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HUG NEWS 73 30th Dec 20

As we reach our final Blog of the year I thought it would be good to remind ourselves of what happened in HUG throughout the year. So here goes!

January - As we recommenced after the Christmas and New Year we had such expectations. Learning new songs and new people moving from HUG 2, having learned the basics. not a hint of what was to come!

February - saw us introducing weird things like Tablature and Riffs. We used the song Margaretaville to learn and fair to say, it was challenging but we threw ourselves into it.

March - for the first time Covid-19 started to have implications for us. We started sanitising equipment and stopped sharing, we limited the numbers performing up front. It became apparent though as we were all in the at risk category we were going to have to take the difficult decision to stop meeting.

I had been second guessing that this would be the case and had started to consider ways we could continue keeping the group together after all of our hard work and enthusiastic buy in. I was determined to not just throw in the towel.

Ongoing discussions with my daughter Kate had thrown up opportunities for us to take the group on line. So a frantic week of setup, learning what was entailed in streaming and buying cameras and audio interfaces ensued. I owe a great debt to Kate for her insight in to what I was capable of from absolute zero knowledge to getting us up and streaming in barely 2 weeks. I didn't have the knowledge, the understanding or the equipment to actually stream but she made it work. Its amazing how ignorance and naivety can clear hurdles.

I remember conversations with her when I said what I wanted to do and she said "that is not being done anywhere!" But she made it happen and has continued to do so.

So some new words entered our vocabulary, such as streaming and Twitch.

MARCH 27th will go down in the history of HUG as being the day we went live with our first stream on Hugukuleletv123. These are the songs we streamed that day - Rockin' All Over The World, Leaning On A Lamp post, Little Old Wine Drinker Me, I'll Fly Away, Galway Girl and Whisky In The Jar.

March 27th saw the very first Little Hug News with the specific aim of keeping things light in what was a very scary and irrational time. we shared jokes and stories as we attempted to stay connected and support each other through lockdown.

April - we were now getting in to our stride with streaming and slowly started to build up a catalogue of audio recordings for us to play along with. It was frustrating because the technology would not allow us to do what I wanted to do which was to stream video. It was what it was and we made the most of it. I am pleased we went down the recording route so we had material to play a long to and thanks to Geoff and Sheila and others who pioneered this approach for us. Eventually we had nearly 80 songs to select from.

May - a very significant Month for HUG, it was our first anniversary! We had so many plans in place before the Lockdown for our very own actual celebration, it was not to be.

We are nothing if not resourceful though and had a Virtual Birthday Celebration which I thoroughly enjoyed, I hope you all did. It proved that we could embrace live streaming.

We followed the Birthday Celebration with our very own VE Day commemorating this very significant day and paying tribute through song and stories to those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. Freedom that the circumstance this year have have put in to sharp perspective.

By this time we had launched the Hug and Lettuce Tuesday Night Quiz, the aim being to meet up and in a not too serious manner and introduce a social element to HUG. We had very creative menus of virtual food and drink for us to share from around the world! (Still enjoying the Mongolian dishes!) We had claims to fame, we shared photos. We even did Karaoke briefly. All through this Lockdown the weather was spectacular only for it to change when Lockdown was lifted!

June- we had now been joined by new found friends from Bury who we very quickly christened the BBC or Bury Blackpudding Club as they extolled the virtue of this delicacy.

They made and continue to make a welcome contribution to our activities on line.

July - to my relief we continued to be supported by a large chunk of the HUG Members regularly tuning in to our Friday Stream. The awful phrase "New Normal" reared its head.. No! No! No!

June - we truly had hit our straps now with our contributions to the live streaming. It was so good to be able to find a way to carry on featuring Open Mike contributions, something we had introduced in to our meetings when we could actually meet. If anything, contributions to Open Mike came from more people. I suspect the fact that you could record in the comfort of your own homes and not have the pressure of performing in front of others live helped. Either way it was very welcome to hear so many contributions.

Original Songs - this became for me one of the most satisfying initiatives to come out of the current situation. I really did not know if I would actually get any contributions but look where we ended up with 14 original songs! Success! I have high hopes for our second album, Now That's What I call HUG 2!

June saw the start of a major move towards upgrading the stream, a new PC was being built for me by Kate in Germany and a major upgrade in Broadband to cope with this was ordered. Downside was the time taken to order parts from throughout the world but we were not going to compromise. The other obstacle was to be actually getting it over to the UK, it was frustrating.

July - as we continued to stream I introduced Quick Lessons as a way of ensuring we had an element of learning in our sessions, It was pleasing that so many continued to tune in early for these as we reinforced the basics and learned some new techniques. Now the aim for all is to ensure they become second nature and not just fleeting.

The big announcement in July was that we were to launch our very own Youtube Channel called HUGUKULELE. This was in readiness for the upgrade to our stream when we would be moving form just audio to video. Our Youtube Channel has proved to be much more and has allowed us to demonstrate to the world our talents.

A first for us was our very first Live Stream! It was a major logistical exercise but such fun to do. Sadly it was not to last as we were once again prevented from meeting up inside houses.

August - saw a major revamp of our website getting ready for Youtube videos and streamling the layout. It was a frustrating time waiting for the new PC and battling an ailing Apple Mac that was struggling to do all asked of it. heart in mouth every week now!

By now we had regular poetry contributions and this has been particularly rewarding, it is something we would have never done before. In anticipation of streaming video we had started to record songs and put them on to our Youtube Channel.

September - this was the month we were finally able to stream as I had envisaged. The new PC was a total game changer along with superfast fibre optic broadband to cope.

With a few teething problems and a bit of panic an my part we joined the ranks of true streamers. At a stroke we could stream Youtube, we had multiple cameras, we could integrate images and put up song words and chords to make playing along easier. We had radio broadcast quality microphone and audio interface. It truly was to become a streamed TV Channel which is all our own and very unique.

October - by now it had become apparent that we needed to be prepared for a prolonged period of streaming rather than being able to meet up again.

We had a new feature when we streamed a Fingerpicking Course that I know was well received and has opened up this to some of you as a technique.

The website was made very interactive to enable members and new people to quickly go to features. We had a Halloween session featuring some scary songs! It was a lot of fun.

November - we had another Open Mike session and this time we had videos to share and not just audio! It was the usual suspects but I live in hope that people will embrace videoing themselves after the success of the Christmas Concert.

The challenge of putting on the Christmas Concert was good because it forced many of us to learn new skills and to understand how to collaborate on songs when we cannot be together. This took up a lot of the back end of November.

December - as the year draws to a close we can look back on what was a momentous year for all sorts of reasons. mostly though as I hope I have captured here, is the sheer talent drive and ingenuity within such a new group that has been evident throughout the year.

It culminated in the Christmas Concert and the positive responses to all of your hard work.

I am so glad that we have been able to record for history this chapter in the life of HUG. As too the Stream I did on Christmas morning featuring some Carols, check it out on our Youtube Channel in the Christmas PlayList.

Whatever role you have played, contributor or supporter your value to what HUG is all about is immense.

Thank you for making this year memorable for HUG, we have made the most of the situation we found ourselves in and supported each other.

Whatever form 2021 takes we will embrace it and only get stronger. All the very best for New Year.



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Hi Dave,

It is really amazing when you see what this group has achieved with your leadership in one year. For myself, and I am sure the rest of the BBC, we have made some lovely friends without actually being able to meet up and been part of an incredible creative group of people. I suppose that will be something to look forward to in 2021, the earlier the better.

Thanks go to everyone in the Hug group for making us so welcome and I have enjoyed everyone’s fantastic talents shown through original songs and poems, it helps others to have a go when normally they wouldn’t due to being shy. Please stay safe everyone and let’s be positive and…

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