Peter McMeel and Brendan Williams are bringing a bit of the Irish to Toowong Bowls Club

Peter McMeel and Brendan Williams bringing a bit of the Irish to Wooloongabba

NOTE this post has been updated for 2019 with a name, and another venue change.
McCarthys Celtic Music Session, check it out if you are looking for a new challenge and want to advance your skills in a new, highly addictive direction.
The Dandelion Social, 4/591 Wynnum Road, Morningside.
• Every Thursday night from 11 July 2019.
• From 6:30 pm
• Ukes tuned in D for Celtic. See notes on tuning below.

“Ukuleles are very versatile string instruments and can be tuned to many pitches. To play Irish you will tune up one whole step from C to D. Instead of the usual GCEA the strings are now tuned to ADF#B. Now your uke handles the Irish repertoire with much greater ease. As well, believe it or not, ukuleles will sound even more fantastic when they are tuned to D! Try it and let me know!

Irish Traditional Music, ITM, is based around the Keys of D, G, Em and Am. These keys can be easily played if your ukulele is tuned to D. The scale pattern of C becomes a D scale. The F scale becomes a G scale and so on. Most of you will know a C scale if you have tried to play melody on your C tuned ukulele. It will be the first scale you learnt. That C pattern now becomes a D scale on your D tuned instrument. You are now prepared to easily play many Irish tunes. There are hundreds of catchy easy songs and tunes in D. You play in D by playing the patterns you learned on your C tuned uke.

The chords are easy too. The C chord shape becomes a chord that sounds a D, F becomes G, and the G chord shape becomes an A chord. It’s that simple! The appropriate change in your head occurs very quickly if you keep one uke always tuned to D. When you pick that uke up you start to think D tuning! I kid you not!
Because ITM repertoire is so attractive to the ear you can quickly join in with lots of the music played in the ITM sessions around the world. Brendan Williams, mentor of 30 years, and I will be delighted to show you how to learn it. We taught ourselves to do it. Having played string instruments before, it came readily to us. We do understand it will be a bit harder for some other players, but we will guide you every step of the way if you wish. We know you already have plenty of great musical skills if you are a regular BUMSter.

This is why we have designed our sessions with a slow quiet ukulele based segment at 5:30 PM. Slow and quiet so you can hear yourself and us play easily. The material will be available as lyric sheets, chord progression charts and music notation on Dropbox. We can help you learn music notation too as we know that is the fastest way to learn music in any context. Music used to be learnt just by ear but now people learn best by ear and by reading at around the same time. When I now see the structure of the music I can learn it much faster! It’s amazing how little this is appreciated even today.

ITM sessions are without charts in front of players, although you can have some music charts at the slow sessions at first. All the music is very gradually learned by memory, usually songs first.

You can do this by focusing on the easiest and catchiest music you hear, the music that you love the most. This is probably how you first learned to play the ukulele anyway. Then if you have a chart at home you can study a complete tune in your own time. It speeds things up too if you record the first piece you want to learn on your phone at the session or at another time for study purposes. The easiest pieces to learn are songs. Songs are lots of fun but if a piece doesn’t turn you then don’t do it! Make it a rule to only do the fun bits.

You can use your C tuned ukulele but it will work much better if you keep one uke especially tuned to D, like I do. Of course you will also have much more fun if you get some specific lessons on techniques and repertoire.
It’s going to be fun. It’s going to work. It’s going to work for you.”

This will be something different for any of our players. Please contact Peter at or just turn up on Thursdays, grab a beer and some great food. Brendan and Peter will answer all the questions you have but please bear in mind it’s a live session, not a workshop.
Why not have a craic?

FACEBOOK PAGE: McCarthys Celtic Music Session


Check the News & Events Page for all the latest info on  jams and performances.

Points on Tuning
The ukulele will be tuned up one whole step from C to D. GCEA becomes ADF#B.
D tuning can be high or low on string 4, in the same way as C. High tuning produces a wonderfully sweet and addictive harp like sound. Low tuning will extend the melodic range of the instrument a very handy amount, because ukuleles otherwise have quite a limited range. Watch out! God forbid, you may eventually wish to have a ukulele specially preserved in each tuning!

Congratulations to Jo Kunde and Chrissy Heinrich on being awarded Life Membership of BUMS Inc in recognition of their outstanding and dedicated contributions to BUMS activities.

Ian announces Life Members, Jo and Chrissy, 2017

Amazingly, the Brisbane Ukulele Musicians Society Inc (affectionately known as BUMS) — that turns ten this May — continues to ride high on the wave of the 21st Century ukulele revival. A tiny ripple begun by Sammy Lovejoy’s email invitation to a ukulele gathering on Wednesday 2 May 2007 at the Tiki Bar in Newstead, is now a torrent of ukulele activities. The trickle of enthusiastic musicians seeking to expand their musical repertoire, has risen with the ukulele tide to an all-time high of over 300 voting musicians and 20 young associate members. Each month, BUMS jams are awash with new and continuing members, visitors and the occasional celebrity.

Thanks to the foresight of past President, Bruce Uhlhorn and Treasurer, Garry Collins, the small informal gathering of like-minded musicians is now an incorporated body boasting six jams each month, three adult and one junior community band, several workshops per year and a biennial festival.

Garry and Bruce ‘at the office’, Coorparoo, 2010

BUMS of today owe a huge debt of gratitude to the original Performing BUMS (of which there were too many to name separately), who sought paid gigs to finance their altruistic vision of sharing the uke-love through well-resourced jam venues and community bands. BUMS are also very grateful to Coorparoo Bowls Club for giving us our first home base, and Guitar Brothers and Music Express for the raffles prizes in the early days. Throughout it all, Blair Marks continues to ensure that BUMS always sound their best.


The first BUMS performance was at the Stitches Comedy festival at QPAC in 2008. With a taste for the thrill of performing, leading members established The Performing BUMS. The group’s inclusive and encouraging philosophy saw BUMS musicians grow in confidence, performing local gigs and representing the Brisbane uke scene at the Cairns and Melbourne ukulele festivals from 2009.

Sammy & Danny, QPAC, 2008

Sammy & Danny, QPAC, 2008


Tony Richardson, Christine Heinrich, Joe Banks, Kahiwa Sebire, Brisbane’s Big Ukulele Jam, 2011

Kahiwa Sebire, , Kirsty Gillespie, Bruce Uhlhorn, Ross Clark, Brisbane’s Big Ukulele Jam, 2011

The first festival run by the Society was the 2011 Brisbane’s Big Ukulele Jam. The Performing BUMS and The BUMS Big Band featured in the main concert held at the Melbourne Street Green outside QPAC.

The BUMS Big Band, a Coorparoo-based community band started by Milton Scully, assumed the main performing responsibilities of BUMS following their success our first ukulele festival — Brisbane’s Big Uke Jam.

Individual members of The Performing BUMS, encouraged broader member involvement with smaller bands such as YellowBird (Geoff Smith & Cesca Lejeune), Bumsteaders (Tony Richardson), (Two-, Three- or) Four-Drink Limit (Milton Scully & Bruce Uhlhorn), and Brisbane Uketet (Garry Collins).




Each year, BUMS Inc bands bring ukulele-based entertainment to about 20 community and charity events in the Brisbane area, and our musicians perform regularly at Queensland and interstate ukulele festivals. All of these endeavours are made possible by the generous support of local music stores like Binary Music, Music 440, Guitar Brothers, Arties Music and most of all Morris Brothers Music Store.

In addition to this sea of BUMS, a few of our crew row their own canoes at additional uke groups and jams — Trevor Gollagher at Carindale, George Mroz and Stephen Sandilands at Bulimba, George Mroz at Browns Plains, and Max Borchardt at Toowong.

In our 10th birthday year, we’re thrilled to hosting SPRUKE — 2017, to coincide with the Brisbane Festival’s, signature event, RiverFire. Our inspiring three-day event is jam-packed with music making — renowned international, interstate and local ukologists, all levels of ukulele workshops, open mics, jams and all-day concerts. David Megarrity (of Tyrone & Lesley) who bestowed the acronym BUMS upon the Society, will help us celebrate a decade of ukulele by MCing the Friday evening concert. Let’s flood the River City with the thundering crescendo of ukin’ fun and frivolity.






Heading to The Planting at Woodford this weekend?

Pack your ukulele! Tony and Cath are back!

Tony Richardson and Cath McCourt are running workshops and a jam at Cooper’s Bar.

10 am Sat 29 April – Blues Workshop
10 am Sun 30 April – Fingerpicking & Circle of 5ths
2 pm Sun 30 April – Jam

Fire destroys iconic school. Students of Dalby State School need your help.

Queensland’s fourth oldest school, Dalby State School, burnt down on ANZAC Day.

Principal Mona Anau is working with the community to get the school back on its feet.
Photo: Mick Doyle, Dalby Herald

As a school of excellence in music, the loss of the entire music block is a devastating blow.
The school music department urgently needs to replace its instruments to continue the children’s music education.

If you have any spare instruments, particularly ukuleles and guitars, please donate them to the school.

Donations can be left at:
Rural Aid
3/8 Colebard St
East Acacia Ridge
9:00 am-5:00 pm
Monday to Friday




We’re thrilled to announce that we’re running a FREE Absolute Beginners Ukulele Bootcamp for BUMS Inc members only, on three consecutive Wednesday evenings in May.

We’re starting again, and taking it slower.

Remember, we cover a lot of material in each session, and most people won’t master each skill within a session. You need to be able to commit to practising at least 10 minutes a day, most days of the week to maximize the benefits of bootcamp. The detailed notes and homework material we provide will give you suggestions for structuring your practices.

Wednesday 17, 24 and 31 May 2017
Nundah Brisbane City Council Library
1 Bage Street Nundah

Arrive 6:45 pm for a 7:00 pm start.
Session goes from 7:00-8:30 pm.
And we have to be out by 9:00 pm.

The course is specifically for Absolute Beginners. (Players who know more than C, F & G7 please don’t apply.) Group size limited to 10-12 participants.

Register by emailing you name and contact details to

Registrations close on Friday 12 May.

You must be a BUMS Inc member to attend. Information about joining BUMS Inc is available from our Membership web page.

Expressions of interest are still open for people who would like to be part of a new  performance band at Coorparoo. It was great to have approximately eight uke players of varying degrees of expertise register their names, instruments and voices. Many have happily made suggestions for playlists which we will gradually work through.

It is an exciting time for all involved as we approach our first rehearsal on May 10 2017. Band practice will be every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month 7-9 pm at Coorparoo Bowls Club. Hopefully we will be able to secure a few performance opportunities along the way! Stay tuned!

If you would like to still be involved contact Charmaine Matthews  by emailing to register your details.

Members of BUMS Inc are invited to attend the Bony Mountain Music Festival (Little Festival in the Bush). It is a family festival and a real community event.

The festival kicks off Monday 11 September with a week of walk ups. September 15-16-17 is the main weekend of the festival.  The Bony Mountain Music Festival features:
•    Busking competition with $500 worth of prizes
•    A Fairy Cave, Pirate Cave and Treasure Hunt for the youngest festival goers
•    Bluegrass bands, country artists, and bush balladeers
•    Pirates, pipe bands, and celtic dancers.
•    Local Choirs from nearby Wheatvale School

BUMS are invited for the entire week or just the weekend, whatever suits your schedule. There are opportunities for BUMS Inc performing groups to have featured spots over the weekend. Their  community really enjoy ukulele groups and there is much interest in learning the instrument. If any BUMS Inc members would like to go to the festival to perform or conduct teaching sessions or demonstrations please contact Keryn Henderson (BUMS Inc Gigmeister) by emailing to register your interest in attending.

Check out the Bony Mountain Music Festival website for more details on camping, artists or how to get there.
For more information contact Norma O’Hara Murphy- 07-46674 604 or by email