Woodfordia Ukulele Tradition

Over the Christmas to New Year period, Cath McCourt stepped up to keep the Woodfordia Ukulele Jam tradition alive in the Coopers Beerhouse. The uke group met every morning of the Woodford Folk Festival from 10:00 am to 11:15 am.

Geoff Dancer gave Cath a hand setting up, and encouraged crowd participation between his Woodfordia MCing commitments. And pocket rocket, Jazz Hands Cath McCourt, was soon leading a bar full of enthusiastic jammers.

Coopers Beerhouse ukulele jam, December 2019.

Woodford first requested BUMS volunteers to run daily jams in 2016. Tony Richardson took on the gig, and invited Cath to play uBass. The jams were very popular. Since 2016, the Woodfordia  jams in Coopers Beerhouse have been run by a number of our performing members including Tony, Cath and Mick Angeles. When Cath heard that Mick couldn’t make it this year, she volunteered to go solo to keep the tradition alive.

In 2019, Cath’s been running the WE BUMS jams at West End, and had a growing repertoire of jam songs. So she relished the opportunity to make the song selections for the Woodford jams. “It’s as hot as hell up there over the Christmas-New Year period, and after each year, I say, ‘never again’ … so why am I doing it this year? I love it … just love it,” said Cath when she picked up the laptop and projector for the gig. It takes about a week of preparation to cover a week of daily jams, but Cath was determined to bring new material to surprise the crowd at this year’s event with her ukulele magic.

Tony Richardson and Cath McCourt lead the Beerhouse jam, December 2019.

As an additional surprise for jammers, Tony Richardson joined Cath for the weekend jams, and undoubtedly, in true Tony style, brought a change of pace and repertoire.

And the jammers just kept coming. There were a few BUMS on seats, but many new faces.

Enthusiastic ukers, Coopers Beerhouse, December 2019.

Tony Richardson believes the Woodford Folk Festival is a ‘wonderous experience’. “I’m chuffed to be part of it,” said Tony after the event. “There are a number of long-term Woodfordians amongst our BUMS members, and they have promoted and encouraged ukulele to be there. It’s soul enhancing! You should try it.” he said.

Cath McCourt reported, “I’m happy to say the jam session attendance at Woodford Folk Festival from Christmas to New Year was to the max every day. Being the new kids on the block at Woodford, it’s great to break down the barriers. Now ukulele playing patrons can feel a connection and a contribution to the festival. We received a lot of positive comments from patrons, for example, ‘the Woodford spirit in action’, and ‘thank you for reigniting my passion for making music again’, and ‘I enjoyed the song arrangements, not the same old C and G basics’. We are already planning next year!”

BUMS member, Milo Milosvek attended the jams two festivals in a row. He had a lot of fun both years, but thought this year’s song selection was particularly good.

Terry Fitzpatrick had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones at the jams. In his view, “Playing music with another person is a wonderful bonding experience. A sense of deeper connection is formed because of the invitation it gives to move out of our left-brain rational side into the right-brain heart-centred feeling side. Something our world desperately needs more of in these very trying heat-filled, drought-ridden days. Many tears, joy and laughter were shared so generously during these precious moments at the festival.”

“The group was beautifully led by the very talented and fun-loving Cath McCourt. I’d like to thank you Cath for making it such a joyous experience for everyone.” said Terry.