Monthly 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 Love-In
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’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 Goes East
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: When Ukes Go Bad
Again by Ted Ward. Dark and twisted troubadour Nigel Burch topped the bill, along with The Ukuladyboys, AKA Johnny Cashpoint and Andy Balham.
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.
|Tricity Vogue’s Ukulele Cabaret
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 http://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).