April 22, 2014
My Name is Peter Moss and I have been involved with the ukulele on and off for the past 45 years. I say on and off due to a break from the little instrument for close on 20 years, whilst 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 other’s 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.
What has all this got to do with the Ukulele?? Well… in February 2013, my wife bought me a new wooden ukulele for my birthday. 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. I started a YouTube channel and made some videos of the wooden Uke, which then inspired me to try something new and so the cycle continues. Through Facebook, I posted my efforts to ukulele groups and clubs around the world and 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.
Where did it all start? It began with another birthday ukulele. 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. I also had a little show set with my sister Wendy. In those early days the Formby songs were considered too risqué for children to sing, so my Dad taught us some old Tin Pan Alley songs like Baby Face, Five Foot Two, Who’s Sorry Now etc. My father had taught me all he knew, and wisely introduced me to other skilled players. One very influential person was Ray Bernard, a founder member of the George Formby Society. Ray played melody … Lady of Spain, Rubinstein’s Melody in F…. and I was fascinated. From that moment I became committed to this style of playing. Then George Graham, the banjo repair man for Shep’s Banjo Boys lent me a recording by Roy Smeck. And by ear, from that very record and at the age of 12, I learned to play similar to his style. 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.
What is my ambition going forward? To continue to develop musically. To demonstrate my unique styles on both the ukulele and Banjolele worldwide. Also to provide workshops at all levels and share the passion and pleasure I’ve encountered thus far.