The Poster Art of Ukulele Cabaret

 

Part of This Is Cabaret's coverage of the 2012 Edinburgh Festival FringeMonthly free show Ukulele Cabaret (or Ukelele Cabaret) has welcomed illustrious variety guests and complete beginners since 2007. Host and producer Tricity Vogue looks back at the posters that tell the story of her long-running mainstay of the London and Edinburgh scenes.

 

The frame for the Ukelele Cabaret posters was drawn by illustrator Edward “Ted” Ward. He has also contributed many posters over the show’s history, more than any other artist so far. His first was in February, 2009.

The featuring of other guest artists within Ted’s frame is a fairly recent phenomenon that started when Lucifer Peanut Howe contacted me on Facebook and asked if he could do a poster. His first one was for Valentine’s Day, 2012. Before that, if Ted didn’t have time to do the poster for the month, I’d do it myself, either by re-using the heads he’d drawn of the guest artists for previous posters, or by coming up with my own artwork.

I like to dabble in art now and then (I do the artwork for my own website), but I’m much happier to hand over the job to someone who really knows what they’re doing. Illustrators Caroline Thinius (June, 2012) and Steve Pledger (July, 2012) both responded to my call on Facebook and Twitter and offered their services. All the artists who’ve contributed artwork to Ukelele Cabaret have done it for love. The feeling’s mutual.

The posters are emailed to Joyce, the landlady of the Lincoln Lounge, which has been the show’s home since the beginning. She gets her daughter to print them off for her, then sticks photocopies up around the pub with blue tack. Joyce reports that her photocopied A4 posters are regularly stolen from the window and walls of the pub, and several have to be replaced in the run up to a show.

 

A Tale of Two Spellings

When I first named the Lincoln Lounge show in 2007, I chose the alternative spelling of “ukelele” simply because there was already a Ukulele Cabaret on MySpace, in New York. I was new to the instrument and was unaware that one spelling was more favoured than the other.

After I realised the unpopularity of my choice, I decided to stick to the minority spelling for the Lincoln Lounge show because it had history, because Ted had already done the lovely artwork, and because I like to support minorities.

For the show’s first year in Edinburgh I used the Lincoln Lounge spelling, then I realised that no one searching for “ukulele” on the Fringe website would find me, so I changed it to the more common spelling. One day I might have to change the Lincoln Lounge show spelling too, which will make the old posters charming anachronisms. I plan to resist for as long as possible, though.

 

Ukelele Cabaret at the Zoo
July 2012
Steve Pledger, the artist for this month’s poster, was recommended for the job by his missus, Manchester-based cabaret singer Liberty Pink. Steve and I have never met, but his poster captures the mood of the nights perfectly.Uke-playing comic The Mighty Ginge has claimed the ginger orangutan on the poster for his own. I thought it was a gorilla, but what do I know. None of the other animals bear any resemblance to the acts (except for me), although Lana Shelley, like the giraffe, does have very long eyelashes.It was Lana who first put a ukulele in my hands and taught me my first chords, so I could accompany her song Casanova Complex. That was more than five years ago.Due to unforeseen circumstances, Ukelele Cabaret at the Zoo will take place at The Harrison pub (WC1H 8JF) instead of the Lincoln Lounge.
Ukelele Cabaret Love-In
February 2012
Lucifer Peanut Howe’s first poster for the ukelele cabaret was for February, 2012. It might be one of the reasons that our valentine’s show was packed.The bill was equally packed, and included dysfunctional folk duo Anne and Alan, air ukulele impresaria Josephine Shaker, Neil Sinclair (proprietor of Neil’s Electrics), newcomer virtuoso Holly “Hitman” Hayes, Jimmy and the Lips, and Paul Tkachenko of The Dead Victorians (who got in trouble with his wife for being out at a ukulele night on Valentine’s day).
Ukelele Cabaret: Uke Skywalker
March 2012
March’s Uke Skywalker poster was illustrated by Ted Ward. Despite being incredibly busy, he was unable to resist the lure of sci-fi geekdom and the opportunity to draw a Star Wars picture. A packed bill included the Sun itself (AKA geek songstress Helen Arney), vintage strummer Colin Chambers, close harmony group Martini Encounter, oddball singer-songwriter Elliot Mason (debuting a new song) and, all the way from Edinburgh, Ben Jones.
Ukelele Cabaret: Spring Fever
April 2012
The second poster produced for the uke cabaret by Lucifer Peanut Howe. Our Spring Fever show featured vintage close harmony ladies The Strumpettes, singer-songwriter Caroline Grannell, and an international guest, Dublin-based Uke Gnome.
Ukulele Christmas Cabaret
December 2011
Ted Ward created a sumptuous ukulele nativity scene for our Christmas show last year. Like the poster, the night itself was action-packed, with all six of the Jive Aces squeezing into the tiny performing area and rocking the joint with a swinging skiffle set.Croydon-based harmony group The Marauders returned with a new set of material. Singer songwriter Jo Stephenson also performed, and we reprised our duets of her original Christmas songs Ukulele Christmas and Meet Me Under The Mistletoe.
Ukelele Cabaret by the Seaside
May 2012
Lucifer Peanut Howe produced the poster for my jaunty to Brighton in May. An informal addition to the Brighton Fringe, the show featured so many acts that it ran from 8 PM to midnight. Brighton locals on the bill included The Bobby McGees, PlanetZim, Brendan Hayden, Foxy Hillocks and Qukulele, with close harmony singers The Martini Encounter travelling down from London specially to open the show.
Ukelele Cabaret Goes East
November 2010
Another poster by Ted Ward, with apologies to Walt Disney. Two acts who have become longstanding friends and collaborators made their Ukelele Cabaret debuts that night – Ria Lina and EastEnd Cabaret. Also on the bill was sensational belly dancer Lana Lovitt.
Ukelele Cabaret Gets Geeky
May 2011
I did the artwork for Ukelele Cabaret Gets Geeky, which is why there are no people on the poster.Special guests included David Hasselhoff German über-fan Stefan Gaphausen, comic Mike Belgrave and close harmony group The Martini Encounter (back then still called Dirty Martini).
Ukelele Cabaret: When Ukes Go Bad
February 2010
Again by Ted Ward. Dark and twisted troubadour Nigel Burch topped the bill, along with The Ukuladyboys, AKA Johnny Cashpoint and Andy Balham.
Ukelele Cabaret
October 2009
For this unthemed show’s poster Ted Ward indulged his passion for motor vehicles in his illustration of a vintage car driven by our stalwart sound man Nick Browning, who took a turn in front of the mic that night with ukulele godfather Rufus Yells. Hippie virtuoso and self-styled “living leg-end” Fang made his Ukelele Cabaret debut, and so did Patti Plinko and Her Boy. Fang went on to win the Uke-Off Championships at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in January, 2011. In December, 2011, Patti Plinko gave me her ukulele, signed by Amanda Palmer and Camille O’Sullivan, and now I play it on stage. Luckily, Patti has a new one.
Ukelele Cabaret
March 2009
This one’s got a self-portrait by Ted Ward, alongside his bandmates Matthew Gunning and Russell Marsh, AKA Uke Attack!! Uke Attack!! – Ted’s the one on the left. The headliner was American singer-songwriter Erin Lang.The bill also featured a multi-media piece by Hissing At Swans, which proved slightly beyond the Lincoln Lounge’s rudimentary technical capabilities, despite sterling work with an improvised projection screen made out of a shower curtain.
Tricity Vogue’s Ukulele Cabaret
August 2012
As well as designing the posters for both of my Blue Lady shows, David Windmill of Colourfield Media is responsible for the Ukulele Cabaret show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, for the third year running. His design was inspired by original show posters and play bills from the 1950s.So many acts have signed up for the show that we could only fit a select few on the poster. So far, confirmed acts for the 24-night August run include Ria Lina, Dan Woods, Jo Stephenson, Mat Ricardo, Helen Arney, Audacity Chutzpah, Sarah-Louise Young, Holly Penfield, Dusty Limits, Myra Dubois, Uke Gnome, PlanetZim, Josephine Shaker, Stav Meishar, Lisa Kenny, Molly & Me and Albert Spink (AKA Dan from Moonfish Rhumba).

 

Got a Uke of your own? Bring it to Ukelele Cabaret at the Zoo, the last London date before the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, at The Harrison (WC1H 8JF), on July 10th, 20:00, free. Every show features sing-alongs and strum-alongs (chord charts provided), in addition to an open mic set.

 

Tricity Vogue’s Ukulele Cabaret hits the Fringe from August 2nd to 26th, 21:30-22:30. Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (Venue 170, EH8 9DD), Free. See www.tricityvogue.com for more details.

 

Check out the art of Ted Ward on tedwarddraws.wordpress.com

 

Correction: this article was emended on July 9th, 2012. It previously listed the Lincoln Lounge as the venue for Ukulele Cabaret at the Zoo (correct at the time of publication, but changed afterwards to its current location).

Images courtesy of the author


About

Cheeky jazz singer Tricity Vogue has gathered a cult following from shows including Ukulele Cabaret and variety collective The Blue Stocking Society. An international performer, she’s also a no-nonsense Yorkshire lass and an award-winning scriptwriter with show-business instincts honed over a decade working in TV.



'The Poster Art of Ukulele Cabaret' has 1 comment

  1. 10 Jul 2012 @ 10:09 am Steve Pledger

    Only too happy to be involved – thanks very much for the write up! And you are of course correct, it is indeed a gorilla. (Except we’re from Leicester, not Manchester!) I look forward to having the opportunity to do more! x

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