The ukuleles of Ross-on-Wye ring out

The Ukulele Man of Ross (Matthew Stead) and the Ross Uke Troupe gave a brilliant charity concert on Saturday night. They raised over £500 for the Evelina Children’s Hospital and entertained a packed house at the Phoenix Theatre, Ross-on-Wye. The first half of the show featured the ‘Ross Uke Troop’, formed from ukulele students of all ages, all taught by Matthew. They attacked their repertoire of pop covers and classical arrangements with gusto and clearly had a great time, as did the audience, who clapped and cheered and generally showed their appreciation throughout the night. After the interval Matthew treated us to a virtuoso performance of traditional Hawaiian tunes and Jazz songs, demonstrating why the Ukulele is so keenly loved. He was joined by various guests including 10 year old Bear Dhunnoo Kattan, for a terrific rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. By the end of the evening the whole audience were singing along to glorious versions of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Alleluia’, and the classic ‘Life Of Brian’ tune ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’. The mark of a good teacher is that they inspire their pupils with enthusiasm for the subject, and care how they are doing, which Matthew obviously does, as evidenced by his being moved to tears by the Uke Troupe’s performance. If you would like to learn a musical instrument, you can’t go wrong with a Ukulele, or with Matthew. He runs regular classes in Ross-on-Wye – details on his website, There’s always live music to be found in Ross-on-Wye. Check out the whats-on website to find out where. Three interesting facts (two of which are true) about the ukulele… First man on the moon, Neil Armstrong played the ukulele (as do many other astronauts). After returning from the moon he had to spend several weeks in quarantine just in case he had picked up any space bugs. Much of this time was spent strumming his uke. Beatle George Harrison collected hundreds of ukuleles. He kept five in the boot of his car, and always gave one away to anyone he met who expressed an interest. When Fred Perry played in the Wimbledon final of 1936 his tennis racquet was stolen just before the game. One of the ball boys lent him a ukulele to use as a replacement racquet. Fred won, and a recording of the match got to number four in the charts.