Ukulele band plan to wow Romford

PUBLISHED: 12:09 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:09 20 March 2014




The ukulele is unquestionably becoming more popular as an instrument.

D'Ukes headlining the first ever Czech Ukulele FestivalD'Ukes headlining the first ever Czech Ukulele Festival

However, there are few solely-ukulele bands in Britain and one of them is Romford and Essex-based D’Ukes, who are performing at Brookside Theatre in Romford on Saturday.

The seven-piece was formed five years ago and John Mattock, who lives in Romford, says variety is one of the main reasons for the instrument’s – and the group’s – rising popularity.

“People can expect a whole range of music. They’ll be surprised,” he promised.

“They won’t know what’s coming next. We do songs from people as diverse as Amy Macdonald, Deep Purple, Johnny Cash and James Blunt.

“We even do Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, although not the whole 48 minutes obviously!

“The instrument appeals to people of all ages because you can play songs from every era. If it’s a good song, it can be played and the best can be brought out of it.”

David Warren formed the band when he started ukulele jamming sessions in a Chelmsford pub.

The group has gone from strength to strength and the gig at the Eastern Road theatre is one of eight lined up.

David said: “People started coming to the jam sessions regularly so I decided we should start learning songs and playing gigs.

“We’re known across the country because there aren’t many bands like this – there’s only the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – and because we’re good at what we do. Between the orchestra and us there isn’t really anyone doing anything similar.”

But why is the instrument becoming more in demand?

This is partly because it is seen as a trendy accessory but, as David explains, there are a myriad of reasons behind it.

“It’s portable, small, relatively easy to learn, quite cheap to buy a decent one and it’s relatively easy to get to a decent standard,” he said.

“The tuning and the playing of the ukulele is similar to the guitar so quite often we’re finding people transfer from the guitar to ukulele.

“But we’re finding people are picking it up as their first ever instrument.”

It’s not just the stage where the D’Ukes are making a splash.

Last month they made their television debut on an episode of reality programme Come Dine With Me.

One of the contestants is a friend of the band and it was “quite an experience”.

John said: “We spent a couple of hours filming and it was quite surreal.

“I thought we looked alright. The guy came last but I don’t think that was because of the entertainment!”

D’Ukes hope to return to the Czech Republic for the third time next year as the group look to expand its growing following.

It headlined the first ever Czech Ukulele Festival last year in a country where the instrument is “on the up”, says David.

D’Ukes is also organising two festivals which will include workshops to try the ukulele, live performances and stalls selling the instrument.

One will be in Chelmsford in May and the other in Hornchurch in July.

Tomorrow’s show at the Brookside starts at 8pm and tickets cost £12. Visit or call 01708 755775 for more details.

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