At the Brisbane Celtic Ukulele Group a number of BUMS explore Celtic music under the guidance of Brendan Williams and Peter McMeel. Geoff Dancer explains the development of the group.


Why Celtic?

Why Celtic and not Irish? Because the group also plays some Scottish tunes and songs. Celtic generally refers to the languages and respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and the Isle of Man, where Celtic languages are still spoken today.


Rather than standard ukulele tuning, the Celtic group encourages members to tune their ukuleles in D (2 semi-tones higher).

Why? This tuning tends to be a more favourable tuning for playing with other instruments used in this genre, such as the violin, mandolin and tin whistle, and particularly in the keys which are commonly used (G, D and A).

D-tuning, sometimes called Canadian tuning because it is extensively used in Canada, has a long history with the ukulele. The king and queen of Hawaii were first introduced to ukuleles which were D-tuned.


The group encourages playing by ear, in line with the strong oral tradition of Celtic music. We play and sing a mixture of songs and tunes, most of them traditional. The tunes include jigs, reels, polkas, hornpipes, waltzes and marches, and even a concerto.

The group always encourages musical collaboration with other instruments suited to this music. We also encourage people from all levels of musical ability. When starting off, playing chords to the melodies is easiest.

Group Origins

Brendan Williams and Peter McMeel, who started the group, met in Darwin. Brendan brought a rich Irish musical legacy with him from Ireland. While Peter added a love of folk music, and an interest in parlour music from the 1900s. Their talents combined in a top end band called “Catalpa”, playing Australian bush music.

Brendan and Peter later joined forces again in Brisbane, where they sold ukuleles together in market stalls around Brisbane. Peter was also a foundation teacher at BUMS. He introduced many current members to the ukulele, and ran the first free 30-minute pre-jam ukulele lessons at Coorparoo.

Session Venues

In 2017, Brendan and Peter decided to establish a Celtic session together. So the first session started on 25 May at Toowong Bowls Club because it was close to Peter’s home. A couple of the current group members were later introduced to the music at the BUMS workshop on Celtic music at Zillmere Hall held in March 2019.

The group moved briefly to ‘The Brat Cave’ in Woolloongabba in May 2019 before relocating to the ‘Dandelion Social’ restaurant in Wynnum Road Morningside in July 2019. This night-time venue was performance-based, and often included people playing a wide range of instruments other than the ukulele — guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, double bass, accordion, tin whistle, flute and bodhran (Irish drum).

At the end of 2019, it was decided to establish an additional workshop-based daytime venue. The sessions at Monte Lupo Gallery Café in Tufnell Road, Banyo focused mainly on the ukulele. One of the reasons for this new venture was to establish a quiet environment more suited to the gentle picking of tunes on an acoustic ukulele.


Covid-19 had a major impact on the Celtic Ukulele Group. Both the Morningside and Banyo venues closed. The ‘Dandelion Social’ Restaurant ceased to operate. And it is uncertain what the set-up might be if Monte Lupo Café Gallery re-opens. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the group continued by holding weekly Zoom sessions until the group could physically meet again.


A small passionate, dedicated group of ukulele players who love the music currently attend the sessions. Their expertise continues to grow in an unexpectedly exciting way throughout this COVID-19 period. The group currently meets in private homes. But now that COVID-19 restrictions are starting to ease, some thought is going into re-starting the sessions in a public venue.

The Brisbane Celtic Ukulele Group

The Brisbane Celtic Ukulele Group

The group had strong links with BUMS in the past, and has a renewed desire to keep sharing with BUMS members into the future.

You can listen to a recording of the group recently playing a Scottish tune called “Calum’s Road” by clicking on the link below:

If anyone is interested in finding out more information about the group, or coming along to one of the sessions, please give Brendan 0412 701 492 or Peter 0447 721 669 a call.

Geoff Dancer

Queensland Government Eases Restrictions in Stage 3- July 3 2020

We are all breathing a sigh of relief with the latest news from the Queensland Government which allows for further easing of the restrictions on business and on gatherings. READ the latest public health directions to stay COVID safe for Stage 3: Going out, travel, recreation and gathering in Queensland and Stage 3: Businesses, activities and undertakings

The key points are:

  • From midday 3 July 2020, you can gather in groups of up to 100 people in homes and public spaces.
  • You can travel anywhere in Queensland for any reason, except to remote communities (designated areas). There is no limit on distance. You can stay overnight anywhere in Queensland for as many nights as you like.

ALL physical distancing and health practices still to be followed:

  • staying at home if unwell
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and use alcohol-based sanitiser
  • avoid hugs, kisses and handshakes
  • wherever possible keep at least 1.5 metres away, two big steps, from people you don’t live with.

All businesses can now:

  • have one person per 4 square metres on their premises.
  • businesses with a floor space less than 200 square metres can have one person per 2 square metres, up to 50 people at a time.

Your management committee along with BUMS jam leaders and our community band leaders have met (gotta love Zoom!) to discuss how BUMS Inc will manage our events as we transition out of our time apart. Out of this meeting came BUMS Inc COVID-19 Operating Guidelines for members.


What Stage 3 means to  the BUMS Community.

Your health and safety is our highest priority. We need to consider that many members fall into the high risk category, as well as what is required to maintain the social distancing, cleaning and disinfection protocols before we return to jams face to face.

As BUMS love to sing as we play there are further considerations. Singing is a very effective way of spreading COVID-19#. Consequently, in addition to the above rules and safety protocols, if there is to be singing, it is highly recommended that participants also:

  • not face each other when singing.
  • there must be 1.5m between each singer/player
  • Under Stage 3, singing is permitted with the same distancing requirements listed above ***

*** and extra info:  When and how can choirs sing again without becoming ‘super spreaders’?

BUMS Inc also recommends that if a spike in active cases occurs in South East Queensland, then face-to-face events should be cancelled immediately.

Many smaller groups have notified us that they have started to return to practise and jamming together. If this is happening at a venue like a pub or bowling club, it is expected that the venue will be following COVID safe practices. Please check with your venue what you need to do to stay compliant.

If you are hosting gatherings at your home or in public spaces (like parks) please review and follow the BUMS Inc COVID SAFE GUIDELINES V2  (updated 7 July)  BUMSInc_COVID-19_OperatingGuidelines_v2.0

In particular for activities and events, organisers should:

  • ensure attendees pre-register (name, address, e-mail and contact number).
  • maintain an attendance register of organisers, performers, presenters and attendees. Download a printable BUMS Inc Contact Tracing Register form.
  • hold events outdoors, if possible
  • ensure appropriate ventilation for indoor events, e.g. open windows and doors, or use air conditioning
  • provide hand sanitiser and encourage attendees to bring their own.

Please note: Contact information must be kept for volunteers and attendees for at least 56 days. This must include: Name, family name, address, and mobile or landline contact phone number.

In addition, attendees are encouraged to:

  • run the COVIDSafe app on their mobile phones. More info & download HERE
  • clean their hands, instruments and equipment before and after events
  • use only their own instruments, microphones, etc.
  • sanitise shared equipment (e.g. mixing desk, speakers & stands) before and after events.

Moving Forward

For as long as the Queensland Government COVID-19 public health rules apply, for each event or activity, the BUMS guidelines will be:

  • reviewed (and if necessary, updated) Last updated 7 July
  • displayed at all venues used for BUMS Inc activities and events
  • sent to attendees who have pre-registered.

Currently all of our jam leaders are in contact with our various venues to determine when BUMS Jams are welcome to return. We do not have any firm date yet when that will happen. Check the News & Events Page for the latest event information that we have received.

For the time being all official BUMS jams will continue to be streamed in our private members Facebook Group- BUMS Online. Find out how you can join HERE.

Thank you to all of our members for your patience and to all our busy BUMS community leaders who have shown amazing resilience, creativity and community spirit keeping us entertained and connected.

If you or a group you belong to are returning to meeting or rehearsing please email details to Jo Kunde via .

Life Members 2020

Congratulations to Keryn Henderson and Ian Phillips on being awarded Life Membership of BUMS Inc in recognition of their outstanding and dedicated contributions to the BUMS community and activities.

Keryn Henderson
Many committee roles since 2012 including Treasurer, Secretary and Gigmeister, works behind the scenes on many projects including website development, newsletters, SPRUKE festivals, BUMS policies and the DropBox music library, created and runs ukulele Bootcamp for beginners.




Ian Phillips

Performing member in The CAGE and A Hint of Rosemary; President 2015-2017, Coordinator of The CAGE, organiser of UkeFest (for primary school children) in 2016, created ChUKES (a community band for young players), organiser of Coorparoo Big Jam, song leader at jams and BUMS Online, singing and musical mentor to BUMS bands.


As Life Members Keryn and Ian enjoy all the benefits of our regular members including free entry to all of our large monthly jams, eligibility to join one of our community bands, and the right to nominate for committee positions and AGM voting priviledges. As well as all of these their membership fees are waived for life and they receive a certificate of appreciation.

Keryn and Ian join six other BUMS Inc Life Members and you can read more about them here.

Are you longing to hit the road and immerse yourself in all the fun of a ukulele festival? Pending restrictions loosening, and our Queensland borders opening and travel becoming an option, here’s the latest news from upcoming festivals regarding their status.

Central Coast Ukulele & Folk Festival: The Entrance NSW 28-30 August 2020

We still have plans to go ahead with our festival however we are awaiting government decisions on clubs and pubs and public gatherings.
Hopefully we will know by the end of June. With luck, and barring a “second wave”, we will be able to pull the festival off.

Bony Mountain Folk Festival: Southern Queensland 18-20 September 2020.

Yes all on track for another great festival. I am going to liaise with local council to be sure we are all in the same zone! As we have fifty acres here I cannot see that social distancing is going to be an issue but we need to be sure! Stay tuned to Web Site for updates, but I cannot imagine a scenario where we would be not able to run!

Bony Mountain Festival is in Queensland, so a good option if interstate borders are still closed, only two hours from Brisbane via Warwick. Book camp sites now.

NEWKULELE: Newcastle NSW 16-18 October 2020.

On Sunday 28 July, Sam Reich, Secretary of the Newkulele Festival Committee, emailed their mailing list to announce that Newkulele 2020 will be postponed due to COVID-19. Sam went on to say that in the interim, they are planning some smaller scale activities involving their local Newcastle ukulele community, including a fundraiser for our designated charity Pink Meets Teal and other outdoor events. Subscribe to the Newkulele newsletter to find out about Newcastle’s “Mini-Newkuleles” in the coming months.

Check regularly for updates on the festival websites and sign up for their newsletters. Keep your eye on the latest news from the Australian, Queensland and New South Wales Governments. In the meantime check out the online festivals and jams and keep on strumming!

NOTE: On 18 May 2020, Queensland’s declared public health emergency for COVID-19 was extended for a further 90 days, to 11:59 pm on Monday 17 August 2020Latest from Australian Government and Queensland Government

Stay connected with your uke friends.

In response to the challenges presented to our community as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, the BUMS Inc Committee has created a special Extraordinary Associate Membership for the balance of the 2020 financial year.

The good news is its FREE!

This gives our many visitors to our regular jams, and new players the opportunity to be approved for BUMS Inc Associate Membership.
We’ve even simplified the joining process. All you need to do is complete the online form and submit.

On receiving your application our secretary will send you a welcome email with your invitation to join our private BUMS Online Facebook Group. The group is to support and help our members, with all things ukulele for including sharing songs, performances from home, discussions, reviews, and tutorials. This is where all of our BUMS Online Big Uke Jam and any other events are streaming from.

As we all negotiate and come to terms with all the current changes, our hope is you can check into the group, enjoy a song, be inspired to try something different and take some time for yourself. You can share photos, videos and files (PDF of tabs or a song sheet) and only our group members will see them.

The ways we interact with our community have changed for the near future, and BUMS mission is to help our members and community stay positive and connected.

Read more about BUMS Inc Memberships HERE

BUMS Inc on Facebook 

From BUMS on seats to BUMS online … our busy BUMS community leaders show amazing resilience, creativity and community spirit. As a result, the Internet’s alive with ukulele activities from our local leaders and overseas friends.

BUMS Inc Members

Just for BUMS members we have created a private Facebook group called, you guessed it, BUMS Online! The group is to support and help our members, with all things ukulele including sharing songs, performances from home, discussions, reviews, tutorials, and even live-streaming jams (fingers crossed).

All members should have received their invitation by email Saturday 28 March, 4:40 PM. If you didn’t check your spam!

For those not financial members, there is still lots of free resources and content being shared on the BUMS Facebook Page @brisbaneukulele.

Open Mics and Play-alongs

Leading the move online are The CAGE band leaders, Bec Lochel and Ian Phillips.

Fortunate Facebook friends are treated to almost daily posts from this energetic pair. This week, they’ve composed parodies, and posted simple songs to play along with.

Recently returned President Dave Pedler and Lyn Lucas, also entertained us with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.

Online Jams

Behind the scenes, jam leaders Andrew Hunt (Albany Creek & Northside) and Linda Gough (Ferny Grove ) were very busy. Last week they worked with President David Pedler, IT Manager John Henderson and Media Manager, Jo Kunde, to navigate licensing issues and investigate online jam options.

online trial

Andrew Hunt trials a Facebook jam format.

So far, our team has trialled Zoom and Facebook. In addition, they’ve assisted interstate colleagues in their online trials. And the committee surveyed member about their online preferences.

Band Practice

Band leader, John Low is trialling Zoom to keep NUMB BUMS members collaborating. If you missed the memo, Zoom band practices begin Monday 30 March 2020.

Online Tutorials

In addition, enterprising BUMS member and ukulele teacher, Erin Harrington, offers free YouTube tutorials.

Experience entertainer and ukulele teacher, Vic Kena, offers you an ‘Easy Way to Play Along with Bohemian Rhapsody‘ via YouTube.

Gotta uke? Get involved!

I hear those ukes a-comin’ … they’re strummin’ round the bend
I ain’t done no jamming … since I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Covid lock-down … and time keeps draggin’ on
But my uke just keeps a-hummin’ … as I strum along.

While you’re missing the usual ukulele vibe, try something new.  Take advantage of the BUMS online activities as they emerge.

Meanwhile Overseas

Manitoba Hal Brolund: LIVE STREAM
2:00 pm Saturday 28 March Halifax NS time (Atlantic).
Into the blues? Join Hal if you can! Hal will play songs, loop, talk, and hang out with you. If you miss this one, there’s sure to be more. Watch Hal’s Facebook for notices.

Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel: Not-so-Little Online Ukulele Festival LIVE!
10:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday 11 April 2020 Hawaiian time
Join Craig and Sarah for free lessons, performances, demonstrations, play-alongs, Q&As and prizes.



Our Albany Creek Jam has been through a few changes since it started at its original venue at Samuel Grays in May 2018. After a name change and a few months of new management, the Albany Creek jam required a sudden venue switch for March 2020. But a couple of things you can always rely on along with our enthusiastic jam leaders, Andrew Hunt and Blair Marks, — great songs and cold beer. Hopefully, we’ll be back jamming at Albany Creek soon.

Peter Ransom at the open mic. Image: Tim Roberts.

Peter Ransom Reports

A last-minute venue change to Fritzenburgers added a little frisson to the start of proceedings. But we then enjoyed another of Blair’s laid-back, but sometimes challenging programs. Familiar and not so familiar stuff, occasional key changes, and some really good endings meant that the interval arrived very quickly.

After the break Peter Ransom (Why Don’t You Do Right) and Caroline Haig (You Get What You Give) favoured the audience with open mic performances.

Then it was back to business with Andrew leading — more fun, hot tempos, syncopation, the ubiquitous kazoo, and great singing.

After a powerful Hotel California it was time us to leave, but from out in the car park, we could still hear them rocking!

Blair and Andrew take the lead. Image Credit: Tim Roberts

See more images from the day here on the Ibis Music Facebook Page

In line with government guidelines, all BUMS Inc activities have been suspended. Keep your eye on the BUMS Inc home page and the News & Events page for updates about the resumption of jams across Brisbane.

It is with much regret that I am announcing all jams and band practices for April and May are cancelled.

In line with the Federal Government’s health and safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of Covid 19, your BUMS committee have made this decision to protect all our members. Of course these cancellations will be reviewed regularly in line with the latest recommendations.

The BUMS committee are putting their creative minds together to create some fun online events for you even though we can’t be together at jams. Stay tuned for those announcements soon!

We wish any of you dealing with health concerns a quick recovery. To those who are self-isolating, here is an opportunity to learn that new style, strum or song which you never could find the time to do.

We are so lucky in the ukulele community to have so many who generously create tutorials, song arrangements and create online events. I ask you to please support your music community and teachers, perhaps this is a great time to take a lesson via Skype, or an online course you’ve may have put off.

Keep on strumming,

David Pedler

BUMS Inc President

To all our fabulous BUMS we are taking this action to keep everyone in our community safe. Many of our family are either in the high risk category for Covid 19 or care for others who are.

As a precaution to help limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and ensure the health and safety of all BUMS, all jams for the rest of March are cancelled.

TUTUS Jam at Toowong — Tuesday 17 March

BUMS Ferny Grove Jam — Wednesday 18 March

BUMS Northside Jam — Tuesday 24 March

Please contact the organisers of any other jam or event listed on our website as to whether they are going ahead.

Please everybody take common sense precautions as advised by health professionals and keep yourselves and your families safe.



Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping away from others when they are — or if you are — sick is the best defence against most viruses. You also should:

    • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
    • cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
    • if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people)
    • exercise personal responsibility for social distancing measures

The good news we all know that playing your uke make you happy, so keep on playing at home. Can’t wait to hear what you’ve been practising at the open mics when we all get back to jamming!

Keep an eye on our Facebook page, website and newsletter as to what is happening in April.

The BUMS Executive Committee.


UPDATE 16 March- The survey has now closed THANK YOU to all who took the time to share their thoughts.

The BUMS committee want your feedback on how BUMS is being run, and how we can make the society more relevant to you. An email  linking to the survey was sent to current financial members on Friday, February 21 at 3:30 PM.

SUBJECT: BUMS Members Survey Feb 2020


The survey takes less than 4 minutes to complete and your answers are anonymous, unless you request further information from us. Your input will help us plan events like workshops, concerts , and social get togethers. It will also help us decide where to focus our attention and energies.

Financial Members please check your inbox for the BUMS Member Satisfaction Survey 2020. Check your spam folder! IF you did not receive the email and you are a current financial member please let Jo know via

Time is running out to let us know what you think- You have until this Sunday 8 March to complete!

Thank you for taking the time, we really appreciate your input, and look forward to an exciting 2020.

Happy BUMS at our Bluegrass Workshop in 2019



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