True Colors Sunglasses at Night

Related imageTwo iconic songs of the 80’s: True Colors and Sunglasses at Night.

Corey Hart, the underdog crooner of the 80’s, a Canadian from Montreal no less. (However, it worked for Celine Dion, did it not? LOL) I wasn’t too fond of The Boy in the Box (my hubby loves that song) but I could really party to Sunglasses at Night.

As I have told my kids and hubby numerous times: we sang this song in the hallways of my high school going between classes and my Grade 12 started a daily movement to wear sunglasses in classes, to the point where the Vice-Principal had to enforce a strict no-sunglasses rule. Yeah! That was us! We did that! VHSS Class of 84! GOD what a fun year! (We also used to sing Wasn’t That a Party between classes as loud as we could, but this is beside the point…..)

Enter Corey Hart, great looking clean-cut guy, great hair, big kissable lips, I mean, what a heart-throb! The picture of him in his brown leather jacket was taped onto every girl’s closet door, I’m sure. Sunglasses at Night came out in 1983/84 along with his other platinum hit, Never Surrender, but the real romance started when he released Can’t Help Falling in Love in 1986. I was in second year of Uni and girls were swooning over this song all night long.

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Lately, she’s been looking a little more like this, with the pink hair. Promoting her True Colours Fund which can be found at her website, cyndilauper dot com
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This look is how I remember her: wild looking a little bit off the cuff.

When Cyndi Lauper’s debut album She’s So Unusual hit the stores in 1983, we couldn’t get enough of it: Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop, All Through the Night, to name a few of the good ones. Set in the midst of the new-age techno sound, we bopped and ‘lauped’ to  all. True Colors in 1986 became a national anthem of sorts.

(Hopefully the vid is there for Sunglasses. I haven’t had much luck with the one for Octopus’s Garden showing up.)

Here are my ukulele arrangements of these two songs:



Cat’s Jam Songs

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Ahhhh, jammin’ at the Legion – what a terrifying thought!!! No way, no how, right?!

WRONG! You too can rule at the Legion jam session. Just don’t let them push you around. These here people are seasoned professional jammers, don’t kid yourself for one second. And how do we “little ukulele players” fit in with that?

Bring your chord wheel, your ukulele chord charts and your Chords in Keys charts, and lay them out. Practice your strumming techniques. Pray that there will be a stand-up bass play to help the group keep time, and bring a friend. The friend is there to sit right beside you and fetch you a drink or two (whether non-alcoholic or not is up to you).

It can be daunting. We are used to playing in a big group where every instrument is some variation of a ukulele from soprano to U-bass. That is the landscape we are used to looking at. When you sit in on a jam session you may feel out of place. You will be surrounded by – this is a given – guitar players for sure, and then a smattering of fiddle players, and then a range of instruments from one or two banjo’s to a mandolin, dulcimer or harpsichord. You just never know and it usually varies from week to week.

Also, I need to interject here, there is a VERY big difference between sitting in on the local informal jam session “down the pub” or “down the Legion”, and the organized jam session of an art, such as Hamilton Irish Arts. You can’t join in on that one,  but you are welcome to listen as a patron of the bar. Typically, speaking in general, you have to be invited. I believe you can approach the hosts of the event and introduce your instrument but generally unless you can prove yourself to be proficient in that art, you won’t be allowed to participate as a player.

At the informal pub jam, there is usually a leader of the group, or you may recognize him or her as “the host”. So that person usually makes an effort to introduce themselves and ask your name so that they can introduce you to the group. If the group has a large number of males and only one or two females, and you are a female, they generally are glad to see you and will make more of an effort to keep you because your singing voice helps even out the sound of the group. This jam takes place for two reasons: wanting to play with others, and the deal made with the establishment to bring in patrons, therefore 50% of what they are doing is to entertain the patrons who are gathered around to listen. Sometimes the patrons want to sing with. That is also comforting because the louder everyone around you is, the less they can hear you if you make mistakes, so you feel better about the situation.

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The leader or host, usually keeps the song selection going by keeping the participants selecting songs. This is what I call “karaoke style” where each player is asked what song they want to do, in the same order no matter if new players join in half-way through or whatever. Sometimes the player selects a song that they want someone else in the group to lead, sometimes the player passes, sometimes the player stands up and performs a song alone. In which case we politely listen. The key here is to go with the flow.

Depending on the leader or host, he or she might be accommodating the players by making the key of each song known, and in some cases the leader will call it to the group. There isn’t usually a lot of discussion beforehand because this is not a teaching situation. Either you know the song and are able to join in or you don’t. If the leader feels like calling out the chords, he or she will but it is not their job. They don’t have to so you should not rely on that happening with consistency. Sometimes all you’re told is the key, ie. “Jambalaya in C”. Sometimes they all just launch into a song and it’s up to you to figure out the key. If there are other uke players in the group, you can figure out the chords by looking off them. If not, you might be able to pick up what the left-hand formation of chords like C and G look like on a guitar player and figure it out from there.

If you are at least told which key, then if you have your chord finder before you or a Chords in Keys chart, then you can make your way through the song by listening to when they change chords and try to establish the pattern of chords. Is it C then F then back to C, twice? And keep a pen and paper handy to jot that down if you need to.

Another calling situation would be if the leader tells you the key the song is in, followed by letters. This refers to the circle of fifths and is a notation of the specific chords of the key. So for example if they say, “Key of C, one four five” that means, the first, fourth and fifth chords in the key of C. How do we figure that out? In this example, the first chord is C. Then we use counting. If C is the first chord, then D is the second one, and so on. In this example the chords being used will be C, F and G, and some variation such as C7, Fm and G7, etc. For the key of G, G chord would the first chord, then by counting, the fourth chord would be C and the fifth one would be D. Even better, just keep the Chords in Keys chart in front of you so you can figure it out quicker. As time goes by you will get faster at this.

Chords in Keys chart This is my rendition, it’s not perfect but you will get the idea. 🙂

It is a good experience for any of us to at least try. I feel that I am now so much better at “listening”  to chord changes and have developed a better ability to “play by ear”. It has helped me when developing my own song arrangements. And I have a better understanding of songs that are good for group performing and which keys are actually better for group singing. There are many songs that I redid just because I needed a better key for my personal singing range, but that did not mean that that key was any good for the group to sing. Because of this idea you might now appreciate why a song is available from large uke groups online, in a certain key. When you start to sing it, try to imagine hearing a range of other voices. That’s why we bring them to group.

Below are the jam songs I usually hear down the Legion, plus a few of my own:

Abilene C         DIRTY OLD TOWN C          From a Jack to a King      Pick Me Up On Your Way Down     The Gambler       The Yellow Rose of Texas      We’re Here For a Good Time       You Never call me by My Name

Other suggestions are: Jambalaya, King of the Road, Eagles songs, Could I Have this Dance, Wagon Wheel, I Walk the Line and others by Johnny Cash, Singin’ the Blues, You Are My Sunshine, gospels like I Saw the Light, and Irish songs like I’ll Tell Me Ma and The Black Velvet Band.


Back in the Ukulele Again!

So we all set up at the Harvest Crossing retirement plaza and who should saunter in, but the man himself, Peter McAvoy!

I know! I could hardly believe it myself! Here are the pictures to prove it:

Fb group 1Fb group 2

We were just that much happier to play Irish songs when our friend was well enough to be able to join us. We had been practicing for 4 weeks and one of our goals was to get the residents singing along with us, which we were able to do. We felt very proud of our efforts when Karen Rohrer, the facility activity co-ordinator, complimented us afterwards. Thank you, Harvest Crossing ~ see you next year!

20 Irish Songs pdf

Related imageHi, here is a pdf doc that contains 20 songs that the T’Ukes have been playing since 2 years ago, plus a few new ones. We have a little gig coming up at the Harvest Crossing in Tillsonburg on Saturday, March 10 at 1:30 so we need to get ready for that.

ALSO: Our friend, Peter McAvoy, had a little heart surgery last week, so the group wants to play Wasn’t That a Party for him when he comes back. I hear he’s doing really well, and a good friend of his family even texted me a pic of him in the hospital holding two thumbs up. I’ll be he can’t wait to get out of there!

At any rate, please enjoy the pdf doc, it’s free to all.


Cat Krestel Porritt

Irish Song Book 2018

Cat’s Ukulele Songbook #3

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It took me a while, but I finally got all of my 2016 and 2017 song arrangements into one big PDF. This does not include any internet songs that are already out there that I had made links to in various posts in those two years.

In the upcoming year I am working on some songs that I call “Oldies”, that are not played on our modern radio stations these days. One in particular I am fond of is Buttons & Bows. I have already looked at some Oldies that offer some really sweet chords that I enjoy playing, even if it meant that I had to go to Youtube and listen to how the song goes. Some of these are Autumn Leaves, The Summer Wind and We’ll Meet Again. When examining older songs you get to learn what sweet chords compliment those Keys and they stick with you. You end up carrying them with you into other songs that are in the same Key.

For example, one of my friends enjoys Bill Bailey, Don’t Fence Me In, Hello Ma Baby, Shine on Harvest Moon, and Wait til the Sun Shines Nellie, to name just a few. Some of these songs have tricky chords, as anyone who has ever tried I’ve Been Working on the Railroad will probably agree. If you have an interest in these and more, you can download this little PDF doc called “Fleabag Music”, which was produced by some volunteer uke players and made available at the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum website, the 4th Peg and at EX Folk dot com, but here it is for your convenience: Fleabag Songbook.

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I also like these older songs because they harken back to a different historical time. Some of them are a real glimpse into what life was like at that time. I mean, how often do you see a bicycle built for two?

Cat’s Ukulele Song Book 2017:  Cat’s Ukulele Songbook 3



Don’t Have a Blue Christmas

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Seasons Greetings! Here is an arrangement I made for Blue Christmas, that classic Elvis Christmas song that is guaranteed to cause all eyes to overflow in the old folks home.

I always use some embellishments that I derive from sliding up or down or over or just lifting one finger off the chord and back on, or adding one finger to a different string for one beat while holding down a chord. The effect I’m going for is a bluesy little slide sound.

I am fond of Gdim and G or G7, and I like to use Em7 with G7 or G. Depending on the song, sometimes I like to turn Am into the Hawaiian D7 by pressing down the second string in the second fret and lifting off, on and off, on and off.

I just found an arrangement of I’ll Be Home for Christmas that uses all of my tricks. You can download it here: I’ll Be Home For Christmas I believe I found it in one of the TBUS Christmas ukulele songbooks (Tampa Bay Uke Society).

And the secret to really making Blue Christmas sound nice and sweet is the smooth progression from the C major chord to the G minor chord. Many people like to avoid this chord and will go so far as to transpose the arrangement into a key with an easier chord to place in it’s place. It’s not always the best singing key though.

Today, I will take all that away by showing you one little trick to get you into position to make that Gm chord seem effortless and add that sweet minor sound to the song. Really, after you look at my cheat sheet you will wonder what you were ever worried about, LOL.

Gm Blue Christmas

The third song I am sharing today is an Eagles classic, Please Come Home For Christmas C. It’s in the Key of C. I used to hear this song on the radio station in Ottawa in the 80’s. I really loved it.

Enjoy your holidays!

We’re Here for a Good Time!

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Truer words were never spoke!

It’s great when you get a couple of followers on your blog, totally shocking when one of them is in your ukulele group! So thank you LINDA for telling everyone about the website, I have gotten some nice compliments and great feedback. They seem to be enjoying downloading songs from here also, which was part of the game plan, LOL. The funny part for me was that I was so engrossed in the moment during uke group that I had a hard time figuring out what she was talking about, when suddenly it dawned on me and I was embarrassed. Why, I don’t know! I’m not tooting my own horn, I truly just want to share some great song arrangements with other ukulele enthusiasts.

That being said, here are 3 that I want to share. Moon Dance is a great song that Linda brought to our group. I have not rearranged it, I like it the way it is, there is a wonky part in the first chorus, but I haven’t listened to the song over the internet yet, so maybe that is the way the original goes and I just don’t remember – ha ha! The memory’s a funny thing, too!

The other two are We’re Here for a Good Time and Hallelujah, the alternate words. The arrangement is different from mine, too, because I never included the C/Am/C/Am at the end of the chorus. In my version I lean back on G7 before starting the next verse. Linda also brought us that song, and we are performing it Tuesday night at the Maple Manor in Tillsonburg for the residents there. We’re going to have Linda finger pick the Intro.

With respect, I wish each and every one of you a happy and safe Holiday, in case I don’t get back on here before New Year’s.


We’re Here For a Good Time

Hallelujah Alternate

Pride and Joy

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Hello again. I have taken a bit of time off, trying to decide if it’s worth it to continue on this website, and after finding that I do come up in Google searches – on pages 3, 4, sometimes 5 – I will be continuing on.

Cheryl and I just started our third year running the Tillsonburg Uke Society together. As much as we feel like we know what we’re doing now, we still have moments when something we planned falls apart and we feel like, dang! we don’t know what we’re doing!!! One thing we have learned is not to pay for a website. Our Facebook page and submitting info to the Community Events column in the local newspapers has done plenty for us, so we have let that Meet-Up website go.

We also learned to relax and take it easy, and we also decided to shorten the lesson and have the play-along portion of the evening run longer. This comes from the “knowing what we’re doing” side of things. Another new thing we are trying is an alternate location at a local church to keep the continuity flowing for lessons. The Red Station Room is not available to us on the first Tuesday of every month, so we used to take that night off and not have lessons. But, despite our best efforts, many times players have showed up to an already occupied room, realizing too late that it was first of the month.

Of course, with the changing seasons and holidays coming and going, we both like to rummage around our numerous binders for songs and also on various internet sites. Just going to the BUGs website is a goldmine of songs and song books.

Just found this one, never seen it before, full of comprehensive instructions about Blues for the ukulele, including numerous great Blues songs to use their various theories with, which include not only chords and strumming ideas, but also picking and solo-ing instructions. I LOVE it when it’s actually laid out for me, notably using the Key of A for an example, which just happens to be my favourite Key.

Markelele’s Ukulele Songbook I don’t know why it’s called this, even the title page does not really give away the fact that the subject is Blues. However, once I got started I was stuck on Pride and Joy which I heard a singer perform at karaoke at the Norfolk on Thursday night.

From the about songbook, I was immediately hooked in to the way you can play back and forth between the A and A7, the D major and D7 chords, and then you off-play those with the E7 chord, back to A and then he explains what a turn-around is, and he also has a page with the turn-around chord for every Key, and then another page with the blues chords for every K. Plus lots of tips, playing instructions, diagrams, etc. I will be trying out a number of songs this week, but to start us off, here is Pride and Joy, in A.