Want to find out how Russell Brand influenced someone, but in a good way? And why you might need an open mind to join Moselele? Then meet Rob: senior NHS bod, walking tour guide, author and, er, cat-botherer.

1) Tell us how you started playing the ukulele. (How long ago? Did you play other instruments before?)

For years my Dad played ukulele non-stop around the house. He’d tune up to the words of “My Dog Has Fleas” and would bang out George Formby at every opportunity. Clearly, as a guitar-playing fourteen-year-old wannabe rebel, my whole self-identity was staked in opposition to this strange embarrassing man, so I didn’t go near the instrument…

Until… Enter an advert on TV for Radio 2 in 2007 featuring Russell Brand (when he actually was cool… at least, I thought so) picking out Losing My Religion on a mandolin whilst waiting for the lift. Maybe little guitars weren’t so bad after all! I waited for everyone to leave, taught myself the ditty on the ukulele and decided it was quite fun.

Here’s the video, for classic noughties nostalgia purposes… pre Global Financial Crisis, pre Brexit, pre Trump, pre Covid…. What halcyon days.

2) What uke(s) do you play? (Have you made any adjustments/personalised it? Do you use a plectrum?)

The aforementioned Embarrassing Dad kindly let me take his ukulele to university. Fortunately the flatmates tolerated drunken renditions of “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor” in our student kitchen and the habit stuck. The ukulele in question is called a Fluke and, instead of a classic figure-of-eight shape, the body is a pointy triangle. Why, you ask? No idea, but it is free-standing which is amusing and practical. It also sounds very bright. A few string changes later and I haven’t seen reason to change although I am envious of everyone’s original Moselele instruments.

3) Do you remember your first Moselele? (What prompted you to come along? What were your first impressions?)

I do! I moved back to Birmingham in 2016 age 23 and rented a room in a massive former care home in Moseley with 11 other people. It was as fun as it sounds. Early on, my flatmate said, “We’re all going to watch this ukulele group play Halloween songs at the Prince in a few weeks – want to come?”. My curiosity piqued, I saw how welcoming the Facebook group was and decided to rock up the next Thursday.

Rob at Spookelele
Rob at Spookelele

The room was rammed but I found an uncomfortable perch on the edge of a sofa and played along. First impression was how genuinely incredible every one sounded and how much fun was being had. I was terrified I’d ruin this perfectly formed group. The fears subsided when a very friendly Daz said “Why not play in the Spookelele gig next week?” Good times were had – as you can see!

4) What keeps you coming back to Moselele?

Everyone is so friendly and there’s a real under-stated camaraderie between all the players. Also playing music with other people is one of life’s greatest thrills. There’s no experience like it. After embarrassing experimentations with bands as a teenager I’m now completely happy to live out my teenage rock-star fantasies in the Prince twice a month.

5) What’s your favourite Moselele song?

Sometimes the classics are the best. I love Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) by Cockney Rebel. The backing vocals, the post-chorus pauses, Steve’s bass intro… Magic!

6) What’s your usual Moselele tipple?

It has to be Tim Taylors Landlord.

7) Do you practise at home? (What do your family/housemates/pets think?)

I I play in the garden hoping to scare the neighbourhood cats away from my flower beds but it’s a losing battle.

8) What’s your favourite Moselele story/memory (so far)?

I’d say Christmas Singalong 2019. The Cribs are supposed to have some of the rowdiest gigs but they couldn’t hold a candle to our crowd on that night. That night pretty much makes my Christmas! “Stay now STAY NOW”

9) What would you say to anyone thinking of joining?

The one thing I’d say is have an open mind to all types of music! What makes this group special is that is tackles most genres of pop music. Britney Spears, Nirvana, Lou Reed, Liberty X… we play it all!

10) Tell us a secret.

There’s only one song I don’t enjoy playing…. It’s Bat Out of Hell I’m so sorry please forgive me

Get out, Rob. Just get out.

(Please don’t really.)

(This has reminded me that Daz once wrote a post about how much he likes Bat Out of Hell. So that’s quite funny, sort of.)

Oh, before I forget – I mentioned at the top that Rob is an author, so to make that less random I’m going to slip in a little plug for the book, which I can thoroughly recommend: A-Z Birmingham Hidden Walks. It’s been great at getting me and Daz out of the house over the last few months. I’ve linked to the publisher’s website there but you can buy it from all good bookshops.

Been to Moselele more than twice? Fancy answering some questions? Email Emma with your answers to the above, or get in touch via Facebook messenger. Please include a pic – ideally of you at Moselele, or at least playing a uke!

Read previous Meet Moselele posts

Meet many more Moselelians… (Moseleleists? Moseleleiers?)

Meet Moselele: #27 – Dave D
Meet Moselele: #26 – Dave B
Meet Moselele: #25 – Bill G
Meet Moselele: #24 – Chris D
Meet Moselele: #23 – Ania M
Meet Moselele: #22 – Garry B
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Meet Moselele: #20 – Ian J
Meet Moselele: #19 – Peter H
Meet Moselele: #18 – Fiona C
Meet Moselele: #17 – Stephen P
Meet Moselele Takeover: #16 – Emma W
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Meet Moselele: #13 – Bob J
Meet Moselele: #12 – Conor C
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Meet Moselele: #10 – Paul P-D
Meet Moselele: #9 – Dave T
Meet Moselele: #8 – Lorna P
Meet Moselele: #7 – Phil B
Meet Moselele: #6 – Daz W
Meet Moselele: #5 – Mark S
Meet Moselele: #4 – Rhiannon D
Meet Moselele: #3 – John R
Meet Moselele: #2 – Ian E
Meet Moselele: #1 – Rob P