Ukulele Orchestra Strums up Fans in US
Andy Morley-Hall is a member of the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, an eight-piece band that combines high-energy ukulele covers of classic pop and rock songs by the likes of Blondie, Cyndi Lauper and Salt-N-Pepa with tongue-in-cheek comedy and flamboyant stage costumes. The group is currently on a 41-date tour in the United States.
According to Morley-Hall (pictured top far left), the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra started 10 years ago when a couple of musicians – Age Pryor (pictured top second from right) and Bret McKenzie, one half of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords – jammed over java at Deluxe Espresso Bar in Wellington.
“We feel like we’re in an extended living room and we’ve invited everyone in for a couple hours,” said Morley-Hall, pointing out the band’s “across-the-board appeal, from grandchildren to grandparents – even the cool kids in the middle.”
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, which released its first full-length album, Be Mine Tonight, in 2014, hopes to extend its reach even farther this winter. The band recently embarked on a tour of the United States, following a smaller “taster tour” last year.
Asked why the band waited so long to branch out beyond New Zealand, Australia and Asia, Morley-Hall exhibited the sort of easy-going attitude one would expect from a blissfully laid-back ukulele player.
“We didn’t feel the need to rush it,” he said. “The band kind of started by chance and everything that’s happened since, we’ve taken as it’s come along.”
The Orchestra is in Green Valley, Arizona performing on 5 February, before dates in Texas and Tennessee. They play their final date of the tour at Fort Lauderdale in Florida on 20 March as part of the South Florida Ukulele Festival.
Original article by Sarah Linn, The San Luis Obispo Tribune, January 26, 2016.