Two Sheffield friends of 30 years have applied to perform at the Grand Northern Ukulele festival.
Stacey Almond and Caroline Webb, who form the Pitsmoor Ladies Ukulele Chorale, applied after performing at the festival last year.
The festival, which takes place in Huddersfield, is an annual event that sees people from all over the world perform and share their experiences with the rest of the public.
“We went to the festival for the first time 3 or 4 years ago and it was great fun”, Stacey said. “They have an open mic area but we were too scared to perform. However, we went away and plucked up the courage to do it the year after and it went really well. That encouraged us to formally apply the next year and we got a spot”.
The two met 30 years ago when they both attended university in Sheffield and were part of a theatre company. It wasn’t for another 20 years, however, that the duo started playing the ukulele and formed the band.
Its origins can be traced back to when Caroline, 53, went to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain in Plug in 2005, which inspired her to buy a ukulele.
“I saw them and I thought ‘this is great!’ I bought one off eBay straight away, it was cheap and horrible to play but that was the start of it all”, she said.
Stacey, 53, who also purchased a ukulele at a similar time, started playing with Caroline for fun before they then went on to do Christmas and summer parties.
She said: “People responded to it and really liked it. That then encouraged us to do it again and people assumed we were just doing it permanently. We made a story line about attending a conservatoire in Pitsmoor and wrote songs every 6 months about what we were studying that term”.
“We just made loads of jokes about studying in this mythical conservatoire, and then people started asking us to perform at Birthdays and such and we were like, ‘we can’t, we only have 3 songs!’”
The duo have since ended up performing in various local venues and bars such as the Dorothy Pax and the Gardeners Rest, alongside “accidentally recording a CD” in Crookes social club when they didn’t realise the event was recorded and saved.
They plan to continue performing as much as they can, although both have full-time jobs, Caroline in local government and Stacey as an English teacher.
Whilst they’ll be representing Pitsmoor should they be successful in applying for the festival, they aren’t the only Pitsmoor-based ukulele band. A professional outfit who go by the name of Dead Mans Uke also live in the area.
“The funny thing is that they’re literally just across the park from us, so we can’t say we’re the best, they do it professionally after all”, Stacey said.
“We say it’s quite likely that we’re the second best ukulele band in Pitsmoor!”
To find out more about the band, you can visit their Facebook page.
See the video below for a brief taste of what they’re like: