Music is an important part of my social life, and music-making is something I discovered as an adult. Whilst I have always sung along to the radio, I'd never really done music properly - yet these days it is rare that a week goes by without some kind of performance.
So how did this happen?
My better half and I were looking around for something we could do together. Rock Choir was on our radar, it's a national phenomenon in the UK, starting locally around 2005. We had seen Rock Choir back in 2007 and we had never got around to it, so late 2011 we signed up. We owe it a lot, as through Rock Choir I have performed on stage at the Liverpool Echo Arena, at the O2 in London, at Wembley Stadium and even in Terminal 5 at Heathrow when the Olympic athletes arrived in 2012. In October 2015, there's a performance with Russell Watson.
Through Rock Choir, I met people who were members of Ukejam, a local ukulele group that meets every fortnight. I went along to this at the end of 2011 and in short order I learned to play the ukulele, never having played an instrument before. In 2012, I was performing at beer festivals, music festivals. We even busked for the olympic torch. Ukejam is probably the biggest band you'll see short of an orchestra - we've had 70-plus people playing on stage. There are many public-participation ukulele groups around the country (Ukulele Wednesdays in London, for instance) and the world, but I honestly think that I lucked out with one of the best.
In 2013, Ukejam were asked to perform a show, but were unavailable, so some members of Ukejam formed an impromptu group. That group became the Surrey Ukeaholics (aka the Ukeaholics). This is my band, and we've been performing our local area since then.
Each thing fills a different niche. Rock Choir is more disciplined, singing in harmony. It gives opportunities to do some 'big things'. Ukejam is more freeform, jamming along, it's ultimately a fun, no-pressure social event, and we often play beer festivals. The Ukeaholics is the one where we have far more control, working up our own sets and arrangements and are limited only by our own abilities. They all complement nicely.
The next public gigs for my band, the Ukeaholics.