Popular Norwich ukulele festival ends with spectacular ‘big busk’ in city centre

Uke East 2017. Zip Pain playing at Norwich Arts Centre.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Uke East 2017. Zip Pain playing at Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

It was enough to bring city centre shoppers to standstill so they could tap their feet to its unique and catchy sounds.

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORT

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

And with this year's Uke East regional ukulele festival held in Norwich being the most popular yet, it seems the instrument has well and truly sung its way into people's hearts.

Use of the famous instrument, which was popular in the early part of the century, has declined in recent years as pop music and more modern instruments have taken over.

But in recent years it has seen a revival, with Uke East growing to a full weekend of events.

Uke East 2017. Aleks and Janina playing at Norwich Arts Centre.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Uke East 2017. Aleks and Janina playing at Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORT

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

This year's festivities - the fourth year the event has been held - kicked off with an open mic night and strum along on Friday (September 22) at the Coachmakers Arms, which festival chairman Tim Colman described as 'superb'.

The busiest day was Saturday, which included a series of workshops at Norwich Arts Centre for those wanting to learn the four-string or improve - including an introduction to finger picking and how to imitate sounds of the Caribbean.

The second stage was given the local musicians to give them a chance to show their stuff, while professionals such as Desmond O'Connor, Enne and Biscuithead took to the main stage in the evening.

Uke East 2017. Zip Pain playing at Norwich Arts Centre.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Uke East 2017. Zip Pain playing at Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORT

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

But perhaps the most spectacular sight was the closing 'big busk' in Norwich's Haymarket, where around 100 people watched performers play their ukuleles in the city centre.

During the event, Mr Colman said: 'They're loving it. We've got a comments board and people are writing really nice things.'

Uke East 2017. Zip Pain playing at Norwich Arts Centre.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Uke East 2017. Zip Pain playing at Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

He said the ukulele has 'become quite a phenomenon but you struggle to put your finger on why'.

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORT

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

He added: 'It's a great instrument and vehicle for making music for other people. If you can't sing or are not in a choir, it's a very good way of sharing music.

'It's a very simple instrument to play and get going with. An awful lot of schools are teaching children how to play the ukulele now, instead of the recorder.

'It's very portable and easy to transport. A huge number of well-known, popular songs can usually be done on the ukulele.

Uke East 2017. Ukes for sale at Norwich arts Centre.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Uke East 2017. Ukes for sale at Norwich arts Centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

'When we start up in the street, there are always songs people have heard but they've never heard them on the ukulele before.

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORT

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

'The festival has grown from being a quite a local thing to be being recognised around the UK. We even get people from Australia and Austria, so people are coming from far and wide.

'It's very friendly and inclusive. There's really something for everyone.'

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORT

The 'big busk' at the 2017 Uke East ukulele festival in Norwich's Haymarket. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH - Credit: Archant

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