Last night member of the Winter Park Ukulele Meet-Up were treated to a special appearance by well known British ukulele virtuoso Peter Moss. After a fun filled day at Seaworld with ukulele aficionado’s and micro brewery owners Greg and Nancy Blauers, Moss entertained the group of about 15 people with stories and sharing his own personal ‘technique’. Winter Park Ukulele Meet-up host and instructor Stephen Boros introduced Moss to the enthusiastic crowd. Moss walked the class (which consisted of primarily beginner to intermediate level players) in a simple yet stylish rendition of Buddy Holly’s tune “Raining in my Heart”. After the class played through the entire song to Moss’s satisfaction he let them know they could keep the sheet music he provided, and encouraged them to take him and use the three P’s “Practice,Practice,Practice!”.
Moss says he began playing the ukulele at the tender age of 8 he recalled how it all began telling the audience “My late father Dennis Moss, who played Spanish guitar, bought me a wooden Uke for my eighth birthday, and taught me the basics. I took to it like a duck to water. By the time I was ten and a half, I was a fairly competent strummer and had already won a local talent competition hosted by the Manchester Evening News. “
He started up a show with his sister Wendy, and says although he was and is a huge fan of the famous George Formby “In those early days the Formby songs were considered too risque for children to sing”. So his father taught them some acceptable “Tin Pan Alley” songs like ‘Baby Face’, ‘Five foot Two’ and ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ for their set list. His father also introduced them to skilled musicians including founding member of the George Formby society Ray Bernard. His encounters with Bernard music left him “fascinated”, and says Moss “led to my commitment with this style of playing.” At the age of only 12 banjo repairman George Graham introduced him to the music of Roy Smeck, and Moss decided to add the new found style to his repertoire.
Moss : “From playing around the chords and picking out melody finger-style, I taught myself chord melody playing and improvisation. In 1973, there came a significant milestone in my musical journey. I had been working on a banjo-ukulele version on the William Tell Overture, with galloping triples, finger-picking and a big crescendo… I played it in the annual competition of the Northern Branch of the BMG – British Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Federation, in Wythenshawe – it went down a storm – and won it. Later that year, I played it at the Southern Branch competition, and won that, too. It’s official that I was the first person to work out the William Tell Overture on banjo-Uke, whilst a few over the years have tried to claim it as their own.”
Over the years he drifted away from ukulele on and off for may years says Moss “I explored new territories such as the guitar, keyboards and wind instruments. I was the arranger with three guitar based groups covering cabaret to rock. Since it was so hard to keep the personnel together, and keep each others egos in check, I took the plunge and went solo. Since I played a number of instruments, I purchased some recording equipment and along with a sequencer, I recorded all the backing tracks. Also, I have always been a fan of harmony so I set to, recording backing instruments and vocals. The one man show covered 7 decades of music and could be tailored to a specific venue.”
In February 2013 he came back ‘full circle’ when his wife bought him a new wooden ukulele for his birthday. Says Moss “It was an inspired gift, as upon picking up this new instrument, an old flame was instantly rekindled in my heart – a passion for the wooden ukulele.” He began posting video clips of his ukulele performances on Facebook and Youtube and was surprised at the response. “The response has been nothing short of staggering. From being virtually unknown 18 months ago, to being in regular contact not only from the UK, but across Europe, the Far East, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia to name a few countries” says Moss. Recently when he was requested to come to Thailand, he told the promoter “Nobody knows me in Thailand” to which the promoter replied “Oh yes they do…Youtube! “
His name recognition has sure been a draw in North America with tours in both Canada and the USA. During his brief stay in Florida he has been on a whirlwind tour! In just 3 days he appeared at the 2014 FLORIDA Citrus Park Bonita Springs Workshop and concert,Ft. Lauderdale Concert and workshop and last nights Winter Park ukulele group, Orlando Workshop and concert. After the evenings performance he was headed back to Bonita Springs before his next trek for an appearance at the 2014 MILWAUKEE Ukulele festival – Workshop and concert and 2014 OHIO – a combination of Dayton and Cincinnati ukulele groups – Concert and workshop.
Before he left the workshop zoomdune.com was able to grab him for a few moments to ask him a few questions.
What do you think about the resurgence in popularity of the ukulele?
Moss: “I think it’s fantastic! I left the ukulele alone for probably about 10- 15 years in favor of guitar. It’s just somethings I wanted to do… I wanted to try another instrument..I also play saxophone… and it was a couple of years ago I picked it up again and started doing stuff on Youtube and one thing sort of escalated to another. People said “This is great if ever you come to the states you have to come to us and so on and so forth.”
Whats your best advice to a beginner ukulele player?
Moss : “Don’t try to learn on your own, join a group! Even if they are playing 3 chords, you can play 3 chords in one hour you can play 5,000 songs with 3 chords. And what that will do is give you the confidence to try the next 3 chords, and the next 3 chords and then you might have a go at a riff..and then you might think about what if I put an introduction to it? And what if I add and ending on it? He adds “If your starting on your own I don’t agree with going to a music store and buying a DVD and a booklet and trying to help yourself. It’s a lot easier to come join a group like this where people can share their secrets with you..you might be holding your instrument wrong something as simple as that is why your struggling to play something. By literally watching somebody in front of you, you can pick something up just like that!learn as a group don’t try and learn by yourself.”
Keep track of Peter’s US tour and upcoming workshops world wide by visiting his website at ::http://www.petermossuke.com/