging some of the music to suit the dynamics of the band. His rendition of The Boxer, by Simon and Garfunkel with Jan and Jay harmonising became the highlight of our performance.

Many of the band were starting from scratch, but through much practice and the suffering of painful finger tips, we felt we had became proficient enough to be heard by people outside the band. Jan offered our services to play at the Mount Bures Harvest Supper. That gave us a very powerful incentive to raise our game to the standard we wanted. But first we had to have a name. As most of us came from Mount Bures, Suzanna suggested the Mount Bures Ukulele Group, or MBUG. That was it and the name stuck.
Download Harvest Supper Song List

The band chose some songs which they hoped would be familiar with the audience so that they could join in, and others which we enjoyed playing. Not only did the uke playing improve, so did the singing, as people realised that they could sing, indeed actually had good voices. Then came the harmonies! So we could play, we could sing and we could harmonise. Next stop O2.

Not quite, but half way there when we went to play at the sheltered accommodation where Jan Hughes mother lives in Southend. For that gig we chose some old classics which everyone enjoyed, especially the band, for they have interesting, if tricky chord sequences, a good tune, and all those at the home knew them well enough to join in. After that gig it was good just to settle back into the routine of each member of the band choosing songs to sing at our rehearsals. There is a comfort in that, which builds up confidence, practices skills as well as pleases the ear, and means that one can still play your favourite song, or introduce new ones into the band.
Download Southend Song List

Published 27/06/18