Uke group cooking up new lyrics

BUGS AT PLAY: Members of the Beachport Ukulele Group celebrate their recent successful performance at the Adelaide Ukulele Festival. Picture: Chris Waite/SUPPLIED

Caroline Hammat

Members of the Beachport Ukulele Group (BUGS) recently spent a weekend attending the Adelaide Ukulele Festival.

Thirteen members of the group attended workshops and performed with other ‘uke’ groups from Adelaide, and across the state.

Local singer-songwriter Tashi Freer, an occasional group member who has been teaching singing techniques, also joined BUGS onstage at the event.

BUGS took to the stage on Sunday and sang three songs, one of which was a well-received reworking of the Bobby Darin tune Mack the Knife.

The song became Mack the Shark and group member Wendy Mariager rewrote the lyrics to detail Pam Cook’s recent shark attack experience in Rivoli Bay near the Beachport Jetty.

Ms Cook is one of the founding members of BUGS and was the first to approach Irene Hann asking her to teach her how to play the instrument back in 2013.

Ms Hann had learnt to play three or four chords of the instrument after attending a workshop at the Port Fairy Folk Festival in 2011 and discovered those few chords fit hundreds of songs.

In those early days, Ms Hann would practice during the quieter times of her volunteer shift at the Beachport Museum.

In 2013 Ms Hann took her ‘uke’ along to a Sea Urchins picnic at the local rotunda and strummed a few songs like Waltzing Matilda and Ned Kelly Ballad.

Ms Cook is a member of the Sea Urchins, a group that meets each morning to swim in the bay, and after this introduction to the instrument she approached Ms Hann and asked to learn more.

In the following months more people arrived at the museum to learn how to play the instrument.

The museum entry became so crowded the fledgling group decided to find a new home.

At this stage, there were about 10 regular members and they began to meet in the Beachport Cinema on Thursday mornings before the local craft group began at 11am.

From this space, the group then moved so their musical sessions could continue past 11am.

“The craft group were glad to see us move on so they could stitch in peace, we were then made welcome at the bowling club,” Ms Hann said.

Eventually, the group had to move on once again as the bowling club underwent renovations.

With the group now numbering around 20 members they moved to the St Matthews Uniting Church which Ms Hann said “was a lovely venue for making music”.

BUGS now meets weekly at the Beachport Hotel and preparations are underway to celebrate their official 10-year anniversary this year.

Regulars of the group come from Beachport, Robe, Millicent, Furner, Southend, Tantanoola, Mount Gambier, Boatswain Point and even visitors from across Australia call in during their travels.

They perform at a variety of events across the region and members attend the Great Adelaide Ukulele Picnic each year.

There are over 20 current members and new players are welcome.

“Beginners are welcome to join us and we would even like people who just sing but don’t want to play,” Ms Hann said.

The group meet Thursday mornings at 10am and members are welcome to stay on for lunch at the pub.