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A bit of pluck could land Norwich group a Christmas hit

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 November 2011

Ukulele players proving they are fun people at the festival at Norwich Arts Centre.  Photo: Bill Smith

Ukulele players proving they are fun people at the festival at Norwich Arts Centre. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

If Santa walked around the city today, would he get an Asbo for wearing a hood?

That’s the idea raised by a Norwich musical group, who are hoping to score a Christmas hit and raise money for charity while they are at it.

The Norwich Ukulele Society have recorded the song in aid of Children in Need and the Hamlet Centre Trust.

It humorously decries what its writer, poet and BBC journalist Nic Rigby, 41, from Lakenham, sees as pointless seriousness and political correctness putting a downer on Christmas.

The song, titled Raise a Glass to Santa, starts with the line “Christmas is not the same these days”, and as band co-founder and leader Gemma Cullingford, 31, from Bury Street Norwich, explains, that’s just the beginning.

“Aladdin gets deported, Rudolph is in the priory because he’s been sniffing Coca Cola, Pinocchio is stuck at customs as he’s made out of rainforest wood,” she said.

“And Santa gets an Asbo, and is suspected of being Al Qaeda because he has a beard and flight plans in his sack.

“It’s fun and that’s what the uke is all about.”

The group have been playing gigs all over the city. They recently performed at The Forum Library’s tenth birthday celebrations and the Norwich Beer Festival.

Mrs Cullingford, who works for Aviva and gives ukulele lessons from her home, added: “We started doing rock and comedy. I think they expected something a little more serious.

“But you can’t take yourself too seriously, you can mix humour into your songs and still keep them musically credible. I also think people now know what to expect from us, so we try to push the boundaries a bit.”

The record is also a spoof on the Band Aid single, with all 20 players singing a line. It took six hours to record.

“The group really rose to the challenge, a lot of them had never done anything like it before,” said Mrs Cullingford.

“After practice we often go for a few drinks and talk about things we could do, we even spoke about doing a musical.

“But this one has actually come together, Nic already had the song and could get the studio, so it turned into a lovely thing.”

The group will be playing at The Belvedere Centre on Saturday, December 19 along with Norwich Saxaphone group, Saxability, and Norwich Accordion Club.

Mrs Cullingford is also starting a class for beginners in January. “We want it to be inclusive, it’s such a sociable instrument.

“We’re not particularly brilliant, it’s just about being part of a like minded group and having fun. It’s so versatile and can play anything, it takes people by surprise.”

Raise a Glass to Santa can be downloaded from http://norwichukes.bandcamp.com at a cost of £3. And the band will be out and about selling the CD during December.

To sign up to the January classes, go to www.ukulele-lessons.co.uk

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