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Ukuleles aplenty at Uke East festival in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 06:30 29 July 2014

Sophie Madeleine

Sophie Madeleine


It may evoke images of Hawaii and grass skirts, or George Formby and cleaning windows.

The Norwich Ukulele Society meet at the York Tavern in Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY The Norwich Ukulele Society meet at the York Tavern in Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

But the humble ukulele is establishing itself further in Norwich – with an entire festival dedicated to the instrument.

Uke East is set to be the first event of its kind in the county, with leading ukulele players from across the country gathering to raise money for charity Musical Keys.

Artists performing will include Brighton-based singer songwriter Sophie Madeleine, leading ukulele player Phil Doleman, trio ArteMiss and local bluegrass and roots band The Toots.

Festival organiser Nic Rigby said: “We are hoping to bring some of the best musicians and songwriters from around Britain to Norfolk and at the same time help the wonderful Norwich charity Musical Keys.

Phil Doleman Phil Doleman

“The festival should be a great celebration of music and not just a ukulele festival.

“To get Sophie Madeleine, who has never played Norwich before, should be a great attraction, while Phil Doleman is one of top ukulele players in the country and will also be running a workshop.”

Uke East will be headlined by The Toots and will raise funds for charity Musical Keys, which uses music to provide support to children with special needs.

Liam Capper-Starr and Gemma Cullingford of the Norwich Ukulele Society are also on the bill.

Acts at Uke East

Sophie Madeleine is an award-winning singer-songwriter and ukulele player from Brighton whose third album Silent Cynic has just been released. Her songs have featured on TV adverts such as track You Make Me Happy on a Pets At Home advert. She has supported the likes of Gruff Rhys and Newton Faulkner.

Phil Doleman is known as a player’s player, leading workshops and teaching others to play the ukulele. He has appeared on several albums, performed on radio and TV, and has shared the stage with some of the world’s finest players.

The Toots are based on the Suffolk/north Essex border. Focusing on strong vocal harmonies, the band combine this with accordion, mandolin, fiddle, bouzouki, guitar, ukulele and double-bass.

Artemiss is Rosie, Mandi and Kate. The trio ouse vocal harmonies, ukuleles and musical experimentation, breathing new life into familiar songs from Elvis to Rihanna.

Liam Capper-Starr began playing after wrestling with the guitar for 15 years.

Since the first strum, he was hooked and four years on, he teaches uke and runs the Norwich Ukulele Society.

As well as playing, Liam will run the workshops.

The society was formed in 2010 and has gone from strength to strength, playing everything from Johnny Cash to Kyle Minogue, Tom Jones, the White Stripes and Outkast.

Its members are regular performers at Folk East, the Norwich Beer Festival and BBC Radio Norfolk’s Treasure Quest Live at the Norwich Playhouse.

Guests are invited to Hellesdon Community Centre for the Uke East festival on Saturday, October 25.

More acts on the Uke East bill will be announced nearer the festival.

Tickets are available now at the early bird discount price of £10 and available at the or via the Norwich Ukulele Society which meets every other Sunday from 5pm at the York Tavern in Leicester Street, Norwich.

For further information contact Nic Rigby by email or on 07905 329 810.

For more on Norwich Ukulele Society, see

To learn more about Musical Keys, see

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