by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Family Circus

The Ukeladies - "Sleep Today". They started the band as a kind of joke. Three girls who played ukulele - haha! The Ukeladies! Yes! They would play a few nights at Stu's, cover-songs mostly, then maybe get booked for Thunder Bay's big Victoria Day show. That was the plan. Nora, Vicky and Kate practiced covers of Beirut, the Shangri-Las, a Sufjan Stevens tune. Eventually they decided the Ukeladies needed a drummer. They asked on Facebook: Vicky Nestruck is looking for a drummer for THUNDER BAY'S GREATEST ALL-GIRL UKULELE GROUP-O! Alas, Thunder Bay is a small community. Northern Ontario did not offer up many female drummers. They ended up inviting Louis Ford, a gangly library nerd who was more into Vampire Weekend than Beirut, but that was okay. He could even sing while he played the toms. After that, it got easier - "Wouldn't 'Tunnels' sound better with a bassline?" They called Ricky Frauman, who Vicky's crush since sophomore year. Later they got Mo Radcliffe and his synths. And then before they knew it, the Ukeladies were half boys, half not-ukuleles. But they didn't mind. Everyone was still having fun, "Elephant Gun" sounded great, the girls had bought matching dresses. They were getting ready for their first show, at Stu's, opening for Timber Timbre.

And then one day, Mo came to rehearsal acting weird. He was listless, slow, hardly said anything. His eyes were bagged, his lips twitchy. His hands didn't sway as he walked. "You okay?" asked Kate. Mo just nodded. He kept playing the same series of creepy chords over and over.

Later, Ricky spoke to Sam Wavey, who worked with Mo at the renovations company. He said they had been knocking the drywall out of this guy's house, up behind the forest, and Mo found something. He had found some book, slipped behind a wall. It was fat and covered in black leather. The lettering on the front was gold - gold or something else that's shiny. It sort of glowed, Sam said. Mo wouldn't show it to anyone. He went off by himself. And when he came back, he was behaving funny.

The Ukeladies shrugged it off at first. They let Mo be his weird, looming self. But one night, Ricky drove him home from practice and when they all met up later that week, Ricky had gone weird too. He had sunken eyes, twitchy lips. Vicky went back to his place that night, so excited to be going - but she was changed at the next practice. She creeped in the back door, wearing torn clothes, unlaced sneakers. Nora tried to lead a jam on Regina Spektor but the three of them, Ricky and Mo and Vicky, started murmuring under their breaths. They murmured complicated words that seemed bent-backward, spidery, confusing. They made Nora's head hurt. Nora quit the band. She sent an email to everyone: I'm really sorry, she wrote, I'm just not feeling it right now. Then Kate quit too. Only Louis was left, Louis and the dead-eyed trio. He had written a new song.

"What do you guys think?" he asked.

They gazed at him, saying nothing.

Vicky licked her lips with a worm-coloured tongue. Mo changed the pre-sets on his keyboard. Ricky said a word in a language older than space.

[MySpace / thanks, Adam!]

Posted by Sean at September 17, 2009 9:28 PM

Hang on... How are there two bands called the Ukeladies in Canada?!?!? These guys are good, but the Haligonians have matching jumpsuits. Yeah.

Posted by LeilaniE at September 18, 2009 12:48 AM

Love the image (and the song).

Posted by David at September 18, 2009 11:35 AM

Is there actually a Vicky Nestruck?

Posted by Kelly Nestruck at September 19, 2009 1:52 PM

That's incredible.

Posted by J at September 22, 2009 2:31 PM

what an amazing... story. just brilliant, really.

Posted by Samantha at October 30, 2009 9:31 PM

my favorite part was:
"this guy's house, up behind the forest"

Posted by tyler k. at December 1, 2009 2:11 PM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

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