Ralph Shaw Portrait

Ralph Goes Dutch (Part 4)

Here is your final instalment of the ukulele-bike-boat tour I did in 2019. So far, our much photographed 3-masted barquentine has been motoring under engine power close to land. But now it's time, under the guidance of Captain Eelke, to unfurl the sails and let the...

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Ralph Goes Dutch (Part 3)

We're off again on our uke-bike-boat tour of the Netherlands. Today, I learn about the world-conquering ingenuity of the Dutch - and Susanna tries her new e-bike - but it's Becky who comes out looking the worse for wear...   Years ago, while listening to a group of...

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Ralph Goes Dutch (Part 2)

Saturday, late afternoon The sleet subsided and the crew unloaded bikes onto the quay. Hugo, our bicycle tour guide, adjusted each vehicle for its rider. Everyone was chatty and friendly. We had a few Brits and Australians along but I'd say the majority were Americans...

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Ralph Goes Dutch (Part 1)

I want to take you back to a simpler, happier time. Back when the world was idyllic and orderly and every moment spent on this green and pleasant earth was a joy and delight. Basically, any time before 2020 will do but I’m specifically talking about one week in April...

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Entertaining in a Speeded-Up World

Welcome to 2021! The UK has just entered its third nationwide lockdown, the garden is covered with snow, and I'm viewing quite a bit more telly than I usually do. One thing I watched was a new film called Zappa which sparked some memories and caused me to ponder on...

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We Three Queens of Yorkshire Are

The end of the year, that will be forever known as 2020, is almost over and Christmas time is upon us. So I've chosen as this week's topic: world peace! Poor Boris Johnson has had to cancel Christmas. With the UK already suffering one of the highest per capita covid...

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The Greatest Country on Earth

Many thanks for your many positive responses to last week’s email announcing the return of this newsletter. It was exactly what I needed to give me a powerful starting boost. Some of you told me a bit about yourselves and many more simply wrote, “Yaaay Ralph!!” Which...

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The Ukulele Entertainer Rides Again!

The Ukulele Entertainer e-Newsletter is back. Everybody say, "Yaaaay Ralph" The story so far: I've spent my adult life making a living playing the ukulele, first as children's entertainer Ralph the Clown (back when clowns were more funny than scary) and from 1997...

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Pass on the Passion

In 1996 while walking through the Skytrain overpass in Vancouver's Waterfront Station I drew level with a street musician who said, "There was someone looking for you. He wants to give you his ukulele." Part 1 Yusuke Kawakami is a third generation luthier. That's...

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The Way You Make Me Feel

I do enjoy British telly. In North America I had little time or inclination for TV watching but there’s something about being in England that has me interested in almost anything that comes on the box. Although, having said that, much British programming actually does...

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Put an End to Stage Fright – the Hard Way

Every now and then we make a big decision that involves big change. And although change is good it is also stressful. But for me that stress of change also brought with it an interesting way to dispel stage fright. Having lived as a British expat in Canada for more...

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What Theolonius Monk Can Teach Ukulele Players

I came across a wonderful document online. It is purportedly a list of advice given by Theolonius Monk on how to play music and was written down by saxophonist Steve Lacy in 1960. It’s the condensed wisdom of Monk scribbled onto a spiral bound notepad. Makes you...

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Why Be a Ukulele Teacher?

It's a surprising by-product of my musical life that as well as becoming an entertainer I also ended up teaching music. It's surprising because my father was a school teacher and, like many young people who resist following their parent's path, I set off on a...

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The Art of Going Further and Deeper

I was once surprised to meet a ukulele player who told me he'd never learned a song all the way through. This state of affairs rendered him unable to perform in public, a condition he liked very much. But these days I find it equally strange to discover people who...

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An Amazing Penguin Story by Ralph Shaw

At a very young age I knew way more about penguins than most people ever know. While other boys were busy bashing conkers and trying to strangle each other with striped school neck ties I kept myself separated from the herd mentality by being South Yorkshire's premier...

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Be Musically Appropriate in the Trump Era

There's a joke I often use in the middle of my busking act. After singing and cavorting with audience members I announce, "If you've just arrived and are wondering who I am and why I'm here: My name is Michael Bublé!" and then I add, "This is what I do on my days...

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Are You An Original?

Rock music is a strange and unusual genre. Its sound derives from simple combinations of basic musical ideas that have remained popular for sixty years. So it's no surprise that modern creators of rock music have a hard time coming up with something that hasn't...

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Songstoppers and What to do About Them

It's interesting that the fear of messing up a live stage performance is a lot like the fear of heights, in that it is the fear itself which causes the unwanted thing to happen. The good news is that, unlike falling off a cliff, a major performance error is not going...

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Music Hath Charms – apparently

I dreaded having to move. The fact is that I’ve never really done it. Not properly. My parents never moved (or “flitted” as we call it in my part of Yorkshire) and when I came to Canada with a suitcase, a banjo and a backpack I thought I was only coming for an...

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