Joe Brown talks about new ukelele album

Free Press Series: Joe Brown plays Newport Riverfront on November 17 Joe Brown plays Newport Riverfront on November 17

JOE Brown has been entertaining music fans for more than half a century and is showing no signs of slowing down.

His new album, The Ukulele Album, is a response to the positive feedback he has received from performing diverse songs including Motorhead’s The Ace of Spades and ELO’s Mr Blue Sky live on stage for several years.

“I had quite a lot of feedback from that George Harrison (tribute) concert that I did in 2002, when we closed the show with See You in My Dreams, which is a little ukulele thing,” says Joe. “I like to think it’s something to do with the development of the ukulele as far as the general public is concerned. I’d love to be attributed with helping it out, because it’s a great little instrument which has given me so much pleasure over the years.”

Joe continues: “The great thing about the ukulele is mostly anyone can play it. It’s so simple to play and also you learn a simple tune on it and all of a sudden it takes it onwards. It’s one of those instruments that encourages you to continue playing.”

The Ukulele Album is produced by Joe’s son Pete, who produced Sam Brown’s (Joe’s daughter) Stop! album back in 1989. Joe is full of praise for his son’s work: “He takes a lot of weight off me. He’s a good producer and a good band leader.”

Joe, whose biggest hit was A Picture of You, in 1962, is currently touring again and will visit Newport Riverfront on November 17. Among the ukulele numbers he will feature will be When I’m Cleaning Windows, a cheeky song from the 1930s originally performed by George Formby.

Joe fondly remembers a meeting with the legendary Mr Formby in the 1950s at The Queen’s Theatre, Blackpool: “We had the afternoon show, called Privates on Parade, and George Formby had the evening show. We were in rehearsals one afternoon and he walked into the theatre.

“What a lovely man he was. He was talking, ‘Hello lads how are ya?’ ‘Hello Mr Formby, how are you?’ Next thing I heard was ‘GE-ORGE!’ And I looked up the back and Beryl his wife was stood there, like a sailing ship with poodles on a lead. ‘Oh, coming love!’ He was a great ukulele player, the best probably. He played banjo mainly, which is the same as ukulele but louder.”

Joe got into a spot of bother in 1963 when he covered one of Formby’s songs, With A Little Ukulele in My Hand, for a single release. “The BBC banned it. Good luck to them!” says Joe dryly, before chuckling: “There’s always someone at the BBC that doesn’t like you!”

● Catch Joe Brown at Newport Riverfront on November 17.

For booking information, call 01633 656 757.

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