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Tuesday 1 April 2014

Hey Malaga, Do You Play Ukelele Too?


Today, I found out how to make friends in Spain. With my ukelele.

The day started with a birthday meal, in a little restaurant in Malaga. I went back to the ship, fetched my ukelele with bag, and set off exploring with the intention of practising a little later on the beach. I also had a package to post to England, so I was inclined to find a post office. With no idea of the spanish for post office, I felt I would wander until I found something that resembled said shop.

At the crossing from Malaga's beautiful green parks into the city shopping district, I met a girl and her boyfriend carrying of all things, a ukelele. So, I introduced myself to them, and the girl spoke perfect English. I was a little bit shocked when she kissed me on both cheeks. This is a custom I approve of. I wish I had the bollocks to do this every girl I met.

Anyway, I got chatting and found out quite a bit about her, she was from Madrid, I can't remember where the guy was from. They ended up walking me half way across town to a post office! Two nicer people couldn't have been met.

After that, I had an explore and ended up in a shop trying to buy prit stick. I succeeded. I also met two guys, one of which was holding a Spanish guitar and plucking out little funky licks. I started chatting to him, and he offered me a beer and to show me Malaga. Turns out he's English and his friends Dutch, and a wicked skateboarder, although currently nursing a broken wrist from a particularly bad fall.

We jammed on a bench for ten minutes, guitar and uke, then they offered to take me to a gig, to see his girlfriend's band, playing at six at a club in town. I had to be back on the boat at Eight, so like a fool I said yes.

'Malaga's beautiful', he said. 'There's something about it that attracts amazing people. Assholes do come here, but they don't survive in this enviroment, they have to get out.' It struck me as a really strange thing to say, but everyone in Malaga did seem to be pretty amazing. On the boat I feel a bit bumbling and awkward, in the alien languaged city I’m completely at ease. Both of the guys had come for a week and stayed for years, as had the two they live with.

The gig was amazing. The band are called Los Negrados, I think, and the singer Julia, on seeing my uke asked me to get out and play for her. I played her a couple of verses of Something by the Beatles, trying doggedly not to notice how beautiful and engaging she was. She immediately invited me up on stage to sing a song in the break.

When Los Negrados began to play, I was transfixed. I’ve seen a heck of a lot of bands in my time, but I don't think I’ve seen hardly any as engaging as these. Stand up bass, congas, guitar and three way harmonies made a sound as dark and lush as their name, 'the Blacks' in English. Their version of 'I shot the sherrif' was a kind of latin reggae mixed with rock-a-billy, but so smooth you couldn't see the seams. That's when I realised I have a lot to learn from Spanish music. I have to see more of it if I can. Unfortunately, I didn't get to sing with them, as I had to dash for the boat.

The guys invited me to hang out with them when I’m next in Malaga, and see some of the good bits. I’m hoping it happens, although my phone wont work their Spanish numbers. Either way, My uke is coming with me now to every port - It seems to be a passport to fun!

Oh, I forgot to mention about Steve V King! He sat in with me on my gig last night – he's the guest singer for Thompson, and the 64th member of the Drifters. His voice was out of this world, and he went out of his way to give me tips on taking care of it. We had a few drinks together, and he came and sat in on my gig, and together we made a double act to die for. We bashed out 45 minutes of incredible performance, and he brought out vocal support I didn't know was in me! I was on fire, it was such a rush. Steve did harmonies, and sang a few songs, and he was incredible as always. After feeling very small and down on this boat full of incredible singers, Steve's advice and support has showed me that I do have something different to bring to the passengers that nobody else has. Tonight's gigs were far better for it. I love this boat!

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