In response to our invitation for members to share their ukulele journeys in our newsletter, Narelle Burke tells us how taking up uke changed the tide, and gave her some of the best times of her life. Please email to share your ukulele journey.


Campsite lesson

Begin with a Bang

In 2009 a group of friends went caravanning to Roma in Queensland. On our way we camped at Possum Park just outside Miles. That night, while sitting around the campfire, a well-dressed gentleman named Brian joined us. After a chat, he disappeared, came back with a ukulele and started to play. Wow! We sang old songs and had a great time. Elaine and I were so mesmerised he offered to teach us to play.

The next day, he pulled out another two ukuleles from of his caravan and taught us three chords … we were hooked. That night we gave a concert. His wife videoed us and put it on a DVD … our first public appearance, a CD, and a following of fans … all in one night!

Off to BUMS

Somewhere along the line I heard about BUMS and that was the beginning of going down a musical road, starting with the live jams at the Coorparoo Bowls Club. Then I became more involved in BUMS activities by doing performances, and being part of The BUMS Big Band which had its first public appearance at BUMS’ first ukulele festival, Brisbane’s Big UkE Jam, on The Green at QPAC in 2011. Many a song was learnt in the park at Bulimba with lots of giggles and inquisitive public stopping by. Below is a bit of memorabilia with some of the Performing BUMS and BUMS Big Band from 2011 around the time of the first festival which I was proud to be a part of.

Brisbane’s Big Uke Jam festival organis 2011.

BUMS Big Band 2011

BUMS Big Band pre-performance at Brisbane’s Big Uke Jam, 2011.

Some other performances were Australia Day at Moorooka Bowls Club (2010), and at Southbank (2014), Radio Lollipop at Red Hill (2015), Wynnum Choral Society (2014), Christmas Carols at St Stephens at Coorparoo, plus many more.

These photos are from just a few of the BUMS Big Band performances between 2012 and 2015.

Australia Day

Australia Day at Moorooka

Radio Lollipop, Red Hill Fair

After the show, Red Hill Fair

St Stephens

Festival Fun

2012 saw us at Newcastle having a ball and performing as The BUMS Big Band. 2013 was a milestone for me at our first SPRUKE when I led with the opening song …Slim Dusty’s ‘G’day, G’day.’ You probably thought the drummer was doing double timing, but not so…it was my knees knocking. Another highlight of the festival was hosting Mick Conway when he performed at SPRUKE 2013.

2013 was a busy year for the BUMS Big Band. We flew to the Blackall Heartland Festival where we entertained at a Garden Party, performed at the pub, were the entertainers in the foyer at the opening of the Arts Show, sang at the nursing home, and we were interviewed by the ABC in the morning at about 7.00am in the freezing cold wind. What a weekend! John Henderson did a good job keeping us in check.

We also performed at the Cairns Ukulele Festival doing our bit in the park.

Katoomba in the Blue Mountains in 2014 saw us performing as The Bottom Line. Our outfits and performance reflected the era of the Carrington Hotel. (Photo on the right: BUMS Big Band at the Carrington Hotel.)

For our second SPRUKE in 2015, Pat and I hosted The NUKES from New Zealand. I must say they were all such a pleasure to have in the house.

The Bottom Line at the Carrington

Riding the Tide

We’ve danced over a lot of countryside, my uke and I — by road, rail, and plane. And we’ve entertained a lot of happy people. But both of us are showing the tide of time … I am now grey and my uke has holes, scratches, and dints, looking more like Willy Nelson’s guitar.

Although I’m no longer performing, I still love to play ukulele with others, come to jams and follow the adventures of all my friends in BUMS. But we are still planning to be ‘on the road again’. And I thank my friends for making wonderful memories with me.

I leave you with some photos of our festival performances, and I thank my fellow band members for walking with me through my journey, sharing many laughs, and supporting each other.

Love, Narelle (aka Narellvis)

Newkulele, Newcastle, 2012

Heartlands Festival, Blackall, 2013

Cairns Ukulele Festival, 2013

SPRUKE 2013