Evergreen Albert has life on a string

Ukulele group The Strummers love to make people happy with music


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DO YOU FEEL PLUCKY?: Ukulele ensemble The Strummers (l-r) Caitlin Street, Albert Sidebotham, Marianne Smith and Nick Knight.

DO YOU FEEL PLUCKY?: Ukulele ensemble The Strummers (l-r) Caitlin Street, Albert Sidebotham, Marianne Smith and Nick Knight.

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Albert Sidebotham is living proof it's never too late to fulfill a lifelong ambition.

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LEARNING to play a musical instrument was always on South Launceston resident Albert Sidebotham's bucket list and now he is strumming up a storm in his four piece ukulele band.

Albert, who is set to celebrate his 91st birthday this August, is a member of The Strummers - with the group performing regular shows at Aged Care facilities and other community organisations.

The band was formed around four years ago when Albert ran into Nick Knight - who he had previously played with in a ukulele ensemble at the gym and the two started playing together.

They soon added Caitlin Street and Marianne Smith - who were members of a choir along with Nick, to the group.

The group plays a diverse range of music arranged for four ukuleles with vocal harmonies.

The band picks from a wide selection of songs at each performance, including numerous hits by The Beatles, Rave On, Bad Moon Rising and Shake Rattle and Roll.

Other songs in the group's repertoire include Something Stupid, Blowin' in the Wind, Que Sera Sera, Jambalaya and even some Calypso music.

Albert said the group complimented each other very well - Caitlin is a prodigiously talented player who can play Bach concertos on her Uke, while Marianne is very good at picking up vocal harmonies.

Albert himself took up ukulele around seven or eight years ago after his wife Heather convinced him to finally fulfill a lifelong ambition by taking up an instrument.

He initially started learning harmonica and then moved on to ukulele after Heather bought him one for Christmas.

"It got to the point where I wanted to smash it at times, but I stuck with it," he said.

He has since learned to play several other quirky instruments including the kazoo and nose flute.

Albert, who performed in a number of amateur musicals when he was younger said he got a lot of joy and satisfaction from playing music and loved the opportunity to perform for others.

"We occasionally play to Alzheimer's groups. Sometimes people don't know their own name, but can sing along to the songs we are playing," he said.

"It's amazing watching people get up and dance with their carers."

He has had some unforgettable experiences since taking up music, including singing happy birthday to a carer dog at his first gig.

The Strummers perform around two shows a week and perform free for non profit organisations.

For more information, call 0418-385-508, 0421-649-097 or email nickknight@bigpond.com.

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