Ralph Shaw Portrait

That Well-Worn Musician’s Gripe

I recently came across this post on social media:   Looking for a pub to supply free beer at our music festival weekend. We can’t pay you anything, but the musicians will play their favourite songs for you. A great opportunity to showcase your beer!   Such a...

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In Praise of Small Gigs

Chris McShane & myself (aka McShane and Shaw) have recently introduced some old British music-hall songs into our act. These are great fun and often involve lots of movement and audience participation. We wander about the stage whilst singing, playing with props...

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What I Do When I’m Not Doing Music

All the very best of the season to you! You haven't heard from me for several weeks and in today's newsletter I will explain why: my life has cranked up a few notches!   For a few years now I’ve continued my musical career while looking after my elderly parents,...

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Pension for a Soldier

Today (Nov. 1 2023) McShane & Shaw announce the release of their new single: Pension for a Soldier.   Pension for a Soldier was written by Chris McShane and is one of the earliest numbers in their repertoire. The song, featuring Millhouse Green Male Voice...

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Many a Mickle

I started thinking about proverbs this week with regards to my ongoing fund-raising campaign for my book: Wings Are Handy Things. If you wish to donate you can check it out here.   I’m thinking of the proverb: Many a mickle makes a muckle. Do you know it? It’s a...

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The Way of the Instigator

I had a weekend away with the choir recently and it was a blast. But good times don't always happen by themselves. Sometimes they require an instigator. Are you an instigator?   I’m surprised that most of the other guys in my choir don’t seem to want to sing for...

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Exit Strategy – What is your legacy?

I’m recently back from a visit to Vancouver. It was pretty brief and I had plenty to do so I knew that meeting the many friends I have made in three decades of life there was going to be impossible. That’s why I tried to keep the visit hush-hush. It nearly worked too....

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How to be Del Rey – Part 2 of 2

Del Rey has been a reader of The Ukulele Entertainer eNewsletter since it began in 2009. In How to be Del Rey Part 1 she told us about her start as a musician: learning classical guitar from the TV in the rec. room of the trailer court where she lived. Today she talks...

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Just Another Ukulele Festival?

I was proud to be asked to headline a brand-new ukulele festival on Saturday: Walkington Ukulele Festival. Walkington has the picturesque look of one of those quaint English chocolate-box villages that TV has us trained to believe hosts exactly one murder a week...

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How to be Del Rey – Part 1 of 2

I moved up to Seattle from Southern California in 1997; same year I sold my car. I partially picked this city because it had functional transportation. I grew up mostly in the south-west of the United States between Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas,...

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Coronation Trifle

It was always fashionable to ridicule Prince Charles. Even as a child I remember laughing at his sticky-out ears and at the comedians and impressionists who imitated and got us giggling at Charles’ thoughtful but faltering style of speech. I never stopped to think of...

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Rehearse Past Mastery

  There’s a musician’s joke that if you want your onstage performance to be as good as it was when practicing at home then you must practise 200% because you’re only half as good when you play in front of people. The truth is that statistically our performances...

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The Village Choir

I joined the Village Male Voice Choir last May. As someone who’s life is already full of music it may seem an unusual hobby to take up. But I love it. Choir singing is an abstract art, in the sense that you cannot experience the result of your work any more than a cog...

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Choosing a Band Name

We've booked a young trio of lads in their twenties to open for McShane & Shaw at the town’s Arts Week on March 23. They play fiddle, accordion, vocals, drums and do traditional and original folk songs with a bias towards rural material. One of them even owns a...

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Performing at the Paramount

If you’re a regular reader you may have been wondering where I’ve been. Thank you for your patience by the way. What can I say? It’s been an unusually busy November and December. After the strangeness of the covid lockdowns things have gone back to the weirdest kind...

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Go Big with Showmanship

While listening to an old BBC interview I heard Muhammed Ali tell David Frost how he started with his boastful, trash talking poetry. Ali's words led me down a rabbit hole of memories and investigation on the subject of showmanship. Here it is: When I was a student, I...

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The Launch of Dad Dancing

McShane & Shaw are proud to present…. Dad Dancing  a new album of original tracks covering diverse styles such as jazz-swing, classical, comedy, country, disco & reggae all superbly recorded and mixed by Ian Rafferty. It's an audio variety show evocative of...

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The Majesty of Music

No matter how you view the life of Queen Elizabeth II you have to admit, she was a good ‘un. Her character, intelligence, sense of duty and ultimately her longevity were admired by millions across the globe. Even the staunchest republican has to admit that, as a...

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In the Lurch with Musical Merch

Most musicians have so much more to consider than making music - if they want to make their way in the world. The peripheral stuff can be exhausting and all-consuming. Today I bring you an inside look at what happens when a musical duo (the unstoppable McShane &...

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Weekend Getaway

Long before prime-minister Boris Johnson stepped down this morning, the UK has felt like it is slowly falling apart. And this little tale of a ukulele player with a broken car touches on the growing sense that our transport and other public systems are not what they...

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