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Archive for the ‘Bicycle’ Category

Jim ‘Django’ Gritt fellow Night Owl and Tweed Cyclist (Raleigh Superbe) has just posted his latest film creation. I appear in the film on my Pashley and of course Jim demonstrates his ukulele skills.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

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Nipper

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Today on my way home from school I met Nyomi, who is cycling from John O’Groats to Lands End on a bamboo bicycle.  We talked a little about bicycles and then of course I mentioned ukuleles and there tucked into the top of her trailer was a soprano uke!ImageGood luck to Nyomi and her ukuklele on the rest of their adventure…

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Nipper

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Last weekend The Night Owls decided to busk as a band. The idea was to hand out lots of cards, make some beer money and have some fun.  I have been busking many times but almost always alone and always without amplification; the ukulele is not a very loud instrument and in our noisy modern world we decided we would need small battery amps to increase our sound.  Being keen roadster riders Jim and I decided to travel to the busk by bicycle.  Jim strapped his amp, stand and ukes to his rack; I on the other hand, having a bigger ukulele and microphone stand decided to travel in style and use my trailer.

The day before the busk I tried to fit  everything in the trailer and found the microphone stand to be just a little too long to neatly fit in.  Twenty minutes with a hacksaw and I had adapted it it fit.  Packed neatly in were an sm58 microphone and stand, Night Owls Mic Façade, Vox DA5 battery powered amp, various leads, spare batteries and of course my trusty LB baritone ukulele in hard case.

So dressed in full Night Owls black 3 piece suit and correspondent shoes I trundled  into town to meet up with the boys.  The bicycles made a good backdrop to the band and as usual drew a few comments.

The busking went well and we have resolved to busk some more.  Rob has bought himself a battery powered bass amp and I (with some help form Yorkshire Pete) have pole mounted my  Vox amp. I may even try some solo bicycle busking, I could easily carry the equipment in my panniers and perhaps using a train/bicycle combination visit some interesting busking towns.

And so dear readers in a break from the usual 78s I leave you with The Night Owls and a rather cracking rendition of  The Sheik of Araby / Caravan.

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Nipper

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One thing that really upsets me about cycling in the UK is how difficult it is to cycle with young children.  The ideal situation would be for children to cycle to school and the shops alongside their parents, however unlike in Holland where this is common place, in this country the roads are far too dangerous for the very young cyclist. The cycle paths are  not properly separated and don’t join up with each other making them useless for everyday transport.  The only family cycling we see in the UK is leisure cycling and here is the rub, to do it,  you need a car to get to the safe cycle paths!  To get to safe infrastructure  a family will usually have to negotiate  main roads and this is not safe when cycling with small children.

Yesterday we decided to attempt a family cycle ride at the local park and ride.  The large car park is closed on a Sunday so makes an ideal spot for a little cycle practice.  It also has some dirt tracks behind it which are just about passable in good weather.  The tricky bit was how to get there with no car.  Fortunately the road that leads to the Park and Ride has pavement or separated cycle path so my boy can ride there, however the road is too fast and the pavement too narrow for my little girl, who is only just learning to cycle.  So to make the journey the little nipper sat on a cushion on the back of my bicycle and her bicycle was pulled along behind in a trailer.

Once at the park and ride we had a great time riding around, imagining we were in a world without cars.

It was wonderful to cycle as a family again, something we haven’t done since our holiday last year in Assen.  We only had to ride a couple of pavements to get to the park and ride and will be making this a regular trip.  The really annoying thing is we still can’t cycle together on our everyday trips to the shops. Until the children are older or we get proper Dutch style infrastructure our family cycling will have to be occasional and not everyday.

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Nipper

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It has been a long time since my last post, so I decided it was about time I caught up a little. I have continued to bicycle everyday despite some pretty awful weather over the winter and I have continued to play my ukuleles at every opportunity.

The weather has really picked up in the last few weeks so Jim and I finally got together on our Raleigh Superbes for a quick ride in the park and some photos for the band.

And so dear readers I leave you with Duke Ellington and his 1933 recording of ‘Bundle Of Blues’.  This was transferred electrically using a Lenco Turntable and Quad preamp.

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Nipper

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If you were to ask me who my favourite ukulele player is , I would have to say Cliff Edwards, AKA ‘Ukulele Ike’.  During the 1920’s Cliff was one of the biggest stars in the US, he sold millions of records and appeared in many films.  He was the first to sing many famous  songs, indeed his biggest hit was ‘Singing in the Rain’ which he recorded in 1929 long before the film of the same name.  He sang the Disney theme song ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ and was the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the film adaptation of Pinocchio.  Sadly he died a penniless alcoholic in 1971 forgotten by all but a small band of ukulele aficionados.   Today I got rather excited when I found a picture of him riding a bicycle on the MGM lot and carrying Buster Keaton on the handlebars.

(Picture from http://www.acertaincinema.com/)

And so from my 78rpm collection here is Cliff at the height of his career with the song ‘You’re My Weakness Now’ recorded on the 7th December 1928.

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Nipper

PS. I have updated my ‘About’ page and added a ‘Gramophones’ page to explain how I make my 78rpm transfers.  Click on the tabs at the top to take a look.

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As a child I watched my father ride his Raleigh Superbe and fell totally in love with it.  I remember my father explaining that a good bicycle had hub gears, mudguards, a chain case and an upright riding position.  In my early 20s I rode the Raleigh when at home visiting my parents and have very fond memories of late night rides home from the pub.  A few years ago my Father gave the bicycle to his best friend, who for several years, rode it to and from work.  For the last 6 years this beautiful machine has been left gathering dust in a workshop until my father’s friend decided to pass it on to me (thank you Alistair, I am immensely grateful).  I have spent a good few hours cleaning and servicing it, bringing it back to a ridable state.

Last May my father died, it was very sudden and I am still in a profound state of shock.  Riding his bicycle is a great comfort to me. It is a very special bicycle.

I have decided to add some music to each of my blog posts; and so dear readers, here is another 78rpm recording transferred using my HMV163 gramophone.  It was one of my father’s favourite records and a song we enjoyed singing together.

Hat’s On The Side Of My Head – Jack Hulbert

Recorded in 1933 with the Ray Noble Band

http://thenightowlsband.com/media/Hats_On_The_Side.mp3

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Nipper

PS if you are waiting for an email for the songbook link, I shall be getting up to date during the Christmas holidays.

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