Roll up, roll up! Get your tickets soon
– the last one sold out quickly. This is going to be a special evening with us and the wonderful Steven Sproat. Phoenix Theatre, Ross-on-Wye, August 12th. Tickets from the-wend.com/tickets or me directly.
All aboard the Uke Express!
We’re really excited to announce that we’ll be playing at the Uke Express Weekend October 27/28th.
Get your tickets here (details below):
The Uke Express 2017 – Minehead – 1 Train, 300 Ukes
For the fourth year in a row, the fantastic, fun-filled steam adventure that is The Uke Express is on the rails again! This year, a change of venue to keep things fresh, and we’ve chartered a private train on the West Somerset Railway on Saturday 28 October!
Scroll straight down to the bottom for tickets, or read on for details!
The West Somerset line is the longest heritage railway line in the UK, and our train will take to the tracks to steam through the beautiful Quantock Hills from the seaside town of Minehead. As we pass by this lovely countryside, playing from the provided songbooks, preparations will be afoot for something interesting when we arrive at our destination, Bishops Lydeard.
Near the station, we’ve lined up The Uke Express Beer Festival at the village’s Quantock brewery, with a marquee and hall available for us (with open mic stage!). The brewery will be selling various different local ales and ciders, including the specially commissioned Uke Express Ale – guaranteed to get you steaming! While you’re free to explore the village instead, there’s room for us all, and the venue will be selling wood fired pizzas and speciality hot-dogs throughout for lunch.
We’ll then board the train again and head back to Minehead on another tuneful journey, where you’re free to continue to strum away to your heart’s content at any of the list of ‘uke-friendly’ pubs we’ll list and send with tickets and songbooks, nearer the time.
There are two types of ticket, the day-only, which includes everything above – the train and beer festival. Then there’s the weekend ticket, with entertainment on the Friday and Saturday night too. There are two venues, and you choose one to be your ‘home venue’ for the weekend. You’ll go to that venue each evening, and we’ll change the line-up!
Hobby Horse Hotel Venue
Friday Night – Matt Stead & Rob Ash, followed by the Hedge Inspectors Saturday Night – The League of Ukulele Gentlemen and Dead Mans Uke
Beach Hotel Venue
Friday Night – The League of Ukulele Gentlemen and Dead Mans Uke Saturday Night – Matt Stead & Rob Ash, followed by the Hedge Inspectors
Ticket prices are – Day Only £45 and Full Weekend £65
Beer, steam and ukulele all in one fantastic event!
FIRST REVIEW IN FOR THE WEND:
Matt Stead & Rob Ash – The Wend
Well, this is a remarkable album. On many points. Moving quickly from the psychedelic cover, you pull out a sleeve. For those too young to remember old fashioned records, this is as close as you can get to the record experience without the “real thing”. The sleeve then contains a black CD. With grooves. I’ve never seen either of those, and it was with trepidation I put it into the 21st century CD drive.
There was no blue smoke, but instead, one of the best mixed and produced ukulele CDs I’ve heard. Someone called David Pick takes the credit for the production, and a very good job he’s done, too. In one of my parallel lives, I have the pleasure of working with some very high end audio equipment that will expose details in recordings that you’ve never heard before. This time, the attention to the stereo spacing and staging was obvious. Suffice to say that the production is top notch.
So, onto the music! The album is all original instrumentals with Matt Stead on ukulele and Rob Ash on bass. Nothing is overdone, nothing fighting for attention. “Running Over Pebbles” is a gentle introduction to the album, gentle fingerpicking and subtle bass work leads to an up-tempo section with some nice z-chord* action.
“Aust Ferry” has a nice swing to it, well placed bass runs. And then a violin accent – nothing too much just right. “Jacob’s Ladder” has a lovely running rhythm and string bend. For those of us learning ukulele, there’s lots of little techniques in this album as examples, but expertly done. “The Wend” even has a harmonic ‘ping’ at the end of a phrase.
My favourite track is “Uke Jam”. It’s not the soundtrack of twenty players frantically sitting around song books in a room trying the be the loudest. In fact, I can’t really understand where the title comes from. I just imagine it’s the theme tune for a TV series about a British spy based in West London in the 70s. Driving a Ford Capri. It’s all based around a big bass line with the ukulele over the top and what sounds like some tap percussion on the uke body. I expect the BBC are calling Matt and Rob right now for usage rights.
What’s the genre of this album? Maybe folk, swing, a little jazzy in places? I don’t know, but you can play it as background music, or to properly listen to – as I already have many times over, and not tired of it.
This album is proper music, no thrash ukulele, nothing fighting for attention. It’s really well arranged, superbly recorded and as I said before, well produced and mixed. For these reasons this album gets a Cool Cat Ukes Recommended Album Award. I really try to avoid giving these out, a recording has to make a big impression to get one.
Go to The Wend website to buy the CD. Digital downloads are available, but I’d suggest you buy the real thing for the ‘psuedo record’ experience.
7 tracks, 29 minutes.
1. Running Over Pebbles
2. Aust Ferry
3. The Wend
4. Uke Jam
6. Jacob’s Ladder
Review – Simon Taylor, 6th March 2017
THE WEND – OUT NOW!!
Our debut album The Wend is out NOW on deluxe CD and digital download. It will also be available on itunes and other digital platforms. The album features all new original instrumentals, recorded this winter at FFG studio in Gloucestershire.
You can get your copy for £6 + 1.99 p&p worldwide here: